PASCO -- Some fishy business has landed three Kennewick men in hot water.
According to the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife, the trio have been charged in Franklin County District Court on several counts involving theft of salmon and steelhead from a state fish hatchery collection site on the Snake River.
Aided by an anonymous tip, WDFW officers Rob McQuary of Walla Walla and Brian Fulton of Pasco had posted themselves on the night of Oct. 2 near the Lyons Ferry Fish Hatchery. From their vantage point, they saw three men in a boat within the 400-foot area around the broodstock collection area, an area closed to all fishing.
McQuary and Fulton reported the boat, which had no navigation lights, made several passes inside the closed area during which the men caught and landed several fish. 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.
In a release, WDFW officials said Peter P. Robison, 50, Robert D. Bowen, 31, and William S. Lueck, 40, all of Kennewick, have been charged with unlawful fishing, fishing closed waters and during closed season and several other violations.
The men are accused of illegally taking 22 fish, including three wild steelhead and two wild Chinook salmon. In addition to the state charges, federal charges are pending on possession of the wild steelhead and salmon, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
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 fishing and boating equipment were seized for forfeiture proceedings.
WDFW Enforcement Sgts. Mike Jewell of Pasco and Jim Nelson of Walla Walla commended their officers' diligence in making the case, and noted that the anonymous tip instigated their nighttime watch.
"We appreciate this kind of information from citizens," Nelson said. "We need everyone's eyes and ears out there to protect our fish and wildlife resources."
To report poaching
Call toll-free to (800) 477-6224 or contact the Washington State Patrol to reach WDFW officers.