Poor success fishing in the North Thompson River drove a retired Alberta man to break the law, a defence lawyer said Monday.
Ahmad Rasaei, 65, pleaded guilty to angling with more than one line in the water and using prohibited gear and bait. The laws are set in B.C.'s sportfishing regulations under the Federal Fisheries Act.
"His explanation was he simply wasn't catching any fish," said Ressai's lawyer, Robert Bruneau, adding it wasn't a valid excuse for breaking the law.
A retired hairdresser originally from Iran who worked in Edmonton until recently, Ressai has two similar convictions for fishing offences, in 1997 and 2007.
His fines for those offences ranged from $20 up to $150. But provincial court judge Sheri Donegan agreed with a joint submission by Crown and Bruneau that Ressai play $3,000 in fines for the offences in June last year.
Prosecutor Joel Gold called Ressai's property on the river near McLure "a pretty private place to put lines in the water."
But based on information from neighbours, conservation officers spied on him with video and spotting telescopes on separate occasions last summer. Gold said they witnessed lines set in the water with no one near them - contrary to provincial laws.
When the lines were later inspected they were found to have barbed hooks and were illegally baited. Riverbank near his property had as many as seven unattended lines in the river, some of them without rods with line tied directly to bushes.
Under an order from Donegan, $2,800 of the $3,000 fine Ressai must pay will go to the provincial Habitat Conservation Trust Fund. He was also given a two-year ban on fishing or holding a fishing licence.
"He's a serious fisherman," Bruneau said. "His son said he doesn't know what he'll do with his time now."