In the sky and on the ground

In the sky and on the ground

Being a Texas game warden is not all that easy and at times it can be downright grizzly with lives on the line. It involves extensive night work and dealing with scum of the earth that are most often carrying guns, liquored up and downright mean. I’ve rounded up some of the trials and tribulations that Texas wardens run into on a daily basis. Some are comical, while others are downright crazy.

Sam Rayburn Jet Ski without a driver

East Texas game wardens observed a Jet Ski motoring without a rider near Rattlesnake Island on Sam Rayburn. The wardens then saw a man swimming from the watercraft. Wardens were able to stop the watercraft before it crashed into some nearby rocks. They identified the operator and, after a short interview, became concerned that the man was drunk. He admitted to drinking two beers and later added he also smoked marijuana. He was booked into the Jasper County Jail on boating while intoxicated charges.

Cast net with 130 illegal crappie

Responding to a tip from an Operation Game Thief call, an East Texas game warden caught four men fishing with a cast net and keeping game fish in violation of state fishing laws. The men were in possession of 130 crappie, 64 yellow bass, eight black bass and 37 perch. About 50 of the crappie and bass were undersized. None of the men had fishing licenses. The fish were cleaned and donated. Lots of tickets were issued.

Catfish limb lines can be costly

Game wardens patrolling a river conducted a water safety check on a vessel with three men in it that were out to set limb lines. Later that afternoon wardens discovered several limb lines while patrolling the river and none had the required gear tags attached. In total, 16 limb lines were recovered, as was one trotline. The wardens later identified the lines as the ones that were in the boat they conducted a water safety check on earlier that day. Wardens launched early the next morning and found the individuals that had set the lines. During the investigation, the men admitted the lines belonged to them. It was also found that the boat the men were in had unauthorized numbers displayed on the vessel. Citations and warnings were issued to the three men for no fishing licenses, unauthorized numbers on bow, and untagged fishing gear/throwline.

Holy mackerel, not again

A game warden was checking an offshore fisherman and found several frozen, undersized Spanish mackerel. The man stated that he had purchased the fish for offshore bait from a seafood dealer in Matagorda, who turned out to be the same business owner that received numerous citations for the same violation when wardens inspected his place of business a few weeks ago. The warden contacted the business owner and questioned him about the possible possession of any more undersized mackerel. The dealer admitted to having more and led the warden to a freezer where he had 256 illegal undersized mackerel stored. That was worth about $1,700 in tickets.

Something smells fishy

An East Texas game warden received a call from a bass fisherman who found a gill net in a creek off the Trinity River. Wardens located three illegal nets the next day and also discovered a fishing camp not far from the net locations. At the camp, several holding baskets and stringers were found with fish inside. The wardens located a boat in the water at the camp but were unable to make contact with anyone. Two days later they caught up with three individuals at the camp. A fish shocker was found in the boat. The fishermen were identified and 17 tickets and warnings were issued including no Texas fishing license, fishing by illegal means and methods, running illegal trotlines/jug lines, and failure to keep fish in edible condition.

Kayakers saved by the wardens

Late one evening while patrolling Lake Meredith, wardens responded to a 911 call about two guys stranded on kayaks. Weather conditions were unfavorable with winds blowing 20-25 mph. The wardens located two teenage boys in the middle of the lake on a single kayak that was half sunk and full of water. The second kayak had already sunk and only one teen was wearing a life jacket. A rope was thrown to the boys and the kayak flipped. Luckily, both of them hung onto the rope and were pulled to the patrol boat.

Don’t shoot the bass

Game wardens responded to the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels on a report of a person illegally shooting bass with a homemade spear gun. Upon arrival, the wardens observed the suspect in the river with his spear gun and in possession of an undersized largemouth bass that he had shot with the device. The man also did not have a fishing license. Get out the ticket book.