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,
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.