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

McCallum says Surrey LRT communication plan close to election is ‘perceived interference’

McCallum ‘gravely concerned’ Surrey and TransLink will violate election financing rules, but city says all rules will be followed

Proudly Surrey modifies child-care policy

Slate wants to use school board property for child-care spaces

Surrey school board wants to expand French Immersion program

District had to close program at Cougar Creek Elementary due to low enrolment

VIDEO: Scarecrow festival kicks off in Port Kells

Fourth-annual event will be on until Halloween

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants earn a 3-1 victory over Everett in season-opener in Langley

Langley’s major junior hockey team opened the season at home with a victory over the Silvertips.

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

Remainder of Vancouver Whitecaps season filled with ‘must-win’ games: coach

With Vancouver currently sitting four points out of a post-season spot, each contest is crucial

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

‘I’m no quitter’ on climate change issues, McKenna says at G7 ministers meeting

David Suzuki says if McKenna believes what she’s saying, she too should quit

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income owners in Lower Mainland

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

VIDEO: Inside an eerily empty mall in Canada

Only nine of 517 retail spaces are open for business as the grand opening postponed to next year

Most Read