The One That Got away

 "The One That Got Away"
  By Dick Mauer
A recent Buffalo News article on Canadian fishermen operating off the
coast of Maine and their running battle with Border Patrol Agents from
Houlton reminded me of a fishing conflict much closer to home.
The 'friendly" battle between Canadian fishermen and U.S. law
enforcement has not always been friendly. As a Border Patrol
Agent in Buffalo Sector I occasionally worked boat patrol on Lake Erie
and I remember back to the days of the 60s when New York and Pennsylvania
both outlawed the commercial fishing fleets on Lake Erie. The days of net
fishing off Dunkirk and Erie were over. The shallow south side of the lake
soon drew the commercial fishermen from Port Colbourne, Canada to our side
to illegally set their nets at night with electronics and return the next
night to recover them and their bounty. The game wardens from New York and
Pennsylvania were trying to stop them but were frustrated by the
unwillingness of the commercials to cooperate. These boats were high
sided, ark-like craft with the gunnels standing 8 to 10 feet above the
water line. When working the sides were opened, but they could be
buttoned up in minutes and were then impossible to board. When
challenged they would simply return to Canadian waters with impunity.
Dunkirk and Erie were long hauls by boat from Buffalo and we generally
worked illegal landings by boat from shore by car. Our encounters with
Canadian commercials usually found them buttoned up and heading for Canada.

 I recall the story of the first encounter with a Pennsylvania game
warden who did board a Canadian boat. He was held at gunpoint and
kidnapped to Canada where he was released. The Canadian intrusions
continued and to my knowledge were never stopped until Canada did away
with Great Lakes commercial fishing also. Try fishing the Canadian side
of the river or lake in a New York registered boat without a Canadian
license and see what happens. The Canadian game wardens are very
aggressive and you will soon be minus boat, gear, and money.