10 Aug

Well readers I could just not pass up another “fine” example of a fellow angler who just couldn’t do it right! Sometimes you have to wonder what goes on between the ears. Anyway, here is another winner of the “Pull Your Head Out” Award from Idaho Fishing Notebook. May all my readers enjoy reading your plight. Nice job, dude!

A Boise man has been convicted of illegally guiding anglers on one of Idaho’s premier trout fishing rivers, the South Fork of the Boise River.

Christopher R. Bentley, 26, was cited for guiding without a valid license and for fishing with a barbed fly. Advertising his illegal guiding services on Craig’s List proved to be Bentley’s undoing.

In early July, officers with the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association were alerted to Bentley’s internet advertisement. Fish and Game officers were made aware of the suspected violation and worked with Outfitters and Guides enforcement personnel to put together the case against Bentley. He was contacted, interviewed and arrested while guiding clients on the South Fork Boise in mid-July. His fishing gear, including a Hyde drift boat and fly rod and reel were seized as evidence in the case.

Appearing before Elmore County Magistrate Judge Hicks on August 5, Bentley pleaded guilty to guiding without a valid license and using barbed hooks on a barbless-only water.

His sentencing included:

  • $2,000 fine ($1,000 suspended) plus $95 in court costs.
  • $57 fine for the barbless hook violation.
  • 90 days in jail (88 suspended). Given the option, Bentley chose 40 hours of community service instead of the two days in jail.
  • Two-year fishing and hunting privilege suspension.
  • Two years of unsupervised probation.
  • $1,365 in reimbursement to the Outfitters and Guides for case expenses.
  • Forfeiture of his fishing rod and reel. The Hyde drift boat was returned to Bentley’s father who held legal title to the boat.

Because Idaho is a member of the Wildlife Violator Compact, Bentley will be unable to legally fish or hunt in 30 other states during his license revocation period.


Posted by on August 10, 2009 in "Pull Your Head Out" Awards



  1. Shoreman

    August 11, 2009 at 10:42 am

    "Stupid is as stupid does". Forrest Gump. Morning Mel. Mark

  2. Fish Whisperer

    August 11, 2009 at 11:10 am

    I say he got off a little too easy. They should have kept the boat and doubled the fine.Tight lines

  3. Mel

    August 11, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Fish Whisperer – Yup, somehow you wonder if these type of folks get the message. Hopefully, the powers to be will keep a close eye on him over the next couple of years. Kind of odd that the boat was titled in dad's name, but, he was using it to guide from for his own benefit.

  4. Mel

    August 11, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Shoreman – Morning Mark! Good gracious, he was not licensed to guide that alone got him this award. The real topper for me was advertising on Craigs list. I'm not sure even Forrest Gump would have done that!

  5. Paul Steeve

    August 12, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    I'm never really sure how I feel about instances like this. It is true the man was breaking laws…but do the consequences truly fit the crime? Is it right that this man should face jail time and thousands of dollars in fines and court charges for "guiding without a license" and using barbed hooks? Now I'm not saying the man shouldn't be punished for his crime, but thousands of dollars and possible jail time doesn't seem to fit the bill for me. Consequences for committing environmental ctimes often times seem like they are heavily inflated. In the state of Iowa, picking up a dead deer that was hit by a car is considered poaching, and the amount of the fine is determined by the size of the deer. This fine can reach up to $15,000-$20,000, including the loss of hunting/fishing privileges, and loss of vehicle. The state would rather the deer rot on the side of the road than let someone consume it or properly dispose of it. Ten dollars for a parking ticket…eighty bucks for a speeding ticket…these consequences match the crime, in my opinion. Thousands of dollars in fines and jail time for not having a "guiding license" and using a hook with a barb on it certainly do not.

  6. Mel

    August 12, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Paul, thanks for speaking your mind and sharing your thoughts on this matter. I don't disagree with you that decisions made in our judicial system sometimes leaving me scratching my head. However, there was a lot of deception taking place here and not just someone who over reacted or didn't know the law. I think "intent" here may have had something to do with the level of penalty assigned in this case. I am not referring here to the fact that a barbed hook was used instead of barbless, but, I am referring to those paying customers who were mislead to believe that this gentleman was a licensed guide. I am sure a hunk of change was received by these folks who, basically, were swindled. The outdoor arena just happened to be the tool in this matter.

  7. Clif

    August 12, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    How much can a guide get for a summer of guiding Idaho rivers? Perhaps the $2000 price tag of this offense was designed to prevent future offenses…If I earned a few hundred bucks guiding on the side, $2000 fines would be a good encouragement to stay legal. However, if I could make $10000 for a summer of illegal guiding, I'd have to seriously weigh that against the risk of getting slapped with a $2000 fine.Life is all about risk management.

  8. Mel

    August 13, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Clif- I am not qualified to answer what kind of income a guide makes in a summers worth of guiding. I know some guides who don't do much, but, guide and then spend the winters living off of their income as well. It depends on how good the guide is and how great the fishing is on what ever water he/she practices their workmanship. Any guess on my part, though, would be misleading.I did the quick math here and the guide ended up with $2422 in fines and court restitution, public service time, etc. Is the fine worth it? I guess we will never know without asking him directly. I would think that the loss of fishing and hunting privileges and the bad public relations that this act is receiving is much more costly to him than the fine he has to pay. Just my thoughts.

  9. Othmar Vohringer

    August 13, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    While I agree that the person in question here did break the law and needs to get some sort of punishment I side with the comment of Paul Steve made above.People who violate game or environmental laws are often to severely punished to the point where it exceeds all "damages" done. Yet if that same person would mug an old lady or God forbid kill someone in cold blood he just would get a slap on the wrist.

  10. Mel

    August 13, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Like I said, previously on one of my comments, the judicial system and how it delves out punishment often times makes no sense to me. Othmar, I am also tired of thugs and murderers and sex offenders getting reduced or minimal punishment for their crimes. The system is a mess! How do we as outdoor enthusiasts get the teeter totter back in balance between the serious crimes and crimes that have been addressed here by other posters?

  11. Kenny Breckenridge

    September 12, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Mel, I guess it depends on the state, but I know of a guide here in Missouri, who took a group of about 4 boats, approximately 9 people on a 2 day float on the "Big Piney River. He had all the people on the trip keep all the fish they caught for an evening fish fry! The days catch consisted mainly of about 40 small mouth bass! Most of these small mouth bass were too small, not only that the daily limit of smallies on this section of the river is one per person, and has to be 15 inches long! None of these fish that were kept were of legal size. While they were cleaning these 40 illegal bass, one of the group was video taping the cleaning cooking and eating of the bass and then the photographer presented his badge, he was an undercover conservation agent ! Busted, right? When appearing in court, the guide was fined 150 dollars and costs, 55 dollars and he didn't even have his guide license or fishing license suspended at all. With fines like this it is not even a deterrent to prevent future violations. This guide is still practicing these same procedures! He makes a lot of money guiding each summer and didn't even bat an eye when they imposed the fines, no probation or anything! So in my opinion fines and court cost should be extremely high and very costly to the offender, otherwise the future of our fishing resources is in grave jeopardy! Name of guide has been intentionally withheld from this comment for obvious reasons, as I live about a mile from his house and want no problems or legal liability lawsuits against me!

  12. Mel

    September 13, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Great comment, Kenny. As usual, thanks for sharing your thoughts. This is a tough subject and it looks like I have readers on both sides of the topic. Everyone is looking for a reasonable balance, and, as you pointed out, thinking is different from state to state and judge to judge.


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