A 37-year-old Montegut man surrendered to authorities on Thursday, one week after escaping from agents with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries by jumping off their boat and swimming away in the marsh.
Mel Guidry surrendered to Lafourche and Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Offices on outstanding warrants for using butterfly nets during a closed season, taking commercial fish without a commercial license, commercial gear license and commercial vessel license, failing to tag butterfly nets while unattended, improper running lights, misrepresentation during issuance of a misdemeanor, flight from an officer and failing to complete trip tickets by a fishermen, according to a LDWF press release.
On July 20, agents with the LDWF responded to a complaint of someone using a butterfly net during the closed shrimp season in Lafourche Parish. They allegedly observed Guidry about 8:30 that night place the net in the water and leave it unattended. According to the release, Guidry returned three hours later with improper running lights and started removing the net from the water.
When agents made contact with him, he gave them a false name then escaped. They seized the net, vessel and about 30 pounds of shrimp, and learned that Guidry was not licensed to fish the net, and the net was not properly tagged to be left unattended, the release states.
Agents also learned that Guidry was selling his catch to Pointe Aux Chene Kayak Rentals in Terrebonne Parish, which is owned by Lisa Mullen, 56, of Montegut.
According to the release, Mullen was not keeping records of the catch and not reporting the proper paperwork to LDWF. Mullen admitted to buying shrimp from Guidry to sell to her customers as bait shrimp. Agents cited her for buying commercial fish from an unlicensed fisherman, failing to maintain records and failing to report monthly fish data.
Agents also learned Guidry already had two outstanding warrants in Terrebonne Parish for failure to pay child support. So they contacted the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office (LPSO) and the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office (TPSO) and made them aware of Guidry's additional warrants.
On July 25, the LPSO made contact with Guidry, who once again fled and escaped. But on July 27, Guidry contacted the LPSO and a patrol unit picked him up and booked him into the Lafourche Parish Jail for the outstanding warrants.
Using butterfly nets in a closed season carries up to a $950 fine and 120 days in jail plus forfeiture of anything seized. In addition for the first conviction of shrimping during the closed season, the court may revoke or suspend the violator's trawl, skimmer, or butterfly gear licenses for one year from the date of the conviction. During such revocation or suspension, the violator may be present on a vessel harvesting or possessing shrimp or possessing a trawl, skimmer, or butterfly net only if the vessel is equipped with and employs an operating vessel monitoring system which is accessible to LDWF. The violator may also have to perform 40 hours of community service.
Taking commercial fish without a commercial license, gear license and vessel license each brings a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail. Failing to tag nets left unattended and failing to complete trip tickets each carries a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail. Improper running lights brings up to a $50 fine and 15 days in jail, the release states.
Flight from an officer brings a $150 to $500 fine and up to six months in jail. Misrepresentation during the issuance of a misdemeanor carries up to a $500 fine and six months in jail, according to the release.
And buying commercial fish from an unlicensed fisherman brings a $350 to $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail. Failing to report monthly fish data and maintain records each carries a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail, the release states.