On opening day of Montana’s fishing season, a man and woman from Bozeman decided to try their luck at breaking a few of the area’s most obvious fishing regulations.
Unfortunately for Joe Davis, 19, and Jade Schmidt, 20, they were seen by other fisherman May 19 on the Ruby River and were turned in to authorities.
Davis and Schmidt were fishing in the closed area immediately below the Ruby Dam, dragging worms through the mass of fish collected at the bottom of the dam’s spillway.
Other fishermen in the area called the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks poaching hotline – 1-800-TIPMont and then let the air out of the tires on the truck Davis and Schmidt were driving, so the two couldn’t leave.
By the time FWP warden Shane Brozevich arrived on scene, another pair of fishermen from Utah had loaned a tire pump to Davis and Schmidt and the two were busy putting air back in their tires.
Brozevich told the two he was responding to a complaint that they were fishing in a closed area. When he asked Davis where they had been fishing, Davis pointed to the area below the spillway, behind two big signs saying the spot was closed to fishing.
When Brozevich asked Davis how many fish he had in his cooler, he replied that he thought they’d caught 20. The limit on the Ruby River is five fish with only one over 18 inches.
Turns out Davis and Schmidt had caught and kept 32 trout – 28 rainbows and four brown trout. Davis said he kept the fish because he enjoyed eating smoked trout, Brozevich said.
Davis and Schmidt were ultimately found guilty in Madison County Justice Court. Davis claimed all the fish were his and he was fined $640 and had his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges revoked for one year. Schmidt was fined $135.
The extreme case was the biggest over limit fish poaching case Brozevich has investigated. All the fish were good sized, the warden said. They ranged in size from about a 1.5 to 3 pounds. The fish will be donated to a food bank in either Dillon or Butte once the paperwork from the case is completed.