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

COMMUTER ALERT: Serious pedestrian crash closes Pacific Highway

Traffic along 176th Street, 4th to 8th Avenue, is blocked while Mounties continue to investigate.

B.C. Sports Hall of Fame to give Giants owner Ron Toigo W.A.C. Bennett Award

Head of Langley-based team has been involved with junior hockey since the 1990s

Church invites all faiths to a labyrinth walk

The labyrinth at St. Dunstan’s church is inviting everyone to an interfaith gathering on Nov. 18.

Artist uses paint to tell stories from past

Detlef (Dick) Aporta tells stories of working at White Pine Sawmill in his exhibit Always Becoming.

VIDEO: Young Langley boy uses his grief to help other kids suffering loss

Thursday Langley Hospice hosts its Paint the Town Blue campaign to spotlight child bereavement.

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Tubing, skating, light display part of new winter festival in Vancouver

Set to open Nov. 23, the six-week festival will take over Vancouver’s Concord Pacific Centre

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Regulatory confusion over ‘toxic’ stink near Abbotsford school

Officials sniffing out which regulators responsible for enforcing compliance at neighbouring property

Most Read