Man accused of firing shot at fishermen near his dock

Shannon Marvel
smarvel@aberdeennews.com

A Sisseton man is accused of firing a rifle shot toward two anglers who were fishing near his boat dock in Marshall County.

Gerald Vrchota, 62, has been charged with aggravated assault and reckless discharge of a gun, according to court documents. The incident was around 4:30 p.m. Sept. 23 at Red Iron Lake, near 117541 Red Iron Lane, according to the paperwork. The paperwork didn’t detail the incident.

But Marshall County Deputy State’s Attorney Victor Rapkoch told the American News there was an incident that day involving the discharge of a gun. And, he said, Pat Rubendall of Sioux Falls is listed as a victim.

Rapkoch said more charges could be filed.

Rubendall said he and his fishing partner, Justin Heidinger, also of Sioux Falls, were fishing near Vrchota’s boat dock during a bass fishing tournament last month when Vrchota fired his rifle.

Vrchota was arrested and released on a $5,000 bond, according to court documents. He has not entered a plea. His next court date is set for Oct. 23 at the Marshall County Courthouse in Britton.

“Bass like to hang out around boat docks, and my partner and I had been fishing by this guy’s dock,” Rubendall said in a phone interview with the American News last week. “All the sudden, he came out on his deck and was cussing and swearing and screaming for us to get off his dock. We told him, ‘We’re just fishing, just settle down.’”

Rubendall said the bullet hit about 10 feet behind his boat in the lake. He said he and Heidinger called 911 after the shot was fired.

Some landowners don’t like it when anglers fish near their docks, said Rubendall.

South Dakota’s nonmeandered waters law has led to tension between some anglers and some landowners, he said.

Last year the Legislature passed a law that opened most nonmeandered waters to recreational use, even if the water is atop private land that used to be dry. A few bodies of water were designated as closed, and there is a process for closing others. South Dakota’s nonmeandered waters had been a contentious issue for years before the law was passed.

“I think (some landowners) believe they’re above the law when it comes to protecting their property. A lot of these lake and cabin owners think that they own everything that is in front of their cabin,” Rubendall said.