GLADWIN COUNTY (WJRT) (8/22/2019) - Conservation officers say a fisherman on Gladwin County's Lake Lancer vastly exceeded the limit of panfish he was allowed to catch.
Fellow anglers called the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to report the 67-year-old was overfishing and exceeding the limit of 25 panfish caught in a day.
DNR conservation officers spoke with the fisherman twice at Lake Lancer, obtaining permission to search his garage in Gladwin. They found more than 1,400 panfish inside the man's freezers.
The 67-year-old received a ticket for exceeding his catch limit. Michigan fishing rules limit anglers to 25 panfish a day and no more than 50 -- or two days of the limit -- in their possession.
Conservation Officer Mark Papineau said authorities received several reports about the man fishing on Lake Lancer too much.
“The angler’s vehicle often was spotted in the parking lot of a private boat launch and the angler himself was witnessed fishing Lake Lancer several times per day,” Papineau said.
He and Conservation Officer Joshua Wright conducted a marine patrol at the lake the morning of Aug. 14. They found the 67-year-old's vehicle and boat trailer at the launch and talked with the man on the water.
At the time, the fisherman had a valid fishing license and had caught 13 panfish, which was well within the daily limit of 25. Papineau and Wright noticed the fisherman's vehicle was gone when they returned to the boat launch, but he returned later in the day when they checked.
The conservation officers waited about an hour at the boat launch for the man to return from the water a second time. As he got to the dock and saw the officers, the Gladwin man immediately declared that he wasn't over his daily limit.
Wright asked the man how many fish he had and the fisherman just repeated that he wasn't over his limit, according to the DNR. However, the man later admitted to having 24 fish with him this time, in addition to the 13 he took on his earlier trip that day.
The 67-year-old invited officers to follow him home and take possession of the 13 fish he caught earlier in the day. There, they found a total of 19 fish taken during the earlier trip that day and 70 bags of filleted panfish.
The officers took the 1,400 illegal fish as evidence and ticketed the man. The fish will be donated to local food bank or church when authorities no longer need them as evidence.
DNR Law Enforcement Chief Gary Hagler thanked the fellow anglers who reported the Gladwin man's suspicious activity to conservation officers.
“It’s because of honest people like this that Michigan’s natural resources can be protected for and enjoyed by future generations,” Hagler said.