Four men from Tulsa were ticketed with a dozen citations totaling more than $3,000 after a Cherokee County game warden busted them illegally netting the river for fish.
Pau Mang, 39, Pau Khai, 34, Cin Mang, 37, and Awn Thang, 40, were apprehended October 14 after Cherokee County Game Warden Brady May spotted them "gill netting downstream" at a public access site on the Illinois River. Game wardens Anthony Clark and Cody Youngblood assisted May in the investigation.
The four were hit with multiple charges including fishing without licenses, cast netting in a closed river stream and illegal taking of game and non-game fish with use of a gill net, according to the Oklahoma Game Wardens Facebook page.
"After locating them downstream with my binoculars, I immediately identified an illegal gill net strung completely across the mouth of the river slew," May said. "I then observed a second net, each with four-inch square monofilament line designed to catch any of the larger fish that attempt to swim through.
The men had a section of the river blocked off and had an ice chest full of both game and non-game fish including channel catfish, smallmouth bass, sand bass and rough fish.
May said two of the men were throwing a cast net illegally to catch the smaller river chubs which in the Asian community are known to be a delicacy.
According to the Oklahoma Game Wardens Facebook page, cast netting in the Upper Illinois River was prohibited several years ago after state fisheries biologists recommended the closure to help protect the Stone Roller, which is a minnow species known to help clean up the river rocks covered with algae.
All four men were released after agreeing to appear in court November 7.
Anyone who sees someone violating Oklahoma's Fish and Game laws can contact their local game warden on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website or report the violation anonymously by calling Operation Game Thief at 800-522-8039.