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Louisiana Bowfishing

Gretna commercial fishing guide pleads guilty to federal felony violation of the Lacey Act


BLAKE A. MITCHELL, age 26, a resident of Gretna, Louisiana, and owner/operator of “Louisiana Bowfishing, Inc.,” pleaded guilty today before U. S. District Court Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown to providing a commercial fishing/guiding service in violation of federal law, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.

According to court documents, MITCHELL owned “Louisiana Bowfishing, Inc.,” a fishing, hunting, and guiding service based out of Gretna, Louisiana. In January 2010, MITCHELL arranged to take several men from Tennessee on a combined duck hunt and bowfishing trip in Plaquemines Parish. During the two-day trip, MITCHELL captained an airboat with the men aboard, and he provided them with the necessary equipment to hunt and instructed them on where to stand and how to operate the equipment. During the hunt, MITCHELL took the men on multiple bowfishing trips each day and encouraged them to exceed the legal limit of five (5) redfish per person. MITCHELL himself took twenty (20) redfish over the two days. Between hunts, MITCHELL returned the airboat to the boat launch, put the fish in an ice chest, and hid them in an obscure location next to a nearby convenience store. MITCHELL was paid $1850 for the entire hunt.

MITCHELL faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five (5) years, followed by up to three (3) years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. As part of his plea agreement, MITCHELL has also agreed to forfeit to the Government the airboat he used to commit the crime. Sentencing has been scheduled for February 16, 2012, at 10:00 am.

The case was investigated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg.
Lacy Act
I'm glad the 'feds' were in on this. Hopefully the state will also seek charges against him since the evidence is already there.
over the limit
break the law pay the price
would like to know the fine and prison term on this when final.
Really now, there are so many fish that can be caught legally is there a reason to cheat?! Although I don't know him, I live in old Gretna and I used to wave at him as he passed down my street. And to think I feel bad sometimes about all the fish we can catch legitimately.
Its been a long time coming.
how did mitchell get caught?
did the guys he took bowfishing, rat on him, were they undercover agents??
In Response to abeastandasavage
In Response to abeastandasavage: Cannot find out anything more than what is on the United States Department of Justice Website as I also wondered how he got busted. It seems from another comment made on this thread though this isn't his first time breaking the law just the first time he got caught.
probably tipped off
Just speculation, but the majority of time its a stake out from a tip. I believe this will cost big bucks, community service, and fishing rights revoked, but probably not jailtime if its a first offense. He's already losty his equipment.

I mean, let's be honest, I don't understand why anyone want to clean more redfish when we already have generous limits, but this is not like a drive-by shooting, and redfish are not endangered.

Not supporting this idiocy, I'm just saying....... Jailtime wouldn't break my heart, but our state has much worse criminals. I'm much more interested in finding the %^^**( who stole our generator and wiring from the camp and having them go to jail.
i deleted the story so that i wouldnt be attacked for telling the STORY I HEARD AND NOT MY PERSONAL FEELINGS
Court docs
The plea agreement and factual basis state that he knew the law and he was the one that suggested the overfishing.

His sentencing is set for February 16, 2012.

I can't post the docs because they are PDF files. If you want to read them, send me an e-mail and I'll forward you a copy. They are public documents from the court.
Pump The Breaks
Im going to get absolutely drilled for saying this by some Joe Bloe with nothing else better to do, but im procrastinating from studying for a final, so here go. They are FISH. He didn't murder anyone, cause harm to anyone, or burn a school down. $250,000, 5 years in jail, loses his company (assuming), and they take the air boat. Once again they are fish. Kind of a harsh punishment for shooting fish, minus the jail time because we all know that wont happen because LA cant house existing criminals (fact).

