Angler invited officers to his house before getting busted with nearly 250 illegal fish

The nearly 250 fish hauled out of Ronald Wayne Johnson's home
The nearly 250 fish hauled out of Ronald Wayne Johnson's home
courtesy Department of Natural Resources

Ronald Wayne Johnson was recently pulling his fishing hut off a lake in Otter Tail County, about an hour from Fergus Falls, when a conservation officer stopped to say hey and see how the catching was.

Johnson had gotten a few fish, he said, though not many. The officer, Shane Osborne, asked if Johnson had more fish at home. The angler replied that he wasn't sure, but that if Osborne thought he might have too many, he was welcome to follow him back and check for himself.

Seems like a less-than-bright invitation from a man who, Osborne found, harbored a catch cache nearly 250 fish over the legal limit.

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When Osborne and his partner checked up on Johnson's place in Carlos, Minn., they found fishing paraphernalia like 22 frozen half-gallon cardboard containers and several filets. But the shocking find was 228 sunfish, seven bass and six northern pike more than Johnson should have had.

Now, the 69-year-old angler might have to pay $1,560 in restitution. If convicted under a 2003 overfishing law, he could lose his fishing license for three years, and face up to $3,000 plus a year in jail.

The lesson? If you hoard sunfish, maybe don't tell Department of Natural Resources officers that they should come back to your place and check out your stash.

More overfishing paraphernalia.
More overfishing paraphernalia.
courtesy Department of Natural Resources

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