Posted by Ken Jones
on May-29-08 8:14pm
Hunting Fishy At The Pier
Undercover Busts Lobster Catchers In Santa Monica
SANTA MONICA — A typical balmy summer Saturday night at Santa Monica Pier - parents push babies in strollers, a casually dressed young couple listens to a folk-rock duo from Canada, fishermen line the railings, the Ferris wheel spins in the background.
But the young couple are California Department of Fish and Game wardens, and some of the fishermen are snagging lobsters out of season.
One fisherman yanks up violently on his fishing pole. His terminal tackle consists of a sinker followed by a number of large treble hooks tied to the line. This is a snagging rig according to the wardens. Lobsters are out of season and snagging is an illegal method of take at any time.
DFG wardens Ronda Moore and Ryan Maki play the part of the young couple. They were classmates at the DFG's warden-training academy two years ago. Moore has six pairs of handcuffs and a mini-Glock under her Windbreaker. Normally she patrols the Antelope Valley, but as warden resources are stretched thin, she and Maki, who patrols in Orange County, help out tonight. They also don't look like game wardens, according to senior warden Jim Beckwith, who organized this operation.
“I like to work the city but like to get out of it, too,'” Moore says.
She grew up a country girl in Woodland, near Sacramento. Moore says she hunted and fished all her life, so when she decided on a job in law enforcement, becoming a game warden was a natural choice.
“We do it all,'” she says. “Every day is different.'”
According to Beckwith, who has patrolled the Santa Monica Pier for many years, sometimes the snagging operations can be quite sophisticated, with one person snagging the bugs, another helping land them, and a runner to dispose of the evidence.
“Once I found lobsters in a baby stroller,'” Beckwith says. “I reached in expecting to find the lobsters and touched a baby's leg. They had two lobsters in with the kid.”
Tonight, Beckwith sees a fisherman make a big set, reel in the line, then reach over and slip something into a paper bag. The wardens move in and check the bag. It contains a small male lobster.
“It happens. You get caught,'” says the suspect, who was arrested, cited and released. He says he also landed six calico bass, all legal size. “It was a good night, but I should have gone home.'”
It's not as good a night for the wardens. They cite only the one alleged snagger, although they manage to find several other illegal lobsters and toss them back into the water.
The Canadian strums his guitar and sings a Rolling Stones classic for the audience:
“You can't always get what you want ...'”
This applies to the fishermen, too.
“It's not that they're not trying to snag lobsters,'” Beckwith says. “They're just not very good at it.'
Bill Becher, Los Angeles Daily News, September 5, 2002
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Hunting lobster poachers at the Santa Monica Pier
Ken Jones -
Good for them! Hope they catch more! mel - May-30-08 3:10am
Unfortunately the number of poachers is ... Ken Jones - May-31-08 11:22am