The recent thread about trout poaching got more hits and comments than anything else I’ve posted here.
It also got me thinking about the times I’ve caught hunters and fishermen breaking the law. One incident, that occurred nearly 30 years ago, still makes me smile.
I was fishing Webster County’s Back Fork of Elk catch-and-release section with a friend. We had covered about a quarter mile of water when we rounded a bend and spotted twoÂ guys sitting on a fallen logÂ beside a large pool. As soon as the two fellows saw us, they retreated into some streamside bushes.
“Bet they’re bait fishing,” my partner said. “And I bet they think we’re undercover conservation officers. Let’s see if we can have some fun with them.”
We walked up to where the two men had been sitting. Two spinning rods layÂ there,Â propped on forked sticks. We reeled the the lines in and found them baited with nightcrawlers.
“They were poachers, all right,” I said. “We’d better poke around and see if we can find them.”
We started thrashing loudly through the bushes. A few seconds later, we heard a car door slam. We ran to try to get a license number, but got to the road tooÂ late. The car had already disappeared around a nearby curve.
“Well, officer, I guess there’s nothing left for us to do but confiscate the evidence,” my friend observed as a sly grin tugged at the corner of his mouth.
“I concur, officer.Â The rods ain’t much, butÂ those reels will make pretty nice additions to ourÂ tackle collections.”
I still have that reel. And every time I see it, I can’t help but smile.