According to a press release issued by the Department of Environmental Conservation, on February 15, Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) Jason Hilliard and Robert Higgins conducted a night patrol prior to the start of the Great Sacandaga Lake (GSL) Fisheries derby and the Walleye Challenge.
The ECOs reported that they located tip-ups that had been left out overnight unoccupied, a violation of Environmental Conservation Law. The officers say they also found a 32-inch northern pike being kept alive and stored in the ice next to an unoccupied fishing shanty.
Believing that the fish might be entered into one of the contests, ECOs Hilliard and Keith Kelly returned to the shanty the next morning to interview the angler about leaving his tip-ups unattended. When asked about his luck fishing that day, the ECO’s say the angler said that he caught a big northern pike earlier in the morning, entered it in the contest, and released it. The ECOs reported that the angler admitted to the wrongdoings after being informed that they had been out the previous night.
The fishing derby rules state that a contestant cannot fish before a designated time. The subject was issued a ticket for leaving fishing lines unattended. The officers said they shared the ticket with the contest board, resulting in the disqualification of the pike from the tournament.
ECOs Shane Manns, Steve Shaw, Rob Higgins, Brian Toth, Paul Pasciak, and Mark Klein also patrolled the events on February 16, along with the New York State Police and the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department.
According to the DEC press release, patrols focused on public safety and compliance with fishing regulations for the thousands of people in attendance. Additional tickets were issued for unattended tip-ups, unregistered motor vehicles, and riding ATVs without helmets.
Patrols also assisted with an ATV and a snowmobile that went through the ice during the weekend.
Photo of northern pike being kept alive and stored in the ice courtesy DEC.