What do you do when you catch fish that exceed the slot limit for keeper fish? Toss ‘em back, right? Well, a Minnesota angler got caught attempting some boatside cosmetic surgery recently after a sharp-eyed conservation officer noticed that a walleye the angler was holding had an unusually short, straight tail.

According to the monthly Conservation Officer Tales press material from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, CO Mike Lee and his partner were making routine creel checks when they observed an angler who appeared to be in a hurry to release a fish as the pair approached his boat. In addition, officer Lee noticed the walleye sported a peculiar-looking tail.Walleye1

Since the fish looked near death as it floated on the lake’s surface, the officers easily landed it with a net. That’s when they confirmed that indeed, the walleye’s tail had experienced a close encounter with a fillet knife.

Following questioning, the unnamed angler (lucky for him) finally fessed up to trying some creative cutlery work in order to keep the fish. On certain waters in Minnesota this year, only walleyes falling within a 14- to 16-inch slot limit may be kept.

“I saw you checking the other boats and panicked because the walleye was too big to keep. So I did the only thing I could think of–make the fish smaller,” the angler admitted. “But when you came up to the boat I thought I better just get rid of the fish.”

The officers advised the offending fisherman that despite his attempt, the fish still exceeded the slot limit, and measured nearly 20 inches.