Members of the fishing party at Omaha’s Standing Bear Lake were having a whopper of a day last week — until state conservation officers showed up.
They had caught their 15-fish bag limit of crappie and bluegill, but the water kept providing, and they kept taking, said Lt. Stacey Lewton of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
And by the time his officers arrived, the group had pulled 162 more fish out of the lake than allowed by state law.
The most prolific angler left with a fine of $2,849 — a penalty for exceeding the bag limit, and $25 in damages for each fish over the limit, Lewton said. Another member of the party received a $349 fine, and a third wasn’t ticketed.
But his officers weren’t done. Four days later, same lake, different fishing party: They found a group with 103 fish too many. This time, one of the anglers was fined $2,449, and another $549.
Add it all up, and: $6,196 in fines, 265 seized fish.
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“They’re pretty sizable over-bags,” Lewton said. “We do receive some of these every day, but this is an extraordinarily high number of fish that were caught.”
In both cases, the officers found the fish in buckets, already dead, so they couldn’t return them to the water.
But they won’t go to waste. For now, they’re being stored in a freezer to serve as evidence in case the anglers try to fight their tickets.
Once the cases are cleared, the fish will likely be donated — along with the rest of the summer’s confiscated fish — to feed the rehabilitating birds at the Raptor Recovery Center, he said.
“We try to make sure game isn’t wasted, whether it’s a deer or fish or bird.”
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