The fish at the heart of two fines a man was ordered to pay in Salmon Arm Provincial Court was a 20-pound chinook salmon.
William James Elliot appeared in court on Jan. 28. He pleaded guilty to two offences in relation to Sport Fishing Regulations: fishing for a species of salmon during the closed time as well as catching and retaining salmon above the daily quota.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada stated in an email that in 2019, as in previous years, the department received numerous complaints of people in boats fishing for and keeping chinook salmon in Shuswap Lake near Sicamous.
In August, Fishery officers conducted patrols over multiple days to identify the boat and individuals involved. On Aug. 24, the officers observed Elliot catch and keep a fish.
“A nearby patrol boat with two Fishery officers aboard stopped the fishing boat as it headed for the marina and conducted an inspection. The inspection revealed the fish caught was a 20-pound chinook salmon,” states the email.
The fish were seized and Elliot was fined in court $200 for the first offence and $150 for the second. His fishing rod, reel, lure and down-rigger were to be returned to him.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada emphasizes that Shuswap Lake and Mara Lake are closed to fishing for salmon, including catch and release. This is due to conservation concerns for inter-mixed stocks of salmon which migrate through and hold in Shuswap and Mara lakes.
Salmon River, Eagle River and Bessette Creek chinook salmon are all stocks of concern.
“Every year, people are observed and reported to be targeting salmon on Shuswap Lake, some catch and release them, others retain them. Both activities put salmon stocks at risk. Anglers on Shuswap Lake that incidentally catch chinook salmon are requested to keep the salmon in the water and release them as soon and as gently as possible.”
As part of its work to end illegal activity, the department asks the public for information on any contravention of the Fisheries Act and regulations. Anyone with information can call the toll-free violation reporting line at 1-800-465-4336.