Seven Wisconsin men paid more than $6,400 in fines and restitution this week, and two of the men spent three days in jail for taking more than the legal limit of walleye Memorial Day weekend.
Acting on an anonymous tip to the Turn-In-a-Poacher hotline, investigators with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife conducted surveillance on South Bass Island. During the four-day holiday weekend, investigators observed a group of anglers "double tripping" -- taking multiple daily limits of walleye in the same 24-hour period. Investigators detained the men, who had surpassed the legal limit by 67 walleye. They also confiscated camera equipment, photos and videotape that depicted the over-bagging.
"We have been consistent with our message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated in Ohio," said Kevin Ramsey, law enforcement supervisor for the ODNR Division of Wildlife Lake Erie Unit. "We welcome all to participate in this outstanding fishery in Lake Erie, but in order to benefit from it, and in order for us to maintain it, the bag limits must be observed at all times."
On Tuesday, Ottawa County Municipal Court Judge Frederick Hany found the seven men guilty of multiple counts of poaching walleye. They were ordered to pay $50 in restitution for each walleye taken over the limit in accordance with new legislation. The new law reflects the present-day value of Ohio's wildlife.
Thad Burkette, 32, of Hartford; Travis Sonnentag, 29, of Ripon; and Jeff Steinman, 32, of Slinger, were each convicted of double tripping for two days on walleye and taking 12 walleye over the legal limit. Each will pay $350 in fines and pay $600 restitution. In addition, their fishing licenses were revoked for more than two years.
Burkette and Sonnentag received 40-day jail sentences with 37 days suspended. Steinman was ordered to serve 50 hours of community service.
Patrick Mann, 50, and Carey Slater, 33, of Fond Du Lac; Thomas Slater, 60, of Eden; and Chad Meinberg, 33, of Oakfield, were each convicted of double tripping on walleye for one day and taking six fish over the limit. They were each fined $150 plus court costs and ordered to pay $300 in restitution. Their fishing licenses were revoked for one year.
Meinberg pleaded not guilty to double tripping on a second day and taking seven fish over the limit. Haney set his trial date for June 25.