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

Province to pass $1.25-million repair bill for South Surrey overpass on to ICBC

152 Street overpass was struck by overheight truck on Dec. 4, 2017

Ex-Mountie investigating ‘Surrey six’ murders pleads guilty to obstruction

Derek Brassington entered his plea in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday

Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser to support Cloverdale Community Kitchen

Kitchen, emergency weather shelter seeing increased turnout

How fallen Surrey Mountie’s Stetson ended up in Europe puzzles police

Constable Terry Draginda’s hat is repatriated after being found at a flea market in Hamburg, Germany

Surrey social justice activist wins Sher Vancouver’s Youth Leadership Award

Shilpa Narayan says her work is about ‘ensuring a safe space’ for marginalized youth

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Missing man from Crowsnest Pass could be in Lower Mainland

58-year-old Stuart David Duff was last seen on Jan. 6, 2019.

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

For two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years

B.C. dangerous offender in court for violating no-contact order, sends letter to victim

Wayne Belleville was shocked to see a letter addressed to him from his shooter, Ronald Teneycke

Judge denies requests from Calgary couple charged in son’s death

David and Collet Stephan wanted $4 million to pay for past and future legal bills

Explosion sends B.C. firefighter to hospital

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Man blames his loud car radio, sirens for crash with B.C. ambulance

Tribunal rejects bid to recoup ICBC costs after crash deemed 100-per-cent his fault

RECALL: Salmon Village maple salmon nuggets

Customers warned not to eat product due to possible Listeria contamination

More than 100,000 toxic toys named in Canada-wide recall

Plastic doll contains levels of phthalates over allowable limit and may pose chemical hazard

Most Read