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Spearfishing under private docks

Hello,
I spearfish in Sw Florida and i was wondering if it is legal to spearfish under privately owned docks? My buddy had a guy come out screaming at him saying he was on private property while standing in the water. So is it legal? Fwc's website doesn't give a clear answer.

Thanks,
Coby
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Replies

  • tears143tears143 Posts: 89 Greenhorn
    I wouldn't spearfish under people's docks... I am not sure if it's legal or not but you can however fish on a boat or wade fishing next to people's dock. They own the dock but not the water.

    You should call up fwc or email them to make sure... again I wouldn't spearfish under people's docks anyways...
  • Capt.EdCapt.Ed Posts: 368 Deckhand
    Why would you even have to ask this question. The answer is kinda simple.... IT'S JUST NOT RIGHT That's all.
    If it were your dock and you spent alot of money for a house on the water, where you could have you family and friends over to fish off of the property you OWN............ would you want someone to show up with a speargun and remove the "best" fish from your dock?
    How about if you go hunting in your neighbors back yard cause you know he has a feeder and the deer go there? is that OK

    Can you spearfish there???? probably.... should you....NO not unless the owner asked you to or invited you.
    This has more to do with ethics than law
    It will be a sad day when the last little mom and pop marina is gone to developers and only the rich will be able to enjoy the waters of Florida.
  • westduvalanglerwestduvalangler Posts: 132 Deckhand
    tears143 wrote: »
    I wouldn't spearfish under people's docks... I am not sure if it's legal or not but you can however fish on a boat or wade fishing next to people's dock. They own the dock but not the water.

    You should call up fwc or email them to make sure... again I wouldn't spearfish under people's docks anyways...

    So wait....you can fish from a boat or wade but no spearfishing? I'm not suggesting it's a great idea but I think the question is "Is it legal"
    By the logic of "you can fish from a boat or wade" why wouldn't you be able to spear?
    Legal or not the dock owner hates you for doing ANY of the above!!! (Ok not EVERY dock owner!)
  • tears143tears143 Posts: 89 Greenhorn
    I didn't say it's illegal, just saying that I wouldn't do it because of ethics. He should check with fwc.
  • jad1097jad1097 Posts: 9,611 Admiral
    Capt.Ed wrote: »
    Why would you even have to ask this question. The answer is kinda simple.... IT'S JUST NOT RIGHT That's all.
    If it were your dock and you spent alot of money for a house on the water, where you could have you family and friends over to fish off of the property you OWN............ would you want someone to show up with a speargun and remove the "best" fish from your dock?
    How about if you go hunting in your neighbors back yard cause you know he has a feeder and the deer go there? is that OK

    Can you spearfish there???? probably.... should you....NO not unless the owner asked you to or invited you.
    This has more to do with ethics than law

    But it's ok to fish your dock, right? Or is that unethical too?


    Your hunting example is downright stupid. It's akin to comparing peaches to potatoes.
  • Roc N RolRoc N Rol Posts: 1,352 Officer
    Capt Ed it has nothing to do with ethics. The owner of the property may own the property the house is on and the dock and have a lease on the land under the dock, but he does not own the water or the fish under the dock. I have as much right to those fish as the property owner and as there is no difference in fishing for them by boat or wade fishing, and as long as you are not standing on the land under the dock tell the owner to shut the hell up or you will call the law on them for harassing you and spear away
  • hossmosshossmoss Posts: 1,322 Officer
    If he owns the land, and his property is adjacent to any navigable waterway, his property line extends to the Mean High Water line. That is where his real property ownership rights stop. In navigable waters, the state owns the property rights. Unless he owns a lease on submerged property, the dock owner has no rights of ownership on the water itself, the land under the water, or any natural wildlife in the water. He does have the right to its use, access and enjoyment, just as any citizen would. He would also generally own the dock and anything attached to it.


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  • LODI QUACKERLODI QUACKER Posts: 149 Deckhand
    Burn his dock down!
  • BobbkkatBobbkkat Posts: 141 Officer
    Actually guys, the docks I go under don't have houses on them. They are on a private island and we go to the part that is undeveloped(it just so happens that the longest and deepest docks are there). So no i am not in front of somebodys house or even near the houses, but the guys that work there usually come out yelling. These docks dont ever hardly get fished except from boaters looking for snook.

