WCO Diary
by WCO Dave Kaneski, Northern Wayne County

January and February are traditionally considered to be the slow time of the year for a waterways conservation officer. I’m eager to find out where that perception began. Here in northern Wayne County, when it starts to get cold, the priorities just shift.

With Y2K fresh in the air, Deputy Waterways Conservation Officer (DWCO) Larry Neal and I decided to bring in the New Year with a patrol of the isolated regions of northern Wayne County. We posted signs informing anglers and boaters of the changes that went into effect at midnight. While we were on patrol, we discussed the new laws and regulations, as well as our personal New Year’s resolutions. One of mine seemed to repeat itself over the past few years. It was a promise to myself to fish more during the new year.

The first trout stocking came early this year. DWCO John Osborne and I found ourselves clearing away some ice on the shoreline of Upper Woods Pond to reach the lake. The newspaper reporter showed up, took some pictures and wrote a terrific article. Stocking these fish gave me more of a desire to go trout fishing.

Unseasonably warm weather allowed for a number of fishing trips to a variety of streams with WCO John Cummings and my regular trout fishing partner, Dave Verdetto. These fishing trips were well worth it. We landed trout on just about every fly we threw at them.

WCO Dave Kaneski

WCO Dave Kaneski, Northern Wayne County, stocks trout in Upper Woods Pond. photo-Bob Jennings, Scranton Times/Tribune

The frigid temperatures finally arrived. Ice covered all of our lakes and streams. Ice fishing came into full swing. It seemed that a large portion of the anglers failed to read the new summary book. On one weekend, I decided to approach all the ice fishermen I encountered and see if they were aware of the new rules. This sounded like a good idea at first, but 12 inches of ice, six inches of slush, and another 15 inches of snow made for a long weekend. I spoke with at least 150 ice fishermen. Most were aware of the new laws, and they complied. Some weren’t aware.

Nevertheless, I then did something I thought I would never do. I took up ice fishing. The first few trips were slow. I did manage to land a largemouth bass of more than 20 inches and better than four pounds. It certainly isn’t the same as fly fishing for wild trout, but I’ll probably give it a try again next year.
It’s now the middle of January. I had a preliminary hearing for a man operating heavy equipment in a stream. The charges were bound over for trial. This would not be the only court appearance. The low point of my career came as I attended the trial of a man accused of shooting at a fellow warden (and a friend). This would prove to be quite a learning experience. The defendant was found not guilty of any of the criminal charges, but guilty of two low-level summary offenses. This was a disappointing eye-opener.

Every few years a statewide meeting of WCOs is held in Altoona for a few days. The information at this meeting is important, but so also is the reunion of fellow classmates, former neighboring officers and field training officers of the past.
While sitting home on vacation, I received a telephone call from DWCO Larry Neal concerning DWCO Dunsinger and Neal’s encountering a man with illegal drugs in his possession on one of our most popular Commission lakes. The proper actions were taken and with the assistance of the Pennsylvania State Police in Honesdale the individual was successfully prosecuted. The people of Pennsylvania surely do not need to encounter drug activity while enjoying the waters of northern Wayne County. Good job, guys!

It’s now February--still the “slow” time of the year, right? I attended a hearing as a witness for my Game Commission counterpart WCO Frank Dooley. The defendant was found guilty of shooting a buck over bait on the opening day of the antlered deer season. In another hearing, a man was found guilty of not properly attending his tip-ups.

On a Saturday afternoon I received a complaint letter from a person who was previously found guilty in front of the magistrate. This was frustrating. We now had to commit more time to a closed case. However, on this same day I received the preseason trout stocking list. Shortly thereafter I received the inseason list. These lists were reviewed, a few changes were requested, and the trout stocking schedule was finalized.

The total tally was 14 summary cases closed, three criminal cases closed, two warrants served, dozens of warnings given, four days in court, four days of training, and several wild trout and bass caught--not bad for the “slow” time of the year. Now we’re on to March, and the trout stocking begins.



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January/February 2001 Angler & Boater

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