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.
- 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 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.
- Snagging. Watch out for people targeting spawning salmon with weighted hooks. They reel quickly and try to “hook” the salmon in the side.
- 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.