A 23-foot boat, pair of downriggers and fishing gear of a Strait of Juan de Fuca angler who allegedly egregiously violated the regs were seized by state fish and wildlife officers yesterday.
They say the man had six set-ups out, all of his hooks were barbed, and that he’d kept five times the daily limit — including five illegal-to-retain wild Chinook and coho.
All the salmon were donated to a local senior center and the man also faces several thousand dollars in criminal and civil penalties if convicted.
The case went down Tuesday off Sekiu when WDFW Officer Bryan Davidson and Clallam County Sheriff’s Office deputies spotted a man trolling alone, according to a Facebook post by state wardens.
What caught their eye was that he had a second downrigger deployed but without an accompanying rod.
When they asked him to reel up his gear for an inspection, he brought in the line attached to his first downrigger, but left that ball down deep.
The officers asked him to bring the ‘rigger up too, and he began to but stopped part way, so they had to ask again, after which the man complied “reluctantly,” they report.
He then unclipped a leader from the cable and officers saw it had a bungee attached to a flasher and lure.
“The man then removed a second similar setup from the same downrigger line,” officers report.
When they asked him to bring up the other downrigger, it came up with three more bungee-flasher-lure rigs too! They were described as “commercial-type” trolling leaders.
Marine Area 5 is not among the few salmon fisheries where you can run a second line, let alone third, fourth, fifth and sixth ones.
The man then apparently volunteered that he had kept one hatchery coho, which he showed to the officers.
However, he hadn’t put it on his catch card, they allege.
Between the good bite in the Straits, all the gear the guy had down and his claim to have only one fish, the officers were a bit suspicious there might be more to the story.
“Officer Davidson again asked the man if he had any more fish aboard. The man denied having any more. Officer Davidson informed the man that he believed there were more fish on board. The man decided to come clean and told Officer Davidson that he indeed had more salmon and produced two garbage bags from the cabin of the vessel containing headed and gutted salmon,” WDFW reports.
Ten of ’em — a wild Chinook that couldn’t be retained, four wild coho that couldn’t be kept either, and five hatchery coho.
The daily limit in these waters is two salmon, fin-clipped silvers and sockeye only.
“Due to the egregiousness of the violations and the lengths the suspect had gone to accomplish his criminal activity, the vessel, fish and his fishing gear were seized for forfeiture to the state of Washington. The salmon were donated to the Port Angeles Senior Center, where they were much appreciated,” WDFW reports.
Meanwhile, we just might have our JOTM for the Octo-issue.
“The man will be cited with several gross misdemeanors for failing to submit his full catch of salmon for inspection when initially asked, retaining a closed season wild Chinook, and wild coho, fishing with barbed hooks in possession of salmon, using more than one line, in addition to several misdemeanors and infractions,” officers say. “Each closed season wild salmon conviction brings an additional civil penalty of $500, in addition to the criminal penalty.”
The game wardens gave a special shout out to the sheriff’s office for their interest and help.