Monday, 23 September 2013

1-800-782-0076

Fishing in Manitoba, you gotta love it!  Every day can bring a new adventure, a great catch and awesome memories. I wanted to take a few minutes to share some of the more frustrating experiences from this open water season and to encourage anglers to program a certain number into their cellphones.
At one time or another we have all witnessed someone breaking the rules.  Depending on our personalities, some of us will try and educate folks, others may get confrontational, sadly many do nothing.  It appears as though people seem to forget there is a number you can call to turn in poachers and violators, and it's on your fishing license!

Now I know the old "I called the number and reported it and no one showed up" ,  I get it, that is definitely discouraging.  The officers are spread so thin, and completely underfunded it is hard to be everywhere they are needed. Many people would shudder if they knew the square kilometers districts are in charge of.

I've personally witnessed many the violation this season, some of them where no cell service was available. I was not about to pack up shop, give up my spot and drive the 20 minutes back into service range, but I definitely pulled over on the way home once in service range and called TIPS to report what I saw.

If an officer can not make it in time the report still goes on file and the more calls that come in about certain spots, the more likely it will be that the officers check on them more often.  We have witnessed just that at a few popular spots and it is somewhat making a difference.

A lot of the violations we witnessed are almost unbelievable to me. Families of five or more hanging out on shore, a line in for each member, fishing or not. While the fathers watched over the lines, the children would be playing near by, but not once would we see a child cast out, or retrieve a fish.  Individual people fishing with 2 rods in the water and a hand line as well, dipping their walrus sized net for any kind of fish they can get, keeping everything big or small.  A van on the side of the road selling "pickerel" for five bucks a pound. In some situations it is difficult to try and educate, language barriers present themselves, numbers may not be in your favour, other obstructions arise as well.  Many a time myself or a friend would try and politely inform people when we witnessed rules being broken only to be responded to with hostility.

An example being: My wife and I were meeting up with a friend at a well known spot on the Red River outside of Winnipeg. He got there before us and saw two men fishing with four lines in the water. He's a really friendly guy, always helpful and educative to all sorts of people. After a bit of friendly banter he went on to tell them it was illegal in open water to use more than one line.  They shrugged it off, basically told him to mind his own business.  My wife and I showed up and could see the multiple lines in the water, our friend told me he tried to inform them of the law, and through conversation other obvious infractions came up.

I was on the phone dialing 1-800-782-0076 before he could even finish talking.  A report was taken, with our location given, a description of the people, the offense and their license plate.  My name and contact info was requested and less than an hour later I got a call from the nearest CO.  Sadly they could not make it that day, more details were taken and I was assured, as I was in the past that they would make their presence known more often when time permits.  So they had a license plate and description of the violators, maybe it wasn't the first time or the last, but if they come across those folks they will have a better idea of what they are up against.

But wouldn't you know a few days after that I received another phone call, a local CO I had spoken with in the past was setting up a sting at the location I reported and looking for as much detail as possible.  It was nice to know they were putting in some time and effort at a spot on the extreme outer edge of their district.  I wont know if a bust was made or not but I do know that the tip was taken seriously and I know others are too!

These are resources for everyone to appreciate, be it hunting out of season or over fishing, we all need to do our part and help be the eyes and ears that conservation needs to protect it. You see over harvesting of fish, or too many lines in the water, take pictures of license plates if it is obvious of the vehicle they are associated with and make detailed notes of the situation, then call TIPS 1-800-782-0076.   Take some time to contact your local wildlife federation and let them know where you are seeing problems as well, and while you're at it contact all levels of government requesting more funds for conservation and protection of our natural resources.



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