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Frederick Dunn and David Knight oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Terry Howard.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (34 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (32 p.)
Oculina Bank oral history project
Interview conducted May 3, 2010.
Oral history interview with charter boat captains Frederick Dunn and David Knight. Knight is the owner of two party boats, one based in Stuart and the other in Fort Pierce, and Dunn is one of his captains. Knight had never worked in the fishing industry before buying his first boat in 2006. Since then, his business has been very good. Neither man is very familiar with the Oculina Bank as they arrived in Fort Pierce after the area was closed, and the regulations have not affected their fishing. Knight and Dunn believe that enforced quotas are the best fishery management tool since closing areas to fishing impacts the entire region's economy. In this interview, Knight and Dunn describe how their business is operated and recount their entrance into the charter fishing industry.
Charter boat captains
Charter boat fishing
Fort Pierce (Fla.)
Saint Lucie County (Fla.)
Howard, Terry Lee,
Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Development Foundation.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
Oculina Bank oral history project.
y USF ONLINE ACCESS
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript
text Terry Howard: Hello, good afternoon. Â This is Terry Howard. Â Today is May 3. Â Is that correct?
Frederick Dunn: Mm-hm.
TH: Two thousand ten , and I am on the
FD and David Knight: Lady Stuart II.
TH: Lady Stuart II, docked at the Harbortown Marina in Fort Pierce, conducting an oral history with
DK: David Knight and Fred Dunn.
TH: David Knight, and his
DK: captain, Fred Dunn.
TH: Fred Dunn. Â Okay. Â I just lost that. Â No, anywayfor the Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundations project with Fort Pierce fishermen on the Oculina Bank HAPC [Habitat Area of Particular Concern]. Â So, welcome, Dave. Â Please state your name, spell your name, your place of birth, and date of birth.
DK: David Knight. Â D-a-v-i-d K-n-i-g-h-t. Â You want my age? (fumbling with microphone)
TH: Place of birth and date of birth.
DK: Place of birth, Belfast, Maine, and 3-30-60 [May 30, 1960].
TH: 3-30-60 [May 30, 1960], okay. Â When did you move to Fort Pierce, and what brought you to Fort Pierce?
DK: I dont live in Fort Pierce, I live in Palm City. Â [I moved here] about six years ago, just about exactly six years ago.
TH: What brought you here?
DK: Ninety-four . Â Well, the weather. Â (inaudible) living up north.
TH: Did you have a fishing business up north?
DK: No, I did not.
TH: Okay. Â Are you married?
TH: How old were you when you got married? (FD laughs)
DK: I was thirty-two, I think. Â Yeah, thirty-two.
TH: Okay. Â Do you have children? Â How many and how old?
DK: Two kids, twelve and fifteen.
TH: Okay. Â You have a young family. Â Okay, how much schooling have you had?
DK: Two years of college, two years plus other trainings, other things.
TH: Okay. Â Do you have another job besides charter boat fishing?
TH: Okay. Â This is your only job. Â Do you currently own a boat? Â What kind and length?
DK: I have
DK: two boats now. Â I have Lady Stuart II, which is sixty-four feet at the water line, and I have the Lady Stuart I, which is fifty-six feet at the water line.
DK: Length overall.
TH: What kind? Â You know, is there a make or kind, or are they custom made?
DK: This one is a Tiffany, made in Virginia, and the other boats a DMR, made up in Maine.
TH: Okay. Â Id like to ask you some questions about the Oculina Bank. Â How familiar are you with the Oculina Bank?
FD: Not very.
DK: Not very.
TH: Okay. Â Do you know why it was designated as an area to protect?
DK: I do not.
TH: Is there anything else you can tell me about the Oculina Bank? Â What do you know about it? Â Do you know anything?
DK: I dont know anything about it. Â We dont fish out there.
TH: Okay. Â Would you if you could?
