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Thread: "Hello, Mr. Game Warden" -- Possession question!

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    Member Crab_n_fish's Avatar
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    Default "Hello, Mr. Game Warden" -- Possession question!

    Hypothetically speaking, three of us will be fishing Kenai/Russian river area, at the sanctuary. Our camp will be on other side of the ferry.

    Suppose all three of us are out fishing and we all catch our limits of six
    reds per person/per day. We process the fish and keep them on ice. Now
    having learned from the Alaska Outdoor Journal web site, we believe that it is legal to have in possession a two day limit, per person. Am I correct? I believe so...We are under our possession limit; so my assessment would be correct.

    Now suppose two of us are out fishing the next day, and one stays back at camp with a days limit of fish per person, meaning three single-day limits on ice, or eighteen fish in total ....(Ok, still following me?) And along comes our local, friendly Game Warden with his shirt tucked into his exposed Sponge Bob boxers, tipping his hat at people and asking recreational campers to see what's in their ice chests. Would the loan fisherman back at camp get fined for "being over the limit," even if said fisherman claimed that only six fish were his/her own, and the other limits belonged to the two fishermen not present at the camp? What if some of the fish were kept as part of a proxy catch, and one of the two fisherman had to carry the lone camper's license/proxy with him, as it is required by law?

    I ask because I am not sure of probable cause, search/seize methods that would be utilized if it was deemed "necessary."

    I wouldn't want to come back to camp with no fish, plus a HUGE fine to contest in court....Also, we could store the fish in the truck...I know that, but when you do not have anything to hide then why "hide" from the game warden and give him probable cause, if such exists under whatever legal statute he has at his discretion?

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    Member ksbha4's Avatar
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    Default Call AWT.

    Call the Wildlife Troopers in Soldotna and ask one of the brownshirts that exact question. Get a name and reference your prior conversation with named Trooper if you get approached. Better to get their view on how they interperet the law than trying to guess.
    Ask not what your government can do for you. Ask how your government can go away and get out of your life

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crab_n_fish View Post
    Now suppose two of us are out fishing the next day, and one stays back at camp with a days limit of fish per person, meaning three single-day limits on ice, or eighteen fish in total ....(Ok, still following me?) And along comes our local, friendly Game Warden with his shirt tucked into his exposed Sponge Bob boxers, tipping his hat at people and asking recreational campers to see what's in their ice chests. Would the loan fisherman back at camp get fined for "being over the limit,"
    I believe they can search all of your property if they know you're fishing, this last part is best proven immediately if they observe fish in your possession, like if they saw you catch or handle one.

    I don't believe they can search any cooler willy nilly that they encounter; only your property (and all of it) if they know you're possessing or have possessed sport caught fish. Or any property you've used in the commission of your sport.

    How 'bout this one? What if you buy a whole sockeye salmon at Fred Meyer (they were recently $2.95/# and thawed), foolishly not keeping your receipt (that would easily avoid trouble in a potential "guilty until proven innocent situation), and on the way home you luckily caught exactly one legal limit of the same species of salmon? Woo hoo you'll get cited for sure.

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    Member matjpow's Avatar
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    Write down your fishing buddies info and attatch it to the cooler. They are not going to be unreasonable about it. If they are, when you go to court, they will look like idiots. I have never heard of this happening. You should still call your local office just to ask the question and post it here.

    possession of sport-caught fish (except halibut): (a) Sport-caught fish, their parts, and articles manufactured from such fish may be possessed within the state by any person at any time, and may be transported within and exported out of the state by any person at any time except that no person may possess any unpreserved fish (see definition of preserved fish below), or part of one, not legally taken by himself, unless he furnishes, upon request of any peace officer of the state, a statement signed by the person taking the fish stating the type of fish, number of fish, location, date taken, and license number. The statement is unnecessary if the person possessing the fish is accompanied by the person who took the fish. No person may possess fish which were not legally taken. (b) A person may possess only the limit of fish allowed for the water on which that person is fishing. (c) Upon request by an ADF&G employee, a person must show to the employee fish taken and possessed by the person in a sport fishery.

