May 16, 2011
By Karl Wickstrom
We've joked (half seriously) that fishing laws seem to be changed with the moon phases, and that not even law enforcement folks may know the latest wrinkles.
No sooner had we made that observation the other day when a blatant example popped up.
Coming back to the ramp late at night, an east coast fishing guide and two anglers unloaded two fine snook, two keepers among 15 assorted sizes they had caught.
They were greeted by the long and angry arm of the law. Officers of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission informed them that snook season was closed tight.
Could jail be far behind?
Fortunately, the veteran guide did know the latest changes. On that date, Sept. 22, Atlantic-side snooking was indeed opened up. The officers scurried to their printed regulations and eventually agreed that they had mistakenly looked at the Gulf regs, where snook is closed, for now. (Check those moon phases.)
No need to name the polite and dedicated officers since the FWC commissioners themselves may well not be able to give you all the slot and month differences either. One officer did call the guide later to apologize.
For November, while we're on the closure subject, snook is open on the east coast but closed on the west side. May the law take note.
, our point is to urge simplicity when at all possible. It's even worth sacrificing a smidgeon of biological formulating in order to gain compliance and respect for the law.
A statistical brainstorm may look fine in an air-conditioned Powerpoint meeting but fail miserably when casual anglers try and sometimes fail to remember inches, dates and ways to measure a fish. Let's simplify.
Actually, commissions have done a better job of it many times over recent years, including a good decision to make most changes at mid and year-end. Sometimes, though, decisions are made on the basis of which individuals scream the loudest and make the most phone calls.
That's how we had wound up with four different seatrout zones, now at last headed for likely streamlining, I hope. And there's a move, with little momentum, to double the redfish bag, only in North Florida, because of talk by a relative few anglers.
So the challenge to keep it simple goes on. And we wish all the best to the good people making the laws and the good lawmen trying to enforce them.