DK: If somebody wanted to, but were bottom fishing. Â Its a hundred and what, a hundred and fifty feet deep there? Â Yeah, pretty tough for us, you know, theres probably more in the Gulf Stream that we would like. Â I dont know.
TH: The fellows that used to fish there, theyd very seldom anchor. Â They would
TH: drift fish or power fish: hold the boat on a place. Â So, how hasso, you moved here in 1994? Â Or, no, no, six
DK: Ought-four .
TH: Ought-four, yeah, 2004. Â Okay. Â So, you came after it was already closed. Â The Oculina Bank was closed in 1986 to dragging and then, in the 1990s, it was closed to all anchoring and bottom fishing.
DK: I didnt know that.
TH: Okay. Â So, the closure has not affected your fishing. Â If anchoring and bottom fishing in the Oculina Bank was not prohibitedin other words, if you could do it, would you fish?
DK: I dont know. Â It depends on how far away it is. Â I dont even know where it is.
FD: Its twenty
TH: Its about twenty miles northeast of Fort Pierce Inlet.
DK: Probably not.
TH: Its great fishing, great bottom fishing.
FD: I know it is, but
FD: Were an eleven knot boat, so you may not want to take us to get there.
TH: Itd take you a long time. Â Okay, thats Fred speaking now. Â Okay, overall, how has fishingokay, so you would probably not go because of the distance.
DK: Yeah, right. Â Well, I mean, we would; if somebody wanted to charter the boat, we would give them the option, you know. Â Yeah, absolutely, wed go anywhere if somebody wants to fish there. Â We do private charters a lot, although we are an open boat.
TH: Private for groups?
DK: Yeah, its onepeople pay individually, $40, $50 to come on the boat and fish with a group of other people, but we do get companies or individuals and families that charter the boat.
TH: Okay. Â Overall, how has fishing changed since you began fishing in the Fort Pierce area?
DK: Its been pretty steady.
FD: Its been very good.
DK: Yeah, very good for us.
TH: Okay. Â Now, Fred, where are you from, too?
DK: Im from New Jersey.
TH: Okay. Â Have you had any experience with law enforcement within or regarding the Oculina Bank?
TH: Okay. Â I want to talk about your fishing history specifically. Â What is your earliest memory of fishing and how old were you? Â This is your personal experience.
DK: My earliest memories of fishing were going out with my father, fishing up in Maine, little seventeen, eighteen foot wood boat with an eighteen horse[power] Johnson on the back, and fishing, trolling for mackerel.
TH: Spanish mackerel, or just
DK: I dont know what, just regular mackerel.
FD: Its probably tinker mackerel.
DK: Tinker mackerel, yeah. Â Those are a great thrill for me. Â I love those.
TH: So, your father taught you to fish, your first one?
DK: Yeah. Â Then a neighbor, a guy across the street would take me out. Â He was a commercial guy. Â He fished for hishe had a fish market. Â He was an older French Canadian, and wed fish for cod
DK: and halibut. Â That was a lot of fun.
TH: Did you fish for cod and halibut with him?
DK: Yeah. Â Yeah.
TH: Bottom fish?
TH: Okay. Â How did you fish for cod and halibut?
DK: Hand lines.
TH: Okay. Â How did
DK: Put a block on over the rail, had a little notch in it, and youd just jig with a hand line and clams on a treble hook.
TH: Clams on a treble hook. Â Okay. Â Cool.
DK: Big treble hook. (laughs)
TH: About how deep?
DK: I have no idea, back then. Â Jeez, it was deep. Â It was probably a couple hundred feet.
FD: Probably out there, they probably went to
DK: Yeah. Â I mean we couldnt see land, I know that.
FD: Were you in-banks?
DK: No. Â This is up in Maine. Â It was out there. Â It was amazing. Â He would just with a compass he could take that boat and get to a lobster buoy through the fog. Â It was unbelievable.
FD: Its always foggy there, isnt it?
FD: Its always foggy out.
TH: Okay. Â How did you decide to become a charter boat captain?
