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poached fish

Illegally kept fish from a pond in Essex County.

One of the biggest problems we experience during a long ice fishing season like this one is overfishing of some lakes and ponds.

When you have businesses that buy fish to ship to Canada, there is plenty of motivation among some nefarious anglers to keep far more than their limit, particularly of yellow perch. There are many people around here who ice fish to make money, which is fine if you stay within the rules. But when fish can be sold by the pound, there is certainly a motive to catch and keep as many as you can.

When the state Department of Environmental Conservation has dedicated resources to it in past winters, officers have made some interesting arrests of guys with hundreds of fish over their limit, particularly on Lake George and Lake Champlain.

With fishable ice on many area waters as of mid-December, this ice fishing season is shaping up to be one of the longer ones in memory. Even with 50 per day perch and sunfish limits and a daily limit of 25 crappies, guys who legally fish a water day after day can have a big impact.

Details from the DEC on the recent case are below. 

-- Don Lehman

Too Much Luck Fishing - Essex County

On Feb. 6, ECO Jeff Hovey was patrolling ice fishing activity on Lincoln Pond in the town of Elizabethtown when he spoke to a fisherman who had a large German Shepherd with him on the ice. At first, all seemed to check out. The fisherman had a valid license, was using legal tip-ups, and showed ECO Hovey several northern pike he had caught within the daily possession and size limit. The subject claimed that these were the only fish he had caught. However, ECO Hovey heard flopping sounds coming from a bucket in the back of the man's UTV. Inside the bucket the ECO discovered a largemouth bass and several northern pike. The final tally of the fisherman's catch was two yellow perch, eight northern pike, and one largemouth bass, resulting in ECO Hovey issuing the fisherman appearance tickets for taking bass out of season and three fish over the five-fish possession limit for northern pike.



Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on

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