NYECOs Bust Four Anglers for Netting Smallmouth and Transporting in Backpacks

On May 23, 2023, Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Don Damrath received a call from a local business owner in the Town of Perrysburg, who stated four men were using cast nets to take fish from Cattaraugus Creek. “The Catt” is one of the most popular and productive freshwater fishing destinations in New York State. ECO Damrath was an hour away so he contacted ECO Nathan Mead for assistance, who responded to the location within minutes and started searching for the subjects after finding their vehicle.

About an hour later, ECO Damrath arrived on-site and observed four men emerging from the Cattaraugus Creek gorge, struggling to carry large, waterproof, survival-style backpacks that looked quite heavy, and two cast nets. Once the backpacks and nets were loaded into the suspects’ vehicle, ECO Damrath took the opportunity to politely introduce himself to the poachers.

Officers Mead and Damrath counted a total of 71 illegally taken fish, including 21 trophy-sized smallmouth bass (which are currently spawning), a brown trout, suckers and carp—all told, about 200 pounds of fish!

The ECOs issued a total of 13 tickets for violations including taking fish by means other than angling, taking fish out-of-season, and unlawfully possessing protected fish. The fish were donated to the Messinger Woods Wildlife Care and Education Center in Holland, NY.

Fairly shocking to see the premeditated gall of these poachers, and the efforts made to poach fish from a popular fishing destination is just disgusting.

NY fish poachers casting nets and waterproof backpacks

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