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Six anglers charged in Devils Lake bust

Six Wisconsin fishermen have been charged in Benson County, N.D., after being found with too many walleyes during a recent fishing trip to Devils Lake.

Arthur Moore and Jason Goede, Viraqua, Wis; Paul Baumann, Kewaskum, Wis; Mac Moore, DeSoto, Wis.; Lester Keesler, Portage, Wis; and John Forester, Grafton, Wis., each were charged with exceeding the daily limit of walleyes after an inspection of their cabin found 144 walleyes — 84 walleyes over their six-person limit.

The walleye limit in North Dakota is five daily, 10 and possession.

Kurt Aufforth, district game warden for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Cando, N.D., said the charges resulted from a “cryptic” tip that came into the agency’s Bismarck headquarters.

Initially, Aufforth said, all that was known was the suspected violations occurred somewhere in North Dakota.

After a search for the vehicles described in the tip, Aufforth said investigators were able to pin down the probable location as somewhere in the Devils Lake region. Aufforth said he and Paul Freeman, district warden supervisor in Devils Lake, then found vehicles matching the descriptions and made contact with the fishermen June 6 in a cabin at West Bay Resort.

Aufforth said he and Freeman found 144 walleyes frozen in plastic bags marked as containing about five fish each.

Court records show Keesler and Forester each paid $1,625 in fines and court costs. Initial court appearances for the other four are scheduled for July 14 in Benson County, but if they choose to waive the court appearances and pay the fines and court costs, Aufforth said it also will cost them $1,625 each.

Freeman, the warden supervisor, said exceeding the walleye limit is a Class B misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $1,500 plus court costs, and the anglers in this case were fined $1,400 each plus court costs. He said wardens have encountered smaller over-the-limit cases this summer, including two men fined $300 plus $220 in court costs for having 17 walleyes on a stringer — seven more than their two-person daily limit allowed — but this was by far the largest.

Aufforth said the Wisconsin anglers won’t lose their fishing privileges or any equipment because they were upfront and cooperative with the wardens. They have until July to pay the fines unless they decide to contest the charges and appear in court July 14.

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is editor of the Herald's Northland Outdoors section and also works as a copy editor and page designer. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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