The Michigan Department of Natural Resources made a big bust earlier this month in northern Michigan after multiple tips about an angler exceeding limits for fish.

Conservation officers responded to Gladwin County’s Lake Lancer on August 14th and spoke with the suspected man twice in one day while he was at the lake. The second contact of the day led to a voluntary search of the 67-year-old Gladwin man’s garage freezers, where officers discovered a significant number of panfish. Ultimately, he was issued a ticket for illegally taking more than 1,400 panfish, exceeding the legal limit by an extreme amount.

“The angler’s vehicle often was spotted in the parking lot of a private boat launch and the angler himself was witnessed fishing Lake Lancer several times per day.”- Conservation Officer Mark Papineau

When the officers arrived at the boat launch, they saw a vehicle with a boat trailer that matched the reported vehicle description. During their patrol, the officers contacted an angler who presented a fishing license and was found to have 13 panfish in his possession, within the daily limit of 25 panfish.

When the officers returned to the boat launch later that morning, the suspect’s vehicle and boat trailer were gone, but later he returned. After about an hour, the man returned to the dock. Spotting the officers, the Gladwin man immediately said, “I’m not over my limit.” Wright asked him how many fish he had, and he repeated that he was not over his limit.

The conservation officers continued talking with the man and learned that he was in possession of 24 panfish. The angler confessed to the 13 panfish he caught earlier in the day, too, and invited the officers to follow him to his residence to obtain those fish as evidence.

At his Gladwin residence, the man consented to a search of his his garage freezers. Officers found more than 70 bags of filleted panfish. In total, the man exceeded the limit by more than 1,400 fish. DNR conservation officers confiscated the fish and issued the angler a ticket. Once the fish is no longer needed as evidence, it will be donated to a local food bank or church.

If you witness or suspect a natural resource violation, call or text the Michigan DNR's Report All Poaching hotline, available 24/7, at 800-292-7800.