The suspects had 450 yards of fine-mesh gill net stretched across the entire width of Hancock Creek, which is designated as inland waters. They had netted 89 spotted sea trout, some of them up to six pounds and weighing a total of 178 pounds plus two mullet.
The investigation began with a late evening report of suspicious activity in the Hancock Creek area near the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. The Commission, the Craven County Sheriff's Office and N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries contributed to the arrests. The use of gill nets is prohibited in inland fishing waters of Craven County and strictly regulated in the coastal fishing waters of North Carolina. The recreational regulations for spotted sea trout are a 4-fish daily creel limit per person with a 14-inch minimum size limit. Gill nets are vertical panels of netting hung down in the water from a series of floats set in a straight line. Fish trying to swim through gill nets become entangled, which allows fishermen to retrieve the nets from the water and harvest the entangled fish. Charges filed include taking inland game fish by method other than hook-and- line; taking nongame fish by method other than hook-and-line in an area with no open season; exceeding the daily creel limit and obstructing the passage of boats on a public waterway. The two men charged are currently free under secured bond.