FAIRMONT, Minn.-An anonymous tip has led to charges against a Mountain Lake couple for possessing 253 crappies after fishing Lake Sisseton in southern Minnesota in May, a Department of Natural Resources report said.
Isouvahn Xayachack, 70, and his wife, Chanhthone Phongsim, 60, are being charged with taking or possessing over limit fish.
The investigation began when crappies were biting and another angler took notice of the success Xayachack and Phongsim's group was having. That led to a call to the Minnesota Turn In Poachers tipline.
That angler, who told conservation officers he caught 13 crappies within a matter of minutes, reportedly observed another party of six had been fishing on Lake Sisseton for more than an hour. He watched that party catch more than 100 fish and eventually watched them load the fish into a vehicle.
The TIP call led conservation officer Mike Gruhlke to meet with conservation officer Dustin Miller and Mountain Lake police officer Emily Mathiowetz. The tipster provided a description of the vehicles which led authorities to a Mountain Lake residence.
When authorities arrived, Xayachack and Phongsim informed them they were fishing earlier in the day with four others, the report said. The couple said they caught 17 crappies and gave them to a friend in town. They also told officers there were no fish present in the apartment but did consent to having their freezers searched.
No fish were found in the first freezer. Miller asked Xayachack if there were any fish in the second freezer and the man said there was.
Inside that freezer, Miller said in his report, officers found 25 bags with 9-10 crappies inside from a chest freezer. On May 21, the then-thawed bags revealed 93 butterflied and 160 whole crappie, the report said.
Twenty crappies were left with the Xayachack and Phongsim. Miller advised the couple they need to eat the fish they have prior to keeping any more crappies.
Officers checked the residences of the other anglers fishing with Xayachack and Phongsim and determined those individuals were not over the limit.