12 people face 80 charges in Lake of the Woods fishing case
Lake of the Woods - Court documents were scheduled to be in the hands of Lake of the Woods County court officials sometime today in connection with an investigation into guided fishing operations on Lake of the Woods.
According to Col. Ken Soring, enforcement chief for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 12 people face a total of 80 charges for various violations uncovered during an investigation by 40 DNR conservation officers, who converged on the area in January.
The investigation began last summer, and many of the charges involved the practice of double-tripping, where anglers catch a limit of fish, leave the water and then return to catch more than their limit allows.
“They’d take a limit of fish, come in, eat those fish or store them, then go back out and take more fish that day,” Soring told the Star Tribune newspaper in late January.
Anglers on Lake of the Woods have an aggregate walleye-sauger limit of six during the open water season and eight during the winter. No more than four of those fish can be walleyes, and all walleyes from 19½ to 28 inches must be released.
Soring said today that mailed summons have been sent to the 12 people being charged with misdemeanors, and copies of the documents were scheduled to be delivered to the Lake of the Woods County Court Administrator’s office sometime today.
A spokeswoman for the court administrator’s office said they hadn’t received the documents as of mid-afternoon, and a message left with the Lake of the Woods County Attorney’s Office wasn’t immediately returned.
In an email to media, Soring said he couldn’t disclose specific information on the people being charged because he didn’t know the status of the charging process. He did, however, offer a breakdown on the charges as follows:
Angling related charges:
•23 possess over limit walleye (misdemeanor fines plus restitution).
•19 pack fish without a packer license.
•10 transport walleye without a skin patch.
•1 angle while angling license revoked.
•1 unattended line.
•2 transport undressed walleye from special regulations lake.
•1 illegal length walleye.
•1 unlawful culling of walleye.
•2 deposit litter into lake.
•1 angle with extra line.
•5 guide bear hunters without guide license.
•3 fail to register bear bait station.
•3 fail to display ID sign on bear bait.
•1 fail to register deer.
•1 transport loaded firearm.
•1 discharge firearm from moving watercraft.
•2 possess waterfowl without markings.
•1 unlawful gifting of waterfowl.
•1 attempt to illegally take ruffed grouse.
•1 operate unregistered all-terrain vehicle.