I guess what i am trying to say is this guy was just trying to give customers (from Tennessee) a worth while trip, make a living, and put food on the table. I don't agree that he shot over the limit AT ALL. Does he deserved to get punished? Yes, but within reason, last time i say it (It's a FISH) And because of this im sure his life is in pieces right now, and some people like ole boy at the tip top enjoy blasting it all over the internet. Just let the man (or MITCHELL, like you put it) be. im pretty sure he knows he messed up. No sh** starting intended, the topic just got me fired up for some reason.....Geaux Tigers
Well Brown you are right that you will catch some flack from your comments, so here goes, I love fishing and I abide by the rules as long as I'm aware of them and will continue to do so,but you know what? I kinda agree with you, give the man some pumishment but don't ruin his life, I mean look at all the people we got killing and stealing that are still running around scott free. And on another note, I , like you had something stolen, some sorry SOB stole my Kawasaki Praire 360 4 wheeler.
couple thoughts
i wouldnt feel to bad for the guy as he has been doing shady stuff for quite awhile now so he was due for this...

As for the punishment, it should be more sever for charter fisherman, they do this for a living every day and if they are exceeding limits it really can put a dent in things. They have to make it extreme otherwise peopl would break the rules more often...
I for one think that taking his boat and fishing gear,taking away his commercial and rec lic ,is punishment enough,No jail time and no fine over 10000.00 .Untill they start punishing people who commit crimes of violence to other people to real jail time 10 years and up. This is punishment enough. His life is gonna be changed as it is
Too harsh
I agree too that the penalty is too harsh. Could this guy be the reason CCA wanted to ban bowfishing?? Just asking...
Know The Truth
Hello everyone!!!! My name is Nicole. I am Captain Blake Mitchell's older sister. I am extremely disappointed by some of the comments that were said, so I am going to set the record straight. ALL of this started with my father, Captain Jimmy Mitchell. He was definitely a outlaw, in which I am not bragging about,but simply just stating the truth. WILDLIFE AND FISHERY HATED MY FATHER/FAMILY. Anyway, the first time the story came out in the newspaper about Blake, they put my father's age behind my brother's name. Honestly, the one time Blake decided to do wrong, he got caught. He is fully aware what he did was wrong, and he accepts it, but the way he was portrayed to be was extremely wrong. I am not saying this because he is my brother. Just know, he is truly a wonderful person, and would do anything for anyone!!!!!!
calling The Captain Charlie and Jeff Foiles
This doesn't seem to be the first time I've read about shady business from this guy.

I, for one, don't think the penalties for these violations are too strict. Crimes may be too lax for violent crimes, but that doesn't mean these penalties should be lowered.....more people would just break them. Its sad when a guide represents the sportsman of Louisiana in this manner instead of promoting sport within the law. I can't imagine someone would complain if you sent them home with limits.
Different Viewpoint
Heres a different point of view, say all the facts in the story are correct:
What if the people who were paying for the trip, or whoever tipped off oficials wasnt so knowlagable of the limit, then who becomes responsible for the extra fish if they get stopped on the water?

Im not sure if Fishing guides hold 100 % liability but since the customers are the ones who harvested the fish (illegally) wouldnt they be held resposible?
I sure would hate to see some people on vacation catch a fine, and potentially lose money because they didnt know any better....

just my two cents......
if its brown its down, is rite!!!
i agree brown, way to harsh a punishment!! take his boat, $250,000 fine, lose his liscense and 5 years in prison!!! his life and families life is over!! you shouldn't get more punishment, for catching a few to many fish, than you would get for armed robbery, rape or killing someone!! dr. conrad murray, found guilty of the death of michael jackson! he was sentenced to the maximun sentence, 4 years in jail, not prison and he killed someone!!! they said he will maybe, serve 2 years or even less! it's dern lucky, dr. conrad murray, didn't catch to many redfish!!!
PORTRAYED?! And the Oscar for best actor goes to... Exactly how would you like for Mr. Mitchell to be portrayed Ms. Nicole? Blake Mitchell broke the law on purpose, knew what he was doing wrong since he attempted to conceal his crime and he admitted it in a court of law. rnrnAs for this is the first time he's ever broken the law or simply the first time he's ever been caught is something we'll never know.

