Safety prime goal of lake patrols

Published online: Aug 19, 2011 News Scott Shenk -
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The 300-horsepower outboard motor gurgles as conservation Officer Mark Shull maneuvers the patrol boat on the calm Lake Anna water, nudging close to a pontoon boat with four men aboard.

Shull's partner, Steve Hicks, moves onto the bow and introduces himself as a conservation officer with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Two older men sit on the pontoon's bow, fishing poles in hand, and a pair of younger men rest on the back after having taken a dip in the lake.

Hicks asks the men if they've had any luck, and one of them holds up a haul of 10 catfish.

Then he asks if they have their fishing licenses. One of them doesn't, so he gets a $60 citation.

After filling out the citation form and some small talk, the officers pull away.

"Does that mean I can keep fishing?" the man asks.

"I can't tell you what to do," Hicks says, warning him that other patrol officers might ticket him, too.

On a recent Saturday, Hicks and Shull make their way around much of the 13,000-acre lake during their shift.

Usually on Saturdays, boats and jet skis fill the lake created by Dominion Virginia Power to cool its nuclear reactors, keeping the officers on constant alert for safety issues. But intermittent showers have scared off many boaters on this day.

During much of the eight-hour shift, the officers deal mostly with anglers enjoying the calm water. About a half-dozen were cited for fishing without a license.


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