Poachers illegally snagging whitefish were caught red-handed by undercover DNR officers.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources made major whitefish poaching busts in Grand Haven, Muskegon and Whitehall over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Officers working undercover busted 25-30 people illegally snagging whitefish from piers along the Lake Michigan coastline, according to Mlive. The poachers were snagging the fish as they were on their annual spawning runs up rivers.
“It’s an ongoing problem,” DNR Sgt. Jeff Rabbers said. “We’re seeing it expand along the shoreline as it becomes more popular.”
Fishing for whitefish is legal, but anglers are only allowed to keep fish that are hooked in the mouth. Unfortunately for fishermen, the fish are more interested in spawning than feeding this time of year. Between 50 and 70 illegally snagged fish were confiscated by DNR officials.
Officials said the poachers were from all over the state. A few were out-of-state anglers. All were ticketed in the illegal activities.
And apparently, the DNR is taking these increasing violations quite seriously. “We confiscated all gear used in that activity,” Rabbers said.
But that’s not all. The poachers may also have to pay financial restitution for the fish they took. Rabbers concluded:
“We are taking a zero-tolerance approach.”
Hopefully some of these poachers will think twice about their illegal activities next time.