Tualatin men cited for 'salmon snagging' near fish hatchery

TILLAMOOK COUNTY - Skirting the law to bring home a bounty of Chinook salmon landed a couple of Tualatin men in some hot water.

Fernando Patricio-Medina, 30, and Christian Patricio-Avila, 30, were cited last week for what wildlife officials call 'salmon snagging.' That's where someone throws a line and hook into a waterway teeming with salmon, hooks a fish somewhere in its body and then drags it to shore.

It's an illegal way to catch fish and if you're caught doing it, there are penalties. In this instance, the two men were cited for trespassing on a fish weir, angling on a closed stream, angling by a prohibited method (snagging), unlawful taking of Chinook salmon and aiding in a wildlife crime.

The trouble for them began when the Oregon State Police got a couple of complaints about salmon snagging near the Cedar Creek Fish Hatchery near Hebo. One landowner even got video of the act, which showed the two suspects snagging salmon with a hand line and treble hook.

Troopers just missed the suspects while they were on the river, but later caught up with them on Highway 18 in the McMinnville area. When troopers pulled the men over, they discovered eight Chinook salmon in a cooler that was covered by clothing.

"We appreciate the help of local residents to help identify and find these two suspects," said Sgt. Todd Hoodenpyl with the Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division out of Tillamook. "This is a great case as we had received a complaint of these subjects being on Three Rivers snagging fish earlier in the week."

Salmon snagging has been a problem here in Oregon in the past. Back in 2006, for example, KATU spoke with a state game officer who was getting frustrated at the number of people taking advantage of an abundance of salmon in small creeks and streams. He was worried not only about the salmon, but anglers' ethics as well.

What about today? Is salmon snagging still a problem? According to Sgt. Hoodenpyl, this illegal fishing method is a problem anywhere in Oregon where salmon are plentiful.