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We had a 6 hr trip today

and we had great reef action for the entire trip. My customers had fished with me before and, due to health reasons, didn’t think they could handle anything too large like a Sailfish or Wahoo. So we opted for catching live bait on the reef and getting as many bites as possible. It worked very well today.

The bait has been easy

all winter long. It was easy again today. One throw of his cast net and 1st mate Edward got us a live well full of Ballyhoo. We started catching nice Yellowtail snapper and put out some live ballyhoo for Cero Mackerel. It got busy very quickly. With only two people fishing, both my mate Edward and I kept busy putting out live ballyhoo on the outriggers while the customs were catching “keeper” yellowtail snapper. When one of the live ballyhoos would get hit, either Edward or I would hook the fish and hand it off to one of the customers. This way, they could keep busy catching Yellowtails and we could still keep some baits out for the mackerel.

Don’t quote the rules unless you know them

While we were fishing we had a Fla. Keys Natl Marine Sanctuary Research boat approach us. They told me that I was fishing in a Sanctuary. The reef we were fishing, Eastern Dry Rocks IS part of the Nat’l Marine Sanctuary and it is marked on the chart. There are supposed to be 4 yellow perimeter bouys anchored on the corners of the protected area so boaters can know when they are going over the line. Currently, there is only one bouy in place. the rest have all broken loose and have not been replaced.

The “researchers” on the boat told me that I had to be outside the Bouys.

This is correct, but I asked them how they can stay outside of a lone Bouy? it takes two to make a line. They could not answer that. Even without the Yellow Bouys, there is a line on the chart plotter that shows the boundaries of the Sanctuary. I always make sure I am outside that boundary. I told them to look at the perimeter marked on their chart plotter. They said they didn’t have one on their chart.

Now this was a Research vessel,

not a law enforcement vessel and I appreciate that they were just trying to give me a “heads up” because they thought I was inside the boundary, but If you are going to quote the regulations or make accusations, you should be very sure you are correct first. Yelling that I am fishing inside the Sanctuary in front of my customers is something I don’t appreciate. I moved the cursor on my chart plotter to the sanctuary line and I was 127 ft outside the boundary. That’s far enough to be legal and close enough for great reef action. Just to be on the safe side, I did check with Florida FWC officer John Martino to make sure the blue line on my chart plotter was the boundary. He said it was. I may not agree with the Florida Keys Nat’l Marine Sanctuary, but I will follow the regulations until such time as I can change them.