KENT ISLAND, Md. (WJZ) — Tons of rockfish worth thousands of dollars were seized Tuesday by Natural Resources Police.

Suzanne Collins was there when the illegal catch was brought to shore.

Three tons of rockfish were seized, trapped days before the official start of the legal rockfish season.

Natural Resources Police say they found the gill net illegally anchored just south of the Bloody Point lighthouse.

The investigation began late Monday night.  Police endured freezing rain to stake out the poacher.

“They anchor it a day or two ahead of time, let that net catch 24 hours a day and load up with fish.  Then they come out at 3 a.m., legal starting time and pull that net aboard,” said Sgt. Art Windemuth.  “By 7 a.m., when nobody had fished the net, we came and pulled it out ourselves.”

The three tons of fish seized would have brought $12,000 profit.  If they find the culprits, they will be arrested.

“They can face a fine of $2,000 or a year in jail,” said Windemuth.

Natural Resources Police say they can’t be everywhere at once and these nets are often put in a very remote place.  They are asking the public’s help calling in tips.

“This resource belongs to everybody and it’s up to everybody to get involved to protect it, not just for this generation but for future generations,” Windemuth said.

Natural Resources Police say there are only a few bad guys, but they spoil it for fishermen who play by the rules.

The rockfish that were still alive could not be thrown back because they lost a protective coating on their scales when they were caught in the net.

Comments (32)
  1. Doug says:

    When they catch them,please brand the word “Poacher” in their respective foreheads

  2. rockfish are yummy says:

    so, what do they do with the fish? They should give them to homeless shelters or soup kitchens….

  3. Bite Me says:

    First news about raping the bay of menhaden in the Virginia area of the food stripers / rockfish eat.
    Now poachers /commercial fisherman are raping the bay of the rockfish.
    These fish are returning to the bay to spawn and don’t have a chance at reproduction. NETS NETS NETS everywhere.

    There should be laws made that while a commercial netter sets a net the DNR needs to have GPS locations with there license numbers time of day nets were set / pulled etc.

    A signal device attached to there nets sending signals that can be recorded and observed by the DNR 24/7 weather there stored in there garage or in transport in the bay to keep these greedy thugs in line

    Just a thought DNR

    1. Atim Ant says:

      @ Bite Me
      That’s the dumbest idea I’ve heard all day. GPS nets? Wow…

    2. Ronald G Miner Jr says:

      It’s not just the Menhadden and rockfish. The bay has been fished nearly “dry” of oysters, yellow perch, white shad, American eels, and soft clams. The crabbing was so bad a couple years ago they had to limit the number of female crabs…Do the watermen care? I am sure some do, but their political power in Annapolis is strong. There is an unwritten code where no one turns anyone else into the police. The punishment for such things are a slap on the wrist and poaching watermen see them as just the cost of doing “business”. The one saving grace is that with every passing generation fewer and fewer are turning to the bay to make a living..mainly because generations that have come before have ruined it.

      1. Disgusted Waterman says:

        You obviously have NO idea what you’re talking about. The governer and DNR set all regulations and seasons. The Atlantic Coast Fisheries set the quotas. And for your information Waterman have very little political power unlike the big polluters like large corporations, farmers, sport fisherman etc. I have read all your comments on this subject. It’s very easy to blame the Waterman for all of the Chesapeake Bays woes. Everything should be taken into a count such as poor water quality, pollution, mismanagement of all the bays species, bad science from marine biologist, farm run off and I could go on and on. However the Waterman is the easiest target for all your rederick. Most Watermen are hard working law abiding citizens who contribute to our economy.

      2. The Wife of a Waterman says:

        I would like to give you the perspective from a Waterman’s wife. My husband has been a Waterman for 40 years. I have been by his side and watched as the industry has changed and he has changed with it. I have often wondered why he does what he does for a living. I have gone out with my husband while he is working and there is something magical that happens to him and then I realize why he is a Waterman it’s his love. He is a simple hard working honest man. He spends many hours working on his equipment and preparing for each season. He does not get paid for all those hours worked. Not to mention the money it costs to maintain his boat and equipment. Also the loss he takes with each season to the pleasure boater/sport fisherman who runs over, drags and destroys his rig while in the water playing. I don’t know any Waterman who is in this for the money. Yes the hope is always a profit; however most do it because it has been passed down to them generation to generation. They love the water and want to provide a service. It is in there blood. This is not a job with fancy benefits and it‘s not pretty. He comes home tired, ache and sometimes very smelly. And then has to put up with the likes of you Mr. Miner. Who is probably sitting in your nice house with a big fat income and a pleasure boat the size of a cruiser?

