Have you ever used the word hate in a sentence and had someone listening respond with, “hate is a strong word”? Know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that in this next sentence I am completely aware that hate is a strong word. I HATE poachers and that goes triple for musky poachers.
With the water temperatures well below normal, muskies, and very large ones at that, should be in very predictable areas. And, with pike season right around the corner, poachers may have extra incentive to steal this year.
Make no mistake; poachers are thieves – plain and simple thieves. Fishing seasons are set in order to protect species during their spawn, and while these regulations aren’t 100% perfect, they are in place and must be obeyed. It is unethical and illegal to do otherwise.
When pike season opens this Saturday there should still be ice flowing down the river (provided the Boom is removed this week). (I’m not sure of the conditions in the harbor.) The hard stuff should keep the poachers at bay for a bit, but when the river clears I’m sure these scumbags will perform their annual crimes. You may see them trolling Depthraiders or Believers (I’ve heard the excuse “it says ‘bass, walleye and pike’ on the Believer package), or casting Monster Tubes, glider jerkbaits, and other musky lures, and of course if you confront them, they are only “pike fishing”. Bull sh!t!!!
As musky guys and gals, we should be able to spot poachers from a mile away. They will be targeting our favorite fish in the spots we would fish them, with baits we would use, and they will be doing it illegally before the season opens. If you spot a poacher you can try to educate them as to when musky season opens and you can try to inform them that the season is in place to protect muskies, but it is my experience these jerks know exactly when musky opens and they don’t care about muskies at all. They just want the best chance at catching a big girl early, and couldn’t care less about the health of the fishery or the fish they release, and the fact that they are “just releasing them anyway” is always their excuse, and perhaps how they justify their theft to themselves. Many of these poachers are habitual. We see them doing this year-in and year-out.
I’m sure we all know this, but targeting species outside of their season is illegal!
If you see someone poaching muskies, or any fish for that matter, contact the NYSDEC or OMNR immediately. Have a description of their vessel, them and their tow vehicle. Get their boat registration number and license plate number if you can. Don’t start a confrontation, as this may lead to violence. Let the DEC handle the situation. For suspected fishing regulations violations in New York waters call (800) TIPP-DEC (847-7332), or (877) 847-7667 for suspected Ontario violations. In New York, you may also want to contact ECO Michael S. Phelps (716) 851-7050. (I asked Officer Phelps years ago if I could pass his number on to our members, and I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve printed it.) Keep these numbers saved in your phone and use them if you witness a poaching SOB stealing our resource.
God damn, do I hate f’ing poachers! Just typing this blog increased my blood pressure (and I take about thirty different medications to control it). When you’re fishing or just gazing at the river, keep an eye out for these criminals. If you do witness poachers, please contact the appropriate agency, and allow the authorities to handle the situation. Thanks.