The Day I Almost Got Arrested.

About six or so years ago with my husband, we hiked down a slope to a secluded spot along the Carson River to sunbathe, drink wine, and me catch some water life for my backyard fishpond. I collect snails, pollywogs, moss, and baby fish, if I can find them for my pond. We set up our lounge chairs in the sandy shore along the river. All was quiet, sunny, and calm with no one around but the squirrels.

But, this day was like no other. While my husband was lying back on his recliner covered in oily suntan lotion, I went in search with a bucket of creek water for little critters wearing my bikini top and shorts. After a while, I spotted a school of baby fish near the edge of the creek (picture above), could have been minnows or trout; but trust me they are hard to catch. I scooped them up with my fishnet, exclaiming, “I caught ’em!” waking up my husband from a nap. I then transferred them to the bucket.

Suddenly, two burly Forest Rangers donned in binoculars, Smokey Bear hats, parabolic listening devices, and guns came out of the bushes and yelled, “Put that bucket down, ma’am!” Not sure if I was more offended by the term ‘ma’am’ or what they were going to do after that.

“What’s in the bucket, ma’am?” one shouted. I instantly felt like I was in an episode of Law and Order Criminal Intent Sierra Nevada. I was half waiting for Olivia and Elliott to emerge as they usually do minutes after a perp is captured.

“Nothing?” I answered like a scolded five-year-old.

“Dump out the bucket, ma’am!” I turned to my husband for help, but he looked as stunned as I was with mouth agape and at a loss for words for once in his life.

“But why? I have little fish in here for my pond at home,” I asked, never one to shilly-shally when I think I’m in the right.

“You’re not allowed to take wildlife from the wild!” he schooled me.

“But I’ve been doing that since I was a kid,” I quibbled.

“You can’t take a lizard, a snake, a pollywog, or a frog from the wild!”

“I never heard of this before,” I responded with my hands up, then dumped the water from my bucket and the baby fish swam away. Those fish would have grown to six inches long in my pond unless a bear or fox found them first. I was so letdown.

“We could give you a citation, but we’ll let you go with a warning this time,” one said with chilly authority. I looked at him incredulously. Then looked over at my husband again who finally thought of something to say.

“Are there any good fishing spots around here?” to which they both ignored him. Always the king of changing the subject, I thought.

I seriously thought I was going to get handcuffed and perp-walked up the hill to their Ranger vehicle.

To this day, I have not stolen any wildlife from the wild and, quite frankly, lost my interest in going to the river. It was a killjoy for me. I think it was overkill, sexist, and ageist. The environmentalists have really taken the fun out of nature. I should have reported them, but who would I call? I’d just get a tree-hugging federal worker with a standard dialog, “That’s our policy, ma’am. They were only doing their jobs.”

Later on, I took up gold panning and sluicing with all the equipment; but, alas, not much gold in the Carson River so I lost interest. I’m quite sure those rangers would find some law against that as well.


6 thoughts on “The Day I Almost Got Arrested.

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