DK: I fell into it, basically. Â Not fell into it, we were looking for a business to buy, something that would be fun. Â I didnt mindinstead of a UPS store or a Sylvan Learning Center or a liquor store or something, we saw it for sale and so we decided to buy it. Â I wasnt even a captain, didnt even know what a head boat was the time. Â It was advertised as a party boat and I called up and said, What is it? Â Like, you go out and booze cruise? Â And he said, No, its party fishing. Â I said, All right. Â So we looked, I went out on a trip. Â It seemed like a lot of fun. Â So, foolishly, I bought the business. (FD laughs)
TH: Okay. Â When did you start fishing in Fort Pierce, age and year? Â That would be
DK: This boats four years old, so, ninety-six ?
FD: Well, was it ten? Â Yeah, ninety-six ?
DK: Ninety-six  I guess would
FD: No, ought-six .
DK: Ought-six . Â We bought the boat, actually, just about exactly four years ago. Â We bought the boat in May and then we started fishing in July of ought-six .
FD: Ought-six .
TH: Okay. Â Have you
DK: Big success right away, big. Â Everybody loved it. Â Were probably the mostId say the Lady Stuart II, this boat here, even though Im the captain of the other boatIll be fairthis is probably the most loved boat. Â Ive been on the east coast of Florida
TH: I know it goes out a lot.
DK: We have coming from Michigan just to fish the boat. Â Theyll stay at the Days Inn for a week. Â We bring a lot of business to this area that people dont realize we bring. Â I bet a hundred people a week come to Fort Pierce just to come on the Lady Stuart. Â Then you add on top of that how many people are visiting their parents or their sister or brother and people that live here that come out. Â So, I mean we bring a lot of revenue to this area, definitely.
FD: Spring breakers are a very good time. Â Spring breakers down here, the families and the college
TH: A lot of college students?
FD: And families with younger kids off from school.
DK: A lot of people from around Florida; people from Orlando are regulars on this boat.
FD: Yes, regulars. Â They come from Orlando just to go out on the boat.
DK: They come from Tampa.
FD: Yes, they do. Â We have a group that comes from Tampa about once a month or so.
DK: And thats just what we can remember.
TH: What do you attribute it to? Â Because before you bought the business, was it
DK: There wasnt anything here. Â Well, there was one boat here. Â I think its, you know, customer service, and we have a great crew. Â We have Fred and Wayne and Bill, the matesjust, you know, customer service, treating everybody good. Â And fishing, good fishing, fishings good.
FD: We do everything we can to see if they can catch fish.
DK: And to be polite and fair and honest and all that. Â So, I think we run a good ship, definitely.
TH: Thats cool. Â Thats good.
FD: Customer service.
TH: Were you fishing commercially, recreationally, or working in the charter boat sector before you came to Fort Pierce?
DK: No. Â I wasnt. Â Fred may have been.
FD: Recreation, recreation.
DK: Yeah, recreation fishery.
TH: So, lets see, what did you fish for and how did you fish for whatever you fished for? Â What did you first fish for? Â You talked about cod, and then you got out of fishing altogether. Â Is that correct?
DK: Yeah. Â Well, I lived in the Caribbean for a little while. Â I did some, you know, I fished for kingfish and thats about it. Â Caught a lot of kingfish, but other than that, I never really fished much. (laughs)
TH: Okay, not commercially?
DK: No, no.
TH: Okay. Â So, I guess once you started fishing this boat what do you target primarily with this boat?
FD: Strictly bottom fishing. Â We target the sea bass, triggerfish, and various snapper.
DK: Vermillion snapper, lane snapper.
FD: Mostly (inaudible) lanes.
DK: We catch kingfish.
FD: Mutton snapper, and some mangrove [snapper] now are coming back for us. Â And we do try to catchon the surfacethe kingfish.
DK: Do you get porgies here?
FD: Porgies, we do get some porgies.
DK: Yeah, and grouper, when they are in season.
FD: Yep, grouper.
DK: And kingfish, mahi and cobia.
