Jeez, autumn! A little rain, a little cold weather and it was predictable that the rainbows would be running the Saugeen. As expected, Jessie James and his gang were also back, prowling along the banks of the Saugeen.

Yes I know, Jessie James and his gang have all been dead and buried for more than a hundred years. Still, I like to refer to these present day guys as the James Gang. It seems fitting to me. Both groups broke the law. The guys now buried stole from banks. The guys now living steal from our fishery, but still walk the banks. Really, they’re still nothing more than poachers.

A few years back poachers could be referred to as rippers and runners. They’d rip the fish up and run away with their spoils. Not to say that some aren’t still around. It’s obvious today though that poaching is a little more refined and so are the outlaws. Even with long rods, light lines and float reels some of these clowns can really put a dent in our fishery, especially on the Saugeen. Our biggest problem on this river is the taking of more than the limit.

Tell me you haven’t seen it. Some of these jerks will go down to the river, make a few casts and fill out their limit. They may go home and drop off their catch. Some will head back to their trailer, chill the fish in a cooler and have a beer and a nap. A few might just head back to the trunk of their car and stash their catch in a blanket. Still, they head back to river to start all over again. Hell, it has gotten so sophisticated that last autumn on the Saugeen some of the boys from Metro even had their girlfriends ferrying coolers of fish back and forth from Bruce County to the city! You have to admit, these guys are real outlaws.

Releasing Steelhead Smolts

Just about everyone on the river is well aware of what is taking place and who the outlaws are. Trust me, Karl hears complaints, the Directors hear complaints. Hell, I can sit in my office down on Lake Erie and I get phone complaints almost daily. There’s no denying poaching and poachers are running rampant. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and especially the enforcement branch are understaffed and overworked. Karl and I have both been in constant communications the supervisors and our local conservation officers. A crackdown has been promised and is presently underway…. These guys (left) didn’t dedicate a lifetime to this fishery to see it poached!

 Now here’s what you can do. Instead of bitching and complaining about poachers, report these outlaws. If you witness infractions, contact the Ministry of Natural Resources at 1-877-TIPS-MNR…..1-877-847-7667. You might even want to take a picture of these clowns carrying out their dirty deeds. A picture of their car and even a license plate photo helps as well.

Again, the Ministry of Natural Resources has promised us a more active presence on the Saugeen this year. Don’t let these people spoil our fishery. Down with the Outlaws!