Recreational Angler In Washington Gets 50 Days In Jail For Snagging Salmon

A Pacific County judge has sentenced a recreational fisherman to 50 days in jail, fined him $1,500, and imposed a five-year fishing license suspension for repeat salmon snagging violations, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced.   

WDFW Police investigated the latest snagging case in August 2023. David Gretzner, 66, from Long Beach, was sentenced Nov. 16 by Pacific County District Court Judge, Nancy McAllister, after pleading guilty to one count each of Unlawful Recreational Fishing in the first degree and Unlawful Recreational Fishing in the second degree. 

Gretzner has been engaged in illegal fishing activity for several years and was well known by WDFW Police. He was previously charged with other snagging violations in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

“When he was caught snagging in August 2023, he was awaiting trial for his 2022 charges and was still on probation for previous snagging violations,” said WDFW Police Sergeant Todd Dielman. “Snagging salmon is a natural resource issue, especially when the fish are targeted during low flows and in warmer water conditions where they are easy prey and more susceptible to stress.”

The term “snagging” means an effort to take fish with a hook and line in a manner that the fish does not take the hook or hooks voluntarily in its mouth. Salmon snagging can artificially increase the success rate for anglers and decrease the number of salmon able to return to the hatchery and can shorten the length of a salmon season for honest anglers. This type of illegal activity takes opportunity away from those lawful anglers who follow the rules.

“We would like to thank the Pacific County prosecutors and judge on the outcome of this case. We hope that it will send a clear message that engaging in illegal fishing activities can land you in jail,” said Dielman.  

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