Stop the Poaching!!

I just got a message from a buddy of mine who was fishing a fiver this morning (I believe it was the Stillwater or the Quinnie), and he had some bad news. This is what he wrote word for word…
Just got to the river now, figured there wouldn’t be anyone else there – 30 degrees, December, not great weather for the bait boys. But when I pulled up, I saw three fishermen spread out on the shore, and a few packs of powerbait and nightcrawlers on the ground. Asked them  one by one if they had any luck, and two guys said they had caught 4 trout, and one had caught 3 but was still fishing, as were the others. The trout were still on the stingers. I politely told them that the limit was three, and the oldest of the bunch told me to mind my own business. I told them again, and that they were depleting the resource, not to mention they each had 3 rods with 3 or 4 hooks on each! He told me to go away and go to hell. I didn’t want to get into  big argument with him, or provoke him more, so I told him I was calling the DFG, and walked off. Called them up, and as I was talking they realized I wasn’t bluffing and started packing up and left. Hadn’t seen this in a while, sad to see.

That’s just disappointing to see – these guys are not sportsmen. They are just poachers ruining it for everyone else. I’m not saying I have anything against bait fishermen; in fact, I even use Powerbait every now and then in a stocked pond. But people fishing with too many rods, too many hooks, and keeping more than their limit is illegal and disrespectful. 
I don’t know if you’ve seen this before, but if you do, speak up! My friend informed them that they were breaking the law, and even though they didn’t really care, he called the DFG and got them to leave before they took any more trout. Keep in mind, this is not some stocked pond (but don’t poach in stocked ponds either!), it’s a river that many fly fishermen fish, and a valuable resource.
So here are the most common laws I see broken. If you see them being broken, just inform the fishermen and they might realize that you’re right and stop. But more likely, they’ll tell you to go away. If it’s a minor law, just make your point and move on. You can’t win every battle, but if you make sure to point out to every other fisherman that a certain guy is breaking the law, he will often feel pressured to stop. But if they have a trash bag filled with trout, call the DFG. This is not okay, and if every angler kept 10, 15, or 20 trout, there would be none left. So watch out for these laws.
  1. The limit of trout is generally 3. While there are certain exceptions, most rivers and ponds have a limit of 3, so if you see a guy with 9, speak up.
  2. 2 hooks is the maximum amount allowed for open water fishing. That means a rig with 2 worms, a lure with 2 treble hooks, or 2 rods with one hook each is fine. But often you see guys (especially snaggers) with 3, 4, or even 5 hooks on each rod, or with 3 or 4 rods in thier rod holders.
  3. Snagging. Watch out for people targeting spawning salmon with weighted hooks. They reel quickly and try to “hook” the salmon in the side.
  4. Littering is a big one. I generally point it out, but don’t make a big deal of it. But it’s never nice to see someone leave their spot… along with 4 empty packs of nightcrawlers, 5 empty beer cans, 40 yards of tangled fishing line, 2 rusty hooks, 7 old cigarettes, and an empty jar of Powerbait.
Now I don’t support every law MA has out there, because there are some pretty dumb fishing laws out there (more on this another day). But these ones are important (especially limits), and since there are almost never and Environmental Police around, it’s often up to us to stop them. 
This is the Environmental Police Poacher Hotline – 1-800-632-8075. Put it in your phone. Don’t Hesitate to use it.


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18 thoughts on “Stop the Poaching!!

  1. That's sad to see. People who keep too many fish and then are disrespectful when you inform them that they are breaking the law, are not sportsmen and should not be on the water. Another one I would add is fishing without a license. So many people, especially the poachers, don't even have a licence. I just wish there were more Wardens or Environmental Police or whatever out there. I haven't ever been checked in 35 years of fishing in MA.


  2. …And this (admittedly, among other reasons) is why fishing in the East will never be like the West. People here just don't get it.

    – G

    1. Good point G. People here need to step it up, and realize that this resource isn't always gonna be here. I was out west last year, and they have no where near as many of these problems. I think you're right – people here just don't get it.


  3. The Environmental Police are so understaffed, and it's almost impossible for any of these guys to get caught! The state is missing out on a lot of licence revenue and fine revenue by not having enough officers. I heard NH is more heavily patrolled.

