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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

October 24, 2009 at 10:01 AM

Three poachers busted in southeast Washington

Three southeast Washington men had the book thrown at them early last month for poaching steelhead and salmon from a hatchery collection site on the Snake River.

Peter P. Robison, 50, Robert D. Bowen, 31, and William S. Lueck, 40, all of Kennewick, were charged with unlawful fishing, fishing closed waters and closed season, and several other violations in an incident that occurred on Oct. 2.

According to a press release from state Fish and Wildlife, the men are accused of illegally taking 22 fish, including three wild steelhead and two wild chinook.

Federal charges are pending on possession of the wild steelhead and salmon, which are listed as threatened in the Snake River under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). The alleged ESA violations are being referred to the federal NOAA Fisheries Service for review and possible civil prosecution.

Fines for the multiple state charges range up to $5,000 per count and up to year in jail. An 18-foot boat, trailer, five fishing rods, and miscellaneous fishing and boating equipment were seized for forfeiture proceedings.

Working on an anonymous tip, state Fish and Wildlife enforcement officers Brian Fulton of Pasco and Rob McQuary of Walla Walla observed the three men fishing from a boat at night within the 400-foot area around the broodstock collection area on the Snake River adjacent to the Lyons Ferry Fish Hatchery — an area closed to all fishing, as stated in the state fishing rules pamphlet.

Fulton and McQuary reported the boat had no navigation lights. The boat made several passes inside the closed area, and the men caught and landed several fish, which were placed in a large cooler. The officers confronted the men just before 3 a.m. after they removed the boat from the river at the Lyons Ferry Marina and were attempting to leave the parking lot.

To report poaching, call toll-free to 800-477-6224, or contact the Washington State Patrol.

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