The Fraser River was the scene of an alleged sturgeon poaching incident in broad daylight Aug. 31 near Bowman’s Point in Chilliwack. The incident is being investigated by the BC Conservation Officer Service. (Greg Laychak/ Progress file)

WATCH: Two suspects under investigation in sturgeon snatching case on the Fraser River

Conservation officer said he’s never seen anyone try to steal a sturgeon like this

Imagine trying to reel in a massive Fraser River sturgeon when someone comes up and steals it out from under you.

That’s what happened to an angler who was fishing with his family recently near Chilliwack when he hooked a massive white sturgeon that was at least six feet long.

Two men came by and asked if he needed any assistance bringing it to shore.

READ MORE: Night fishing banned to save sturgeon

Instead of helping they roped the giant fish, wrapped it in a tarp, threw it into the back of a white pickup and sped off.

Conservation Officer Don Stahl said he has never seen anything like it in more than 21 years of service as a CO.

“This was in broad daylight and was basically theft,” Stahl said, adding that usually sturgeon poachers work at night.

It happened on the Fraser River, near the end of Cannor Road in Chilliwack, at Bowman’s Point on the afternoon of Aug. 31, according to the incident file, said acting Sgt. Stahl.

READ MORE: Monster fish are endangered

The B.C. Conservation Officers Service ended up fielding three or four calls about the incident, along with video evidence from witnesses.

That led to the identification of the suspects, but no fish was recovered. No charges have yet been laid either.

“The investigation is ongoing,” Stahl said.

The unlawful possession of sturgeon could mean potential fines of up to $10,000, and illegal sales of the endangered fish could mean a three-month jail term.

“It happens every year on the Lower Fraser, usually between spring and late fall,” he said.

The COS conducts about three to six investigations per year into sturgeon poaching.

“We’re not talking about checking anglers here, but looking for people who are killing the sturgeon to sell the meat and the caviar,” Stahl said

The video and the calls in this case helped.

“The guy who had the fish stolen called it in to police, and they called us,” Stahl said.

Some video shot by a local fishing guide shows a pickup truck behind the anglers, and the whole thing played out before witnesses on the water.

“It was taken from far away but we got pretty good idea of what the truck looked like,” said Stahl. He and his colleague later traced the possible routes of the suspects.

Everyone at local guiding outfit, Great River Fishing Adventures was upset and angered by the video and theft, said owner Dean Werk.

“It’s a very sad day for the sturgeon when someone thinks it’s OK in broad daylight to take a sturgeon that’s probably 70-years old,” said Werk.

White sturgeon are an endangered species on the Fraser River and fishing them is strictly catch-and-release only, he said.

The carefully managed catch-and-release fishery is a huge economic driver for Chilliwack and the region, and that can’t be understated.

“We have to look after this resource,” Werk said.


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Most cows saved during massive fire on Agassiz farm thanks to fast work of farmers, neighbours

Agassiz Fire Department responded to late night call Wednesday

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Chilliwack steps up to the plate and brings music and dance Provicials to town to prevent lag

Sponsors are needed to help knock the 2019 Provincials out of the park

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

Hope arm-wrestler turned track and field star wins five medals at 55+ Games

Seven medals total coming back to Hope from golf and track and field events

VIDEO: World Rivers Day paddle down the Fraser

International day started on local waterways

Whitecaps see playoff dreams fade after 2-1 loss to FC Dallas

Goal in 87th minute seals Vancouver’s fate

Porsche impounded for going 138 km/hr in 90 zone during charity rally

West Vancouver Police said wet roads and heavy rain made it extra dangerous

B.C. students send books to displaced students of Hornby Island school fire

Maple Ridge elementary school teacher says students learned about acts of kindness

Phase 2 of $1.35B Royal Columbian upgrades won’t be a public-private partnership

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix says it will be a design-build

Trump drains oxygen from Trudeau foreign policy with PM, Freeland bound for UN

A lot has changed since the Liberals came to power in Canada in 2015

B.C. man fined $15,000, barred from trading securities for fraud

Larry Keith Davis used money from an investor to pay personal bills

Emergency crews investigate small sulphuric acid spill in Kootenays

IRM states a small volume of less than one cup and three dime-sized drips were leaked from carrier

Most Read