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The nearly 250 fish netted by DNR conservation officers during a recent investigation on West Spitzer Lake in Otter Tail County. Submitted photo

Angler in Otter Tail County poaches nearly 250 fish

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A conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recently netted an angler in Otter Tail County with nearly 250 fish more than the legal limit.

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Conservation officer Shane Osborne of Evansville met up with Ronald Wayne Johnson, 69, of Carlos, as he was about to pull his portable fish house off West Spitzer Lake.

"I asked how the fishing was and he said he caught some fish, but it wasn't that great," Osborne said in a press release. When asked if he had any fish at home, Johnson said he wasn't sure.

"He then asked if I thought he had too many fish," Osborne said. "I said I wouldn't know that until I counted all of the fish he had. He said I could follow him home and check."

When Osborne visited Johnson's home, along with conservation officer Mitch Lawler of Alexandria, they found 22 frozen half-gallon cardboard containers, six plastic bags and several loose fish and fish filets.

The cache totaled 228 sunfish, seven bass and six northern pike more than the legal limit. The fish restitution value is $1,560.

Thanks to an over-limit law that took effect in March 2003, Johnson, if convicted, will forfeit his fishing license for three years. He will also face up to $3,000 in fines and one year in jail.

Johnson is scheduled to appear in Douglas County Court in February.

Anyone witnessing a fishing or wildlife violation is encouraged to contact the nearest conservation officer, law enforcement agency or the toll-free Turn In Poacher (TIP) hotline at 800-652-9093. Also, #TIP is available to most cell phone users in Minnesota.

People should contact the Minnesota State Patrol or a DNR area or regional office for the name and phone number of a conservation officer in their area.

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