An organized effort on the part of a gang of fish poachers to illegally secure fish for the market by screening the fish ladders at Gold Ray and then robbing them of their finny contents was exposed Wednesday evening when Game Wardens Sam Sandry of Rogue River and Fred Merrill of Grants Pass caught W.D. Kenyon and W.C. Long, one of the night force at the California-Oregon Power company's plant, in the act of gaffing fish in the ladder. Over seventy pounds of fish so secured were confiscated. The wardens found the exit at the top of the ladder closed to fish by a screen, which, while passing the water and invisible to the observer, effectually barred the exit of the fish, who, held in great numbers in the fishway, were easy prey for the gaffs of the poachers.
The poachers' arrests were made after a thirty-six hour vigil in the brush of the hills above the wardens. After the arrest last evening, other fishermen were met coming toward the ladder, and it is evident that the half dozen or more fishermen living about have been partners in the poaching operations, made possible by the screen.
"I believe the illegal operations have been in progress for some days," said Warden Sandry, "and probably half a ton of fish have been taken out and the upward progress of the fish barred. We watched Kenyon and Long for half an hour. The fish ladder was full of fish, salmon and steelhead. Many of those snagged got away, wounded. The lock on the other fish ladder had been stolen, and it is evident that when it was full of fish at night the poachers would shut off the water and rob this ladder also. I have wired for authority to employ a water bailiff to patrol the upper river, as we are having much trouble already with the commercial fishermen."
It is evident that the poachers worked with the power company employees and received protection from them, as it is impossible to rob either fish ladder without being seen by the power house employees. Prosecutor Kelly states that he will request the power company to co-operate in enforcing the law, and that trespass signs will hereafter bar the way to the ladder.
Kenyon and Long pleaded guilty and were fined $50 each by Justice Taylor and given until June 30 to raise the money. This is Kenyon's second offense, having been paroled pending good behavior by the juvenile court. In addition to paying fines, both men lose their right to fish for the balance of the year, and Kenyon forfeits his peddler's license.