Judging from what transpired at a recent bass tournament at Mossy Point boat launch in Ticonderoga, authorities are becoming more serious about enforcing laws, new and old, that prevent the transport of not only invasive species but any aquatic vegetation into the lake.
News of two tournament anglers being ticketed at Mossy Point on Aug. 4 during a tournament held by Northeast Team Bass went viral throughout New York. Bass anglers and tournaments were under fire throughout the week, and continue to be.
Meanwhile, another side of the story about the anglers being ticketed is emerging.
An Internet post on a web forum written by one of the ticketed anglers describes his account of the incident. Likewise, Northeast Team Bass tournament director Tracy Hanchett’s account mirrors that of the ticketed angler. Hanchett also feels she was misled by the LGPC prior to and during the tournament.
The LGPC has been proactive in reaching out to tournament directors overseeing events on Lake George. Tournament directors have been contacted by the LGPC with details informing them of the many concerns with invasive species prevention in Lake George and that LGPC inspectors will be on-site for their tournaments.
Hanchett welcomed their presence.
“He told me that they would have lake stewards there, that they’d be doing inspections of the boats and that if there were any issues found they’d be willing to wash the boats, the equipment, whatever needed to be taken care of,” Hanchett said. “I said, ‘Why not, I have no problem with that.’ He emailed me the information and I sent it to all the anglers I have email for.
“The tournament comes along and we got there about 4:30 a.m. Two boats were already in the water when the lake stewards showed up at 5 a.m., we had a total of 40 boats. They started doing their inspections of the other 38 boats. They had a headlamp on.
“When I got back over (to the boat launch) in the afternoon to set up, one of the patrol people came over to me. He didn’t introduce himself, he didn’t tell me who he was, his job, he didn’t say anything to me. Then out of his mouth comes, ‘You know your guys are getting tickets today.’ I asked him what they were getting tickets for and he said, ‘I found zebra muscles on the trailers when I inspected them. I’m going to have to issue tickets.’
“I told him, ‘I don’t understand this. You guys were here this morning doing inspections.’ He started giving me a hard time and I just went and sat down and started doing my stuff and I just kept thinking about it and just said, ‘This is wrong, what’s happening?’”
She then went back to the officer and questioned all that had been done and promised earlier.
“He said, ‘Well, we didn’t inspect all of the boats,’” said Hanchett of his response. “I said, ‘You inspected 38 out of the 40 and the two that had launched (one was her husband) are not the two that got tickets.’”
She said she informed them that nothing was found earlier that morning and questioned why the anglers weren’t offered to have their boats and trailers washed, and was told that it was dark and they couldn’t see.
Adding to Hanchett’s frustration was an observation she made at the boat launch after the tournament.
She said, “They had a lake steward sitting off to the side. I’m going to tell you that there were eight-to-ten boats that came into that launch and that kid never got out of his chair.”
As for the tickets, she said she would like to have known that officers intended to issue them.
“I feel like they literally tricked me into doing this,” she said. “I have no issues with what they’re trying to do, trying to control this happening to their lakes. The only issue I have is how they handled it.”
Hanchett said the reaction of anglers in her organization was to not bother with Lake George in the future.
She said, “After a few days I got to thinking that I don’t care what they do, how they want to handle it. If we want to have a tournament on that lake then we’re going to have a tournament on that lake.”
Meanwhile, as summer winds down, boaters of all types can learn from this incident that in the end, inspected or not, you are being held responsible for what you transport and making sure your boat is clean. You can learn more about this at DEC’s invasive species page at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/92687.html and the LGPC’s website: www.lgpc.state.ny.us.
Dan Ladd is the author of “Deer Hunting in the Adirondacks,” outdoors editor for the Glens Falls Chronicle, columnist for Outdoors Magazine and contributor to New York Outdoor News. Contact him at www.adkhunter.com.