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Catching sturgeon out of season costs anglers $3,000 and licence suspensions

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry wants to remind all anglers that fishing during the closed season is illegal, even if you’re releasing the fish.

Two anglers have been fined $3,000 for catching Lake Sturgeon out of season on the Nottawasaga River.

During the summer of 2018, conservation officers from the Midhurst Enforcement Unit received a tip that two men were posting photos of the sturgeon they had caught on social media. Investigators from MNRF searched online and found the photos. Officers then confirmed that the photos had been taken along the Nottawasaga River, an area where the Lake Sturgeon season is closed all year.

Interviews with the two anglers revealed that one of the men had caught a sturgeon in the Nottawasaga River in the fall of 2016 and that both men had returned to that location in June 2018 to target Lake Sturgeon. They continued to fish that area specifically to catch Lake Sturgeon.

On July 15, 2019, at the Ontario Court of Justice in Barrie, Ron Mercer and Travis Hall pleaded guilty to angling Lake Sturgeon during the closed season. Justice of the Peace Michelle Vella-Baxter heard the guilty pleas and imposed a fine of $1,500 and a one-year fishing suspension to each angler.

There are no open seasons for Lake Sturgeon in many of the Fisheries Management Zones in Ontario. Anglers should check the Fishing Regulations summary to be fully informed of the seasons before going fishing. The Great Lakes-Upper St. Lawrence River population of Lake Sturgeon is classified as endangered. If you accidentally catch a threatened or endangered species of fish or any species during its closed season, you must immediately release it at the place and time of capture.

Ministry conservation officers work tirelessly to help make sure we can all enjoy Ontario’s natural resources in a safe and respectful manner.

To report a natural resource violation, or report that you’ve harvested an animal that you don’t have a tag for, call the MNRF TIPS line at 1-877-847-7667 toll-free anytime, or contact your local MNRF office during regular business hours. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

We need your help to solve cases. Please visit to view an interactive, searchable map of unsolved cases. You may have valuable information that can help.

One Reply to “Catching sturgeon out of season costs anglers $3,000 and licence suspensions”

  1. The microcosms of the computer age have given us many things. Specifically, an information highway bombarding us daily with gigabytes of knowledge meant to improve our intelligence, at least for most people.

    Ron Mercer and Travis Hall’s recent Social Media Mugshot proves beyond a shadow of doubt the truisms of my adage, “A man’s intelligence is not measured by the amount of knowledge he has acquired. It is measured by how wisely he has applied that knowledge.

    The fact these two nincompoops returned to the area repeatedly speaks volumes. Picking up one or two copies of The Ontario Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary cost absolutely nothing. Fishing for Sturgeon out of season a $3000 fine and a blight to your reputation through those same microcosms of Social Media.

    Their little covert operation of hiding their nefarious behaviour from the M.N.R.F. was actually common knowledge to everyone but themselves. Their ill-timed “hidden in plain sight” manoeuvers open for prosecution.

    Personal privacy while paramount in most peoples minds in this age of computer technology, is actually a figment of everyone’s own imagination.

    So as Allen Funt and many others would say, “Smile, your on candid camera!”

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