    Coby
  • shamrock1188shamrock1188 Posts: 272 Deckhand
    I think under normal circumstances you have the legal right to be there spearfishing. It is illegal for the property owner to come out and harass you fishing. Just because somebody is rich and owns water front property does not give them more right to the fish then anybody else. But if it was me I would move on and find another place to spearfish. But if you want to push it you can get the property owner for harssment I think.
  • IntheslotIntheslot Posts: 342 Deckhand
    What's the location, I'll have to check it out for myself. :wink

    Might have to bring my speargun just for protection of course!

    I'd say spear away. Might be good to have someone filming it in case they did anything stupid.

    And there are statutes that specifically prohibit the harrassment of fisherman.

    What are you getting, sheepies?
  • SJCSJC Posts: 2,572 Captain
    ETHICS!! Comical. So If I was a billionaire and could afford to place a dock 1 mile out into the waterway. I have the right to not let anyone fish around my ****. No one owns water, and cant tell you no to be there unless you tresspassed on there dry ground property to get there.
    The Beatings will continue until moral improves!
  • DrKDrK Posts: 251 Deckhand
    Legal, yes as long as you don't touch the dock, but don't be surprised if the owner comes out with a gun every so often to check and make sure you are not up to something bad. It might not be worth the verbal exchange to explain yourself every time.
  • reel stamasreel stamas Posts: 6,153 Admiral
    Technically legal, but I for 1 wouldn't appreciate anyone swimming around under my dock (w/ or w/o a speargun). Whenever I see anyone out there (doing anything) I make a point to walk out on my dock (w/my 'barking' dog) & strike up a 'friendly' conversation w/them asking all the usual (****) questions... If they seem to be 'regulars', I'll take my hammer & some nails & do a little dock repair...
    I for 1 am tired of finding hooks on my dock & gelcoat chips on boat & bait missing from my pen...
    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 !!!
  • Roc N RolRoc N Rol Posts: 1,352 Officer
    Well take out your dock, I for one am tired of people putting up docks where I have fished for years and telling me I can't fish there anymore
  • beyondhelpbeyondhelp Posts: 392 Deckhand
    As far as legal or not, I am fairly certain that the same rules apply as far as ownership. If the property lines don't extend to the underwater area, you're ok. Look for any unusual exceptions covered by the spearfishing rules. I read them enough times I got discouraged because I couldn't find any where I could legally fish without a bigger boat and a buddy to help etc... Might triple check the statutes.

    I can see the homeowner's point of view, I'd be "protective" of the fish that lived under my dock. Not enough to risk legal trouble. Hell I'd probably let someone do it if they were polite and respectful. Construction workers on a jobsite, I'd be more worried they would do something stupid like throw rocks.

    I'm also keenly aware of just how crowded the shorelines are. But I'd own waterfront property in a minute if I could find something I could afford in the places I like.

    Pick your battles. You would be better off not being the example they use to clarify that particular law. Spearfish where it presents a much smaller legal and ethical risk. Then win the lottery, build a spearfishing / wade fishing / tiki bar paradise, invite me to visit and tell all the snobs to stuff it. :grin
    John.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • BobbkkatBobbkkat Posts: 141 Officer
    Intheslot-we usually get mostly sheepies and a couple snapper, and maybe even a black drum too.

    It is always the guys that work on the island that come out. It's probably because one of the rich people seen us and had nothing better to do, so they complained to them. We always have a dive flag up and are quiet. The houses are far away and we aren't bothering anything (except for the fish with holes in them now!). When they yelled at us the last time we were standing in the water and the guy said this is a private island and we aren't allowed to be there, while we were standing waist deep in the water with our kayaks anchored in the water. It is obviously public property so next time they come out I guess I will let them call the law so they can find out for themselves.

    Coby
  • Capt Dan MedinaCapt Dan Medina Posts: 799 Officer
    if those docks are considered public fishing docks/piers, you may not be allowed to fish them. here is the info from fwc site. i am not an attorney or LEO to interpret the rules, so will leae that part to you.