  4. DEEP THROAT says:

    not dumb at all. that is sop for alaska

  5. Sharlene Bullen says:

    If they can make $12,000.00 and pay $2,000.00 in fineds. Sounds like a good deal to me. DUH!

  6. Disgusted Waterman says:

    You obviously have no idea what it is to be a Commercial Fisherman. I am appalled by fishermen who don’t play by the rules. There are bad apples in every barrel but we don’t have to punish the ones who play by the rules. People would not believe all the regulations, reports, requirements that are placed upon us to supply Maryland with sea food, In December Fisherman were allowed to work 5 days, in January 6 days so far in February we have been allowed 2 days. Try and feed your family on that! We are all not criminals. FYI= A Waterman’s license is $700.00 a year a Medical Doctors License is $450.00. Where’s the justice!!

    1. Ronald G Miner Jr says:

      Last time I checked, doctors weren’t in danger of destroying the last remining human…Can’t say that for watermen..Many of them would harvest the last remaining crab or oyster…and the politicians would let them.

  7. waterman says:

    disgusted waterman ur right some people have what is called do right! some do not.we had a total of 31 days last year fishing out of three months. let alone all the money a waterman spends just to go to work. it is wrong for a waterman to fish illegal. but also at the same time waterman still have a family to fead.

    1. Ronald G Miner Jr says:

      So it’s OK to poach if it’s to “feed your family?” Here’s a novel idea..if you can’t make a living on the water, get a 40 hour a week job. Don’t destroy the bay for future generations…

  8. kitty kelley haiby says:

    Something smells “fishy” about this story if you ask me. Isn’t it strange this net
    was supposedly left by a desperate fisherman who did not know that he was
    being watched yet he could afford to not return to retrieve his net or his catch?

  9. Walt says:

    Define commercial waterman, would you consider him someone who makes his primary income off the water, or maybe I should say “who needs a commercial license”. What about the non-commercial people who hold a hook and line, crabbing and even a TFL commercial license, they are not only Marylanders but out of state people. How much of that taxable income is Maryland loosing and what adverse affect do they put on the commercial watermans allocations. A poacher only needs a boat and net and may not be a waterman. There were answers to the problems years age, or did Maryland create the problem by letting non-commercial people have licenses.

    1. Ronald G Miner Jr says:

      Are you implying that Recreational fishermen shouldn’t exist? We spend hundreds of million of dollars in the state every year. Sounds to me like you want to ban everyone but those who caused the problems.

  10. catcall61 says:

    I like the GPS idea but lets put it on everybodys car and truck to track where they go and make sure they are not breaking any laws like speed limits or running red lights and stop signs.

  11. Leadbagger says:

    The gps idea is ridiculous!!!! Commercial Waterman is some1 who is hard working and is out there when your butts are in your warm beds. They are the ones who risk it all to put the seafood on your dinner plates. How would you feel if your boss told you that you can only work 6 days a month. You wouldnt like it at all muchless be able to feed your family or pay your bills. So instead of bashing waterman think about what they have to deal with just to make a dollar!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Ronald G Miner Jr says:

      No one put a gun to your head and made you become a watermen. We can get our seafood from respectable, LAW ABIDING people. The POACHERS need to be weeded out. You can’t tell me you don’t know who they are. You just refuse to turn them in, which makes you just as bad as the poachers themselves.

      1. catcall61 says:

        Does this include the recreational poacher who keeps more or bigger/smaller than the limit?There are tens of thousands of those who as a aggregate poach many more times what these few bad apples in the watermen community do.
        What about big fines for those who continue to fish for hours after they catch their limit causing catch and release mortality in large numbers?

        I guess you defend the trophy season too where rec fishermen slaughter a massive amount of fish full of eggs.

      2. brandon says:

        ha take your doctor job and shove it have u ever had to still go to work in 40mph winds.ive had the windows fall in my lap and almost sink the boat because i dint have a choise if i wanted 2 go to work i had to.

  12. Ronald G Miner Jr says:

    Many states have outlawed the commercial harvest of Rockfish by proclaiming them as a GAMEFISH only. Maryland needs to do the same. We have already had to close rockfish harvesting for many years back in the 1980s and even then the commercial watermen pleaded with Annapolis not to close the fishery. If they hadn’t done it, there would be none left. They wanted to destroy the rockfish population for a few dollars. It took many years and hundreds of millions of tax dollars to fix it…They should have shut down commercial harvest back then..

