A Bethel man is accused of catching a radio transmitter-equipped Connecticut River salmon being monitored by biologists, calling it a brown trout and keeping it for mounting by a taxidermist.
Officials became suspicious when the fish both appeared in the local newspaper and its radio transmitter began beaming signals from dry ground in Bethel.
Ryan McCullough of Bethel caught the nine-and-a-half pound salmon in the White River downstream from the Stockbridge federal fish hatchery, and misidentified it as a trout. A photo of the 31.5-inch fish appeared in the local paper and caught the attention of fisheries biologists, who had previously put radio-transmitters in Atlantic salmon that had migrated upstream in the Connecticut River to spawn.
As a result of an investigation by State Game Warden Keith Gallant, the missing salmon was located in a freezer in Bethel, and McCullough was issued a citation to appear in Windsor Superior Court on September 27. McCullough may be on the hook for as much as $1,500 in fines and restitution for his mistake as well as losing his licenses for three years.
“Anglers fishing in the Connecticut River or its tributaries are urged to correctly identify the fish they catch and immediately release any salmon,” said Colonel David LeCours, Vermont’s Chief Game Warden. “Anadromous Atlantic salmon in the Connecticut River Basin are ‘big game species,’ and the penalties for taking them are substantial.”