Slippery thieves net trout catch in hatchery heist

By TRACIE CONE | August 22, 2011 | 8:10 PM EDT

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Somewhere in California, someone has a truck load of stolen merchandise that probably is starting to stink.

State Fish and Game wardens are investigating on Monday what they believe to be the first large-scale theft from a state fish hatchery after as many as a thousand trophy-sized trout were taken from a facility near Fresno.

Workers at the San Joaquin State Fish Hatchery found the gate pried open and blood covering the floors on Sunday. Department spokesman Patrick Foy says the trout were 3 years old and weighed three pounds each.

The trout were part of a program paid for by fishing license fees to stock lakes for fishing enthusiasts.

Wardens are now scouring California fish markets for signs of them. Trout sells for up to $7 a pound.