Glad that poacher got his due, but I can't get over the sick feeling thinking about the incredible number of fry that the gravel on the upper Nrth Fk Skagit would have had when she got done with her work. The real crime is the abnormal ending to what would have gone a long way to keep the Skagit summer kings hanging on.
A little history might be in order here. Mr. Hildebrand is a well known poacher on the lower Skagit. A few years ago Hildebrand was heard bragging about catching and killing over 60 kings. Claiming to have had his best year ever. I think he has been on the WDFW's short list for a few years now. Congratulations to the officers that put in the time to catch this scum bag.
In a time where solutions to the declining fish populations range from the forfeiture of private property to elimination of recreational fishing seasons. Enforcement of existing laws and regulations can only be seen as a positive.
Nice to see that there's some law enforcement going on out there. WDFW is incredibly understaffed on the enforcement side, and from what I hear their best success with poachers comes with repeat offenders that get so overconfident you can predict their crimes like clockwork ... sounds like this guy may fit that description.
When's the last time you guys saw a warden while fishing a river? It's been something like 10 years for me.
You simply don't have to look very hard to see poaching around here. I've read a few posts on Bob Ball's site claiming a number of anglers have enjoyed an early opener at Reiter all summer long. I bet the fishing's been good! And a couple weeks ago I fished the Snoqualmie on a Saturday morning, saw guys baitfishing in Fall City and at the mouth of the Tolt. They simply didn't know it was illegal and stopped when I informed them of the law ...
About the worst I've seen was three guys fishing with treble hooks on heavy spin gear in the fly only water on the upper Kalama... weighted treble hooks with no lure attached.
The fish are visible plain as day up there. They didn't take kindly to my complaints from the other side of the river. I decided to walk downstream on my side because it was pretty clear there would be a confrontation if I pursued it further. I never called it in but I should have.
Poaching salmon on the ocean is way worse than in freshwater. Many boats go out in the morning for a limit, then go out again in the evening for a limit again. Adding a time of day to the catch record might help.
The only problem is they don't come. I've called them a number of times with zero responce, I also included plate numbers and descriptions. A couple of years ago during the fall the silver fishery was closed on a small SW WA river, I called as some locals were snagging fish with gear, fish cops didn't show.
Understand your frustration with the few game wardens in Washington State; nothing has changed since I moved elsewhere in 1984. Here in Oregon the State Police are the game wardens and you call .... THEY COME! As each officer has this as part of his/her duties (some are assigned to this specific purpose) the upper Rogue area is heavily patroled especially on the weekends. But I've had the folks the other 5 days of the week.
They'll check you the first time and then usually chat for the rest of the season. Interesting note from one fellow is that he's never had to issue a ticket to a fly rod guy. Lead chuckers.... lots and lots of time in court.
Due to the huge return (again) of Spring Chnk to the upper Rogue the game dept opened the water above the normal dead line for salmon fishing. THE DEADLINE (new) is well posted, advertised, etc., etc. The twits would litterly lean aginst the 4x4 post with the sign on it and cast up into closed water. $150 ticket; hook something, then we go to $300.
Was a wonderful thing that the area is not a blank spot in cell phone service. Thought of offering to vidio the fun and games for court evidence. But turns out one SP fellow had brought his own. Would vidio and just wait in the parking lot for the buggers to show up. Think he was going for the $300 pops.