Fishermen get justified pardon

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 26, 2008

We have to hand it to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for trying to undo an embarrassing wrong.

Last weekend, fishermen enjoying a bountiful day on the Blackwater River were hauling in white perch by the boatload, as is often the case on the river at this time of the year.

It’s not uncommon for boaters to return to shore with several hundred fish — fish headed for a cookout or a freezer for later purposes.

But a VDGIF officer started issuing summonses to those who kept more than 20 fish per person, as the officer believed was the regulation.

In all, five summonses were issued. On Monday when the VDGIF offices opened, the calls began, asking what was the legal catch limit.

It turns out the questions were valid. VDGIF checked the situation, realized they had been wrong and contacted the Southampton County commonwealth’s attorney to drop any prosecution of the cases, which was done.

All is well, right? Not really. The fishermen who were cited were also ordered to dump their fish back into the water. That’s food lost, as it turns out.

And a good day on the river turned sour.