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Sunday FWC Check

FLCoyoteFLCoyote Posts: 271 Deckhand
Pulled in to the ramp Sunday and was greeted by two plain clothes FWC Officers. We had three Red Snapper on Board. Two big ones and one that was 16 1/4". Two of us measured it and it was clearly legal by 1/4". One officer said it was short, we replied that it was not and showed him the commercial measuring device we used. His reply was that that was not what the FWC used to measure fish. So what does the FWC use? We were prepared to get pictures and go to court if we were ticketed. We were not, however one of the officers did go through every compartment on my boat in detail. He would have found a golf ball if we had hidden one.
I don't recall giving permission for my boat to be searched, however after researching the issue I found that the FWC or any other law enforcement agency doesn't need permission to search your boat if its in the water. The officer doing the search was very officious and we went overboard to be courteous. All of this happened while about 10 miles away our local pass looked like a death trap with jet skies, kayaks, divers, sailboats, pontoon boats, and god knows what else were dodging each other in what looked like a bunch of maniacs trying to avoid collisions and not a law enforcement officer, coast guard, homeland security, DEA, or local police department in sight. All of who regularly harass fishermen and recreational boaters in the Panama city area. Guess they decided it was to dangerous to be on the water and decided to harass folks at the launch ramps. The heavy handedness of law enforcement under the example set by federal agencies and using the excuse of national security is getting mere gerstopo/**** like every day. I feel so much safer knowing that if I should have any trouble on the water that one of these agencies will help me get in touch with Sea Tow (I hope).

Replies

  • Ron@.38 Special[email protected] Special Posts: 6,934 Admiral
    How did they know it was a red snapper? (It was FWC after all)
  • FLCoyoteFLCoyote Posts: 271 Deckhand
    We showed them a picture!
  • Jack HexterJack Hexter New Port RicheyPosts: 5,012 Moderator
    So what is your question for Special Agent Coker??
  • FLCoyoteFLCoyote Posts: 271 Deckhand
    Thanks Jack, I got lost in my rant!

    My question is what does the FWC use to measure fish that is different than off the shelf devices? The one I use is a plastic, 30 inch concave measuring device that is about three inches wide and I think is brand name "Kayaker". I have no doubt whatsoever that the fish in question was legal and that we didn't do anything to prevoke the officer involved. I do know that in a case of a local fisherman who was ticketed for a 1/4 inch too short Grouper that the judge verbally reprimanded the FWC officer in court and advised him to never bring such a trivial case into his courtroom again. Case dismissed.
  • Westwall01Westwall01 Posts: 5,453 Admiral
    FLCoyote wrote: »
    Thanks Jack, I got lost in my rant!

    My question is what does the FWC use to measure fish that is different than off the shelf devices? The one I use is a plastic, 30 inch concave measuring device that is about three inches wide and I think is brand name "Kayaker". I have no doubt whatsoever that the fish in question was legal and that we didn't do anything to prevoke the officer involved. I do know that in a case of a local fisherman who was ticketed for a 1/4 inch too short Grouper that the judge verbally reprimanded the FWC officer in court and advised him to never bring such a trivial case into his courtroom again. Case dismissed.

    I've read this article from the stand point of a recreational fisherman, part-time fishing guide, and from that of a marine enforcement officer, all of which I am. I would like to try and clarify a few things. My agency, which is not FWCC does not provide measuring devices, rather we have to purchase our own. I am unaware of FWCC providing their officers with one measuring device used by all FWCC officers throughout the state, so maybe you can describe what they used to measure your fish and how they measured your fish compared to how you measured them.

    As far not seeing any law enforcement in your local pass at a busy time, there can be many explanations for this. They may have very well been there but also in plain clothes, or quite possibly working other cases or accidents at the time.

    I field these questions daily where I work and try to help people understand that there are only so many marine enforcement officers on duty at any time. Case in point- the county I work in only has 1 marine deputy, and approximately 2 FWCC officers on duty at any point in time typically. The Coast Guard, for which I served 9 yrs in typically has only 1 boat crew on duty at a time (24 hr period) for each stations' area of responsibility, which usually on the west cost of Florida is approximately 3 to 5 counties combined.

    As far as searching your vessel, we legally can do such to enforce fisheries laws without your permission (anything that can reasonably contain fish) if there is any indication that you are actively or were recently involved in fishing. This is not harassment, this is marine officers doing their job and protecting the resource.

