Bill Taylor of Black Dog Fishing Charter has been getting good numbers of mangrove, yellowtail and a few short buttons in 40 to 60 feet of water using mostly thread fin herring and squid. There is still a decent sailfish bite off of Jupiter and people fishing for them are also getting good numbers of dolphin as by catch.
Working very specific depths from 100 to 115 feet, kings up to 15 pounds have been caught from the Boston Inlet and then following as they move south. The sailfish bite is still holding steady off of the Boston area with many boats having several releases per trip.
They are hitting goggle eyes, blue runners and pilchards on kites in 100 to 150 feet. There have also been red grouper caught in the same depths using cut or whole squid on the bottom or slow pitching jigs.
On the inside edge of the reefs off of Boston, lesser amber jacks, some keeper gray trigger fish, yellowtail and mangrove snapper are being caught. Though the season is closed until Feb. 1, the bite for shook in the St. Lucie River has been excellent recently.
Around the bridges spanning the St. Lucie and Indian Rivers there has been good action for black drum, pompano and bluefish. In the Intracoastal Waterway in the channels a quarter mile north and south of the Boston Inlet, there has been an excellent bite for jack crevasse, lady fish, bluefish and some nice mangrove and mutton snapper.
Also in the Ice, on the east side from the Santana Bridge up to the Shook Islands, there has been good action for sea trout and a few slot-size redfish. Though the artificial bite has been tough, a Carolina rig with a strawberry color worm did produce a few fish.
Around 20 years ago, fishermen in Fleetwood, Lancashire, managed to make national news by inviting several dozen Spanish trawlers to join their cooperative. They are held up as evidence for the widely-held view that European Union membership has been a raw deal for the UK ’s fishing industry, and the origin of its decline.
Their presence on the UK fishing register has been controversial from the eighties to the present day, and was one driver of the huge support for Brexit in coastal towns. An Unearthed investigation last autumn found that around half of England’s quota is held on Dutch, Spanish, or Icelandic-owned “flagships”, so called because they sail under a British flag.
By comparison, the UK ’s small scale, “inshore” vessels must fish from a pool of quota amounting to less than 2%, despite making up around 79% of the UK fishing fleet. But in truth, the decline of the British fishing industry began some years before the EU’s common fisheries' policy (CFP) took effect.
And the quota hoppers are better understood as a symptom of a larger problem: decades of mismanagement by UK governments, which have seen fishing rights first commodified and then consolidated in the hands of a small and wealthy elite. At the time the UK began talks on accession to the European Economic Community, around 1970, the most profitable part of the fishing industry was the “distant water fleet”.
These were huge trawlers sailing out of Fleetwood, Hull and Grisly to chase cod and haddock in the rich fishing grounds around Iceland and beyond. This industry made Fleetwood one of the biggest fishing ports in the country, and its docks a major employer.
After the British vessels were kicked out of Icelandic waters, he says, the ships were tied up and the trawler companies held out for decommissioning payments from the government. But by this point the UK had joined the EEC, and preparations had begun for the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which came into force in 1983.
According to Watson, that period saw a huge influx of Belgian and Dutch ‘beam trawlers’ catching sole in the Irish Sea, building up their nations’ track record on Fleetwood’s doorstep. But, he says, neither the government nor the trawler companies encouraged Fleetwood’s distant water fishermen to follow suit.
As more and more trawlers joined POS, taking their (sometimes inflated) track records with them, the “pool” of quota managed by the state dwindled dramatically. This change discouraged the “race to fish”, but also made quota easier to swap, sell or lease to others.
In the same year, the House of Commons agriculture committee held an inquiry on sea fishing. The most powerful voices in the industry lined up to decry the way the quota market had developed, and to warn against continuing further down this path.
Barry Deal, then and now chief executive of the National Federation of Fishing Organizations, told MPs the problems had started at the point licenses were made transferable. Already by that point, warned the Anglo-North Irish Fish Producers Organization, the value of track records had “increased to such a degree that most individual fishermen find it impossible to compete with those that have the financial clout of large companies behind them”.
