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Well Known Dunsmuir Trout Poacher Busted, Convicted, and Blown Out of Town

Posted by Tom Chandler 2/3/2008

If you've spent any time at all in Dunsmuir, you might have met Larry Baker -- local real estate blowhard and bad cafe owner.

image It was no secret that Baker was a trout poacher of impressive proportions, but it wasn't until game warden Joe Powell arrived that Baker got caught (and caught bigtime).

Before Baker pleaded guilty to the numerous poaching charges against him, I spoke to Powell, who said he and his fellow wardens had been "living in Baker's back pocket" without Baker knowing it.

It wasn't an idle boast: Powell's apparently half ghost. Several of us have experienced the same phenomenon along the river; one minute we're apparently fishing alone, and the next, Powell's standing right next to us, checking our hooks for barbs.

It's as if he erupts from the earth itself. He's the Ghost Warden.

You can read the whole sordid "gotcha" story in Tom Stienstra's column (hint: it includes river-side surveillance, high-tech equipment, and sting operation I wish we had on tape), but here's the happy, fairy tale resolution (if you're a trout):

The case ended in January when Baker pleaded guilty to five counts of violation of the Fish and Game Code, including unlawful take, unlawful sale of trout, illegal fish in an eating establishment and littering, according to the DFG.

Baker was ordered to pay $5,323, sentenced to 30 days in jail, placed on three years of probation, and banned from fishing in California or accompanying anybody fishing for three years.

In addition, Powell said, Baker sold his restaurant and is moving out of state.

There's a moral to this story, Powell said: "You never know who's watching."

Baker got off lightly considering how many years he'd been poaching, but then, the town isn't plagued by him any more, so I'll take it. (How do you know Larry Baker's lying? You check to see if his lips are moving.)

My favorite detail in this whole sordid mess?
The wardens taped Baker throwing an empty salmon egg jar into the river, then tacked an in-your-face "littering" charge
onto the end of the rather impressive list of poaching charges.

That, my friends, is Pure Warden Style.

Thanks Joe! And good-bye Lying Larry. We won't miss you, even for a second.

AuthorPicture

Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

12 comments
Powell IS a ghost. The man is amazing. Snuck past my dog (traitor) right up behind me. I didn't even know he was there until my line snarled and I let our an rich %$#@@. Then I hear this voice behid me: "just pass your line back and I'll take care of that for you...." Scared me so bad I almost jumped into the river sans belt.
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i have experienced the baker saga first hand...3yrs ago i ran into baker at one of my favorite runs in s dunsmuir. walked right up to where i was fly fishing and politely asked how the fishing has been,,, then praceeded to rape this run with salmon eggs and yes he did throw his empty jar of eggs into the river right in front of me. as he walked out with a dozen trout or so he mumbled something about ... more the hundreds of trout in his freezer, which he addmittedly said he could never eat them all. I t sure nice to know he finaly got caught. now maybe some fish might actually stay in the towns waters.......good job wardens!!!!
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I will be watching, locked and loaded. David
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Rumor has it that Larry will be setting up shop in Medford or Ashland, another cafe featuring poached trout no doubt. I say good riddance!
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Hey Tom, Tell us what you really think of Larry. The "Ghost" got another one. I wonder if he was one of the spooks we had in VN, they could do the same thing. (and who is using my handle?) David
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I am very happy to hear another scum-bag has been slapped. I live for fishing and when I see litter or idiots doing illegal stuff I get upset. Glad to hear the wardens are doing their job.
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Hey Joe.....'You''re The Man'!!!!!
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I miss the River Cafe's famous digenesis sauce.
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Surely, "See you in the slammer"...
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That is AWESOME!!!! Ha, ha, ha...wardens are so understaffed in this state; what a fantastic job by all those who undertook the mission.
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His cafe SUCKED! Worst overpriced food.
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That "magic wand" would come in handy to find the 273 fish that rascal missed, wanna go halfsies?
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