The legal way to fish in New York State almost always involves a rod and a line.
So when state environmental conservation officers spotted individuals using nets in the Niagara River earlier this month, the situation likely smelled a little fishy to them.
Two Buffalo men and a teenager have been charged with illegally taking 3,740 fish from the river, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The three are accused of illegally using nets to remove 3,537 perch, 187 carp, 14 rock bass and two sunfish from the river near the marina in Beaver Island State Park on Grand Island, the agency said.
Yar Sin, 42, Din Nu, 27, and a 16-year-old each face four counts of taking fish by a means other than angling. Nu and the teen also were cited for fishing without a license, the DEC said.
Authorities haven't determined what the three planned to do with the fish, but suspect they were planning to sell them.
The three were cited April 11 by conservation officers in plain clothes who were investigating numerous complaints about the illegal netting of perch in that area. The conservation officers saw the three working together to scoop large numbers of perch from the water using nets, and then taking buckets of fish back to their vehicle, according to the department.
Most of the fish survived and were returned to the river, the DEC said.
Under state law, there are few permissible uses of nets for fishing. One permitted use is to catch baitfish, like minnows or smelt. Anglers also may use a landing net to "complete the catch."
The three are scheduled to be arraigned in Grand Island Town Court on May 15, according to a court representative.
They face possible fines up to $1,250 and up to 15 days in jail. The three could instead face civil penalties of $1,200. An additional $100 per fish penalty could also be imposed, according to the DEC.