The growth in unregulated trade in licenses and track record further encouraged the influx of “quota hoppers” from Spain and the Netherlands. The then-SFO chief executive Main MacS ween told the sea fishing inquiry in 1999 that “very considerable quantities of what were once UK quotas have been bought particularly by the Dutch”.
He noted that virtually every license sold in the previous year and a half for “pelagic” mid water fish like mackerel and herring had “ended up in the ownership of the Netherlands freezer trawler fleet”. Overfishing was endemic, with the scale and capacity of industrial fleets wildly out of proportion with the amount of fish that could sustainably be harvested.
In an effort to reduce the fishing pressure” on stocks, the EU sponsored repeated rounds of decommissioning, with fishermen offered cash incentives to give up licenses and remove their vessels from the fleet. The UK ran three rounds of decommissioning in the nineties, and towards the end of the decade began making efforts to clamp down on black landings.
According to Tom Watson, the Fleetwood PO still had a significant quota at that time, although he says some of it was lost through poor management. Amid these debts, Fleetwood heard the Spanish trawler owners were looking to join a PO.
This, according to Névé, “put us on a fairly stable footing financially, meant we could buy more quota for the boats”. There was also a hope that the Galician vessels would land some catches in Fleetwood, revitalizing the dockside businesses.
The crew abandoned ship without securing the doors, and when the tide went out her back end slipped into the channel. He had them put up in a hotel for a bit, then managed to get them over to a fisherman in Northern Ireland who needed deckhands, but he sent them back a week later when he found they had no papers.
Meanwhile, scientists were warning that cod stocks in the Irish Sea had dropped so low they were in danger of collapse. The European Commission introduced drastic measures, including a ban on cod fishing in some parts of the sea.
And despite politicians’ hopes that quota ownership would engender “responsibility for the future of the stocks”, more than half of those businesses have directors, shareholders or vessel partners convicted (in 2011-2012) of black landings in the biggest organized overfishing scam ever to reach the British courts. Small scale fishers say they have now been forced either to rent quota at exorbitant prices, or to switch over to non-quota species like shellfish to survive.
In a statement to Unearthed in late 2018, the SFO said keeping the existing quota distribution would recognize “the investments made by fishermen and fishing businesses over the past 20 years, and as such helps to maintain business stability within a period of great political uncertainty”. This, in effect, short-circuits the system and allows private companies to directly hold, manage swap and lease quota domestically and internationally.
At the back end of 2018, the European Commission took the second step in infringement proceedings against the UK over its management of producer organizations. The UK system, it warned, “undermines the principle of democratic functioning of producer organizations across the EU and may also jeopardize their capacity to enforce rules on their members”.
Over the decades, British fishermen have developed a deep frustration with the CFP, which in turn has driven huge support for Brexit among coastal communities. While this frustration has often had good reason, the use of the CFP as catch-all scapegoat has also allowed more than one government to evade proper scrutiny of the UK ’s poor domestic management of fishing rights.
Anglers catch hundreds of brawny, beautiful and delicious species in teeming estuaries, off gorgeous beaches and in the deep blue oceans surrounding the Florida peninsula. The reasons for fishing are as varied as the species and the methods of catching them.
Or, catch bass species that thrive only in North Florida rivers such as the magnificent Suwanee, where class III rapids add serious excitement to a fishing trip on the river between White Springs and the Town of Suwanee, where the river passes through the Lower Suwanee National Wildlife Refuge, pouring out into the Gulf of Mexico. Whether it’s a red snapper caught off Destiny, speckled trout from Tampa Bay, or a mess of crappie from Tallahassee ’s Lake Alcuin, there’s not much more satisfying or delicious than eating fish you caught yourself.
Spring break or summer vacation are both great times for feisty, delicious easy-to-catch fish. The biggest sea trout on record came from Fort Pierce.