Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tourist that caught Great White shark landed company in hot water!

Almost all anglers like to hear stories about big fish. Wildlife officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation have tales about some big fisheries cases that they've made.One of those cases involved a small swordfish. Swordfish must measure 47 inches from the lower jaw to the fork of the tail to be legal to keep.

Last June, officer Scott Engstler caught Robert F. Gomez with a 43-inch swordfish.Instead of filing state charges, Engstler turned over the case to federal agents with the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement. The feds ended up settling the case with Gomez for $2,790 for a violation of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

The feds get a lot more money for fishery violations than Florida does. Witness the case against a Fort Lauderdale charter captain and his mate, who were cited for killing a great white shark caught by one of their customers.Capt. Brent Rowland and his mate Joseph Gins pled no contest to the charges. Adjudication was withheld and each man paid a $213 fine and court costs plus $450 reimbursement of the FWC's investigative costs.When the shark was caught, Rowland called me about it and e-mailed me photos of the great white, which he said was released.

When I asked him for the phone number of the angler, who was from out of state, he said the fellow was not headed home from Fort Lauderdale and I wouldn't be able to call him.I ended up not writing a story because it sounded fishy. Wildlife officers heard rumors about the catch, but they didn't have any evidence.

The key to making the case turned out to be a video shot by one of the anglers on the trip that eventually showed up on YouTube.I was alerted to the video by a member of the Florida Sportsman online forum and watched as the shark was brought alongside the boat, which Rowland and Gins are no longer affiliated with, and killed with a bangstick. I think someone off camera in the video said that it was illegal to kill a great white and the dead shark was allowed to float away.

The video was taken down from YouTube, but FWC investigator Andy Carcasses was able to get a copy of it, which led to the charges being brought against Rowland and Gins and their no contest plea.

Huge hammerheadCapt. Greg Bogdan had a bittersweet catch this past week. Bogdan, who fishes out of Lake Worth Inlet, had been seeing some big hammerhead sharks while fishing just off the beaches for spinner sharks.His angler foul-hooked a hammerhead the other day and when the shark finally came alongside the boat, it was spent. Bogdan tried to revive the 11-foot shark for two hours, but it died. Bogdan, who has a degree in marine biology, brought in the shark. It weighed over 1,000 pounds with its tail still on the ground and area fishery scientists took numerous tissue and organ samples to study.

Bacardi resultsAfonso Domingos and his crew Bernardo Santos won the Bacardi Cup Star Class Regatta on Friday on Biscayne Bay, beating out 2002 Star world champion Iain Percy and crew Andrew Simpson in a tiebreaker.Percy and Simpson had led going into the final day of the 81st regatta. Domingos and Santos, who won the Bacardi Cup in 2004, posted a pair of second-place finishes Friday — Percy and Simpson finished fifth and ninth in the 118-boat fleet — to pull into a tie with 20 points for their four best races.

The finishes in the final race broke the tie.John Dane and Austin Sperry of Mississippi, who won the 2006 Bacardi Cup and will represent the United States in the Star class at the Summer Olympics in China, overcame finishes of 20th and 39th in their first two races and rallied with finishes of second, third and fifth to place third.


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