There's an impression that anglers who live outside local communities are the ones who commit most of the fishing violations.
But that's not necessarily an accurate picture.
Consider the busts that occurred recently on Lake Mille Lacs. Three anglers, including a married couple who lives along the lake, were charged with over-limits of fish and face heavy fines and restitution.
Richard E. Southworth, 70, and Linda J. Southworth, 59, of Isle, were recently charged by DNR conservation officers with a gross over-limit of 52 walleyes. During a routine check on Mille Lacs, the couple was allegedly found with three lines in the water. Later officials said they found another 26 bags of fish. Restitution for the 49 Mille Lacs walleyes, in addition to three Red Lake walleyes, amounts to $1,560.
The gross over-limit penalty totals $1,000. Toss in another $1,000 for a misdemeanor charge of angling with two hooks or a treble hook and the Southworth’s -- if convicted -- face nearly $6,000 in fines and restitution. Seized in the investigation were a boat, rods and reels and their fishing licenses.
Edwin F. Seidl, 65, also of Isle, finds himself in the same situation.
DNR conservation officers allegedly caught him with an illegal 13-inch walleye while fishing Mille Lacs Lake. Officials said they later found Seidl in possession of an another 16 walleyes and a northern pike from the lake. Seidel was 15 walleyes over the legal limit and charged with misdemeanor possession. The possession limit on Mille Lacs Lake is two walleyes with a slot restriction of 18-20 inches. Restitution for the fish is $610 along with a $400 fine.
“I’m seeing a lot of illegal length fish being taken from Mille Lacs,” conservation officer Chris Tetrault said in a news release. He seized 120 illegal fish from anglers in July alone.
In this instance local residents were discovered with gross over-limit and misdemeanor cases within a mile of each other. “With the lake encompassing 120 miles of shoreline we’re likely catching only 2 to 5 percent of the violators who either visit or reside on the lake,” Tetrault said.
The Southworth’s and Seidl are scheduled to appear in Aitkin County court in October.