The ‘do’s’ and ‘don’t’ of spearfishing around Gasparilla Island

September 10, 2021
By Marcy Shortuse

Just before our most recent bout of red tide the Boca Beacon received reports of several individuals spearfishing at the end of Belcher Road and in other locations around the south end, and two of the those anglers were confronted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Lee County Sheriff’s Department. While no arrests were made in that particular incident, now is a good time to remind everyone as to the rules of spearfishing in our region of Southwest Florida.

According to the FWC, spearing is defined as “the catching or taking of a fish by bow fishing, gigging, spearfishing, or by any device used to capture a fish by piercing its body. Spearing does not include the catching or taking of a fish by a hook with hook and line gear or by snagging (snatch hooking).”

The FWC web site further defines spearfishing as the catching or taking of a fish through the instrumentality of a hand or mechanically propelled, single or multi-pronged spear or lance, barbed or barbless, operated by a person swimming at or below the surface of the water.

The use of powerheads, bangsticks, and rebreathers remains prohibited. 

You may NOT spearfish (excluding bowhunting and gigging) as described below:

• Spearfishing of marine and freshwater species in freshwater is prohibited. Possession of a spear gun in or on freshwater is also prohibited.

• Within 100 yards of a public swimming beach, any commercial or public fishing pier, or any part of a bridge from which public fishing is allowed.

• Within 100 feet of any part of a jetty that is above the surface of the sea – except for the last 500 yards of a jetty that extends more than 1,500 yards from the shoreline.

• In any body of water under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection, Recreation and Parks. Possession of spearfishing equipment is prohibited in these areas, unless it is unloaded and properly stored.

Species that are prohibited from being acquired by spearfishing include billfish (all species), spotted eagle ray, sturgeon, manta ray, sharks, bonefish, tarpon, Goliath grouper, snook, blue crab, Nassau grouper, spotted seatrout, red drum, weakfish, stone crab, pompano, African pompano, permit, tripletail, lobster, families of ornamental reef fish (surgeonfish, trumpetfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, porcupinefish, cornetfish, squirrelfish, trunkfish, damselfish, parrotfish, pipefish, seahorse, puffers, triggerfish except gray and ocean).

Any other species not listed that are managed by the Commission, and those species not managed by the Commission, may be harvested by spearing.

If you have questions about any of this information or you think you have witnessed an illegal act involving spearfishing, call 888-404-FWCC (3922). Cellular phone users can also call *FWC or #FWC, or send a text to Tip@MyFWC.com.