Dec 17, 2003
For those who thought gill netting ended with the 1995 net
ban amendment, think again. It ain't over 'til it's over, and it probably
won't be over until fish houses quit buying roe mullet.
Don't hold your breath for that day.
The latest incident in the virtually unbroken string of
netting violations stretching back to days after the net ban went into
effect is a case last week at Cayo Costa, dubbed by Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission officers as the largest illegal inshore
netting case ever in Lee and Charlotte counties.
Commission spokesman Gary Morse said Allen McClenithan,
32, and Nelson W. Waddell, 22, both of Matlacha, were arrested in possession
of more than 5,000 pounds of roe mullet with a dock value of about $7,500.
The men also had some 900 yards of gill net aboard their boat.
Officer Seth Montgomery had set up a surveillance on the
Gulf side of Cayo Costa, an island south of Boca Grande. When he spotted the
netters at work, he radioed officer Lar Gregory, standing by nearby in a
patrol boat, to check them out.
The commission said as Gregory approached the net boat,
the two men jumped overboard and swam to shore. They stripped off their gear
and began running down the beach - but ran directly into Montgomery, who
Morse said McClenithan had been charged in October with
scheming to defraud through illegal sale of $100,000 worth of saltwater
products with a suspended saltwater products license. He also was arrested
in June for net-transit violations, lingering in inshore waters with a net
illegal for use in those waters.
The boat the netters were using did not belong to them, as
is often the case in illegal netting, because gear belonging to violators
and in use during a violation can be confiscated. The mullet were
confiscated, but because the catch was so huge, officers were not able to
process and ice the fish in a timely manner and the catch could not be sold.
The roe mullet run typically continues into January, with
legal cast- net fishermen usually making catches of 500 to 1,000 pounds a
day as the fish mass and move out of the bays and rivers to head offshore to
spawn. Most of the roe is sold to the Orient. MORE OFFICERS: Poachers are
likely to have a tougher time in the months ahead, as Florida's conservation
commission increased the number of woods and waters officers by 39 with
graduation ceremonies last week in Tallahassee.
Beth Smith, management consultant with the law enforcement
division, said it is now the largest resource enforcement agency in the
country and is still seeking more recruits to attend the enforcement
The agency totals 712 positions, including 460 field
officers, 111 field supervisors and 57 investigators, Smith said.
adding 10 more positions in February, 25 more over the next five years,''
said Smith, adding a new class of 40 officers will begin training next
spring, mostly to fill staff vacancies.
always looking for qualified people,'' Smith said.
She said most successful applicants have college degrees
or military or law enforcement backgrounds. Age range is broad, with current
graduates from 22 to 45 years old.
Smith said officers are paid during the 28-week training
regimen, and begin work afterward at the base field officer salary of
$30,041, with added stipends in high cost- of-living areas.
For more information, call (850) 539-2870, or visit
The sea trout season reopens in the south zone at
the end of this month. According to reports from around the southeast
shore of Tampa Bay, the winter bite has picked up significantly.
Fish are being caught in the lower rivers as well as in
potholes in the flats, most on jigs, plastic shrimp imitations or live
Because trout can't be kept for two more weeks, Florida's
conservation commission biologists recommend anglers debarb hooks and use
dehooking tools to release fish without touching them. Trout that are
handled usually do not survive long after release.
MAINTENANCE CLINIC: Reel repair expert Dave
Gerringer joins captain Mel Berman of WFLA, 970 AM, for a
tackle maintenance clinic tonight at 7 at Gator Ford, at exit 10 off
I-4 east of Tampa. For more information call (813) 980-3673.
KAYAK TRIPS: The
American Littoral Society will hold kayak trips with naturalist John
Sarkozy on Dec. 22-23 at Myakka River State Park. The $25 fee
includes kayak rental.
For more information call (941) 966-7308.