Catfish planter receives hefty fine for offense |

Catfish planter receives hefty fine for offense

NEVADA CITY – Hoping to set an example, prosecutors got a stiff penalty against a Grass Valley man for illegally planting channel catfish in Scotts Flat Lake.

Dennis Dean Sorrell paid a $1,465 fine for putting an unknown number of immature catfish in the reservoir east of Nevada City on March 16.

“I thought we should ask for a pretty significant fine as an example. I hope it sends a message to people,” said Oliver Pong, Nevada County deputy district attorney.

“We don’t want another Lake Davis in Nevada County,” he explained.

At Lake Davis, near Portola, the state spent $1 million, including a controversial lake poisoning, in a battle against illegally planted northern pike.

Pike, a voracious predator of native fish, showed up after the poisoning, anyway.

Sorrell pleaded guilty and paid the fine April 24. Contacted by phone Monday, Sorrell explained he was only trying to improve the fishing at Scotts Flat.

People ridiculed him after reports of the fish planting hit newspapers and television, said Sorrell, a bartender. One man from the Bay Area called and threatened to beat him up, he said. Friends and family scorned him, he said.

“Sorry? Yeah, I’m sorry. The world around me caved in,” said Sorrell. “I’m so ashamed of it … of what I did.”

In his defense, Sorrell said Monday that catfish aren’t predatory, as are pike, and stressed that he had absolutely nothing to do with the pike planted illegally at Lake Davis.

Scotts Flat already has channel catfish. Fish and Game officials were worried that the catfish Sorrell planted might introduce disease or parasites, Pong said.

Sorrell paid $484 to have 1,000 catfish shipped here from Alapaha, Ga., according to a report written by game warden Wade Johnson.

Only 150 of the 2- to 3-inch catfish survived the trip, Sorrell told the warden.

Sorrell said he put 20 catfish in a pond near his sister’s home in Truckee, and put the remainder in Scotts Flat Lake.

Workers at a marina reported the illegal fish plant and are eligible for a reward through CalTip, the state’s poaching hot line, said game warden Russ Gomez.

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