WAUSAU, WI — The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently reinstated a ticket issued to an ice fisherman in 2005 for fishing with an unattended line, ruling that failure to check the tip-up rig for more than an hour on a frozen lake constituted a violation.
A Forest County Judge had initially thrown out the ticket, ruling that checking tip-ups every hour did not violate a state law that requires a fisherman to immediately respond when a fish bites the hook.
According to court records, walleye angler Troy Westphal was ice fishing at night on Lake Metonga when the violation occurred.
A Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warden noticed early the next morning that two of the six tip-ups had flags up, indicating that fish had bitten the hooks. Westphal was ticketed for fishing with an unattended line when he arrived to check them about 15 minutes later, court records says.
Westphal told the warden he had last checked the fishing holes about an hour earlier.
The three-judge appeals court says state regulations make it clear that anglers must be able to “immediately respond to a line upon indication of a bite. ... Whatever short period of delay may be allowed, Westphal exceeded it.”