Sunday, September 14, 2014

Elkhart man accused of shooting fish faces misdemeanor charge
Posted on May 10, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on May 10, 2013 at 4:52 p.m.

ELKHART — A man accused of shooting a 42-inch muskie with a bow and arrow at an Elkhart park could face misdemeanor charges.

Cory Barnett, 23, of Elkhart, was charged by Indiana Department of Natural Resources officers with taking a game fish by illegal method. Barnett allegedly shot the fish on Sunday, May 4, in High Dive Park and took it to an out-of-state taxidermist to have it mounted, according to a press release from the DNR.

Jerry Hoerdt, an officer with DNR’s law enforcement division, said the department received a few anonymous tips from concerned anglers.

The DNR concluded its investigation by recovering the fish and interviewing Barnett. The investigation was forwarded to the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s office, from where formal charges are expected to be filed. Taking game fish by an illegal method is a misdemeanor offense and punishable by fines and or jail time, according to the press release.

Bow fishing is a legal fishing method. However the only fish that may be kept while bow fishing are suckers, carp, gar, bowfin, buffalo or shad. Hoerdt said though bow fishing is becoming more popular, it is unusual to see someone break the law by shooting a larger fish such as a muskie.

“Fortunately we don’t see this very often,” he said.

Daragh Deegan, aquatic biologist for the City of Elkhart, said he also thinks it’s unusual for someone to shoot a muskie in this area.

“It’s pretty unethical to do something like that.”

State law allows for a person to keep one muskie per day and that fish must be at least 36 inches. Most muskies are released back to the water after the angler takes a picture with their catch. Chad McDonald of Bristol caught a muskie he believed to be about 48 inches long Wednesday, May 1, near Waterfall Drive and South Elkhart Avenue in Elkhart. McDonald released the fish after taking a photo of him holding it.

Deegan said there is a small population of muskies that has been seen in Elkhart the last 10 years. Muskies seen in the downtown Elkhart area are swimming from the St. Joseph River to the Elkhart River to spawn.

Hoerdt said muskies are becoming more common in Elkhart, so it would be hard to tell whether the muskie that was shot May 4 was the same one McDonald caught just three days earlier.