Let Us Putt

Check your rear view mirror, folks.

It’s gaining on us—another threat to our traditional fishing ways.

We refer to “No Motor Zones,” a catch-all generalization that can refer to anything from de facto no-fishing zones to not even allowing a motor to be installed on the fishing craft.

Some of these zones are being pushed by people who are either anti-fishing or ignorant of what really is going on in our inshore waters and would just as soon see the public shut out.

Unfortunately, quite a few fishermen have bought into the idea of “no motor zones” without realizing what the prohibitions could mean for anglers who have spent generations enjoying the backcountry.

While it’s true that we might welcome an end to certain flats cowboys running the flats, the other extreme of no motors at all would completely ruin much of what we do, for no good reasons.

The answer, we’d suggest, is to implement “off-plane slow zones” where appropriate but allow our putt-putt adjustments.

Many of us have spent countless years “kicking and drifting,” as we fish the Everglades and flats throughout the state. Think of the storied Snake Bight Canal where boaters routinely motor upstream to fish runoffs farther north. Make us try to pole upcurrent there?

In the real world, sportsmen need to use their motors, off-plane when so desired, but in use at slow speed.

To ban this slow-speed use should be done only in extreme and rare instances, with very few exceptions.

It may be noted that the spectacular Tarpon Bay on Sanibel Island is sometimes referred to as a “no motor zone.” In truth, the requirement there is simply that boats go slow, off-plane.

With all the agonies boaters have gone through because of the manatee extremists and their continuing falsifications, it’s a dang shame we have to go through the no-motor excesses coming from a handful of bureaucrats. But we have no choice but to battle once again for our fishing traditions.

So the next time someone chimes in for “no motor zones,” find out exactly what is meant. Are they referring to combustion motors off plane, electric motors only, paddling only or perhaps not even allowing motors installed on the vessel?

Some argue that the no-use of motors is necessary because of boaters speeding in the shallows. But that argument fails if boaters are required to be off-plane, yet still able to putt to the next shoreline.

At any rate, we keep hoping that more of the people making these important decisions will spend more quality time actually out on the flats, where citizens are directly affected.

Let’s putt when necessary. But not stop.