While patrolling the closed trout waters prior to opening day, Lt. Lacroix charged five individuals with fishing during closed waters on Rosedale Lake and the Stony Brook in Hopewell Township, Mercer Co. One individual was charged with fishing without a license on the D&R Canal. One fisherman also was charged with fishing during closed waters when he was found fly fishing on Colonial Lake at 0630 hours on opening day.
CO Mascio attended the March meeting of the Mercer County Sportsmen's Federation.
CO Mascio charged six individuals fishing on the Assunpink Creek near Dam site #5 in Robbinsville Twp., Mercer County with numerous fishing violations including: fishing closed waters, netting in freshwater and fishing without licenses.
CO Mascio received a complaint from a fisherman about two adults and two juveniles fishing for herring from a boat on the Delaware River in Trenton. According to the complainant, the fishermen were keeping the fish in a basket off the side of the boat. CO Mascio and Lt. Lacroix stopped the boat at the Trenton boat ramp and found the individuals in possession of 7 herring. They admitted that they had caught 10 herring, but that several had gotten out of the basket. One of the adults took responsibility for the fish and received a summons for possession of four herring during the emergency closure.
The Central Region Office received a call from a complainant about three fishermen on a boat in Trenton keeping striped bass during the closed season. The boat was familiar to CO Mascio who had been watching the boat for several days believing that they were jigging for herring. CO Mascio was unable to apprehend the boat the previous day due to wind conditions, however, he and CO Martiak conducted a boat patrol the following day and located the same boat. The officers were assisted by a PA Waterways Conservation Officer and a PA Game Commission Officer. The fishermen, all PA residents had launched out of PA so they were able to keep striped bass if they caught any. Two of the fishermen, however, did not have fishing licenses and the boat was incorrectly numbered. Also, one of the fishermen had numerous active warrants in New Jersey. CO Mascio charged one of the fishermen with fishing without a license and the PA Waterways Conservation Officer wrote the other fishing without a license. PA is also looking into the boat numbering issue. The individual with active warrants was taken into custody by the Mercer County Sheriff's Department.
CO Szalaj attended the March meeting of the Burlington County Sportsmen's Federation.
CO Martiak attended the April Meeting of the Middlesex County Sportsmen's Federation.
CO Mutone was working the opening day of trout season with Capt. Herrighty on the Toms River Trout Conservation Area. CO Mutone was conducting inspections along the river when she was told that there was an individual using power bait, despite having been told it was not allowed in the Trout Conservation Area. She inspected the angler who was trying to get her attention off his fishing pole. CO Mutone asked the individual to reel in his line. The individual had an artificial lure with power bait on the hooks. The appropriate enforcement action was taken.
Conservation Officer Jean Mutone was patrolling Holiday Lake in Stafford Township and inspected a fisherman and found him to be in violation for not having a fishing license. Approximately two hours later C.O. Mutone arrived at the same lake and found the same individual fishing again with a friend. C.O. Mutone inspected that angler and found him to be in violation for fishing without a license. The second individual was upset that he was getting a complaint summons for fishing without a license and advised the issuing officer that he should have been given a warning. The original angler that was cited earlier in the day still had not purchased a fishing license. The appropriate enforcement action was taken.
Conservation Officer Greg Szulecki was patrolling Bucks Mills Pond in Colts Neck Township. C.O. Szulecki met up with a fisherman and asked him if he caught anything. The angler told the officer he caught a catfish. C.O. Szulecki noticed while he was talking to the angler that there was a bucket stacked within a bucket and he heard a fish bouncing around. The angler removed the one bucket and C.O. Szulecki observed a short largemouth bass. The angler produced an expired 2011 fishing license. C.O. Szulecki conducted a records check and found the angler did not have a current 2012 fishing license. The appropriate enforcement action was taken.
While patrolling Turn Mill Pond in the Colliers Mills WMA., C.O. McManus observed a vehicle pass him with a very young operator. He stopped the vehicle and found the operator to be 14 years old. The father was in the passenger seat and told Officer McManus that, "this isn't what it looks like." Officer McManus detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle. Upon closer inspection, he also found five empty beer cans in the man's cooler. When the man was questioned, he indicated that he had only had one beer. The appropriate enforcement action was taken.