    So I would say the law is a little foggy on "what if you are still camping on the water you took the fish from." I would say keep a log on the cooler with "type of fish, number of fish, location, date taken, and license number,"to be on the safe side.

  5. #5

    Default hmmm

    A few years back some friends and I were fishing the mat su valley and camping at a creek up there. I was piecing and pinning two fish (one I caught and the other a friend caught). I was stopped by the local guy and he questioned why I had two fish. I explained that my friend and I had caught our two fish and I agreed to clean the fish and the other guy had to go bring beer to the non-lucky fishermen. He looked around and saw the four tents and other rods lying around. He was really cool about it and said next time just have your buddy leave his license with you.

    Well two hours after that he showed up and checked my buddies license just to make sure. People may complain about this...but the guy is doing his job like it or not.

    I find that most Conservation Officers I bump into are not out to hastle anyone. If you have a concern of a compliant... 99% you did/are doing something you are not suposed to.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matjpow View Post
    Write down your fishing buddies info and attatch it to the cooler. They are not going to be unreasonable about it. If they are, when you go to court, they will look like idiots. I have never heard of this happening. You should still call your local office just to ask the question and post it here.

    possession of sport-caught fish (except halibut): (a) Sport-caught fish, their parts, and articles manufactured from such fish may be possessed within the state by any person at any time, and may be transported within and exported out of the state by any person at any time except that no person may possess any unpreserved fish (see definition of preserved fish below), or part of one, not legally taken by himself, unless he furnishes, upon request of any peace officer of the state, a statement signed by the person taking the fish stating the type of fish, number of fish, location, date taken, and license number. The statement is unnecessary if the person possessing the fish is accompanied by the person who took the fish. No person may possess fish which were not legally taken. (b) A person may possess only the limit of fish allowed for the water on which that person is fishing. (c) Upon request by an ADF&G employee, a person must show to the employee fish taken and possessed by the person in a sport fishery.

    So I would say the law is a little foggy on "what if you are still camping on the water you took the fish from." I would say keep a log on the cooler with "type of fish, number of fish, location, date taken, and license number,"to be on the safe side.
    I think this is an excellent suggestion! Just make sure you add a place for each person to sign the daily log next to their information.

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    Member matjpow's Avatar
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    You should be aware through if your buddies don't know the difference between a salmon and a steelhead (trust me...it happens) you would probably all get cited.

    And by the way...you can get a ticket for refusing to show "any peace office" your fish. It has nothing to do with search and seizure. Of course if you did refuse he would have to have probable cause and/or a warrent to search your vehical. You don't want to put yourself in that position though.

  8. #8

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    I don't think that declining a voluntary search is probable cause for anything. And I see nothing wrong with asking a cop to get a warrant to seach for a specific item. Often times the cops are doing more fishing than the fishermen, if you know what I mean.

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    Member matjpow's Avatar
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    I bet fish blood on your jeans would be probable cause. Of course you could just tell him it came from a sea kitten. There is no limit on sea kittens. In fact I think that it is illegal to release em.

    I just looked at the EO's and fish and game has listed sea kittens as an invasive species. They are offering $5 for each sea kitten head.

    Yours Truley,
    The guy that is officially on PETA's hate mail list
    Last edited by matjpow; 07-10-2009 at 07:12. Reason: added wit

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    Member DRIFTER_016's Avatar
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    As far as I know, you are not legal.
    It is my understanding that unless those fish are not completely frozen they are still deemed in your possession. To be completely legal you would need to drop your first limit off at somewhere like Kenai Cache to be frozen. As for your buddy back in camp with your fish, leave your license info in a ziplock inside the cooler and you should be ok.

    Atleast that's how I see it, but I am Canadian so what do I know.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crab_n_fish View Post
    And along comes our local, friendly Game Warden with his shirt tucked into his exposed Sponge Bob boxers
    Well, I would say that if you show to the LEO the same distain in person that you show in your post and if he has any discretion as to whether or not to give you a ticket, then you just got yourself a ticket. But that's just my opinion.

