Gill-Netter Caught Again At Lake Oconee

Conservation Law Enforcement Corner - October 2021

GON Staff | October 4, 2021

The Conservation LE Corner is designed to highlight the efforts of Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Division (LED) officers who, among their many duties, protect Georgia’s wildlife, sportsmen and natural resources from game-law violators.

Putnam County: During routine patrol on Dec. 6, 2020, Sgt. Matt Garthright pulled into the Sugar Creek public boat ramp on Lake Oconee and observed a van backed into a parking space close to the edge of the lake. 

“I approached a female who was sitting near three fishing poles,” reported Sgt. Garthright in his incident report. “I attempted to check the female’s fishing license, which she stated she did not have. There was a language barrier between her and I. While standing near the van with her, I heard something toward the water’s edge that drew my attention. I walked toward the noise and observed a male subject getting out of the water.” 

The soaking-wet subject was identified as a man from Clarkston in DeKalb County whose name was Tin Tin—same first name and last name.

“The temperature outside was 51 degrees,” Sgt. Garthright said. “Upon exiting the water, the subject put on a cloth robe and a shirt. I asked what he was doing in the water, and he stated he had (gone to the bathroom) and off. I walked back to the van with Tin Tin and retrieved his driver’s license and fishing license. The female had an interpreter on the phone, and I asked her to ask Tin Tin what he was doing in the water. This time, he stated that he was just washing his hands. Upon further investigation of the water’s edge, I located a gill net—I could see the top of the gill net running across the surface of the water. At this time, Tin Tin was reeling up the three fishing poles, and I asked him to walk with me over to the net. I asked Tin Tin how many nets he had out, and he replied just one, at which point he admitted to having and using the gill net. Tin Tin was beginning to shiver from the cold and being wet. I advised Tin Tin to dry off, put on some dry clothes, and to get in the van and turn on the heat to warm up.


“I called Game Warden Nolan Callaway and asked him to bring a boat to my location so that I could verify the gill net and remove them. I also asked Putnam County for assistance while we retrieved the nets. Game Warden Callaway and I located two gill nets that were deployed in the water by Tin Tin. One of the nets had one shad in it. The other net had 23 crappie and two bream in it.

I recognized Tin Tin because I caught him using gill nets at this same location in February 2020. Since he was a repeat offender, and the use of gill nets damage our resources, I arrested and charged him. 

On Jan. 27, 2021, Tin Tin pleaded guilty in Putnam County State Court and was fined $865 for use of gill nets and $222.50 for taking gamefish by illegal method. 


Georgia Game Wardens Earn Honors 

Game Warden First Class John Rhodes, who is assigned to Hancock County, was named the 2021 Game Warden of the Year. 

Although assigned to Hancock County, Rhodes often works boating enforcement on Lake Oconee. He was his region’s 2019 Boating Safety Officer of the Year. This year, Rhodes led his region with 200 violator contacts. He logged 260 hunting license checks, 400 boating safety checks, 523 fishing license checks and worked 100 complaints. A notable case involved the taking of a black bear in Hancock County, which has no bear season.

Game Warden First Class John Rhodes

Game Warden First Class Tyler Lewis, from Cobb County, received the James R. Darnell Award as the runner-up to Game Warden of the Year.  The work section for Lewis includes Cobb, Bartow and Cherokee counties, and he also answers calls on Lake Allatoona, Red Top Mountain State Park, the Chattahoochee and Etowah river, and at Pine Log, Allatoona and McGraw Ford WMAs. This year, he checked 330 hunting licenses, 791 fishing licenses, documented 77 state park patrols and 53 WMA patrols. He also apprehended 17 people for hunting without permission, nabbed a poacher who had alluded game wardens for over a decade, and apprehended two individuals wanted for the murder of a child. On state waterways, he logged 227 hours, resulting in checking 357 checked boats, seven BUIs and worked six boating incidents.

Become a GON subscriber and enjoy full access to ALL of our content.

New monthly payment option available!


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.