Now is the time of the year when large amounts of Coho and Chinook salmon are drawing anglers from across the country to Michigan rivers. A group of anglers from Colorado decided to take advantage of the prime fishing and load their coolers with illegally caught fish. Using illegal tackle, and not even investing in a fishing license, the out-of-state losers managed to harvest 460 pounds of salmon. 

It was a tip from an alert fisherman that led two Michigan DNR officers to the group of poachers on the Manistee River. Conservation Officers Josiah Killingbeck, who patrols Lake County, and Scott MacNeill, who patrols Manistee County were on fish patrol Tuesday along the Manistee River. It was near the Tippy Dam, in Dickson Township, when the angler approached and informed them that he had observed a group of fishermen using illegal methods and equipment to take fish. 

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Acting on the tip, Killingbeck and MacNeill silently moved along the bank of the Manistee and located the poachers. As they observed the group, from a distance, there was no doubt in their minds, the group was in violation and having good results from their shabby efforts. The officers decided that they had seen enough, and as they approached the poachers several of them made a futile attempt to break off their fishing lines so the officers wouldn’t see the illegal fishing gear they were using, however, it wasn’t Killingbeck’s and MacNeill’s first day on the job. An investigation revealed 17 salmon, illegal tackle, and the lack of fishing licenses. The group willingly admitted their illegal activity and led the officers back to their vehicles in the parking lot, where they had an additional 40-50 fish in coolers, some of which had already been filleted. If properly licensed, the group would have been allowed a maximum of 30 fish. 

DNR Sgt. Grant Emery says, 

While we’ve seen a decrease in illegal fishing activity over the years, unfortunately, we still run into illegal and unconventional methods. We are grateful for the angler who approached Killingbeck and MacNeill, which allowed them to recover the fish with enough time to safely donate to local families in need. 

The poachers have until October 21, 2022, to contact the 85th District Court in Manistee County for arraignment, and face more than $4,630 in restitution and additional costs. Meantime, the needy residents of Manistee County will have one heck of a fish fry. 

DNR nabs 460 pounds of poached fish
Michigan DNR

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