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Kentucky Rock Creek Trout Poacher Caught

Frankfort, KY - December 12, 2003 - Stephen Cheek of Crittenden, Kentucky was caught on October 7 with 44 trout illegally taken from the delayed harvest section of Rock Creek in McCreary County.

He had 12 trout in his possession when I approached him, said State Conservation Officer Sgt. Brian Bullock of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR). He had the rest of them at his campsite at Great Meadow in a cooler. He was in the catch-and-release section of the creek using live bait. He was fishing the last pool in Rock Creek before the Tennessee state line.

Sgt. Bullock said the KDFWR had received complaints about anglers keeping trout in the delayed harvest section of Rock Creek. Delayed harvest restrictions on Rock Creek require anglers to immediately release all trout caught from Bell Farm bridge upstream to the Tennessee state line from October 1 through March 31. Only artificial baits may be used during this time, which increases the survival rate of released fish. Concerned citizens informed the KDFWR about Cheek keeping trout.

Officer Bullock used an unmarked vehicle and dressed in plain clothes to patrol Rock Creek. He witnessed Cheek carry a canvas bag of trout and dump them into a cooler in the front of his truck. Sgt. Bullock approached Cheek and asked him if he had caught any trout. Cheek explained to him that portion of the creek was catch-and-release and only artificial baits could be used.

Then I told him, ‘You should’ve done that yourself,’ and showed him my badge, Bullock said.

Cheek was fined $900, with $400 suspended for two years. If Cheek is convicted of violating game laws again in the next two years, he must pay the $400 fine from this offense plus any fines resulting from that subsequent violation. His total fine was $500 plus $100.50 in court costs.

Human nature is that people are good, they just get greedy, Bullock said. I think that is the case here.



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