Posts tagged: Lake Lenore
FISHING — The recently resolved Lake Lenore poaching case involving 242 fish illegally gillnetted by four Western Washington men, stood out for the jail time and fines handed down by the Grant County District Court.
However, poaching cases at the many scattered fishing lakes in central Washington are not uncommon.
Here are answers to a few followup questions I posed regarding the case to Patrick Schaff, the deputy prosecutor who worked on the case:
Do you know of any other illegal fishing cases of this magnitude occurring in Grant County?
“This seems to be the only Grant County case of this magnitude in the last several years. We see cases of similar character (i.e. late-night net poaching of rare or semi-rare fish) a couple of times a year, usually from Lake Lenore but occasionally from Banks Lake. But those cases usually involve a couple dozen fish on average. This case obviously stands out because of the large number of fish taken.”
Is there any information on what the defendants were planning to do with so many fish?
“We don’t know what the defendants intended to do with the fish, but they clearly took more than would be needed for a personal or family supply.”
What is the citizenship of the four men involved in the Lenore illegal fishing case?
“I don’t know the citizenship status of the four men and I would not feel comfortable speculating. Our office is prohibited by law from considering citizenship or national origin when choosing how to resolve cases.”
A Washington Fish and Wildlife Department enforcement captain offered more insight into the case.
FISHING — Media attention and angler outrage may have factored into last week's successful prosecution of four Western Washington men who were caught on April 6 gillnetting 242 prized Lahontan cutthroat trout from Lake Lenore, a prized “quality fishery” south of Coulee City.
Grant County prosecutors, like prosecutors across the state, are chronically overbook with cases. Fish and wildlife cases often are brushed aside to make time for priority cases in which people are the victims.
“Sportsmen's groups and the press did a great job following up and emphasizing the importance and severity of this case,” said Capt. Chris Anderson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife enforcement supervisor in Ephrata. “The prosecutor's office responded and did a great job.”
Lake Lenore is managed as a selective fishery geared to catching large cutthroat trout. Sport anglers at Lenore are limited to keeping no more than one fish a day.
Vitaliy Kachinskiy, 23, of Mount Vernon, Wash., and three Everett men: Sergey Otroda, 32, Igor Bigun, 26, and Oleg Pavlus, 25, pled guilty to gross misdemeanor charges, Grant County Prosecutor D. Angus Lee confirmed on Friday.
Each man was sentenced to 20 days in jail, 40 days of electronic home monitoring and fines or costs totaling $4,100, he said.
In addition, the pickup being used at the time of their arrest was seized by the two Fish and Wildlife police who staked out the scene and managed to round up the fleeing poachers despite their attempts to escape in the darkness.
“They could appeal the forfeiture in Grant County Superior Court,” Anderson said. “But if the judge ruled that we followed the law in our arrest and seizing the vehicle, it would remain the property of the state.” No appeal has yet been filed, he said.
WDFW has investigated other instances of illegal gillnetting for sportfish in Eastern Washington lakes involving ethnic groups.
Asked what the men were planning to do with all the fish they illegally netted at Lenore, Anderson said, “We do not have any direct knowledge that these Lenore fish were destined for a market, but we have heard in the past that they do sell the fish within the Russian community only.”
UPDATED 11:41 a.m. with details of arrest from officer's incident report:
FISHING — Last night, a man at the Spokane Fly Fishers program asked me if I'd heard a fishing report from Lake Lenore. I didn't have an answer for him, but I do today.
The fishing for large Lahontan cutthroat trout at the quality fishery is pretty darned good - IF YOU'RE POACHING with GILLNETS.
Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officers arrested four Western Washington men in the early hours of Saturday morning with 242 cutthroats seized in an illegal night-time netting operation at the prized Grant County lake.
The lake is managed as a “quality fishery,” attracting anglers who want to use single barbless hooks and no bait to catch-and-release large fish. Anglers are allowed to keep no more than one fish at day from Lenore.
Arrested were Vitaliy Kachinskiy, 23, of Mount Vernon and three Everett men: Sergey Otroda, 32, Igor Bigun, 26 and Oleg Pavlus, 25.
The Grant County prosecutor's office said today it has not yet begun processing the case.
“We have members of two ethnic groups involved with an annual thing of illegal netting that's causing great concern for our fish program,” said WDFW Capt. Chris Anderson in Ephrata. “One group has been caught targeting mostly whitefish at Banks Lake and this group was targeting the big spawning cutthroats at Lenore. The 242 fish were just one night's catch. We're not sure how many nights or weeks worth of fish they've taken out of the lake.”
WDFW agents also nabbed two Spokane men from another ethnic group for similar illegal netting activity in January. One of the subjects threatened an arresting officer with retribution.
This is a huge bummer for fishermen. Not only do we deal with environmental issues that plague fish, but also with human pond scum that will do this to a fishery that means so much to anglers and the local economy.
Read on for the chilling details about the stake out and arrest.
FISHING — This archive video has been making the rounds for a few years, but it's worth bringing up for a little fishing camp banter now that the fishing for Lahontan cutthroats is picking up at Lake Lenore.
The 1947 newsreel shows the U.S. War Assets Administration using Lake Lenore as a disposal site for drums of sodium into the lake.
Lake Lenore is in Grant County south of Coulee City, Wash. At the time of this newsreel, it was thought to be too alkaline to support fish.
Decades later, Washington fisheries biologists imported Lahontan cutthroat trout stock originating from the alkaline waters of Pyramid Lake, Nev. The fish thrived in Lenore — as well as farther north in Douglas County's Grimes Lake — to provide a popular selective fishery for anglers.