Herald JournalHerald Journal, March 14, 2005

Fishing was too good to stop – and they didn’t

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has charged a Montrose man and a Delano man with being 106 sunfish over the legal limit.

Jeffrey Allen Meuleners, 52, Montrose, and Donald Peter Gabrelcik, 58, Delano, were each cited for possessing 53 sunfish over the limit. What's in it for YOU?

In early February, State Conservation Officer Chris Vinton of Detroit Lakes received a TIP (Turn In Poachers) call that a group of anglers were fishing sunfish on Tulaby Lake in northern Becker County, and were taking more than 100 fish at a time, reported the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The statewide limit for sunfish is 20 per angler. The caller also provided information about the vehicle the anglers were driving, reported the DNR.

In mid-February, Vinton observed the anglers fishing in the location that the informant had identified, according to the DNR. Nearby was a vehicle similar to the one the caller described.

Vinton saw one of the anglers count 30 sunfish into a bucket before contacting the group as they stopped at the access, according to the DNR. A quick count of the fish in the buckets showed them to be 12 short of a limit for three anglers.

Vinton continued checking the lake every other day for several weeks when the group reappeared.

Vinton, joined by Conservation Officer Dennis Lang of Perham, observed them until dark when the anglers began to load the vehicle, according to the DNR. They followed the anglers to a cabin near Akeley.

The officers received permission to enter the garage there and said they had received a TIP call about a group of anglers taking more than the limit of sunfish, according to the DNR.

In 2003, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill that makes offenses higher for gross over limit violations, commented Rich Sprouse of the DNR.

Gabrelcik said the two men hadn’t counted the fish they caught, but believed they were over the legal limit, according to the DNR.

Gabrelcik then produced two buckets of sunfish that were in the rear of the pick-up, and said they had more hidden in one of the portable shelters. There were 85 sunfish in the buckets and shelter, reported the DNR.

Lang returned from the cabin and said there were also four bags with 61 partially frozen sunfish.

“Both anglers kept commenting that they ‘could not stop’ and ‘the fishing was just too good,’” Vinton said.

The citation carries a maximum fine of $1,072, restitution of $265, and a possible penalty of 90 days in jail for each man. They will each lose their fishing licenses for three years.

The DNR confiscated the men’s equipment, fish houses, a gas auger, and the fish, reported the Forum newspaper of Fargo.

“This seems to be that time of the year we see over limit cases,” Sprouse said.

The TIP hotline is 800-652-9093, and callers can remain confidential in reporting fishing or game violations.

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