To the Editor: The passing of catch and release status for tarpon statewide was a quantum leap for the future protection of our tarpon population. The 7 to 0 vote by the FWC involving the gear restriction proposal is gratifying beyond words. The adoption of the new definition outlining what constitutes intentional snagging of tarpon leaves no questions unanswered to unscrupulous anglers who will attempt to bypass the process of enticing a tarpon to strike “any” lure or bait.
Without the efforts of the FWC Commissioners, Chairman Ken Wright and present Chairman Richard “Dick” Corbet, none of this would have become reality. Those of us who supported these proposals are deeply indebted to the FWC for their efforts to understand and act positively upon these long overdue changes to the laws.
Where do we go from here? One question has to do with the future enforcement of the gear restriction proposal. If history has taught us nothing else, we know legislation can’t and won’t dictate morality. There remains the fact that some anglers will continue their efforts to intentionally snag tarpon by using lures that meet the criteria involving hook placement below the weight.
This is when and where the definition outlining intentional snagging becomes important. One could easily view the new definition as a “backup” gun tucked neatly away until needed. The definition clearly says, anglers attempting to intentionally snag tarpon using “any” lure will be in violation of the law. Anglers who view themselves as creative adaptors, by designing lures that meet the gear restriction proposals but still successfully snag tarpon, would be advised to revisit the definition outlining “intentional” snagging.
How serious is the FWC about future enforcement? My take on this is based on observations made during and since the Commission’s final vote in Pensacola. First, 7 to 0 is as strong as it gets. Second, I’ve got a hunch these seven individuals won’t view attempts to slide around the letter of the law as cute, clever or a sign of adaptability. I came away from these meetings with the impression that mocking the
FWC on this issue will be paramount to kicking a rattlesnake in the fangs.
Given this confidence in the FWC’s stance on this issue, I am anxious for the 2014 tarpon season to commence. This assurance is further substantiated by the commitment of a newly-formed army of concerned and watchful anglers and interested parties statewide and beyond. The unanimous vote by the FWC answered the question that was previously hidden from view in the depths of Boca Grande Pass.
The Boca Grande Jig was a snagging device!
Fishing for tarpon within the confines of Boca Grande Pass can be compared to fishing in a fish bowl – under a microscope – in the light of day. Intentional snagging of tarpon won’t go by unnoticed and certainly not unpunished. Methods of fishing the pass that include hovering over the aggregation of fish, thus maintaining lines in a vertical fashion, have become positive signs of anglers attempts to snag tarpon.
The only question that remains once the tarpon is brought to the surface is, “Where is the tarpon hooked?” The new definition leaves no doubt.
Those who fought to defeat the gear restriction proposal, and failed to support its passing, made a logistical error that led to our success. They measured our resolve by counting our number when, in hindsight, they should have measured our PASSION. 10 of us equal 1,000 of them because we are driven by pure passion instead of money, greed and notoriety.
We believe tarpon change lives! In one way or another, each of us has experienced this. Our angling principals are welded in place. No amount of profit or gain can cause them to move. Why? The perimeters surrounding honest angling are the only boundaries that determine what is and is not a true angler. If it is not fair play, it isn’t angling. That’s who we really are – we’re Americans, we’re anglers, we’re adopters! We found the way to adopt principals, a code of conduct, respect for fellow anglers and most important, a respect for the very fish that changed our lives.
Bill BishopBoca Grande, and all around
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