TEXAS FRESHWATER by Matt Williams –

OPEN SEASON by Reavis Z. Wortham
August 25, 2017
August 25, 2017

Fishin’ Holes: Hey, That Ain’t Your Brushpile!

M odern electronics have forever changed the way the way we fish, away from the bank.

Used correctly, innovative technologies from industry leaders such as Lowrance, Garmin, Humminbird and Raymarine combined with quality mapping programs have made it possible to scan a lake’s bottom like never before and locate “sweet spots” in relatively short order.

There just aren’t many secrets anymore. And that has helped stir some serious feuds among anglers, particularly when it comes to brush piles.

Anglers routinely plant brush piles at strategic locations for the purpose of attracting fish, particularly crappie and bass. Cut the brush, haul it to the spot, outfit it with blocks or sandbags so it will stay put, then dump it overboard. It’s a hard and sweaty drill that takes time and perseverance to accomplish.

Tempers sometimes fly when two anglers collide around a brush pile. This is especially true when the guy who planted the brush pile arrives to find another boat sitting on what is perceives to be his spot.

Sometimes the anglers are able to hash it out and go about business as usual. Other times they don’t.

In some cases the situation escalates into something really ugly.

Such was the case in early June when Donald Johnson and his wife, of Deridder, Louisiana, went fishing on Toledo Bend. The couple was reportedly fishing around a submerged brush pile when they were approached by an angler in a different boat, Dean Bullara of Opelousas. A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries news release says Bullara claimed the Johnsons were fishing in his spot and demanded that they leave.

According to the report, a heated argument followed that eventually led to Johnson pulling a handgun on Bullara.

The release says the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested Johnson for aggravated assault with a firearm and booked him into the Sabine Parish Correctional Center. Johnson reported that he had pulled his handgun in self-defense on Bullara because he felt threatened by his actions.

Bullara was cited for harassment of persons lawfully fishing, the release says.

In a separate incident, several east Texas men were fishing for crappie around a brush pile near a lakeside boat dock on Lake Tyler last March when the owner of the dock jumped in his boat and began running tight circles around them.

According to reports on easttexasmatters.com, the brush pile in question is somewhat of a community hole and that a lot people catch fish there.

Not sure what man was up to, one of the anglers began videoing the boat as it circled their boat at high speed. It became apparent the man was attempting to get the anglers to leave when he began cursing and told them they weren’t allowed to fish in his wife’s crappie hole, the news report said.

The video has been viewed by thousands on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ketkcaraprichard/videos/pcb.1474112129318646/1474110349318824/?type=3).

The anglers, who eventually left the scene, reported the incident to authorities and an investigation was launched by Smith County game wardens. The owner of the dock eventually issued a public apology for his actions and privately apologized to the anglers.

“Anybody that wants to fish here, my grandkids come here all the time and fish so we have it all fixed up for them, but anybody else, they’re welcome,” he told easttexasmatters.com.

That was awful nice of him, but the truth is anglers don’t need his permission, or anyone else’s, to soak a bait around that brush pile, or any other brush pile in public water.

Once a brush pile is dumped in a public lake, it automatically becomes fair game for anyone to fish. There is nothing private about boat docks built by homeowners, either. You can fish around them all you want; just don’t touch.

If someone tries to tell you different, they are wrong. If they press the issue, they could be in violation of state law.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, Sec. 62.-125 contains language related to the Harassment of Hunters, Trappers and fishermen, specifically the Sportsman’s Rights Act.

According to part 2c. of that law, “no person may intentionally interfere with another person lawfully engaged in the process of hunting or catching wildlife.” And wildlife includes fish.

A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.

Where some folks screw up is when they take the law into their own hands and attempt to settle a nasty situation on their own. It is always best to contact the proper authorities and let them handle the issue before things get out of hand, according to Jason Jones, TPWD Lieutenant game warden. 

“When a person is being harassed by another they should call the local game warden for assistance,” he said. “It is not recommended to try to resolve the conflict themselves. “Record the incident and write down as much information as possible. Write a brief description of the person harassing, the location of the incident, and if the person has a vehicle or boat try to get as much information as possible.”

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