    As far as the 1/4 inch too short Grouper incident, that is a local rumor here as well. Just wondering if you were actually in the courtroom when this occurred or is this secondhand information? The FWCC officers I know and work with on a regular basis are very respectable and professional individuals whose intent seems to be to serve their communities in a positive manner.
  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,922 AG
    Westwall01 wrote: »
    I am unaware of FWCC providing their officers with one measuring device used by all FWCC officers throughout the state, so maybe you can describe what they used to measure your fish and how they measured your fish compared to how you measured them.


    Their legs are tattooed with a scale as a cost savings measure by our commission. That's why they wear shorts.
    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 11,693 AG
    or this..
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • reel stamasreel stamas Posts: 6,153 Admiral
    I was given a written warning for 1) RG & ARS several years ago. I used my cooler top ruler & thought they were exactly 20" & 16" respectively (& both fish were gut-hooked or I would have thrown them back anyway, just b/c they were 'close'- but that's mostly irrelevant).
    Anyway, the FWC officer pulled out the metal 90* ruler & pushed the fish up against the edge & showed me that they were ~1/8"-1/16" short on his device... Like I said I got a 'written warning' (which I assume means that's my 1 'warning'), but I went & bought a 90* metal fish measuring device & every 'close' fish gets measured on it TWICE...
    There should be NO Commercial Fishing for any fish species considered 'Over-fished' , 'Undergoing Overfishing' or Subject to Recreational Seasons, Limits, or Closures... Game Fish Status IS the Answer !!!
  • FLCoyoteFLCoyote Posts: 271 Deckhand
    Westwall01, Thank you for your reply and your perspective. A professor I know told me that everyone views things through their own lens and see things the way their life experiences have formed them. That said, I'm going to address your post from my perspective. That is the perspective of someone who served this country for 41 years, is a Disabled Veteran and has been in harms way at gunpoint on at least three occasions. First I don't like being treated like a drug smuggler, especially on Memorial day weekend. The fact that Law Enforcement has the authority to search marine vessels doesn't mean that they have to exercise that authority without reasonable suspicion that someone is hiding something. As to the scarcity of Law Enforcement Officers, I accept that they are probably shorthanded most of the time. What I don't understand is why I get checked so frequently. I don't think I look like a crook and my boat looks like a typical 18 foot center Console. I've been fishing in the Panama City area since 1984, and between the FWC and the Coast Guard have probably been checked without any violations over 100 times. Several of my friends report the same frequency of checks. I once got checked by the same Coast Guard boat and crew three Sundays in a row, in spite of showing them the inspection forms from previous checks. Anytime in the spring or summer that you are in the area of the St. Andrews pass you will see various commercial and private vessels in violation of the basic rules of the road. No one seems to know the right of way rules and near collisions are common. Coming thru the pass during these times is like running a gauntlet. Yet I virtually never see any enforcement in that area. Just the presence of an FWC vessel would help. No I wasn't in the courtroom for the Grouper incident and you are probably correct in that it may just be an urban legend. Now the flip side of the story. My son and a neighbor were very overdue coming back from an offshore trip and we were very concerned. The neighbors wife called the Coast Guard and they basically said they couldn't do anything until the next day. She then called the FWC and told them the area they were fishing in and an FWC patrol boat went out at 9PM and found them and towed them back in. I am eternally greatful to the FWC for that. In all of my encounters I can only think of two in which the FWC officers were rude or overbearing. I guess everyone has a bad day once in a while, or a hangover or a domestic disagreement prior to going to work. The Coast Guard is a military organization and when they check you its more like a military operation. All of the Law Enforcement organizations that have frequent contact with the public could use some frequent community relations training. Most of us are law abiding tax payers and don't deserve feeling like officers are exceeding their authority just because they can. Matter of a fact I was in process of becoming an FWC auxillary officer about 15 years ago when I had to have a knee replacement that disqualified me. I was not on or near my boat when the Snapper was measured. I was several hundred yards away getting my trailer when one officer boarded my boat and started his search. Personally I thought that sticking his head in the bilge was going a little far, but that may be a favorite hiding place for illegal fish.
    I try very hard to be courteous, respectful and cooperative with LEO's at all times. Especially since one FWC officer told me that he could always find a tickitable offense if he wanted to and when I said show me what you could cite me for, he pointed out that I had the current years registration stuck over the previous years registration and that that was a violation and that the next time he saw me after the next registration that he would cite me if it was not corrected. Again, all of this is from my perspective. Law Enforcement is not always right, but if its your word against theirs, you lose. Thank you again for your comments.
  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,922 AG
    Good post. Well done.
    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
  • BeachRum1962BeachRum1962 Posts: 162 Officer
    FLCoyote wrote: »
    the current years registration stuck over the previous years registration and that that was a violation and that the next time he saw me after the next registration that he would cite me if it was not corrected.
    Is this really correct? Regardless, any LE who writes a ticket for that is a Richard Head. Wow!
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 11,693 AG
    I was given a written warning for 1) RG & ARS several years ago. I used my cooler top ruler & thought they were exactly 20" & 16" respectively (& both fish were gut-hooked or I would have thrown them back anyway, just b/c they were 'close'- but that's mostly irrelevant).
    Anyway, the FWC officer pulled out the metal 90* ruler & pushed the fish up against the edge & showed me that they were ~1/8"-1/16" short on his device... Like I said I got a 'written warning' (which I assume means that's my 1 'warning'), but I went & bought a 90* metal fish measuring device & every 'close' fish gets measured on it TWICE...
    scofflaw and a poacher to boot.
    Never had a short fish out of 40k per summer.
    You have a problem.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • The Cat's EyeThe Cat's Eye Posts: 1,481 Officer
    Here in Miami Dade small boats get checked out by water LEO's at least ten times or more than large boats.
    I have heard that this also holds true in the Keys.

