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DNR investigates bass overharvest on James Lake in Taylor County

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources law enforcement officials have released some details regarding an overharvest of largemouth bass during Memorial Day weekend on James Lake in northeast Taylor County.

According to information released by the DNR in an email Monday, wardens received a hotline complaint that weekend about fishing violations on James Lake. The caller stated that for several years a group of people have been getting together to catch and keep as many bass as they can from the lake.

Wardens investigated and contacted a group of about 10 Wisconsin residents fishing for and keeping largemouth bass on the lake. The group had about 90 largemouth bass in their possession. Wardens released what they could, but seized about 70 fish that wouldn’t survive.

The release goes on to say wardens were able to determine that this has been taking place for about four years.

Citations are still pending, but the violations included keeping more than the daily bag limit of five largemouth bass per angler, keeping undersized largemouth bass (the minimum size limit is 14 inches), fishing without a license, fishing largemouth bass by illegal means with a bow and arrow and having a loaded rifle in a vehicle.

Not everyone in the group would be charged with the same violations as some overbagged and some didn’t, according to the DNR.

“The violations were not crimes and no one was arrested, but they would be receiving citations which include a monetary penalty and possible revocation of hunting, fishing, trapping privileges,” the release states. “Penalties do not include jail time. Penalties will vary based on number and severity of violations. Two individuals in one boat had 33 largemouth bass. The majority of the bass were between the sizes of 8 to 13.5 inches.”

James Lake is a 45-acre lake located just off Hwy D between Westboro and Rib Lake. The DNR lists largemouth bass as common in the lake with panfish and walleyes being present.