Monday, September 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Undercover fishing cops

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has eyes on the stream banks for illegal trout fishers

Undercover fishing cops

‘Tis the season for undercover cops in waders!
Folks heading out to the trout-stocked waterways of southeastern Pennsylvania this week might consider whether to haul in more than the legal limit of five trout a day.
The reason:
The fisher next to you might be an out-of-uniform officer from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, keeping a count.
One undercover officer, who asked that his name and hometown not be disclosed, said in an interview as he was helping stock a Chester County stream that the job can be hazardous.
Typically, he doesn’t cite an offender, but calls in a uniformed Fish and Boat officer and points out the folks whom he suspects to be illegally stocking up a freezer-full of future fillets.
That’s what he did one recent year in Pennypack Park in Northeast Philadelphia.
“The next year,” he said, “I was recognized,” and fellow officers “had to come and get me out of there.
“About 20 guys were chasing me up the hill.”
On another occasion, the undercover officer recalled, he caught a fisher hiding — under an overhang — the trout that he had caught, more than the limit.
“They’re convinced that we have a submarine,” however miniature, that searches the streams and lakes for just such hidden catch.
No, he said, no submarine.
But, “I can’t tell you how we do it.”
The Fish and Boat Commission website states that “fishing without a license is the single most prosecuted fishing offense under the Fish and Boat Code.”
The base fine for that is $50, but “an amount equal to two times the cost of the required license and permit is added to the base fine.”
The cost of a license can range from a low of $2.70 for a member of the National Guard or Reserve to a high of $52.70 for a non-resident, according to the commission’s website, http://www.fish.state.pa.us.
For taking more than the legal limit of trout, the fine is $20 per fish.
A platter costs less at the local fish-and-chips counter, dude.
(In 2013, the trout season in the 18 counties of southeastern Pennsylvania opened on Saturday, Mar. 30. The season opens in the rest of the state on Saturday, April 13.)
 Walter F. Naedele.

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Aubrey Whelan
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