    I have a fishing buddy (WASP) who has a 31 ft Bertram and has only been checked out (Boarded) two times in thirty years. In contrast, i have been checked out dozens of times while boating solo in small boats for the same time period on the same waters. (My large boat friend is on the water as much as I).

    The bottom line is that the water cops profile: Small boats, Non WASP looking males, fishing solo, and probably other factors combined with these. i.e. solo in an older boat etc.

    I once was boarded by three different law enforcement agencies in a single day in Biscayne National Monument.
    I also have never received a warning or ticket during my 52 years of boating, but apparently look like a bad a$$ to them. (My last boarding was a month ago in Biscayne Bay).
    Giimoozaabi
  • surfmansurfman WC FLPosts: 5,982 Admiral
    I am a WASP and I have been boarded every year that I have gone lobstering in the keys and sometimes more than once in a day. Of course that is during the crazy sportsman season. I don’t do it anymore but I did it every year from 1974 till 2000. I have also been checked many times during scallop season and even just out on the water. I do have a small boat, a 19’ old **** cobia. So I could be considered some sort of suspicious looking white trash.
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.

    Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.  Will Rogers
  • GroundsPounderGroundsPounder Posts: 51 Deckhand
    FLCoyote wrote: »
    Thanks Jack, I got lost in my rant!

    My question is what does the FWC use to measure fish that is different than off the shelf devices? The one I use is a plastic, 30 inch concave measuring device that is about three inches wide and I think is brand name "Kayaker". I have no doubt whatsoever that the fish in question was legal and that we didn't do anything to prevoke the officer involved. I do know that in a case of a local fisherman who was ticketed for a 1/4 inch too short Grouper that the judge verbally reprimanded the FWC officer in court and advised him to never bring such a trivial case into his courtroom again. Case dismissed.
    e

    I used to use a seamstress tape. I also used to have the fisherman measure their fish with their measuring device for 2 reasons; 1 to see that they were measuring the fish correctly and 2 to see what they were using for a measuring device. If needed, I could check their measuring device against mine.
  • surfmansurfman WC FLPosts: 5,982 Admiral
    I have never had an officer question my measuring device, but it is not a home made device either, he would check my catch using the same device I used, it it was short and they never are then there would have been a problem.
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.

    Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.  Will Rogers
  • lifegoesonlifegoeson Posts: 338 Deckhand
    I can honestly say that I have never had FWC use their own measuring device while checking fish, all of them have used the cooler top ruler or had me show them on the cooler.

    However many times for lobster have I had them check my measuring device before using it or used there own all together.
  • stokesstokes Posts: 324 Deckhand
    I caught a redfish off my dock and it measures 27". When
    It ook it inside to filet it it measured 27.475".

    I ate the redfish and shared it with my childrens for their diet.
  • surfmansurfman WC FLPosts: 5,982 Admiral
    lifegoeson wrote: »
    I can honestly say that I have never had FWC use their own measuring device while checking fish, all of them have used the cooler top ruler or had me show them on the cooler.

    However many times for lobster have I had them check my measuring device before using it or used there own all together.

    Yes for lobster they use their own device, you had better check yours too, (not you lifegoeson, literally). I have had many lobster measuring devices, some are made of plastic and some are made of metal, they will vary and the plastic ones wear and warp. Make sure yours is correct.
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.

    Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.  Will Rogers
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