    68B-20.003 Spearing, Statewide Regulation; Prohibition Against Powerheads, Bangsticks, and Rebreathers; Repeal of Certain Special Acts.
    (1) Spearing is lawful in all salt waters and salt tributaries located in the State of Florida except:
    (a) As provided in Section 379.2425, F.S. Notwithstanding the prohibition contained in that section, spearfishing is allowed in state waters off Collier County except as prohibited in this chapter and elsewhere in Division 68B, Florida Administrative Code; and
    (b) As prohibited in this chapter, and elsewhere in Division 68B, Florida Administrative Code.
    (2) Spearfishing is hereby prohibited:
    (a) Within 100 yards of all public bathing beaches.
    (b) Within 100 yards of all commercial or public fishing piers.
    (c) Within 100 yards of that portion of any bridge where public fishing is legally permitted.
    (d) Within 100 feet of the unsubmerged portion of any jetty, except that spearfishing shall be allowed along the last 500 yards of any jetty that extends more than 1,500 yards from the shoreline.
    (e) In or on any body of water under the jurisdiction of the Division of Recreation and Parks of the Department of Environmental Protection. Possession of spearing equipment in or on any body of water under the jurisdiction of the Division of Recreation and Parks is prohibited except when such equipment is not loaded and is properly stored upon watercraft passing nonstop through such marine waters.
    (3) The taking of fish by spearing shall be subject to and consistent with present and future bag limits, size limits, and seasons applicable to other fishermen of this state.
    (4) The sale of fish lawfully taken by spearing shall be subject to the same regulations and limitations applicable to other fishermen in this state.
    (5) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as allowing the taking, harvesting, molesting or killing of any fish by spearing when taking, harvesting, molesting or killing such fish is otherwise prohibited by law.
    (6) It is unlawful to buy, sell, offer to buy or sell, exchange, transport or possess any fish, or part thereof, taken or harvested in violation of this chapter.
    (7) The use of powerheads, bangsticks, and rebreathers is prohibited as specified in Rule 68B-4.012, Florida Administrative Code.
    (8)(a) The Marine Fisheries Commission hereby finds and declares that the repeal of Chapter 61-1913, Laws of Florida (1961), and Chapter 65-1281, Laws of Florida (1965), special acts of Brevard County, Chapter 63-1220, Laws of Florida (1963), special act of Citrus County, Chapter 27473, Laws of Florida (1951), special act of Collier County, Chapter 65-1622, Laws of Florida (1965), special act of Hernando County, Chapter 30829, Laws of Florida (1955), special act of Hillsborough County, Chapter 65-2079, Laws of Florida (1965), special act of Pasco County, and Chapters 57-1842, Laws of Florida (1957), 57-1852, Laws of Florida (1957) and 57-1854, Laws of Florida (1957), special acts of Sarasota County, all of which relate to spearing, will not adversely affect the marine resources of those counties or of the State of Florida.
    (b) Chapter 61-1913, Laws of Florida (1961), and Chapter 65-1281, Laws of Florida (1965), special acts of Brevard County, Chapter 63-1220, Laws of Florida (1963), special act of Citrus County, Chapter 27473, Laws of Florida (1951), special act of Collier County, Chapter 65-1622, Laws of Florida (1965), special act of Hernando County, Chapter 30829, Laws of Florida (1955), special act of Hillsborough County, Chapter 65-2079, Laws of Florida (1965), special act of Pasco County, and Chapters 57-1842, Laws of Florida (1957), 57-1852, Laws of Florida (1957) and 57-1854, Laws of Florida (1957), special acts of Sarasota County, all of which are rules of the Department of Environmental Protection (formerly the Department of Natural Resources) pursuant to Section 2, Paragraph (5)(a) of Chapter 83-134, Laws of Florida, and Section 2, Paragraph (5)(b) of Chapter 84-121, Laws of Florida, are all hereby repealed.
    Rulemaking Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., Chapter 83-134, Laws of Fla., as amended by Chapter 84-121, Laws of Fla. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., Chapter 83-134, Laws of Fla., as amended by Chapter 84-121, Laws of Fla. History–New 6-17-85, Amended 1-1-98, Formerly 46-20.003, Amended 6-30-13.
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  • IntheslotIntheslot Posts: 342 Deckhand
    You are of course correct if it was a public spot, but the poster even said it was a private island.

