Pittsburgh Pirates top draft pick Gerrit Cole was in a group of friends who knew they were fishing illegally days before they were cited for snagging salmon in a remote slough near Chilkat Lake, the wildlife trooper leading the investigation said last week.
Fish and wildlife trooper Ricky Merritt said a state fisheries worker had seen the men snagging salmon at least three days before they were cited, told them it was illegal, and asked to see their fishing licenses.
The men couldn’t provide a license and continued fishing illegally, Merritt said. Cole, his father Mark Cole and three other men, including Alex Horeczko, whose family owns land in Haines, were cited.
"They definitely knew what they were doing in a lot of aspects. They were trying to hide it," Merritt said.
Several men, including Cole, were charged with snagging, using modified gear to snag the flesh of fish that weren’t striking at their lines. Snagging is illegal under Alaska sport fishing regulations.
"We watched them for three days and that was their method of fishing the whole time," trooper Merritt said.