Trout Fisherman and Accomplice Busted by TWRA

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TWRA wildlife officer Joe Fortner said he recently cited a trout fisherman on the popular Caney Fork River for being over the limit and he had brown trout that were below the legal length limit of 24 inches. (Photo: Contributed)

Wildlife law enforcement officers with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency often hear hunters and fishermen say, “I’ve never been checked or even seen a wildlife officer.”

Wildlife officers routinely respond, “Just because you haven’t seen us, it doesn’t mean we haven’t seen you.”

A trout fisherman from White County probably understands that all too well today.

On Jan. 31 DeKalb County Wildlife Officer Joe Fortner got a tip and responded to the Caney Fork River, one of the most popular trout streams in Tennessee. Fortner said he remained hidden and watched Justin Jones, from White County, along with a female companion fishing for more than an hour-and-a-half. Fortner said he watched as Jones caught several trout and place them in a bucket. He said periodically Jones’ companion carried the bucket to a nearby car, placed the trout in the car and returned to the riverbank.

On the popular Caney Fork River anglers are allowed to keep no more than five trout per day. Wildlife officer Joe Fortner said he recently cited a man who tried to sneak home with 16 trout, including some that were under the legal length limit. (Photo: Contributed)

When the couple finished fishing and returned to their car, Officer Fortner performed an inspection. He said Jones had 16 trout in his possession including five brown trout, eight brook trout and three rainbow trout. Jones was cited with three counts of over the limit and two citations for fish that were under the legal length limit.

Caney Fork River trout regulations:
– 5 trout allowed per person per day
– Rainbow and brook trout 14-20 inches must be released, although anglers may keep one of each that is more than 20 inches long
– The brown trout creel limit is one per day and it must be more than 24 inches long

The woman was issued a written warning for aiding and abetting. Jones is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 21, 2018.

Fortner said, “TWRA fisheries crews work hard to maintain great angling opportunities in this area. Slot limits on fish are put in place to ensure quality fishing continues.”

TWRA stocks the popular Caney Fork River with three species of trout including rainbows, browns and brook trout. (Photo: Contributed)

According to the TWRA Region III Fisheries Program Manager, Mark Thurman, TWRA stocked 30,000 brook trout last fall in the Caney Fork (tailwaters of Center Hill Dam) and another 5,000 will be stocked in April. He said 90,000 brown trout were also stocked in 2017. TWRA will stock 90,000 rainbow trout and 40,000 brown trout in the Caney Fork River in 2018. The majority of stocked trout are raised at the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery in Celina.

Thurman said, “TWRA streams biologists monitor the Caney Fork River, evaluate fish stocking strategies and work with other regulatory agencies to evaluate flows that ensure good results in this area. The regulations in place on the Caney help provide quality fishing to a wide range of anglers.”

TWRA staff will be performing angler surveys on the Caney Fork River this spring.

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