    1. Another good point. With such a vast area there are nowhere near enough officers out there. And I suppose it's tough to hire more because they don't have the money, and they don't have the money, because they don't have enough people to check everyone! I suppose the best we can do is report these violations. Last year I was at Jamaica Pond in Boston in April, and if there was a warden there, they would've made a killing! Let's say there are 10 people without licenses, 15 limit violations, and 10 cases of too many rods and hooks. Now I'm not sure how much they fine for each violation, but with that many and more, they could easily issue $1000 of fines. And I don't have enough experience in NH to say if it's better, but I have heard it is as well.

      I'd be interested to hear how things are in RI.


    2. I do not have a lot of experience with RI (still a young angler), but they are extremely understaffed, so I am assuming they have similar issues. In the times I have gone, I have not seen one DEM officer. I have been stopped before striper fishing in Newport from shore. Luckily I can pass for 15.

    3. I personally don't think it's right that I have to get a licence in RI anyway because I fish for brookies not hatchery fish. I don't want to support a department that stocks over natives and is ruining the wood river.

    4. I imagined they'd be a bit understaffed – basically everywhere except Montana, Colorado, and California is! But I know what you mean about the license – I personally don't have a problem paying it because I fish for stocked trout and so other sorts of fishing, but if I only fished for natives, like you, I would be annoyed by it too. The state really has nothing to do with the natives, and if they make you pay to fish for them, it shuld be to an organizatin like TU or a simlar one that only focuses on natives. And stocking over native trout is ridiculous! How are the natives expected to compete with hundreds of hatchery raised fish?! I haven't really heard much about the Wood River's situation. I'll look it up.

      And also, if you don't mind me asking, do you live in RI or MA or some other state? I was assuming from your account name that you were from RI, but your last response made it sound a bit like you do not currently live there.


    5. "I personally don't think it's right that I have to get a licence in RI anyway because I fish for brookies not hatchery fish. I don't want to support a department that stocks over natives and is ruining the wood river."

      I couldn't agree more with this. I am constantly baffled why streams with wild populations of brook trout are stocked like mad by the DEC. Although I suppose I have my answer in this post. It's a culture problem. As long as people in the East have the 'spackle bucket mentality' (what my friends and I call them) of taking many fish out of the rivers, littering, and generally treating rivers as something to be exploited rather than revered, stocking (and overall inferior fisheries) will persist. I wasn't aware this was a big problem on the Wood as well. As long as the culture doesn't change, I'm afraid none of our management complaints will either.

      – G

    6. We are trying to change that attitude and it starts with state management. The management strategy should not be based upon angler demand and licence sales. Rather, it should be based upon the health of the river. The DEM knows that the river is being heavily degraded, yet they continue to opt for licence sales over a healthy ecosystem. This is the attitude we are trying to change by proposing a wild trout refuge.

    7. Agreed. The DEC(M)'s role should be that of an environmental steward, not a consumer products company catering to the demands of a misbehaving customer. Yet Eastern DECs have acted in this manner for years. I might be wrong here, but it seems they could all learn from those managing the Farmington and their 'survivor' program.

      – G

    8. G and RI Brook Trout,

      Absolutely, they really need to rethink their strategy. Some states do this better than others, and MA does not do it better. We really need some sort of "wild trout program", or something that caters to the river and native trout, not just the stocked ponds and bait boys. I would happily pay a license fee to a separate branch of the DFW that would put the money into restoration, and protecting trout and salmon. Like paying license money to TU, instead or the DFW.

      Just my 2¢,

    9. I agree with you Troy. Also, I think having strong native brookie fisheries attracts out of state anglers, boosting the economy. Look at ME and NH. They have many small fly shops and fairly strong licence sales because everyone from the Boston area goes up there for the pristine waters and wild jewels.

  4. If you look at Protect RI Brook Trout's Facebook page, then you will learn a lot about the wood river situation. Their website has their proposed wild trout management area on the upper wood river watershed. You do not need a Facebook account to look at their Facebook page. Just type in their name and their Facebook page should come up. I do live in Mass, but fish in RI.

  5. Look into their older posts as well. They have one about catching two 15 inch natives in a small northern RI stream, showing how RI brookies can still come in large sizes, but the state's "management plan" isn't allowing this to happen.

    1. One more thing: look into the comments of the PRIBT Facebook page if you ever get time. They will reveal more of our point of view than simply the posts themselves. My blogger name is just there to try and spread awareness of the cause.

  6. Very cool; I had already looked into it a bit on there website (upon your previous recommendation), but I mostly scrolled through the blog, and didn't pay a ton of attention to specific names. But I just had a look again, and now I understand the Wood River situation completely. And I had a look on their Facebook page, and at the comments – also very cool! The comments do tell a lot. I'll be sure to keep up with their effort going forward.


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