I read with delight the story in today’s Pioneer Press that angler Tom James of Mound got his lunker muskie back. The story made headlines a few weeks ago when James was paid a visit by DNR enforcement officials after they saw his picture on the internet with a 52-inch muskie he had caught in Lake Minnetonka Jan. 13. Due to a rule change that was made after the regulation booklet came out, the season actually was closed on Dec. 15.
Applying the new regulation, the DNR confiscated his fish, though he was not penalized. I followed this case and felt all along he should have been allowed to keep his fish. Looking at it from a faith perspective, we should distinguish between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.
After catching the fish, James looked in the rule book to see if the season was still open and it was. How could he have known that the rule had changed after the book was printed? Frankly, it wouldn’t occur to most anglers, including me, that such a change could ever happen. We are led to believe that the regulation booklet is the bible of fishing regs, so we don’t doubt or question what it says.
I’m glad agency officials came to their senses and returned the fish to him on Monday. It restores my faith in the way they manage the state’s resources. After all, they are ultimately working for us, the anglers who buy fishing licenses. In this case, I would say justice has been served — or, rather, landed.