Smile Steelhead Poacher, You're On Candid Camera

The sad fact is that there are hundreds of people that break fish and game laws every year, and for the most part I think it's fair to say that not as many get caught as we would hope. So this story makes me feel good.

According to the article in the Santa Barbara Independent, scientists in charge of monitoring native steelhead learned that some began returning to Atascadero Creek. If you don't know, California once had great runs of wild steel, and today those returns are almost nil, so even a few steelies in one creek is a pretty big deal. Worried that local anglers may spot the endangered fish in the creek and try to catch them, the scientist set up a motion-activated camera in the area where the fish had taken up residence. Guess what happened next?

From the story:

Soon after, the camera caught two men -- later identified as Kyle Chase Dillard, 20, and Jason Wayne Kautz, 21 -- fishing in the creek. The photos [above] showed Dillard catching what scientists identified to be one of the trout.

Luckily for Fish and Wildlife warden Brandon Alisio, the men left behind the price tag and packaging of one of their fishing poles. Using his sleuthing skills, Alisio took the price tag and packaging to Sports Authority, where he looked over the retailer's surveillance footage and saw the two men buying the fishing pole. With help from the store, Alisio was able to tie the purchase to a customer loyalty card with a Santa Barbara address.

C'mon, you've got to give it up for warden Alisio! Does this guy get his man or what? If there's one down-note to the story, although Dillard pleaded guilty to fishing for an endangered species, the punishment is only a measly $375 fine. The article didn't even say he lost his fishing license.