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    Don't forget fish in possession limits change as of the 14th,, back to 3 per day.

    This is in reference to the Russian/Kenai Confluence area that had an increase to 6 per day/12 in possession.
    Last edited by supern8inak; 07-10-2009 at 09:17. Reason: Added Water Location

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    Member Crab_n_fish's Avatar
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    Mat

    Excellent, excellent, excellent information! I was up last night with my cousin, with four and five open windows searching for "Russian Ferry Landing/Boardwalk/Campground/Falls, and it dawned on me about how to keep my fish legal. He had been there many times before but said the game wardens didn't bother him, and probably wouldn't walk around asking random people to open their ice chests, without probable cause; i.e., watching one keep snagged fish or grossly over the limit.

    Back down in Texas I'd camp down on the beach, pull my truck up near the high tide water line and set up camp. I knew the regulations, didn't have to hike, and kept my catch in an ice chest within my eyesight. So I didn't have to envision hypothetical situations as I initially posted.

    Now I know!...Thank you so much for the information.
    --

    Sup

    Back down to 3? I can live with that amount! Was kinda hoping it'd still be six...so that my cousin could use the proxy and take back 12...while I watch him struggle with that haul back to camp!...He can have all the bragging rights but I'd get all the laughs!

    Sky

    It was late at night when I penned my lame attempt at humor. Referring to the "game warden" in his Sponge Bob Squarepants boxers was meant to be funny -- not in any way disrespectful...I'm the type to keep calm around the legal authorities, remain respectful and answer all questions in a polite manner, even if he does wear pink slippers, talks with a lisp and looks like Barney Frank! (per Saturday Night Live sketch)...Now having been bombarded with the new movie Bruno non-stop, and for the past two or three weeks, and trying to ignore the pop-up ads, I thought the character was an officer....No offense meant.

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    There is also a transfer of possession form on the back cover of the Southcentral Sportfishing Regs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRIFTER_016 View Post
    As far as I know, you are not legal.
    It is my understanding that unless those fish are not completely frozen they are still deemed in your possession. To be completely legal you would need to drop your first limit off at somewhere like Kenai Cache to be frozen. As for your buddy back in camp with your fish, leave your license info in a ziplock inside the cooler and you should be ok.

    Atleast that's how I see it, but I am Canadian so what do I know.
    Leaving the license in the cooler is a problme if the fisherman wants to go back to the river and fish. If you notice, on the back of your reg book is a transfer of possesion form. Fill it out for a temporary transfer of posession and you are fully legal. I think
    It ain't about the # of pounds of meat we bring back, nor about how much we spent to go do it. Its about seeing what no one else sees.

    http://wouldieatitagainfoodblog.blogspot.com/

  16. #16

    Default Difficult Rule...

    I have had several conversations with friends, one of whom does enforce fish and game laws, about the possession rules. In some ways, the possession rule is very simple and easy to follow. But in other ways, it is really tricky and the game wardens don't know how it works either. Unless you have money for legal fees, I suggest following what the game wardens say or try to get a written opinion from the state if you want to do something else.

    The easy part of the possession rule:

    1. You can possess up to the possession limit of fish taken by yourself.

    2. You can possess any amount of fish legally taken by someone else (Legally taken means those fish also have to be within the possession limit of the waters where they took the fish) if you have the "signed statement" described in the rule.

    3. No signed statement is needed if you are "accompanied" by the person that took the fish. There is probably some wiggle room as to what it means to be "accompanied," and I think the examples below of people going to pick up food or beer are reflective of that. In your example, you are safer with the signed statement that relying on the "accompanied" exception.

    4. The posession rule only applies to unpreserved fish. Once the fish are preserved (canned or frozen), they are not in your possession and you can have as many of them on your person as you want even if you didn't catch them.

    This is the hard part of the possession rule:

    1. If you are traveling with the fish, then the possession limit of where you took the fish applies. For example, if you have 12 sockeye in possession from the Russian, you can go up to the susitna and hang out on the river with those 12 fish as long as you aren't fishing.

