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All caught up

A number of fish were trapped in a net and left to rot on Stuart Lake. The net is now being investigated as potential poaching by the Conservation Officer Service in the area.
Dead fish fill a net left floating on Stuart Lake recently. The net was found by a boater and brought in and is currently being investigated by a conservation officer.

With the ice only recently off of Stuart Lake, boaters are wasting no time in getting their hulls wet.

One early season boater found more than he bargained for on the lake though, when he stopped to pick up what he thought was a rope which was almost caught in his motor.

Eldred Rahko saw a yellow rope floating on the water which he had narrowly missed running over, and stopped to pick it up to prevent any damage to other boaters.

But he found more than he bargained for.

Instead of a rope, Rahko found an entire net, and it was full of fish.

He took the net back to the docks at the district marina and called the conservation officer, frustrated at what he saw as “just a total waste of good fish.”

There were around 34 fish in the net when The Courier went to take a photograph of it, and the conservation officer said three of those fish were Dolly Varden, three were burbot and the rest were “trash” fish.

Conservation Officer Cam Hill is still conducting an investigation into the net, but does not have a lot to go on, given how long the net may have been adrift.

“Unfortunately, you can only get so much information off of something that has been floating around in the lake for probably six months,” he said.

But he does have some ideas, and believes the net was put out last fall, because it is not the style of net which is typically used when putting a net through the ice and because of the high level of decomposition of some of the fish, which meant it was not likely from after the ice came off.

Hill said the net is not typical of the nets used by First Nations.

“It’s one thing to net fish and it’s another thing to leave your net and have it catch all kinds of other fish and then let them rot,” he said.

Peter Erickson, Nak’azdli band councillor, said he is interested in discussing the matter with the conservation officer.

“We take things like that very seriously,” he said.

Anyone with information on this net or any other violation or unlawful setting of nets should call the Conservation Officer Service toll-free at 1-877-952-7277.