If you haven’t heard the story of California’s stolen trout, buckle up. This a good one.
For several years now, trout fishermen in California have paid a little extra for their fishing license. that money has helped fund a hatchery and fish nursery. There, trout are spawned and grown to various sizes. Then they are released across the state in key trout-fishing locales. So in exchange for paying more to fish, fishermen are rewarded with more big healthy trout. And the fish that don’t get caught add to the spawn and improve the overall health of the trout populations.
Sounds like a great plan, right? One way to ruin a great plan is to let an idiot thief in the back door.
This past Monday, someone or a group of someones broke into the hatchery and loaded up over 1,000 trophy-sized trout. The fish weighed three pounds each and were three years old.
But here’s the part that gets me: they just threw them in a truck. No ice. No water.
This is clue number one that we’re not dealing with professionals. Anyone who knows anything about fish knows that a whole fish starts to get funky mere moments after it’s dead unless it’s carefully cleaned and stored on ice. And when fish are transported to stock ponds, lakes and rivers, they are moved in giant trucks filled with water to keep them alive. These crooks took the easy way and just threw them in a truck.
So, these geniuses are cruising around northern California with a truck full of 1,000 rotting fish. Odds are that they are going to try to sell them to restaurants, fish markets, etc. But who in their right mind would take fish out of an unrefrigerated truck? Fresh trout sells for around $7 a pound. But that’s the rate for fresh, non-funky, non-rotten trout. These guys are going to be sitting on a mountain of maggots. Not a mountain of money.
I don’t think it’s going to take a pack of bloodhounds to find these crooks. I just wonder what the best punishment is going to be for them. I vote that they get thrown into the truck with their loot. Then we lock the door and park the truck somewhere in the sun. But that would surely get flagged as cruel and unusual punishment.
Whatever happens to them, I hope they pay a big fine and maybe even serve a sentence in prison. Either way, they’d better never be allowed to fish for trout in the great state of California.