TH: So, what do you fish with? Â What do you use for bait?
DK: And cut up grunts.
FD: Cut up grunts.
TH: Do you catch your own bait or do you
FD: Yeah, not the squid, but the grunts and perch.
TH: How do you catch fish?
FD: On a hook and
DK: Just chicken rigs, little hooks.
FD: Little hooks, yeah.
DK: Even just the regular chicken rig that we use, two-ought hooks, three-oughts. Â I guess were using the five-ought now.
FD: But we still catch em. Â Some of the fellows use the Sabiki rigs to catch em.
TH: Okay. Â Were gonna have to get a permission form from Fred, cause I thinkFred, did you fish commercially before you came on board with David?
FD: No, all recreation.
TH: All recreation. Â Here in Fort Pierce?
FD: I started in New Jersey. Â Thats where I grew up and thats where I started fishin. Â I had a boat up there, which I brought back down here. Â I still have it here.
TH: What kind of boat is that?
FD: Its a twenty-foot Atlas (inaudible).
TH: Thats a nice boat.
TH: All right, during what months do you fish for what fish down here?
DK: We fish the same all year.
TH: Pretty much just
DK: Yeah. Â I mean in the summertime, when the currents not so strongand the wind, actually, the windwell do a lot more drifting. Â In the wintertime, we generally anchor up. Â Its a mixed bag in the spring and the fall.
TH: How long does a fishing trip last?
DK: Five or seven hours, and once a month, we do a ten hour trip.
TH: Okay. Â I seedo you do two-a-days?
FD: If theres five hour trips, well do two-a-days if we have the people.
TH: Okay. Â Ive seen you going out twice.
DK: Yes. (inaudible)
TH: How much is an average catch?
DK: What do you mean? Â How many fish?
TH: Yeah, or how many pounds?
FD: Thats hard to say.
TH: Do you fill a cooler or everybody has their own cooler?
DK: Everybody has a bucket.
FD: We have the five-gallon buckets and we put ice in it for the people.
DK: Id say keeper-wise, probably like seven keepers per person, on average.
FD: On the
DK: Including a combination of sea bass, triggerfish. Â Some people will have one fish, some people will have twenty, you know.
TH: Do people do they reserve certain spots around the boat to fish?
DK: Well, its first come, first served.
TH: So, if you get here first, the first people try to get the stern?
FD: Correct, correct.
TH: Okay. Â I know some of the people get arguments over who gets to be in the stern.
FD: We do it fairly. Â The first in (inaudible)
DK: Yeah, its first come, first serve.
TH: They sign up?
DK: That eliminates any argument.
DK: If youre here before the other guy, theres noyou have no
FD: You have your choice of where you want to go there.
DK: Some people choose not to go there.
TH: Does his wife go inside?
DK: Yeah. Â If
FD: One fellow likes to fish right up on the bow here, he always fishes here. Â He does very well.
TH: Okay. Â So, these are repeat questions. Â Youve already answered this: Where do you go to fish? Â Okay, when you go out to fish, when you leave Fort Pierce Inlet, how do you know where youre going and how do you decide? Â When do you decide?
FD: Normally, we decide before we leave the dock.
TH: You have in your mind?
DK: Oh, absolutely.
FD: Yeah, we have a lot of white points out there on the reefs that we fish; and in wintertime, [there is a] place about seven miles off thats very good in the winter. Â It doesnt do well in the summer.
TH: Northeast, southeast?
TH: Thatd be north of 12 [Buoy 12], seven miles.
TH: We call it the kingfishery.
FD High bar?
TH: In seventy foot?
FD: Fifty-five to sixty.
FD: In the winter, thats a very good spot. Â In the summertime, for some reason its not, and its dropped off now, of course. Â So we now go out northeast.
TH: Northeast Grounds, mostly?
FD: Yeah, mostly out there.
DK: Okay, and are you inshore or offshore bar, Northeast Grounds?
FD: We start at the inshore.
