GREAT SACANDAGA LAKE -- State conservation officers on patrol overnight during a fishing derby earlier this month uncovered an attempt by an angler to cheat, according to a DEC report out this week.
The attempt involved a 32-inch northern pike caught prior to the event, but entered as one caught during the event.
The fish was ultimately disqualified and the angler ticketed for a related violation, the DEC said.
The officers spotted the attempt as they went out on the lake Feb. 15, the night before the start of the Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries derby and the Walleye Challenge.
While out, they spotted ice fishing tip-ups left out overnight unattended, which is a violation of environmental conservation law.
They also spotted the 32-inch northern pike being kept alive in the water next to an unoccupied fishing shanty, the DEC said.
The environmental conservation officers suspected the fish would be entered into the contest and returned the next morning to speak with the fisherman about the unattended tip-ups, the DEC said. The fisherman is not named in the report.
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"When asked about his luck fishing that day, the angler proudly stated that he caught a big northern pike earlier in the morning, entered it in the contest, and released it," the DEC report reads. "After the ECOs informed the subject that they had been out the previous night, the angler admitted to the wrongdoings."
Contest rules state participants can't fish before a specific time, meaning the fish was in violation. The fish was disqualified and officers issued the man a ticket for the unattended tip-ups.
It appears that had the fisherman's alleged actions gone undetected, it wouldn't have affected the final results. The longest pike came in at just under 40 7/8 inches, while fourth place came in at just over 35 5/8 inches, according to the derby results.
Officers also patrolled the events Feb. 16 with state police and Fulton County dheriff's deputies. Those patrols resulted in additional tickets for unattended tip-ups, unregistered motor vehicles and riding ATVs with no helmets, the DEC said.
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