Six men from the Denver metro area have pleaded guilty to taking salmon using illegal methods in October of 2022 while in Michigan. The group now owes over $6,000 in fines for their actions. 

According to a press release, conservation officers Josiah Killingbeck and Scott MacNeil from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) were conducting a fish patrol along the Manistee River when they received a tip from an angler that men were using illegal methods and equipment to take fish.  “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 MDNR 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.”

The men appear to have been located along the Lower Manistee River, where popular runs of chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead make it one of the most heavily-fished sections of river in Michigan. Salmon snaring is illegal in Michigan. When contacted, several of the men attempted to break off their fishing lines so officers would not see their illegal fishing gear. After interviews, it was determined that the group did not have valid fishing licenses, were using illegal tackle, and possessed 17 fish taken by illegal methods. 

The men lead Killingbeck and MacNeill back to their truck where they had an additional 40 to 50 fish, totaling 463 pounds. If they had abided by regulations, the group would have been allowed the have 30 fish in total. After pleading guilty, each fisherman owes more than $1,100 in restitution.  

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“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,” said Emery. “We are grateful for the angler who approached Killingbeck and MacNeill, which allowed them to recover the fish with enough time to safely donate [the meat] to local families in need.”