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DNR donates over 460 pounds of poached fish to Manistee County families; out-of-state group faces over $4,000 in restitution

An angler’s tip helped Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers recover more than 460 pounds of illegally taken salmon from an out-of-state fishing group on the Manistee River this week. The group went away with far less than they caught, while the officers were able to safely donate the poached fish to local families in Manistee County.

“There is a large amount of coho and Chinook salmon running the local rivers this time of year, attracting anglers from across the country to be a part of one of Michigan’s finest fishing adventures,” said the DNR’s Sgt. Grant Emery. “While we’ve seen a decrease in illegal fishing activity over the years, unfortunately, we still run into illegal and unconventional methods.”

Conservation Officers Josiah Killingbeck, who patrols Lake County, and Scott MacNeill, who patrols Manistee County, were conducting a fish patrol Tuesday along the Manistee River, near the Tippy Dam in Dickson Township when an angler approached and informed them about a group downriver using illegal methods and equipment to take fish.

The officers located and observed the group, confirming the tip.

When Killingbeck and MacNeill contacted the group, several of them attempted to break off their fishing lines so the officers wouldn't see the illegal fishing gear they were using.

Officers interviewed the group and determined that the anglers, who had traveled from Colorado, did not have valid fishing licenses, were using illegal tackle and possessed 17 salmon taken by an illegal method.

The group willingly admitted their illegal activity and led Killingbeck and MacNeill back to their vehicles in the parking lot, where they had an additional 40-50 fish in coolers – some of the fish had already been filleted.

The group, if properly licensed, legally would have been allowed to possess 30 fish total; the total amount of illegal fish in the group’s possession weighed 463 pounds.

“It’s a shame that this group invested so much time and money to travel all the way to Michigan only to illegally take these salmon, a valuable, public natural resource,” Emery said. “We are grateful for the angler who approached Killingbeck and MacNeill, which allowed them to recover the fish with enough time to safely donate to local families in need.”

The individuals received citations for using illegal methods to take an over limit of salmon and fishing without a fishing license. Combined, they face more than $4,630 in restitution and additional costs.

They have until Oct. 21 to contact the 85th District Court in Manistee County for arraignment. The DNR is not releasing names prior to arraignment.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned law enforcement officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Learn more at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.


Note to editors: An accompanying photo is available below for download. Caption information follows.

Truck: Tuesday in Manistee County, an angler approached Michigan DNR Conservation Officers Scott MacNeill (left) and Josiah Killingbeck about a group of people illegally fishing the Manistee River, near Tippy Dam in Dickson Township. The officers retrieved 463 pounds of salmon from the suspects, visiting from Colorado, and donated the fish to local Manistee County families the same day.

Contact: Sgt. Grant Emery, 906-285-2085