    2. If you are fishing, then the possession limit of where you are fishing applies even if the fish in your possession were not taken at that place. For example, you cannot fish in the susitna river drainages where the possession limit for sockeye is 6(?) if you have 10 sockeye from the russian in possession (even though you still stay at the russian and catch 2 more).

    3. You can still catch and release fish as long as you are not over the possession limit for the waters where you are fishing. The possession rule does not operate like the king salmon bag limit rules for some waters which prohibit fishing once you have kept your daily limit.

    This is the really unclear part of the possession rule that I, and many game wardens, do not fully comprehend:

    1. Is the possession rule person or group specific? For example, in many places the King Salmon bag limit and possession limit is 1 KS over 20 inches. If 4 people go fishing for the weekend, and on saturday 2 people catch a king salmon, in most streams those two people have to stop fishing for that day. However, on sunday, those two people would be allowed to fish again. The question is, if the those same two people again catch a king salmon on sunday, can they keep it? That is, will the game warden just count the number of fish among all 4 people, or will he count them individually per person. If it is individually, the two people that caught all of the fish would be over their possession limit. If not, then they can keep those two fish as long as the other two anglers agreed to let them become part of the group's possession. This is likely to be an issue for families with kids and groups with experienced and novice fishermen.

    In most circumstances, it's difficult to prove because the game warden doesn't know who caught the fish the day before. But for king salmon, you have to mark them on your license.

    I hope some of this is helpful and the rest isn't too confusing.

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    Member Crab_n_fish's Avatar
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    Ninilchik,

    Wow!!! You are one of the reasons I come to this site, and that is your dedication to making it what it is -- wonderful and full of information.

    Garnede

    We plan on limits like this coming home:

    Person 1: 2 day limit
    Person 2: 2 day limit
    Person 3: 2 day proxy limit

    Person 3 is staying at camp due to handicap.

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    Member DRIFTER_016's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garnede View Post
    Leaving the license in the cooler is a problme if the fisherman wants to go back to the river and fish. If you notice, on the back of your reg book is a transfer of possesion form. Fill it out for a temporary transfer of posession and you are fully legal. I think
    I would think if you just write your license info on a piece of paper and a statement that a # of the fish in the cooler are yours there should be no issue. I'm sure the CO will realize that in a campground situation that there is very likely more than one person staying there.
    Pretty easy to tell just giving the site the once over.

    Were it ever to have to go to court, the fact that there was documentation inside the cooler of the owners of said fish would have the case tossed in a heartbeat.

    It would not be a bad idea to have photo copies of your license just for this purpose.
    It couldn't hurt right?

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    Member Crab_n_fish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyMan View Post

    How 'bout this one? What if you buy a whole sockeye salmon at Fred Meyer (they were recently $2.95/# and thawed), foolishly not keeping your receipt (that would easily avoid trouble in a potential "guilty until proven innocent situation), and on the way home you luckily caught exactly one legal limit of the same species of salmon? Woo hoo you'll get cited for sure.
    Excellent, once again!

    On King Salmon opening weekend at Montana Creek, my cousin and I wanted to bring some trout we caught here in Wasilla to camp. And, yes, we knew that there it is a catch and release water from Parks Hwy to the Big Su.

    Now if a game warden came upon us, surely he'd be able to confiscate such legally caught fish, as "probable cause," and maybe send it off to a lab and find its DNA strain was not that of Montana Creek? I doubt it...then again, I'm not so sure! Instead of wanting to get into that possible situation, we left the fish at home instead.

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    Member garnede's Avatar
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    Here is an interesting one for you.

    You go dip netting and do poorly, 4 fish.
    Then you decide to hit the russian and catch some on the way home.
    Are those fish part of your possession?

    Now the other way around, you get 25 dip netting but you have to stop and wait for someone on your way home. Can you fish and retain them or are you already over the posession limit?
    It ain't about the # of pounds of meat we bring back, nor about how much we spent to go do it. Its about seeing what no one else sees.

    http://wouldieatitagainfoodblog.blogspot.com/

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