  13. Walt says:

    Mr. Miller jr. would it be possible for you to name those states that has outlawed commercial fishing and do they border the Chesapeake Bay? I said non- commercial watermen holding commercial licenses not recreational fishermen or crabbers, by the way how many of the recreational fish are counted and do you know your allocations as if it makes any difference to you million dollar spenders. A waterman will hold his hand in front of him and get paid for what he has done that day not behind himself for what he should have done that day. Have a nice day.

  14. mike says:

    The problem is that the law is a joke for this type of crime it should be 10 years in prision or a 70,000 dollar fine and they take your commercial license and are banned from ever owning one and they take your boat.

  15. commercial fisherman says:

    Just a few comments:
    Are we sure that the DNR did not set this net to make the watermen look bad.
    They said they could not release the fish. But who believes that. How many fish have you caught that you couldn’t release. Who thought of caught and release. If they had taken the fish out as they pulled the net in there would have been minimum mortaltiy. Instead they pulled everything in the boat. Of course the fish would die. And its funny they’re keeping the money. Maybe the should donate it to a charity. Or maybe they are trying to take the news away from themselves for planting illegal tracking devices on boats in Dorchester County. And suddenly now the tracking devices are missing.
    Why was that only in the Star Democrat and not on TV….
    If anchor netting is so bad for the fishing industry. Why does every state legalize it but Maryland. Also if there is a quota then let them catch it in January and then be done with the fishing for the season. Instead they only let watermen work a few days a month.

    1. kitty kelley haiby says:

      man i sure love you – wish i could reach out and give you a big hug right now for
      every word you just said. i am 63 and the daughter of a waterman from rock hall, md who abided by the laws of maryland and would be as suspicious of the DNR in this matter as you, i and many others are. you have my respect “commercial fisherman” and i voiced my suspicions on this story as well on 2-2-11.
      kitty kelley haiby

  16. Southern Yankee says:

    Why the hell does it matter how they catch the fish? They are given a quota every year and once it is caught up then they are put out of work. So why the hell does it matter if they are caught with an anchor net or a gill net??? A net is net!!!

  17. poor watermans wife says:

    i am appalled at mr miners comment that waterman should just get a 40 hour a week husband is a waterman and would love to work 40 hours a week and have a steady income and has tried to find a 40 hour a week job the last two years.i can guarantee you he works more hours a day being a waterman year round and in awful conditions just to try to provide for his famil;y.why does the dnr have the right to put gps units on boats?what about the pound netters who can fish season long without catching their quota?watermen are not outlaws.they are hard working people who have been forced to take despirate actions to make a living.ask the dnr how much they made with their poached fish.i”m sure its alot more then my husbands made fishing this winter.i agree thats its strange this year they found poached fish like they never have in the past.i also think it may be a set up to make the watermen look bad.oystering has already been a thing of the past so the only thing left is fishing and now that may be done.the only time a waterman can make decient money now is crabbing and they have to conend the new laws an limitations imposed each mr miner if you know of some 40 hour a week jobs availabel my husband many other waterman would love to have them.they are honest hard working people whether you believe it or not

  18. commercial fisherman says:

    Mr. Miner
    I really don’t think you know much about a watermen’s life. The DNR is making it impossible to work on the water. If there is a quota to catch. Let them catch it in the first of Jan. Then they can change there boat equipment and do something else. Instead they are told they can work two days the first week then maybe a couple more days the next week. Who can work like that. How would you feel if they told you when to go to work.

  19. jr.waterman says:

    In rockhall and if we can not fish we basically have no job and nothing to do.just because one person messed up it shouldnt affect everybody.
    mr.miner does not no how much of a deal it is.

  20. rick daviidsonville maryland says:

    MR. Mimer Just had to add my 2 cents, First off if you are as smart as you are suppose to be DOC. then i am sure you have heard of the issue you land locked people have caused which would be RUN OFF we are 100% sure that it has destroyed the bay so do your part on land to stop it from running into OUR water, Then maybe if it was commercial fisherman nets they would not have to do this type of thing to make a living because there would be plenty of species in our water to make a living on.

  21. laptop quotes says:

    I appreciate the time and effort you took to write an article worth reading.I really enjoyed it and will come back for more.I don’t often find a blog worth commenting on and this one is worth a round of applause.I hope that there will be follow up comments here as I have bookmarked this page and look forward to reading them.I practicaly grew up on a fishing boat and later in my teens I did a lot of crab fishing with my uncles.Your article brings back memories.

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