    I had another thought, if you have a Gopro then take film of the individuals harassing you and ask them to identify themselves for the record. Lookup and recite the statute that prohibits the harassment of fisherman while filming it. Bet they scurry off like rats.
  • saltybumsaltybum Posts: 1,636 Captain
    Just invite the FWC to come with you one time and observe the goings on and that should end the harassment.
  • GillmanGillman st petersburgPosts: 1 Greenhorn
    Great question, and points by everyone that I read. It was mentioned these are private docks on a private island.  Seems pretty evident.  If it is hardly ever fished then there is probably a reason.  Just my somewhat bias opinion but I think that If someone has to fish around private docks with a spear you really aren't much of a fisherman. Those fish are very used to people and you can get right up close to them no problem. Its like poaching if you're using a spear. That being said I think that if you don't know the exact situation and know absolutely that you have permission to fish someone's dock you shouldn't. 1st, It is dangerous to people who may come out to swim when someone spearfishes around private docks day or night.  It is also illegal as many mentioned here, to spearfish near small jetties and public beaches which can really be just about any beachy area, probably private ones too and for good reason.  Now, It is possible for businesses and private owners to purchase rights to the land in and around dock slips. Or to rent harbor area from the city. If you want the fish there then scare them somewhere else to fish them. I work for a business and we have a large dock that gets poached all the time by so called "fisherman" that think they can cast in between the pilings but inevitably, tangle up, hook the dock or pull the fish up over the dock, bump into the dock and even get on the docks and bloody it up with fish slime and scales after we have spent all day cleaning and painting it to get it ready for guests in the morning.  They have even hit and busted our underwater lights with their props, and more.  Our customers pay to enjoy the fish, the dock the views and get to fish with permission.  Lastly, if you are discovered dangerously spearfishing or even line fishing under or near a private dock and you are asked to leave by owners who are worried you might destroy, vandalize their property or steal from the dock, then you are as much harassing the owners or business as you might say they are harassing you. So how about just finding a better spot where everyone is happy.
  • IntheslotIntheslot Posts: 342 Deckhand
    Is it only me that wonders why posts from long ago (say 5+ years) suddenly get recycled??????:*

    And poaching implies stealing. So if I have a dock, exactly how far around said dock do I own the fish too? 50 feet, 100 feet , 1/2 mile? If the fish are born there and move away to school (get that ;) ) are they still yours? What about fish that are born at the nieghbors dock and just come in without permission. Maybe you need a wall too, it's the only solution! 

    Please post GPS numbers of the dock in question so I can come check it out myself.

    Now I do understand the trashing and cleaning. But that's anywhere. I see people in cars open their doors only to from their MickyD bags on the street. 
  • Turner River TerrorTurner River Terror Posts: 8,708 Admiral
    Back in the day I spearfished a bunch of private docks..I'd do it again in a heart beat if I felt like it..
    I'm tired of folks thinking they are Special and own everything in sight.
    I 'd tell them to call the law and go about shooting fish . ..
    Killin and Grillin :grin
  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 2,736 Captain
    I use to spearfish docks too.  Back then, no one gave a hoot.  Rarely, someone was curious.  Actually come to think of it, I know some docks to hit right now that are probably holdin some nice gags.  Might have to give it another go.  Thanks for bumpin the post haha
    People who complain about other's fishing their docks.. talk about a 1st world problem
    There will never be a really free and enlightened state until the state comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived.
  • osprey11osprey11 Posts: 1,314 Officer
    Gillman said:
    Great question, and points by everyone that I read. It was mentioned these are private docks on a private island.  Seems pretty evident.  If it is hardly ever fished then there is probably a reason.  Just my somewhat bias opinion but I think that If someone has to fish around private docks with a spear you really aren't much of a fisherman. Those fish are very used to people and you can get right up close to them no problem. Its like poaching if you're using a spear. That being said I think that if you don't know the exact situation and know absolutely that you have permission to fish someone's dock you shouldn't. 1st, It is dangerous to people who may come out to swim when someone spearfishes around private docks day or night.  It is also illegal as many mentioned here, to spearfish near small jetties and public beaches which can really be just about any beachy area, probably private ones too and for good reason.  Now, It is possible for businesses and private owners to purchase rights to the land in and around dock slips. Or to rent harbor area from the city. If you want the fish there then scare them somewhere else to fish them. I work for a business and we have a large dock that gets poached all the time by so called "fisherman" that think they can cast in between the pilings but inevitably, tangle up, hook the dock or pull the fish up over the dock, bump into the dock and even get on the docks and bloody it up with fish slime and scales after we have spent all day cleaning and painting it to get it ready for guests in the morning.  They have even hit and busted our underwater lights with their props, and more.  Our customers pay to enjoy the fish, the dock the views and get to fish with permission.  Lastly, if you are discovered dangerously spearfishing or even line fishing under or near a private dock and you are asked to leave by owners who are worried you might destroy, vandalize their property or steal from the dock, then you are as much harassing the owners or business as you might say they are harassing you. So how about just finding a better spot where everyone is happy.

