A 9 1/2-inch largemouth bass that fell a few inches shy of the size Indiana law says you can keep has netted nothing but trouble for the great-grandmother who caught it.
Beatrice B. Thomas, 64, already has made two trips to court and now has a criminal record, a police mug shot and at least $130 to pay in fines and costs."I think it's absurd a person would have to go through all this for having an itty-bitty fish," Thomas said.
Thomas said she has fished for 20 years and is her first brush with the law in her life.
"Even the judge appeared to be stunned by this," she said.
The trouble began June 23 when a conservation officer caught Thomas with the undersize fish at Eagle Creek Park. She appeared on a summons at Marion Municipal Court July 27 but was told no one had a record of her case.
She then complied with another summons to appear Sept. 26 and told officials she just wanted to clear up the case.
"All these people had been there before and after me for drunken driving, disorderly conduct, bad checks, you name it," she said. "I told the judge, 'I'm not denying I had the fish. I just want to pay the fine."'
But Court Commissioner Steven Jacobs said it was illegal for him to accept a guilty plea because a deputy prosecutor was not in court. He then scheduled her for yet another hearing on Oct. 17, advised her of her legal rights and recommended she hire a lawyer.
"I remember it real well," Jacobs said. "She looked at me and said, 'For catching a fish?' "
After that hearing, Thomas was booked - photographed, fingerprinted, the works.