BANKS LAKE - Two Spokane men were arrested this week at Banks Lake during a nighttime emphasis patrol by five officers from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police.
Maxim Andriyenko, 28, and Vladimir Lebedinski, 33, both of Spokane, were booked into the Grant County Jail, according to information provided by police Thursday. The other suspect was a 16-year-old boy.
According to reports, it started at 9 p.m. one officer observed a small vessel on the north side of the lake without its navigation lights on. The vessel then pulled up to a log boom and a gill net was dropped into the water.
According to Fish and Wildlife reports, the men on the boat continued to deploy the net for more than an hour before heading back across the lake. Officers were waiting on shore when the boat headed back. According to the department, the officers allowed the men to fish for an extended period of time to ensure "beyond a reasonable doubt" the men were committing an illegal act.
"With officers working at night and from distances that make observations and corralling the bad guys challenging, we try to avoid having to chase someone down, get into a wrestling match, or risk having evidence destroyed," the department posted on its Facebook page.
Officers searched the boat and found 50 large whitefish and the long gill net with homemade floats.
According to police, the men allegedly argued throughout the search, never admitting to any wrongdoing. Police said one suspect, a convicted felon, allegedly threatened to cut off the fingers of one officer.
Police also reportedly seized the 14-foot boat.
The nighttime emphasis patrol was done for the annual whitefish fishery. The department said they believe the men arrested are part of a "poaching community." The Fish and Wildlife Police said netting has continued to be an issue near the feeder canal on the north side of Banks Lake.
There has been a decrease in activity in recent years, according to Chris Anderson with the Fish and Wildlife Police.