Investigators have seized some 20,000 pounds of rockfish this week.
Police discovered a 900-yard illegal striped bass fishing net Monday night in Eastern Bay. It had trapped about three tons of Rockfish -- one of the largest seizures ever for the Natural Resources Police.
The nets are very deadly. They catch all types of fish, and ducks and geese get tangled up in them.
Police staked out the net all night, hoping to catch the poachers. When none showed up Tuesday morning, officers started pulling the net up to reduce impact on the fishery.
Attended drift gill nets are allowed in the bay, requiring watermen to keep an eye on them to minimize incidental catches, Windemuth said. Last year, NRP seized 15,000 yards of illegal net in the bay.
It took from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to retrieve all the fish. Officers had to stop loading fish onto the patrol boat and called in an ice breaker for help.
The salvageable fish will be taken to a market where they will be sold and the money used to buy law enforcement equipment, or they will be donated to shelters.
UPDATE: Because of the haul by authorities, rockfish season has been canceled for the month of February. The monthly quota was reached early. A $6,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.