Columbia River "guides" busted!

March 27, 2024

SALEM, Ore.— An unlicensed fishing guide and his partner must pay fines and serve probation after bypassing legal requirements and then discouraging witnesses from cooperating with law enforcement.

Tanner Bonawitz, 23, owner and operator of Tanner Slayem' Guide Service, advertised fishing trips on the Columbia River, between Astoria and Rainier. OSP F&W Troopers investigated the Columbia County business after receiving a report through the Turn In Poachers TIP Line in September of 2021. Troopers approached the guide and his associate, Loran Bonawitz, 54, as they prepared to launch into the river, with clients in the boat.

During questioning, Loran Bonawitz attempted to pay the clients to leave the area and not speak with law enforcement. Tanner Bonawitz then refused to return the clients' money they paid for the trip. Troopers discovered Tanner Bonawitz did not possess any of the mandated Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) certifications to operate his guide service legally and safely.

Tanner Bonawitz and his partner, Loran Bonawitz, pleaded guilty to charges of failing to register as guides. Each must pay $740 in fines and both received a three-year angling license suspension. Tanner Bonawitz must also serve 12 months bench probation.

The guide licensing process is a public safety measure, according to Cyndi Bolduc, Outfitter Guide Program coordinator for the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) boating safety program. Licensing establishes that operators meet safety standards, including operating certification, first aid and CPR certification, and insurance coverage. OSMB is tasked with maintaining those standards.

"Unlicensed guides undercut all aspects of guiding, not only fees," Bolduc said. "Enforcement is a priority with the Marine Board, and we've worked hard to have guiding infractions included in the TIP program and eligible for rewards."

People who call the Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line to report poaching, habitat destruction and other crimes against fish and wildlife are eligible to receive either cash rewards or, in some instances, hunter preference points if their tip leads to an arrest or citation. The reporting party in this case received a $200 cash reward. Oregon Outfitters & Guides Association (OOGA) cash rewards apply to anyone acting as an outfitter guide for illegally killing wildlife; illegally obtaining Oregon hunting or angling licenses; or illegally offering to act as an outfitter guide.

"We need people to do the right thing and contact the TIP Line if they know of illegal activity," Bolduc said, "In this case, we were pleased to give our first TIP reward to the reporting party who suspected that the owner operators of this guide service had bypassed public safety requirements."

The Protect Oregon's Wildlife- Turn In Poachers Campaign educates the public on how to recognize and report poaching. This campaign is a collaboration among state agencies, sportsmen and other conservationists, landowners, and recreationists to engage the public in combatting Oregon's poaching problem. Our goal is to: Incentivize reporting on wildlife crimes through the TIP Line; Strengthen enforcement by increasing the number of OSP Fish and Wildlife Troopers; and Support prosecution in becoming an effective deterrent. The campaign helps to protect and enhance Oregon's fish and wildlife and their habitat for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Website: Contact campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw for more information.

If you know of or suspect other crimes against fish wildlife or habitat, please OSP Dispatch at 800-442-0776 Northern Command Center (NCC)
Or 800-442-2068 Southern Command Center (SCC); or *OSP (*677) from a mobile phone. Or email:

Caption: OSP Fish & Wildlife Trooper on a boat patrol. Photo by OSP.


Contact: Oregon State Police:
To report tips: TIP Line: 800-452-7888 or *OSP (*677) from mobile
Media contact: Yvonne Shaw, Turn In Poachers campaign, 503-383-6859
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Reactions: rogerdodger, Snopro and beavis
Isn’t just illegal, it’s just plain stupid. Not meeting what seems like almost any of the most basic requirements to be a guide. Then trying to bribe a witness while law enforcement was there, Gotta wonder how long they thought they could get away with that kind of plan. Could almost argue that withholding the clients money after that could be retaliation for not leaving when the guides tried to bribe them to leave.

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