DETROIT (FOX 2) - Officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources caught a group of poachers with more than 460 pounds of salmon illegally caught from the Manistee River in northern Michigan.
According to a release from the DNR, an angler tipped officers off about an out-of-state fishing group that were illegally fishing without valid licenses and illegal tackle near Tippy Dam in Dickson Township. The tip also said they were using an ‘illegal method’ to catch the fish, but the release didn't state what that was.
"There is a large amount of coho and Chinook salmon running the local rivers this time of year, attracting anglers from across the country to be a part of one of Michigan’s finest fishing adventures," said the DNR’s Sgt. Grant Emery. "While we’ve seen a decrease in illegal fishing activity over the years, unfortunately, we still run into illegal and unconventional methods."
When Conservation Officers Josiah Killingbeck and Scott MacNeill arrived at the area and talked to the anglers, all of whom were from Colorado, they said some of the group tried to break off their fishing lines to prevent the officers from seeing the illegal gear.
Killingbeck and MacNeill questioned the group who admitted to what they were doing and had 17 salmon with them. Then they took them to their vehicles, where DNR said they had another 40 to 50 fish in coolers, some of which had already been filleted.
Even if they had been legally licensed to fish in Michigan, the limit would have only been 30 fish for the entire group.
The illegal fish weighed in at 463 pounds.
"It’s a shame that this group invested so much time and money to travel all the way to Michigan only to illegally take these salmon, a valuable, public natural resource," Emery said. "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 group were all cited and face more than $4,630 in restitution and fines. They have until next Friday, Oct. 21, to contact the Manistee County court for arraignment. Their names were not released.
The fish did not go to waste. The 463 pounds of salmon was all donated to Manistee County families that day.