By Joe Utter
A night patrol of Lake Lenore led to four arrests for allegedly poaching in an area targeted by poachers in the past.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officers were on night patrol at Lake Lenore north of Soap Lake April 5 when a 2005 Toyota Tundra pulled in near the boat launch, briefly shutting off its lights before taking off, according to WDFW Capt. Chris Anderson. The vehicle returned again a few hours later and stopped in the parking area.
According to Anderson, four men exited the vehicle and allegedly started filling nets and back packs with fish and loading them into the truck. Officers confronted the suspects and one man reportedly re-entered the truck and tried to drive away. The officers were able to block the vehicle with the patrol car.
One of the suspects surrendered while the other two jumped into the lake, according to Anderson. One of the suspects was found holding onto a tree limb while still in the lake.
While taking the three apprehended suspects into custody, officers lost track of the fourth suspect, who was last seen about 40 yards out from the bank and "having a difficult time," Anderson said.
Within a few minutes, Officer Smith observed what appeared to be the body of a man floating in the lake," he stated. "When he got to the other side of the small cove, he discovered that it was only the suspect's waders and coat that were floating."
Grant County Sheriff's search and rescue units were called to search the lake in fear the suspect may have drowned.
About 5 a.m. April 6, a Soap Lake Police officer spotted a subject walking through a city park wearing camouflage clothing and no shoes, according to Anderson. The man was identified as the missing suspect and taken into custody.
The four men, Sergey Otroda, 32; Igor Bigun, 26; Oleg Pavlus, 25; all from Everett, Wash., and Vitaliy Kachinskiy, 23, from Mount Vernon, Wash., were cited for illegal use of a net, fishing closed waters, fishing without a license and first-degree exceeding the bag limit, according to Anderson.
About 242 trout, weighing almost 500 pounds, were seized in the search and was donated to the Moses Lake Food Bank. The Toyota truck was seized for forfeiture.