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Five Wisconsin anglers have been charged in Ramsey Court with exceeding their possession limit of walleyes in excess of 100 fish on Grand Lake in North Dakota according to a report on GrandForksHerald.com. The daily creel limit is 5 per person and 10 in possession.

Michael Wirkus, Racine Wis.; Donald Klatkiewicz, Mukwonago, Wis.; Daniel Klatkiewicz, Hales Corners, Wis.; Robert Richer Jr., Hales Corners, Wis.; and Allen Lafave, Racine, Wis.; and an unnamed juvenile were turned in by another concerned angler who called the Report all Poachers hotline and tipped off North Dakota Game and Fish authorities. 

Authorities caught the group on June 20, 2014 and a quick search of the vehicle resulted in 25 whole walleyes. A search of the house they were staying in, however, resulted in another 135 walleyes cleaned and frozen in 45 freezer bags. That put the men exactly 100 over their possession limit.

The group will appear in court August 18 and face up to $1,725 a piece in fines. Being over the possession limit is a Class B Misdemeanor in North Dakota.

For more on this report, visit the GrandForksHerald.com.

EDITORS NOTE: We don’t like to report the bad things that happen around fishing, but we hope this serves as a reminder for all anglers to learn and obey the creel and possession limits on lakes to keep them healthy for our future generations.

26 thoughts on “5 Wisconsin Anglers Busted for Poaching on Devils Lake

  1. Article doesn’t say how long they were staying at the lake house if it was a week or two week fishing trip or just one day needs clarification if one day I can see problem but if 6 people on a week trip sounds like a local just jealous of luck they were having

    • Possession limits don’t have time limits. Possession limits are total catch in your possession whether it took you a week or two days to catch them. Until you eat those fish, you can’t keep more. It doesn’t matter if they stayed a day or two weeks. If they are over the possession limit, they are breaking the law.

      Bluegills don’t have possession limits in most states. Catch and keep as many as you want but walleyes, bass, crappie and other game fish do so that fisheries aren’t raped and pillaged by anglers keeping more than their fair share.

      Eat the walleye and come back and catch some more. That’s how it works all across the country. Unfortunately there are anglers like this all across the country that think they can catch and keep way more than is allowed. There are many smaller fisheries in our backyard right now that are suffering from over harvest. It’s been said even once great fisheries like Amistad suffer from this problem. So these folks and the fines associated with this crime need to be made examples.

  2. I count seven people, that’s well under the 5 per day, with 25 found?

    What if the ones frozen were caught on different days? Doesn’t that make then legal?

    I’m not 100% clear.. just wondering.

    • Hi Tara. It’s a good question and it’s one of the reasons we report stories like this because a lot of people are confused about bag limits versus possession limits. A bag limit is what one angler can keep in one day. A possession limit is what one angler can have in their possession at any time whether it took 2 days or 2 months to catch. There were 5 licensed anglers and a child. Even if you counted the kid as part of the possession limit, they would be allowed to have 60 walleyes in their possession. They had 150. Possession limits are mostly in place to keep thousands of anglers from coming to fisheries and pillaging them for all they can catch. Several fisheries have been destroyed by over harvesting.

      In most states, possession limits are twice the daily bag limit. That was the case here as well. The other part of this is if they caught that many walleyes in less than 6 days, they had to have broken the daily bag limits as well. So they were guilty of breaking both game and fish laws in one trip. It’s unfortunate and may very well have been a naive mistake judging by a lot of the comments we’ve seen this morning. I hate it for them if that is the case. But it’s imperative people know the game laws before pursuing them.

      The reports I have heard is it’s pretty easy to catch walleyes right now on Devils Lake, so catching 150 was no big feat. And at these times are when fisheries can suffer over harvesting, setting fisheries back decades in some cases.

  3. That’s stupid. If they fished on the lake for a week straight they can keep more that the limit. The bag limit is a daily limit. Must be a liberal state thing. Florida you can freeze all you want just can’t catch more than the daily limit but every day the limit starts over. Get a lawyer and they should be fine.

    • Actually a lawyer won’t help in this case as their violation is easily documented and the rules very clear on possession limits. This is why these articles are good because people are often confused about bag limits and possession limits in their own states and this provides an opportunity to clear up misunderstandings. Also I’m sorry to point this out, but you are incorrect about Florida Possession limits as well. I fished fresh and saltwater for a decade there. Possession limits in Florida are 2 times daily bag limits. And you may not possess more unless you have a commercial fishing license.

      http://myfwc.com/fishing/freshwater/regulations/general/ (2nd paragraph).

    • Well there florida one thing to remember is that your growing season dosnt stop and ours is only 3 months we have set limit for a reasom so we don’t fish our lakes out. And why would you want to keep catching your limit every day you will eventually waste them.

