ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – A 39-year-old Otsego man is facing up to a year in jail and up to a $3,000 fine after a conservation officer caught the angler with more than 400 fish, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Chien Van Tran could have his fishing privileges revoked for up to three years if convicted.
According to the DNR, Trang was fishing on Pelican Lake in Wright County on April 4 and was approached by a state conservation officer as he got off the lake. The officer was watching him place a bag of fish in a locked compartment of his boat.
Tran showed the officer about a dozen pan fish of sun fish and crappies. He was asked several times if he had more fish. He said "no" several times before admitting that he had about 100 more fish on board. That total included 134 sunfish and 19 crappies. Minnesota's daily limit for sunfish is 20 and for crappies is 10.
The officer then asked Tran if he had more fish at home. After searching his freezer, the officer found 11 bags of fish containing 299 sunfish and 21 crappies. That brought Tran to 413 sunfish and 30 crappies over the state's limit.
Cpt. Greg Salo, of the DNR, said having so many fish is a blatant violation of the legal limit.
"It's not a common occurrence, but it's not uncommon either," Salo said. "We get people like that every year that are in the hundreds of fish over the limit."
The conservation officer seized all the fish as a result of the violation. Tran's boat, motors, trailer and fishing license were also seized as the violation is a gross misdemeanor.
Tran will appear in Wright County Court on Wednesday. He will likely have to pay more than $2,000 for the value of the fish, plus an additional $3,000 fine.
He could face jail time and lose his fishing privileges for 3 years. The fish that weren't cleaned will likely be given to nursing homes.
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