Since we are all entitled to our opinions, I have a hard time believing this is the first time he's ever taken over the limit of fish. He went out one day taking more than the limit and golly wouldn't you know that happens to be the day he got caught, yeah right. It seems other opinions from people possibly in the know is this is simply the first time he's been caught,but hey that is heresay.
thats what im saying....what if he has clients that do not know the legal louisiana redfish limit, and encourages them to take over the limit...and then is stopped by wild life in fisheries...who is accountable, just the guide, or the people who actually harvested the fish....

by the way its 'Proffesional'
By the way--it's professional. Just had to!
What he did was not very ' perfreshinall ' pretty much sums it up ------------ you mess with the Reds and you deal with the Feds --------- along with all the other fines , forfeitures and jail time he gets , he should lose his charter license for life and his recreational license for at least 5 years -------------what made what he did worst than if a weekend sport fisherman had done it was he profitted monitarilly from it ------- I doubt this is the first time he did it , just the first time he was caught -------------I also think the fishermen on the boat that day should be cited and fined also as they had to know better
I Quote
I love this quote, 'Just know, he is truly a wonderful person, and would do anything for anyone!!!!!!'

He has stolen from the system, violated every sportsman who abides by the law, and given a black eye to the charter boats and guides also. Yes he is truly a wonderful person and trust me he has done enough for everyone already.
To: Cutem777, I believe since out of state fishermen are required to purchase a license that they are also bound by the laws that govern and required to follow the rules. Ignorance of the law has never been a winning argument but I believe the Dept. of W,L and F may give out of state fishermen more of a break than the local guide who is in charge.

Imagine one of us charters a trip out of Florida and we're stopped on the highway headed home with an illegal catch, what do we say then, the guide told us this was cool?! I think it would be our responsibility to know the rules that pertain to fishing out of state and transporting catch. Maybe not such a good idea to rely on one guide who may not be shooting straight, is ignorant, or simply doesn't know.
“The apple don’t fall far from the tree”
As a young sportsman growing up my father thought me to respect the land and what it has to offer. He also thought me that an outlaw is like a THIEF that steals from you and everyone else who enjoys the outdoors. Who likes a thief? Who wants to stand up for a thief? If he was brought up in an outlaw environment guess what he knows? Teach our children right and they will only know right. Teach them wrong and that what they will know for the rest of their life. In my opinion unless this fishing “PRIVILEGES” are taken away it will happen again!!!
Seems like everyone has jumped to conclusions and then start an argument from it. From what I have read, he is not due for sentencing till February. WE don't know what kind of a sentence he is gonna get. It only states the maximum sentence. I seriously doubt he is gonna get any jail time.
Cut me a break Mr. Chris! I typed it on my phone, plus its finals time so im mentally
Just razzing ya. Good luck on your finals and thanks for posting!
dont do the crime if you cant do the time!
a lot of good points and some bass ackward points have been made, truth is, he broke the laws that are easily and publicly available every year in the fishing handbook, and we have all broken the law, we have broken the speed limit, or rolled thru a stop sign, and when we do it, we know were doing wrong and taking that chance regardless. this man knowingly and willingly broke the law, now he has to deal with the consequences. as far those who have said his punishment was so harsh and the one person who said, they are just fish, have a lot to learn about life, justice, and conservation. if we gave everybody a slap on the wrist for committing what they know to be a federal crime, where would this country be? and for the gentle man who said, their just fish, let me tell you a little story my grandfather told me when i was a boy. i was on the levee throwing gravel into the river, and he told me to stop, and i said 'why pawpaw? their just rocks?' and he explained to me, 'well if everyone thought like you, and threw a hand full of rocks in the river, their wont be any more rocks on the levee at all!'
so remember that little story and its repercussions next time you think 'its only....'
'Their Just Fish'
You make a very good point however; your taking my comment out of context. I was simply making a point that the punishment is way too harsh for the crime. I think most can agree with that. But then again thats why you don't do what he did. I just think it's a little ridiculous.
even ANOTHER point of view
I believe (and know from expirience) that most dads out there teach their sons/daughters right from wrong expecially when it comes to respecting the outdoors, rules, and other people who are enjoying it as well....But what kind of message do you think a Captain sends to a kid who may be on a trip with him that its okay to take over the legal limit ? Your a fishing guide, Most fishing guides guide for a living, PROFESSIONAL fishing guide...Kinda like a big leauge baseball player encouraging (or influincing) a kid to take steroids---both are against the rules, and both are taking advantage of the sport
still disagree with you brown
brown i think your missing the point, for an average citizen the punishment may be harsh, but for a 'professional' guide service, who knowingly and willingly broke the law, i dont think its unreasonable. the 8th amendment to the constitution states 'Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.' if he or his attorney believe his punishment is too harsh, which im sure they do, they can challenge it, but i still feel a 'professional' guide that wants to have a successful business should be law abiding more so, than the average joe shmoe off the street. where some of us are weekend warrior, this individual was out there, most likely every day, and quite possibly everyday he was taking over his limit. i go back to the story my pawpaw told me, and back to the who someone posted on here, if you mess with the reds, you mess with the feds. without rules and regulations, and punishments for violators, we would have no wildlife to speak of, its called conservation for a reason and it should be part of every sportsmans code of conduct to practice it, and even more so for a professional guide service. in essence you can look at it this way, if he's taking over his limit, he is shooting himself in the foot. if he milks all his honey holes dry, his business will decline from his own illegal actions.