    Great first post.   Almost all wrong!


  • watergatorwatergator Fort Pierce Posts: 173 Deckhand
    You're completely legal as long as you don't touch the dock (or the bottom maybe but I'm not sure). All these comments calling you a poacher are completely out of line because you wouldn't be breaking any laws. People who haven't done it don't understand how challenging inshore spearfishing can be and how difficult it can be for small boat, kayak, and shorebound divers to find places to spear. I wouldn't go park my 36 yellowfin (theoretical if I had one) in front of peoples docks to spear, but kayaks and such are definitely fair game. 

    Have fun and be respectful if people give you a hard time, and if they do anything dangerous then don't be afraid to report them to the law. 
  • Turner River TerrorTurner River Terror Posts: 8,708 Admiral
    As a matter of fact if the dock owner is harassing you he can get arrested...
    Killin and Grillin :grin
  • Friz FrelengFriz Freleng Posts: 5 Greenhorn
    I think under normal circumstances you have the legal right to be there spearfishing. It is illegal for the property owner to come out and harass you fishing. Just because somebody is rich and owns water front property does not give them more right to the fish then anybody else. But if it was me I would move on and find another place to spearfish. But if you want to push it you can get the property owner for harssment I think.
    I suggest a better idea would be to organize a spearfishing/snorkeling party under the wankers dock. You may want to visit the jurisdictional cop shop and file a harassment complaint. This boy needs to be talked to by a LEO before he comes out on his dock with a shotgun.   
  • h2omanh2oman spring hillPosts: 1 Greenhorn
    When the gulf is blown out I believe the diving and spearing under the mangroves...in estuaries and canals... can actually be pretty killer....8-12 foot visibility....(I have seen 5 foot snook but of course you can't spear them..).. I have been thinking about making a film production just about "life under the docks" because that's where tons of big moharras, snappers, sheepies, and of course big horse mullet congregate.... I do it all the time and have never had a negative exchange, but I always pull around a house if I see the owners are right in the back yard and having their beer or tea. I move around their dock to the next open space between houses and hoover up the fish along the bank and check the house and then go under the next dock....The game Warden is my buddy and he said it's wide open.... you can't go onto their property...their dock.... you are in the water... I never go on saturday or sunday... always keep a low profile...I have even had owners ask me to get their tools or deck chairs... you stay away from marinas...beaches...fairways that go to boat ramps....keep your head out of the water and say 'hi'...... stick to residential canals and places that are on the gulf....the best canals are ones where one side has no houses..... I use a boogie board...have a dive bag for my fish.... and my dive bouy and flag on top of body board....If someone gets crazy nasty with me in the future I will probably give him wide berth not go under his dock...they don't know the rules.... they dont own the water under their docks... today I spoke to a game warden in Homossassa and he said it's illegal in Citrus county unless you are 3 miles out in the gulf...so Citrus is a no go...also it's best to go in the winter when the water is cold and the vis is best....be polite...keep your head down.. have fun and spear all you want under the docks!!! h2oman
  • Tarpon MonoxideTarpon Monoxide Posts: 567 Officer
    Bobbkkat said:
    Hello,
    I spearfish in Sw Florida and i was wondering if it is legal to spearfish under privately owned docks? My buddy had a guy come out screaming at him saying he was on private property while standing in the water. So is it legal? Fwc's website doesn't give a clear answer.

    Thanks,
    Coby
    I know of an incident where a man came out to his private lighted dock at 2am in the morning with a speargun to shoot fish underneath his dock in the lights and shadows. He saw something he never saw before under his dock. A giant Goliath Grouper. He aimed and shot the giant dark colored fish. Turns out it was his next door neighbor snorkeling under his dock with a wet suit on trying to spear fish also.

    Of course he had to be rushed to the hospital with a spear through his shoulder blade and took weeks to recover.
    I think if you asked him if it was a good idea to spearfish under someone else's dock he would tell you that it not a good idea.

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