Mark Heinemann, 75, of Bainbridge Island was caught fishing alone off Sekiu with six lines out — all baited with lures with barbed hooks — off two downriggers, claimed he had only caught one fish but was eventually found to be way over his limit with 10 (half of which were also illegal to retain wild salmon) and hadn’t recorded anything on his punch card.
WDFW Region 6 Capt. Dan Chadwick said his fishing setups looked like what you might find on a commercial boat, though added there wasn’t any evidence he was selling his catch.
In late February, Heineman was convicted of 10 counts in Clallam County District Court, including criminal charges for possessing four wild coho and a king during a closed season, exceeding the bag limit on hatchery coho by three fish, and failing to record his catch.
Another 10 charges were dropped, according to Chadwick.
Heinemann’s 23-foot Maxum Cabin Cruiser, worth approximately $5,000, was initially seized at the dock. Later he did not contest its forfeiture to the state, according to WDFW.
While there are some Washington waters that an angler can run two lines for salmon with the second rod endorsement, Sekiu is not one of them.
Barbless hooks are also required on all of the state’s marine waters for salmon.
Wild Chinook or wild coho open weren’t open at the time either, and civil penalties for keeping unclipped salmon run up to $500 apiece.
Heinemann was spotted on Tuesday, Aug. 28, during a joint Clallam County Sheriff’s Office-WDFW patrol of the western Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Officers noticed that his second downrigger was deployed but there was not an accompanying rod with it, nor another angler on board.
When they asked Heinemann to reel up his gear for an inspection, he brought in the line of the rod attached to his other downrigger, but left the ‘rigger’s cable and ball down.
So they asked him to bring them up, and he began to but stopped part way, so they had to ask again, after which he complied “reluctantly,” according to WDFW.
As it came up, Heinemann unclipped a leader from the cable and officers saw it had a bungee attached to a flasher and lure, as did a second that came up with the cable and ball.
When they asked him to bring up the other downrigger, it had three more bungee-flasher-lure rigs.
“I’ve been on the marine unit since 2007. I’ve done thousands of boardings in that time. I’ve never seen somebody run that kind of gear off of a recreational boat,” Clallam County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Eric Munger told the Peninsula Daily News last August.
Heinemann volunteered that he had kept one hatchery coho, which he showed to the officers, though he hadn’t put it on his catch card.
Between the good bite in the Straits at the time, all the gear he had down and his claim to have only one fish, the officers were a bit suspicious.
WDFW Officer Bryan Davidson asked him again if he had any more salmon to show, and after Heinemann denied it, Davidson advised him that he thought there were in fact more on the boat.
From the cabin Heinemann brought out two garbage bags containing nine more salmon, most of which had been cleaned.
Game wardens have suggested it probably wasn’t Heinemann’s first try running some much gear, but what led him to decide to break the rules so spectacularly that day last summer isn’t clear.
He hadn’t responded to efforts to contact him through Facebook, nor had he returned a message left with a man who answered his home phone this past Friday.