High numbers of red salmon entering Kenai Peninsula rivers are not only filling dipnets and coolers of sport fishers. They're starting to pile up in the evidence room of Fish and Wildlife Protection Troopers in Soldotna as well.
Troopers nabbed a group of alleged poachers mostly from New York state on the Kenai River on Wednesday taking an over limit of salmon.
Man Yim Wu, 31, of Gilmhurst, N.Y., Thye Thye Ng, 43, of Fairfax, Va., Sam W. Gee, 53, of Bellose, N.Y., and Xia Jiang, 41, of Albertson, N.Y., were cited for fishing without a sport fishing license. Bail was set at $210 each. Jiang also was cited for having 60 salmon over her limit of three. Her bail was set at $1,310.
Trooper Sgt. Glenn G. Godfrey said the group was fishing together and troopers were unable to determine who actually caught all the fish, but they reportedly were in Jiang's possession.
A few days later, troopers received another anonymous tip saying the group was at it again.
A stakeout was conducted at RW's Fishing Guide Service at the end of Big Eddy by troopers, Alaska State Parks and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and on Saturday, a search warrant was served on nine people, including Ng, Gee and Jiang.
Cited for illegal possession of sport-caught fish were Wai Ming So, 42, of Bayside, N.Y.; Van Thien Phan, 65, of Woodside, N.Y.; and Keung Kwong Mok, 52, of Searington, N.Y.
Hok Yu Chan, 48, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was cited for over limit of sport-caught fish, and Jiang was arrested for illegal possession of sport-caught fish. Jiang was taken to Wildwood Pretrial Facility, where bail was set at $5,000.
Arraignment has been set for Aug. 7 in Kenai District Court for Jiang and Aug. 14 for the others.
According to Godfrey, four "high-end" fly rods and reels, waders, clothing, other fishing equipment and video cameras and tapes were seized in the raid in addition to 600 pounds of processed fish.
Approximately 265 salmon already had been processed into nine 50-pound boxes of frozen fish, two boxes of lox and some fresh filets.
"Currently the fish is being held as evidence, but eventually it will be given to charity," Godfrey said.
He also said officers are being kept busy by numerous reports of people poaching on the river.
"We're all working extra hours and extra days," he said.
"We've got six guys here and we could use 100."
He said most of the bigger cases are brought to troopers' attention by others fishing nearby and added that people can report illegal fishing activity by calling Fish and Wildlife troopers at 262-4573 or dispatch at 262-4453.
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