Conservation Officer Sean McManus was observing people fishing at Oak Ford Pond in New Egypt Township. C.O. McManus observed one of the fishermen leave the water's edge heading to his vehicle. C.O. McManus asked the individual for his fishing license. The individual stated he was not fishing and that he was going to buy a hot dog. C.O. McManus asked the individual to follow him to his friend along the water's edge. After speaking with both individuals C.O. McManus ascertained that both individuals did not have a fishing license. The appropriate enforcement action was taken.
Lieutenant Tom O'Rourke was patrolling Takanassee Lake in Long Branch Township. He observed a man fishing while parked in a parking lot. Upon approaching the angler, Lt. O'Rourke asked to see his fishing license. The angler stated he has a saltwater registry license. Lt. O'Rourke advised the angler that he was in fresh water and needed a freshwater license. The angler continued to argue with the officer that it was saltwater. Lt. O'Rourke asked the angler to reel in his line. At the end of his line was a hook with an earthworm on it. Lt. O'Rourke politely asked the angler do you normally use earthworms for bait in saltwater? The angler replied, "No". The appropriate enforcement action was taken.
Captain Cianciulli attended the Cumberland County Federation of Sportsmen's meeting at the Menatico Gun Club, Maurice River Township.
Conservation Officer Toppin and Captain Cianciulli attended the Camden County Federation of Sportsmen's meeting at the Square Circle Gun Club, Gibbsboro.
Conservation Officer Toppin received information that fishermen had retained short striped bass while fishing at the DOD Ponds Wildlife Management Area in Carney' Point, Salem County. He relayed the vehicle description to CO Kille who was able to stop the vehicle in Logan Township, Gloucester County. CO Kille conducted a field interview and recovered all the short fish. The appropriate summonses were issued to each fisherman.
Conservation Officer Stites located a Cadillac Escalade destroyed by fire in the Maskell Mills Wildlife Management Area in Quinton Township, Salem County. The State Police Arson Unit and CO Stites are still investigating the incident.
Captain Ciancuilli and Lt. Risher attended the Salem County Federation of Sportsmen's meeting at the Salem County Sportsmen Club.
Conservation Officer Kille attended the Gloucester County Federation of Sportsmen's meeting at the George Rush Building, Franklin Township.
Conservation Officers Toppin and Stites were conducting an evening striped bass patrol along Delaware River in Carney's Point, Salem County, when CO Toppin walked up to a sportsman fishing and observed him smoking Marijuana. The individual was arrested for possessing a controlled dangerous substance and processed with the help of Carney's Point Police Department.
Lt. Risher responded to a complaint of illegal fishing on the opening day of Trout Season at Iona Lake in Franklin Township, Gloucester County. He observed four fishermen fishing in the back of the lake from a private dock. Lt. Risher inspected the fishermen behind the residence and found all of the fishermen did not have a valid fishing license or trout stamps. The appropriate summonses were issued.
Lt. Risher responded to a complaint of illegal fishing during the trout closure at Mary Elmer Lake in Bridgeton City, Cumberland County. He observed one fisherman catch a trout and place it on a stringer in the bushes next to him. Lt Risher approached and inspected the stringer and released the trout unharmed. The appropriate summons was issued.
Lt. Risher was on patrol in the Winslow Wildlife Management Area in Monroe Township, Gloucester County when he heard gun shots from the closed range. Lt. Risher approached and observed a handgun and loaded shotguns in the bed of the pickup. The individuals were shooting a .40 caliber handgun at a homemade target. The appropriate summonses were issued.
Conservation Officers Toppin and Vazquez responded to a call for assistance from the NJ Forest Fire Service on the Winslow Wildlife Management Area, Monroe Township, Gloucester County. The forest fire burned approximately 400 acres in two locations and the cause is still under investigation. The CO's blocked access to the WMA in order to prevent motorists from entering and getting dangerously close to the active fire.
