Michigan DNR Donates Nearly 500 Pounds of Poached Fish to Local Families

by Sean Griffin
(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

An angler sent in a tip to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to help conservation officers recover copious amounts of illegally poached fish.

The officers recovered more than 460 pounds of salmon from an out-of-state fishing group on the Manistee River. The group left with far less than they caught. However, the officers were able to safely donate the remaining poached fish to local families in Manistee County.

“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.”

Conservation Officers Josiah Killingbeck patrols Lake County, and Scott MacNeill patrols Manistee County. Both were conducting a fish patrol Tuesday along the Manistee River, near the Tippy Dam in Dickson Township. Then, an angler approached and informed them about a group downriver using illegal methods and equipment to take fish.

The officers located and observed the group, confirming the tip.

When Killingbeck and MacNeill contacted the group, several of them attempted to break off their fishing lines so the officers couldn’t see the illegal fishing gear they were using.

Officers interviewed the group afterward and determined that the anglers didn’t have valid fishing licenses. The Colorado fishermen were also using illegal tackle and possessed 17 salmon taken by an illegal method.

Officer with Michigan DNR Speaks About the Poached Salmon

The group willingly admitted their illegal activity. Then, they led Killingbeck and MacNeill back to their vehicles in the parking lot. They showed the officers their illegal loot—40-50 fish in coolers. Some of the fish had already been filleted.

The group, if they had their proper licenses, legally would have been allowed to possess 30 fish total. The total amount of illegal fish in the group’s possession weighed 463 pounds, well over the limit.

“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 individuals received citations for using illegal methods to take the over-limit amount of salmon. They also received violations for fishing without a fishing license. Altogether, they face more than $4,630 in restitution and additional costs.

They have until Oct. 21 to contact the 85th District Court in Manistee County for arraignment. The DNR will not release names prior to arraignment.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned law enforcement officers. They provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. You can learn more at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.