The four suspects were allegedly having a good deal of luck with this method in the Haywood County lake. Yaroslay Chmunevich, of Candler, Fillip Konko, of Hendersonville, Ihor Shcherham, of Asheville and Volodymyl Yelentes, also of Asheville, snagged 42 fish in the hour officers Tanner Baldwin and Brian Gillespie observed them before confronting them, said NCWRC Lt. Andrew Helton.
“I’d say these guys took out  or 400 fish before we got them,” Helton said.
Gill nets are strings of netting that are suspended in the water to catch oncoming fish. Fish start to swim through but then become entangled by their gills. In North Carolina, gill nets are considered special fishing devices and require a specific license, which the men did not possess.
According to witnesses, the men had been fishing the lake since 8 a.m. It was 4 p.m. before the NCWRC got the tip and had officers on scene, and 5 p.m. before the officers had sufficiently observed the illegal fishing practices and arrested the men.
The four are charged with a handful of misdemeanors, including unlawful possession, unlawful method, littering and various boating charges.
Of the 42 fish in the nets — all blue gill and crappie — 26 died and were seized for evidence. The remaining 14 were released back to the lake.
The men could be required to pay fines of up to $200 per charge, court costs and replacement fees for the 26 fish that died — $10 per crappie and $5 per blue gill.
“There’s a lot of fishermen who fish that lake, so maybe we can make a difference,” Helton said.