  4. Possession limits are just that…the legal amount of fish one person can POSSESS….REGARDLESS of time actually spent fishing. Whether a trip lasts two days or two months, one person cannot legally have more fish in his or her POSSESSION than the legal POSSESSION limit. A daily limit is how many fish you can legally keep in a day of fishing. Often, a state’s POSSESSION limit is 2x or 3x the daily limit. The possession limit is absolute….you simply cannot have more fish of a given species than the legal POSSESSION limit, no matter how many days you fish. To say that this must be a “liberal” state regulation, I suggest you look up North Dakota politics and see just how “liberal” most North Dakotans are. Anyone who has even the SLIGHTEST comprehension of what a possession limit is legally defined as knows these folks were criminal in their behavior and should be prosecuted fully.

    • I think it is great these thieves got caught. When ever people like this are breaking the law by having more fish than is legal, they are stealing from all of us a our children who will follow us as fishermen someday. If I see someone breaking the creel limits and taking under size fish home, I will be the first to turn them in. All honest fishermen should have enough back bone about them to do the same. It really makes me sick to see this going on. Laws are set up on our rivers and lakes to protect the sport of fishing that so many of us love so much. I want my kids to be able to enjoy fishing as much as I have and to always respect the laws of the land. They should have their license pulled for life.

  5. Possession limits are particularly confusing, even if you talk to wildlife officials. I wasn’t completely sure of their meaning until recently myself. Everyone makes mistakes. There is no reason to put these guys in the limelight and beat them down. Use the case as an example but leave their names out. They’re probably good people that misunderstood the law anyway. As Christians, human beings, people with integrity, etc. it is not our place to judge. Everyone that reads this is guilty of something in their lives, and most fishermen have been inadvertently guilty of this exact crime if you’re honest with yourself. I didn’t think Wired2Fish’s objective was to paint a target on fellow fishermans heads.

    • Agreed. It’s not our intent to crucify these anglers. As we said on Facebook, I would hate to think these are good guys who were just naive about the possession limits as many have shown to be in today’s comments and were so caught up in how good the fishing was and how much they love eating walleye that they didn’t stop to understand the possession limits. This hopefully encourages all anglers to learn their daily bag and possession limits for their state.

  6. The possession limit is a highly debated topic, and there is plenty of misinformation put out by those who think they know the law. I would advise all to research and know the laws for the state in which they are fishing.

    I don’t know about Wisconsin, but in Kentucky possession limit does not apply to processed fish. You can catch a limit every day all year long as long as you process them.


    (6) “Possession limit” means the maximum number of unprocessed fish a person may hold after two (2) or more days of fishing.

    (7) “Processed fish” means a fish that has been gutted and head removed.

    The KY Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Fishing Guide even says this:

    Q: How is a daily creel limit different than a possession limit?

    A: The daily creel limit is the number of a particular sport fish species you may keep in one day’s fishing. A possession limit is two times the daily creel limit for all fish species with a daily creel limit and excludes processed fish.

  7. They were fishing in North Dakota – North Dakota allows unlimited processed fish in a freezer at one’s personal permanent residence. They may have read that part and thought they were okay, but missed the part about transporting them.


    “Possession limit is the maximum number of each legally taken fish species that a person may have in his/her actual possession during any phase of any single fishing trip of more than one day. Storage limit at one’s personal permanent residence is unlimited; however, at no time may a person transport more than a possession limit.”

    Since they were from Wisconsin and not at their personal permanent residence, they would have to transport their catch home at some point, which would have been over the limit and violating the law.

  8. Jason keeps having to repeat himself. Its pretty simple stuff guys, the anglers were in possession whether the fish were in the boat, truck, or house. Its just like if a guy gets busted with drugs and tells the cops “but officer I bought those a year ago!” The cops do not care, because your still in POSSESSION! lol

  9. Try that in Wisconsin and see what happens….you will lose your truck, boat, tackle, etc. not to mention hefty fines.

  10. Here in alberta canada the possession is 1. One daily and or 1 walleye in the freezer. The limits are there for a darn good reason. For those of you who have higher bag limits be grateful.
    Go fish and eat and go fish again, just make sure our kids and grand kids will know what it is like to go fishing.

    I hope the courts throw the max penalties they can at these poachers or any future poachers

  11. So the Game Warden took the fish and…. done what with them? Confiscated them so he could pose for a picture with them? I think I’ve read that they can sell things like that. Not sure. I just hope the fish weren’t wasted is all. If they took them just to throw them away, then they’ve committed a crime as bad, if not worse, as the poachers. Something “fishy” about this picture. Pun intended lol. Anyways, keep up the good work W2F. Learn something new every day reading your articles.

  12. The part that pisses me off is they’re only classified and class B misdemeanors!
    Those guys have probably been doing that for years because no real punishment comes to them even if they get caught. Change the classification to minimum class E felony. Give people like that some real punishment and maybe we’d start getting some of the poachers off lakes n rivers!

  13. If they lived in the area and put these in their home fridge it wouldnt be a problem, correct? I dont even keep fish and I dont agree with this.

  14. Whats next, the government is gonna tell us when we can eat the Walleyes, like 5pm every 3rd Tuesday?? Seriously this is government over reach. Count the bags, 45 fish! What are they counting each filet as a fish??? They are well within their creel limit, 25 fish by 6 anglers. The daily possesion by law is 10 fish intact,c45 have been cleaned. The gubbamint can not include Tuesdays catch on Friday.

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