Tarpon fishing changed
Written by Tom Greenberg   
Friday, 16 April 2004 03:40
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Tarpon fishing changed
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FWC rules prohibit some gear to cut debris ...

By Paul Flemming, The News-Press Tallahassee Bureau:: Published by news-press.com on April 16, 2004 TALLAHASSEE

The state?s fish and wildlife agency Thursday banned breakaway fishing gear in Boca Grande Pass and limited boats to three lines in the water for the 2005 tarpon season. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, continuing to referee between warring factions of tarpon anglers, made the new rules, which go into effect July 1, to reduce debris at the bottom of the pass.

Mark Robson, director of the marine fisheries division, said dive cleanups have brought up 7 tons of debris in the past two years including jig heads, lead weights, crab traps, anchors, monofilament and Dacron line. Breakaway gear is any bob, float, weight, lure or spoon that?s attached to a fishing line with fasteners that are designed to break off when a fish is caught. The two factions ? live-bait and artificial-lure tarpon anglers ? continued the open hostility in Tallahassee that takes place regularly in the pass during the April to June tarpon season. ?The pass has just become a zoo,? said Andy Nagle, general manager of the Gasparilla Inn in Boca Grande. ?It?s hostile ... groups feel it out there.?

Commissioners characterized the problem as ?user conflict,? which stymies any progress on figuring out solutions for what all sides agreed is a diminished tarpon fishery. ?The bottom line is that they?re not catching tarpon,? said Nagle, noting that he?s booking more people at the inn for weddings than for tarpon fishing. Cappy Joiner, president of the Boca Grande Fishing Guides Association and a live-bait charter captain, said the debris problem is not from breakaway rigs, but caused by the characteristics of the pass. ?Boca Grande Pass is solid rock,? Joiner said. ?It?s full of holes and caves and ledges.? Those ledges, he said, hang up and sever lines. Joiner and his group wanted the commission to limit each boat to two lines in the water. They left the meeting unhappy with the three-lines decision.


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