Conservation Officer Fox attended the Atlantic County Federation of Sportsmen's meeting at the Germania Gun Club, Egg Harbor Township.
The opening of a new trout stocked lake in Lower Township, Cape May County was well received by the public. The Cox Hall Creek Wildlife Management Area was stocked with trout for the first time this year and about 200 fishermen were present for the opening day. Lt. Ely was there to begin the season and witnessed fish being landed within 30 seconds of opening! Plenty of fish were caught and some anglers caught their limit.
District Six Conservation Officers have been responding to numerous dumping complaints. They have been able to conclude the investigations quickly and assess substantial penalties while having the violators remove the debris.
On April 8th, while eating at a local restaurant during his off time, CO Scott noticed a live tank which contained several undersized Atlantic cod and a fresh shipment of American lobsters. CO Scott contacted CO Moscatiello and advised him that a market inspection would be a good idea. CO Moscatiello conducted a routine market inspection which yielded three undersized cod and four undersized American lobsters. CO Moscatiello issued the appropriate summonses.
On March 24th, while concluding an evening patrol of Raritan Bay, CO Scott received a tip that several fishermen were burying undersized striped bass underneath a log in Union Beach. CO Scott contacted CO's Klitz and Moscatiello, who were working later into the night, to assist in the inspection. While the fishermen were showing CO Moscatiello their legal catch, CO Klitz located three undersized striped bass buried underneath a large log. After further questioning the CO's located another striped bass hidden inside a tire. The CO's were able to tie a total of four undersized striped bass to one of the fisherman. CO Moscatiello issued summonses to the fisherman for possession of four undersized striped bass and two striped bass over the daily bag limit.
In the early morning hours of March 25th, COs Scott, Klitz, and Moscatiello conducted a commercial fisheries inspection of the FV Miss Brielle at the Point Pleasant Packing Co. dock in Point Pleasant Beach. The vessel had multiple species on board, including summer flounder, scup, monkfish, lobster, skate, and black sea bass. After a cursory look at the amount of fish on board, the COs noticed that the black sea bass were spread over several containers. Realizing this is not the typical way a load of fish is landed, the COs directed the Captain to separate the catch by species. Once all of the species had been separated out it, was clear that there were more black sea bass than was legally permitted. The COs weighed the black sea bass using their state-issued electronic scale. It was discovered that the Captain had landed 59 pounds in excess of the 100 pound by-catch limit of black sea bass. The fish were seized, bid out and sold to the highest bidding dealer. The appropriate summons was issued.
CO Petruccelli apprehended the FV Ocean Pride for landing 50lbs. of summer flounder in excess of the daily trip limit of 1500lbs. CO Harp had previously issued this fishing vessel a written warning for the same violation a few weeks prior. A summons was issued and the F/V Ocean Pride now faces a $300 to $3,000 penalty and a 60 day suspension of its' NJ summer flounder landing permit.
Prior to the opening of the Delaware Bay Commercial Crab Pot Season, CO Petruccelli conducted a boat patrol to look for crabbers setting or tending gear early. CO Petruccelli encountered a string of nine commercial crab pots freshly baited. CO Petruccelli recorded the 3- digit gear ID number and later interviewed the commercial crabber returning to the dock on the opening day of April 6. When most crabbers were busy setting gear, this crabber came back with 27 bushels of crabs. The appropriate summons was issued.
After investigating an abandoned gill net in the Cohansey River, CO Trembley recently charged a Delaware Bay gillnet fisherman with failing to have a gillnet license and wanton waste of marine finfish. CO Swift then conducted a records inspection at the Flag Crab Company revealing that this gillnet fisherman had recently sold 110lbs. of shad and still had not purchased a 2012 gillnet license. CO Swift issued additional charges to the same fisherman after he and CO Stites interviewed him and received a written confession of harvesting and selling shad without a 2012 gill net license.
