BY JACK SHORT – As the water crosses that magical temperature threshold somewhere in the mid-70s, the fish and the things that eat them are becoming more active. And, of course, so are the fishermen, but unfortunately, with that increased activity comes an increase in accidental or negligent behavior.
Some standup paddleboarders who asked to remain anonymous were cruising off the shore near 1st Street last week when they spotted some line under the water about 100 feet from land. When their recovery task was completed, they had pulled in as much as 1,000 feet of line of various types, hooks, weighted bait devices and other shark fishing gear, including a pole, from the bottom.
Gasparilla Island State Parks Manager Chad Lach said that so far the year has been uneventful, speaking about fishing activities and nuisances created by those unaware of or acting with disregard to the law. He requested a special Florida Fish and Wildlife law enforcement detail last year because of high levels of illegal activities conducted by fishermen.
“Thus far,” he said, “There hasn’t been an issue.”
Speaking about the recovered fishing line, he said everyone should attempt to recover as much line as possible to avoid harming wildlife, which can become entangled or trapped in discarded line.
“Don’t just cut the line,” he said.
The individuals who recovered the discarded gear last week said they had seen what they believed were sea turtles in the same area earlier that day.
Lach said that the state parks will wait a month or two before they decide if another special FWC detail is needed to abate any problems that may occur when fishing season has fully arrived.