Salmon Sting: Undercover Officer Reels in Washington Rowboat Poacher

by Jennifer Shea

An undercover Department of Fish and Wildlife officer busted a poacher in Washington who was plucking wild Coho salmon from the streams around Snow Creek.

Snow Creek is near Discovery Bay. That’s on the Olympic Peninsula at the Strait of Juan de Fuca. And because the streams in the area only offer wild runs of Coho salmon, Sgt. Kit Rosenberger guessed (correctly) that the man he saw fishing in a rowboat was packing some wild, and therefore illegal, salmon.

The DFW officer watched as the poacher caught and held onto four salmon, according to USA Today. In the space where he was fishing, anglers are capped at two hatchery salmon.

Undercover Officer Finds a Bevy of Misdemeanors

After he’d seen enough, Rosenberger followed the poacher on foot to the beach close to where he was rowing. Then Rosenberger waited until the man approached to within shouting range. Once he did, Rosenberger took off his coat. He told the poacher who he was. And he instructed him to row to shore.

Once the poacher did, Rosenberger asked him how the fishing was.

“I got a couple,” the angler answered.

Upon inspecting the man’s boat, Rosenberger found five (illegal) wild Coho. None of them were noted on the catch card. Moreover, the angler was using a barbed treble hook, which is illegal. And he was not carrying any safety equipment in his boat.

Rosenberger thought about confiscating the angler’s boat for all the violations he’d piled up. But then he thought better of it, given the distance back to his patrol truck.

In total, the poacher is facing seven gross misdemeanor charges, plus five infractions for failing to record his catches on the catch card and fishing without a lifejacket.

Social Media Heaps Scorn Upon Poacher

The Department of Fish and Wildlife posted a summary of the incident to its Facebook page, and many comments on the post were quite scathing toward the poacher.

Some commenters suggested the man should have had his boat confiscated, after all, and one even offered to help carry it.

“I betcha he will be back at it this weekend,” one commenter wrote in disgust.

“This guy will more likely than not again be out in that boat to get more fish illegally,” another posted. “Should have taken the boat and made the guy help carry it to your vehicle–no sympathy or empathy for the guy fishing at all–he was stealing fish–aka poaching–good job by the officer.”

Some also called for the angler to lose his gear. Indeed, it was not clear from the department’s Facebook post if the poacher was allowed to keep his gear, considering that it was illegal fishing equipment he should not have had in the first place.