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

Oscar-winning producer J. Miles Dale on filming horror-thriller in Hope

In an exclusive interview, Dale explains why the town plays a large role in Antlers

Tarl rocks Silver Chalice Saturday

After spending summers in Hope visiting his grandmother, musician Tarl returns to… Continue reading

WATCH: Brother of missing Hope woman makes emotional appeal for more media attention

Next search for Shawnee Inyallie Nov. 18 along Highway 1 towards Boston Bar

Gas price drop expected to hit Fraser Valley today

Analyst says to take advantage, warns slight increase may follow

Players Guild challenges Chilliwack residents to solve classic Agatha Christie whodunit mystery

The Chilliwack Players Guild is performing Murder on the Nile from Nov. 22 to Dec. 2

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Price makes 36 saves as Habs edge Canucks 3-2

Late goal lifts Montreal past Vancouver

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

1 woman dead, man in hospital after ‘suspicious’ crash: police

Homicide investigators and Burnaby RCMP are investigating the fatal collision

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

Most Read