Bartlett Brothers Busted for Crappie Violations
Officers say James Bartlett had 111 fish over the legal limit
by Richard Simms
posted January 31, 2010
Photo by TWRA Photo
The rows from top to bottom/left to right are in 15's (daily limits). There are nine daily limits plus six undersized crappie plus numerous yellow stripe and bluegill... over 200 total fish.
A Hamilton County man has been cited for 19 illegal fishing violations after officers with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency say they caught him with 141 crappie... 111 more than his legal possession limit.
Chattanoogan.com Outdoors learned of the case late Saturday afternoon. TWRA Officer Matt Majors said he received a tip Friday night from a concerned angler who had witnessed James Michael Bartlett taking over his legal limit of 15 crappie on Friday.
Majors said that early Saturday morning several wildlife officers set up an undercover surveillance operation on the area of Chickamauga Lake the tipster had pointed them to. They say they observed Bartlett catch a limit of 15 crappie and then leave.
However Majors said they had other officers nearby in an unmarked vehicle. They followed Bartlett to a nearby location where they were able to observe him hiding his catch. They say he then returned to his fishing hot spot and proceeded to catch more crappie.
Majors said they watched him repeat the process several times before they stopped him.
"At first he tried to wiggle his way out of it," said Majors. "But after we proceeded to describe what we had observed, he realized there wasn't much use in lying and he became very cooperative."
Majors said Bartlett had a total of 62 crappie he caught Saturday. Then Bartlett willingly led officers to his home where he had more crappie caught on a previous day (or days).
Some of the crappie were especially big.
"We seized a total of 141 crappie as evidence along with three fishing rods used to harvest them," said Majors.
Tennessee law says in addition to the daily creel limit of 15 crappie per person, there is an overall "possession limit" of twice the daily creel limit (30). Typically officers only enforce the possession limit in cases of extreme abuse.
The law also says that every single illegal fish can be counted a separate violation, which would have meant at least 111 charges against Bartlett. However officers filed a total of 19 charges against James Bartlett including daily creel limit violations, possession limit violations, and undersize fish violations.
William Bartlett, James Bartlett's brother, also received one citation for being over the daily limit.
Officers said these crappie were found in William Bartlett's possession.
Majors said several officers combined forces under some arduous circumstances during the lengthy surveillance. He said officers Philip Earhart, Jarod Coxey, and Brandon Wear were instrumental in making this "extremely difficult case seemless from start to finish."
"My feet were about frozen after a while this morning," Majors said. "But this was the direct result of numerous TWRA officers working together. I'm really proud of our guys who laid in the snow for hours to catch someone who was truly draining the wildlife resources of Tennessee."
Majors said Bartlett was obviously an experienced fisherman.
"When we got to his house he actually had a bunch of Christmas trees piled up in his yard that he said he intended to put out as fish attractors," said Majors.
The Bartletts are due in court in March.