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Fishing Notes Florida June 2007

Study suggests path to restoring fish populations

Environmental Defense in March released the results of a study titled “Sustaining America’s Fisheries and Fishing Communities,” which details how Limited Access Privilege Programs, or “catch shares,” can save fishing stocks and help restore fishing communities.

A team of more than 30 scientists, economists, fishery specialists and other experts collected data on nearly 100 fisheries and analyzed more than 150 peer-reviewed studies.

Funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, this is reportedly the largest such study since Congress lifted the moratorium on catch shares five years ago.

“Catch shares are the missing piece in the puzzle to restore our fisheries and fishing communities,” says Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense. “For the first time, this comprehensive study provides the hard data that shows how catch shares can improve the performance of fisheries at lower cost to fishermen and greater benefit to the overall ecosystem.”

“This comprehensive analysis shows that LAPPs can be a pivotal tool in preserving fishing stocks,” said Barry Gold, the marine conservation initiative lead at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.“When designed with local objectives in mind, these systems not only help create sustainable fishing practices, they can also help restore fishing communities.”

To download a copy of the report and learn more about catch shares, visit .

New billfish tourney debuts in the BVI

The BVI Government and AH Riise extends an invitation for gamefish anglers to participate in the inaugural AH Riise BVI Billfish Tournament, July 31 to Aug. 4. This all-release blue marlin tournament will be hosted by Bitter End. Fishing will take place in the territorial waters of the British Virgin Islands.

The “North Drop” is a short 12 miles from Virgin Gorda and is home to some of the best marlin fishing the Caribbean has to offer.

In addition, this new tournament has been designated a qualifier for the IGFA Offshore Championship, and proceeds from the event will go toward local charities benefiting the community of the Virgin Islands.

Anglers to fish for $50,000 purse

When a tournament grows beyond its boundaries, there’s only one thing to do — expand the boundaries. That’s how the Marathon Community Classic became the Florida Keys Community Classic.

Set for June 7 to 10, the event includes a two-day tournament open to all anglers and a two-day flea market with food and live entertainment. It is to be preceded by a free day of fishing for veterans of military service scheduled June 5 in Marathon.

The tournament is to start with captains’ meetings set for June 7 at locations throughout the Keys — in Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine and Key West.

Anglers are to target dolphin, wahoo and tuna on June 8 and 9, to win a share of a purse worth $50,000 in cash and prizes. Weigh stations are to be set up in each of the five Keys districts. An awards banquet is scheduled June 10, at the MarathonCommunityPark. Tournament organizers are planning to host a flea market with food and live music at the community park June 9 and 10.

For information, contact Capt. Mary Sampsel at (305) 942-1825.

Huge bonefish caught; world record pending

A Connecticut school administrator caught and released a monster bonefish in the Florida Keys — which could turn out to be the heaviest certified bonefish ever caught on rod and reel in the Western Hemisphere.

Bob Schroeder’s 16-pound, 3-ounce bonefish was brought in alive and weighed on an International Game Fish Association-certified scale at The Worldwide Sportsman dock in Islamorada March 19 and then released. Samples of the mono leader and 10-pound Power Pro braided line were sent to the IGFA along with required documentation to determine if the catch qualifies for a world record in 12- or 16-pound test line categories.

Approval or denial of the record is expected by mid-May or earlier, according to Rebecca Reynolds, IGFA’s world record administrator.

The existing IGFA record for 12-pound-test line is a 16-pound bonefish caught in Bimini in 1971 by Jerry Lavenstein. Islamorada guide Tim Borski holds the current 16-pound-test line class record with a 14.25-pound bonefish he caught off Islamorada in 2002.

If certified, Schroeder’s bonefish will be the third-largest on record at the IGFA. The two larger bonefish — a 19-pound fish caught in 1962 and a 17-pound fish caught in 1976 — were caught in South Africa.

Schroeder and Capt. Paul DiMaura of Islamorada and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., had planned on fishing for redfish, but the wind was so brisk they decided to try bonefishing on Islamorada’s flats.

“Paul saw the fish about 100 yards away and stopped the boat. The wind was at our backs and probably if the adrenaline hadn’t kicked in we might have picked up the fly rods.”

Still, Schroeder had to make an accurate long-distance cast with a live shrimp in a gusty wind.

“It turned out to be one of those classic perfect shots,” he said. “The shrimp landed far enough in front of the fish not to spook it. It came by and ate the shrimp.”

The fish pulled most of the line — more than 200 yards — off Schroeder’s spinning reel while DiMaura “poled like crazy,” said Schroeder.

“When it got to the boat and we could see the shoulders on this thing, I got more instructions than the space shuttle,” laughed Schroeder.

‘Monster’ swordfish caught in Keys

A New York angler scored a rare catch and release of a swordfish in shallow bay waters off the Florida Keys this past weekend.

Ray Wyllins of Smithtown caught the fish March 31 in 8 feet of water near Islamorada. He and several other witnesses estimated the fish’s length at 11 feet, with a weight of about 350 pounds.

Wyllins and his family were returning from fishing for snapper and grouper near the ChannelTwoBridge when he saw what he originally thought to be a nice-sized cobia laying up near a flat.

Wylins rigged the largest pilchard from his live well on a circle hook tied to 50-pound carbon leader. His spinning reel was spooled with 30-pound line.

The fish was about 50 yards from the boat. Wyllins cast the pilchard in front of the fish.

“The fish whacked it,” said Wyllins. “But I missed it and didn’t set the hook.”

Wyllins’ brother Ron spotted the fish several hundred yards in front of the 23-foot boat, so they moved back within casting distance and another pilchard was presented.

“I set the hook and the fish came completely out of the water about 10 yards in front of the boat,” Ray Wyllins said, adding his brother’s children, ages 8 and 7, saw the fish jump and were so startled they tried to cower under the gunwales.

The fish made seven leaps right in front of the boat.

“It looked like someone dropped a Volkswagen in the water from the amount of splashing,” he said.

After nearly fours hours battling the fish and having touched the leader several times, Wyllins decided to release his catch.

“It was just such a majestic animal, I didn’t have the heart to kill it,” he said.

Swordfish usually inhabit deep-water areas far off shore, but Wyllins’ fish in the area is not unprecedented.

In May 2004 Islamorada light-tackle guide Skip Nielsen helped Dallas resident Mike Carter catch a 65-pound swordfish in the same area. Nielsen speculated the fish got lost as it migrated from the Gulf of Mexico and took a wrong turn.