Last month, six Colorado men agreed to pay $6,600 in fines for illegal fishing in the Manistee River, according to a press release from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
A Manistee County court ordered each of them – Agustin Barrera, 29, of Denver; David Cobaxin, 48, of Denver; Alfredo Hernandez, 56, of Denver; Gregorio Hernandez, 49, of Aurora; Leonel Lopez, 38, of Aurora; and Raul Lopez, 37, of Aurora – to pay more than $1,100 in restitution, fines, and costs in early March.
The incident stemmed from a routine fish patrol in October 2022, when conservation officers cited the group after a concerned angler reported witnessing them using illegal methods and equipment to take fish.
In a statement, DNR’s Sgt. Grant Emery explained that anglers come from all over the country to fish in the area around October because the rivers are filled with coho and Chinook salmon. “While we’ve seen a decrease in illegal fishing activity over the years, unfortunately, we still run into illegal and unconventional methods,” Emery said.
According to Michigan’s DNR, when the officers approached, the men attempted to break off their fishing lines to conceal their illegal fishing gear. During their investigation, officers discovered that the men did not have valid fishing licenses and were using illegal fishing gear and tackle.
Authorities say the group willingly admitted to using the prohibited methods and turned over more than 460 pounds of fish, which authorities later donated to charity. The DNR added that if the group had valid fishing licenses, they could have kept 30 fish.
“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 [the officers], which allowed them to recover the fish with enough time to safely donate to local families in need.”
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