regardless of any opinions stated or implied here, the fact of the matter is, he confessed to breaking federal law, and well knew the consequences that that entails. he made his bed, now he is going to have to lie in it.
You better be a role model for the kids
I am sure we all know some sad stories about children that have caused parents many heart breaks. I like to hear people talking about teaching kids the right way to do things. Many years ago my sons and I were on a vacation at Orange beach we had the boat and went fishing. In the morning we needed gas and went to the marina to fill up which we did from the boat dock. After filling up tried to find some one to pay and there was no one around. We went fishing and had a great time. On our return we put the boat on the trailer and drove to the Marina to pay for the gas. I saw the owner and told him that there was no one at the gas shed in the am. He had an attitude with me and said so what. I said well the gas pump was open and we filled up and I need to pay for the gas. Boy his attitude sure did change and he told me thank you about a 100 times. My sons learned a valuable lesson that day about doing the right thing. What would have happen if I had said boys we sure got away with a free tank of gas. You can bet in the long run my wife and I would have paid for that gas a million times over. Hope this is a teaching moment for all of us.
The truth
well the truth is this guy does shady business, and has a history of it so this is a long time coming....

No offense Mrs Mitchell but this is not the first time your brother has done wrong, i could give examples but wont go there...

To those that think the penalties are too stiff, yes they may be for a regular guy but he is a charter captain, if they all did this we would have a majore problem.... And those fines given are MAX fines.... He will never see a tenth of that, we all know how the system works.. No one ever gets the max....

He will do no jail time and be fined $25K, i think that is more than fair
Waving the White Flag
Lot's of good points going on here. I do see what you are trying to portray 'GoneFishin.' I guess i was looking at it from the average sportsman's point of view, but as a professional guide he should be held to a higher standard. Regardless, thats why there are laws, and that is why you abide by them. And from some of the comments that are surfacing now, seems like this was a long time coming. Trout Assassin also makes a very good point.
Still got the boat
Apparently the boat was not seized, it is for sale as of tonight on this very website, minus the stickers.
the paint scheme was on a few boats.
Well that would explain it, wasn't thinking that he had several boats. Just assumed that was the boat.