A routine patrol by three conservation officers (CO) with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources netted three Wisconsin men nearly $3,300 in fines, restitution, and court costs for an overlimit of perch.
CO’s Luke Belgard, Mike Fairbanks, and Jayson Hansen were working ice anglers on Lake Winnibigoshish on March 4 when Belgard checked the fishing license of David L. Gauthier, 41, of Keewaunee, Wis., who said he had caught his limit of perch. The daily legal limit is 20 perch with 40 in possession.
“He had a few smaller perch in a pail that were still alive and said he was now trying to catch some larger ones and he would let the smaller ones go,” Belgard said. “I advised Mr. Gauthier that he wasn’t allowed to do that.” Culling fish is illegal.
Gauthier said he had been coming to Lake Winnie for many years.
Gauthier then tried to take one of the live fish and put it back down the hole, but was instructed to leave the fish on the ice and the few in the pail where they were.
Gauthier’s father, Wayne E. Gauthier, 61, and brother, Anthony A. Gauthier 27, both of Keewaunee, Wis., were fishing nearby when approached by CO Fairbanks.
The three men were staying at a local resort when David Gauthier said there were perch in a bin outside their cabin. When the count was completed, the Gauthier’s possessed 203 yellow perch or 83 more than the legal limit.
David Gauthier was charged with having 29 more perch than the legal limit. He faces fine, restitution and court fees totaling $1,130. Wayne Gauthier and Anthony Gauthier were each charged with having 27 more perch than the legal limit. They face fines, restitution and court fees of $1,080 each.
The Gauthier’s nonresident fishing licenses were seized, the fish were collected and photographed as evidence, and the citations mailed to each individual.
Anyone witnessing a fish or wildlife violation should contact the nearest conservation officer, law enforcement agency or the 24 hour toll-free Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline at800-652-9093. Cell phone users can dial #TIP.