One late afternoon CO Nicklow observed an individual get dropped off at the currently closed Beesley's Point Bridge in Somers Point. The individual possessed a clam basket with an inner tube, a clam rake, and a fishing pole. Low tide was not until after midnight. CO Nicklow questioned the individual's intentions and observed that he was wearing a wetsuit under his clothes. The individual showed CO Nicklow his 2012 commercial shellfish license and stated that he was going to fish and sleep out in one of the vacated storage buildings overnight. CO Nicklow later determined that the individual's shellfish license privileges were revoked 3 years ago for a period of 5 years. At midnight, Lt. Snellbaker dropped off CO Swift in a kayak to patrol a nearby shellfish lease to make sure the individual was not raiding the lease. Lt. Snellbaker and CO Swift did not find the individual. CO Nicklow apprehended the individual a few days later clamming in Brigantine and issued the appropriate charges.
All 38 patrons charged with taking and possessing black sea bass during the closed season on the party F/V Jamaica recently plead guilty in Brielle court, resulting in $15,330 collected in penalties. Along with the sale of the seized black sea bass for $6,518, the operation netted a total of $21,848.
While patrolling Middle Township's Ingram Thorofare by vehicle, CO Petruccelli observed two commercially licensed clammers harvesting shellfish from waters prohibited to the harvest of shellfish. CO Petruccelli waited for the clammers to return to their vehicle by kayak. The clammers had to take multiple trips to land their 11 untagged bags of hard clams. CO Petruccelli issued summonses for harvesting shellfish from condemned waters and fail to tag each container of shellstock.
CO Tomlin responded to a complaint from a North Wildwood Police Officer in reference to a person possibly harvesting shellfish from condemned waters. CO Tomlin determined that the clammer was not in condemned waters but initiated an inspection when the clammer returned to the ramp by boat. The clammer possessed 1800 clams in 9 containers. The clammer did not have a valid commercial shellfish license and could not produce any identification. After a records check revealed the individual had numerous warrants and was a wanted person in Ocean County, the Ocean County Sheriff's Department responded and arrested the clammer. CO Tomlin issued a summons for clamming without a commercial shellfish license and returned the clams back to the water.
While investigating a separate tautog complaint on the Cold Spring Inlet Jetties, CO Petruccelli observed a vessel containing three fishermen, catching and retaining undersize tautog. CO Petruccelli ran the vessel's registration and found a vehicle and trailer with a matching owner at the Spicer Creek boat ramp. When the vessel returned to the ramp, two of the fishermen exited the vessel to retrieve the vehicle and trailer. When one of the individuals saw CO Petruccelli he yelled to the vessel operator who then backed the vessel out of the ramp and began to head down the creek to avoid CO Petruccelli. CO Petrucelli issued a loud clear verbal command to the vessel's operator to stop making way. The inspection revealed live tautog and resulted in summonses for 18 undersized tautog and 6 tautog over the daily possession limit.
On the opening week of the April-May commercial black sea bass season, CO Petruccelli and an off duty CO Tomlin observed the F/V Sonja H heading back to Cape May Harbor after the vessel called into the Marine Region Office earlier to land black sea bass. As the F/V Sonja H was nearing the Two Mile Inlet, CO Petruccelli and CO Tomlin observed the sister vessel, F/V 307, leave its dock in Cape May Harbor. The two vessels met outside the inlet briefly and returned back to the dock to offload black sea bass. CO Petruccelli observed each vessel offload the legal trip limit of 1000lbs. As CO Petruccelli arrived at the dock to inspect their catch, the captains stated that they each caught their trip limit of 1000lbs. The investigation revealed that the F/V Sonja H had caught and possessed 2000lbs. of black sea bass and transferred 1000lbs of black sea bass at sea to the F/V 307. The Fishing Vessel Trip Reports and a call-in to the Marine Region Office were falsified to show each vessel landing its respective trip limit of 1000lbs. CO Petruccelli issued F/V Sonja H and its captain a summons for possessing 1000lbs. over the daily trip limit of 1000lbs. The black sea bass were seized and sold for their fair market value. Since this is the vessel's second offense, both the F/V Sonja H and its captain are subject to enhanced penalties of $500 to $5,000 and a 120 day suspension of the NJ Black Sea bass Landing Permit. Additional State and Federal charges are pending.