Fisherman Caught Casting in Lake Merritt

Traps and nets being set for bait fish

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Brooke Anderson
    Fishing in Oakland's Lake Merritt is for the birds.

    Lake Merritt is a rare jewel in the city of Oakland, so when the man who heads the non-profit group that maintains the lake heard commercial fisherman were dropping nets in the midnight hours Dick Bailey knew he had to do something.

    "I've never seen this before in the 12 years I've been here, but I believe people are looking for ways to make money in this economy," Bailey told the Chronicle.

    The unlicensed group is apparently taking in quite a haul of yellow-tailed gobies, which are usually sold as bait for ocean water fishing.

    It's also a wildlife refuge that feeds a large population of local and migratory birds.

    Anyone caught fishing in the lake faces a fine of up to $500 -- which is a lot more than you might expect to make selling bait.

    And that fine does not include the rath of Dick Bailey if he catches you.

    Jackson West would never eat anything he knew came out of Lake Merritt.