Keeping undersized fish is poaching and illegal

The other day I met a part time Game warden at Massey’s Landing.  He was telling some folks new to the area about fishing and our waters.  After they left,  we spoke for a while about the problems of poaching and the sources.  Most of the time poaching is done locally.  People from out of town that get caught with undersized fish, mostly are not aware of the size regulations (there are always exceptions).  Many people who live here feel these are their fish, hate the fishing licenses, limits, and they can do what they please.  I hear stories all the time of people poaching, even on occasion someone will tell me they do it themselves once in a while.  “What is it going to hurt if I take a few undersized fish?”  Believe it or not a great deal, the fact fish are caught commercially for food and recreation as well, does not help the natural stocks replenish.  We have creel limits for a reason, and it is necessary to follow these laws.  I read an article recently that areas off limits to fishing in the Gulf from the oil spill have seen a massive increase in stock numbers coming back.  The fish have been left alone and nature has done what it always does, and bounces back.  We have creel limits for the same reasons, to keep the fishery stocks increasing.  If everyone just fished for what ever they felt like and kept what ever they wanted, we would have zero fish left.  Follow the creel limits and respect them, fishing is a blast.  Who wants to get arrested for fishing?    I was sent a picture yesterday of poached striped bass.  They obviously know they are poaching and do not care.  Otherwise why take a picture of an illegal catch?  I told him about this picture, and where they were caught.  Coincidentally, he told me about the 12 people popped for poaching last week at Woodland Beach.  Fish and Wildlife Enforcement is aware of these issues and are out in full force this year.  Do not poach fish, not only is it illegal, it is detrimental to our environment.

Fish On!!

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Rich King

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