Park Responds to Fishing Violators

In a recent news story, “Illegal Fishing Sting Nets 17 Violations”, Mike Capanelli, Watermellon Park marketing director, said that the popular camping and fishing site planned to take steps in response to complaints of illegal fishing practices in the Shenandoah River.

According to an e-mail message from Capanelli;

“I wanted to follow up with you regarding Watermelon Park and ‘Net Casting’. We have put into action the policies that I previously stated we would do. As you can see by the photos Watermelon Park is serious about doing our part to help protect the Shenandoah River. This 36″x36″ sign is posted at the entry point of the park and 12 additional 12”x10″ signs are posted at various river access points throughout the park.”

New sign at Watermelon Park aims to prevent illegal fishing - Photo courtesy Mike Capanelli, Watermelon Park Marketing Director

Four Virginia conservation enforcement officers converged on the Shenandoah River near Watermelon Park on July 17th for two days of targeted enforcement designed to stem a rash of illegal cast net and spear-gun fishing that has devastated wildlife populations in the area. The “sting” operation resulted in seventeen misdemeanor citations for ten illegal anglers and impoundment of six cast nets. The anglers were alleged to be in possession of over 300 fish and were charged with ten Class 2 misdemeanors and seven Class 3 misdemeanors.

For background on this story please see:
Illegal Fishing Sting Nets 17 Violations


  1. Merrimarr says:

    Unless the local authorities regularly monitor the river and make regular arrests, this behavior will continue. Signs are good but not enough.

    • WMP Guest says:

      You’re right, I caught 3 yesterday and turned them into Hope at the front gate. I confronted one of them and they did stop. The park is doing all that they can, but once in a while they need our help. Don’t just sit there an act like you see nothing, lend a helping hand: this is OUR town.

      I went yesterday honestly to see if anything changed and OH BOY did it! The park is totally mixed with a nice friendly crowd, including locals. The smell of rotting fish guts is gone, the water too does not make you smell like a dead fish. It was a happy happy day!!!
      After having a chat with Hope, I feel as though they our on board and want nothing but the best for this area.
      I believe now our Game warden needs to jump on board. I too was told by him that it was legal to net cast this past May.
      Not only do these people eat the fish, they drink from the river, wash their clothes in the river and cook with the water from the river.
      It’s sad that the Shenandoah is on the list of most in endangered waterways #5 in the USA.
      If everyone does a little to help out this world WILL be a better place to live.
      To anyone that has turned their head to this illegal activity: you are just as wrong! This includes our Game Warden, PLEASE DO YOUR JOB!

      • I think that everyone needs to keep an eye out on the rivers for illegal activity and notify fish and game when they see something. There is a Hotline number for VDGIF 800-237-5712 that I keep in my cell phone. The state has only a few game wardens and they cover a very large area and need our help to do their jobs better.

  2. Nice sign. It should be effective to that immediate area. I would think though, without a steady patrol up and down the river, the culprits will move to an area without signs. Then it’s “No habla Englas” time again.

  3. Great. Now hang a sign in Spanish that says “ICE will be called if illegal activity is suspected”