TH: If you dont have good fish there you
FD: Then well move off.
TH: If you have good fish, you just stay there.
FD: Then we just move up the line sometimes and then well move off, check that out. Â Right now the inshore bar has been very good for us.
TH: Okay. Â Kingfish have been there, too.
FD: Yeah, theres a large kingfish fleet out there the last month.
DK: Very large.
TH: I was there.
FD: Were you there?
FD: There was about thirty boats out there, wasnt there?
TH: Oh, yeah. Â They came from Sebastian.
TH: Okay. Â How long does a fishing trip last? Â Average trip? Â Now were getting down to the Oculina Bank. Â For how many years have you been a charter boat captain? Â Youve only been a charter, Dave, for
DK: Well, my ticketIve only my ticket for, I guess, three and a half, four years.
TH: Okay, and Fred?
FD: For this boat, Ive had it a year now, and I had a six-pack license before that for a couple of years.
DK: We both have 100 ton licenses.
FD: Its required.
TH: Finally, Id like to talk about how your fishing has changed over time in regards to the Oculina Bank. Â Sincebear with me here. Â Since 1984, several changes have been made in the regulations of the Oculina Bank. Â Id like to know if any of these regulations affected your fishing; if so, how? Â Okay, the Oculina Bank was initially closed to trawling, dredging, and bottom longlining in 1984. Â Did this affect your fishing?
TH: In 1994, the Oculina Bank was designated as an Experimental Closed Area where fishing for and retention of snapper grouper species was prohibitedand it was a very hot snapper grouper area. Â Snapper grouper fishing boats were also prohibited from anchoring. Â Was your fishing impacted by this regulation in 1994?
TH: Okay. Â In 1996, all anchoring was prohibited within the Oculina Bank. Â Did this impact your fishing at all?
TH: I told you wed go through this rapidly. Â Were gonna get down to something you will want to answer in a minute. Â In 1996, trawling for rock shrimp was prohibited in the area east and north of the Oculina Bank; and in 1998, this area was incorporated in the Oculina Bank HAPC. Â Fishing with bottom longline, trawl and dredge was prohibited in the expanded area, as was anchoring it by any vessel. Â Was your fishing impacted by this regulation?
DK: Can you drift on the Oculina Bank now? Â You cant drift; you cant fish it at all?
FD: You can troll it, cant you?
TH: You can troll on top.
FD: On top.
DK: But no bottom fishing.
TH: And I dontno bottom fishing. Â Not in the original
DK: I dont think its the Oculina Bank.
TH: Here, Ill show you [on] a map.
DK: Why is it still closed?
TH: They extended it north, but thats the area right there.
DK: Why is it closed?
TH: Because its a method of preserving the fish, and Ill get to that in just a minute here. Â In fact, were winding down. Â The designationhere we go. Â The designation of marine areas that are closed to fishing is being used more frequently as a fishery management tool. Â What do you think about the use of closed areas to fishing compared to other types of management regulations like quotas, closed seasons, et cetera? Â Now, this is wherewhat do you think, like what if they said the Northeast Grounds was gonna be an HAPC?
DK: That would be devastating.
TH: Say that the questionlets step back. Â The question on the tableand this probably the most important part of this whole interviewwhat do you think about the use of closed areas to fishing, compared to other types of management regulations? Â Lets start with David.
DK: Well, I think if you have a quota system and its actually enforced, I think that would be much better for everybody. Â If youthe problem that I see is that theres no enforcement. Â I hardly ever see an FWC [Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission] looking at boats, little boats that come in with two guys out there. Â And I know theyre taking undersized mangrove snapper, mutton snapper, throwing twelve inch mutton snappers from the
TH: From recreational boats?
DK: Recreational boats. Â Divers are a huge impact on the grouper. Â They go down there, they lookgrouper are like moose, theyre curious, theyll come up them. Â Theyll spear a thirty pound grouper and off they go. Â Shutting it down will just kill this whole area.
I mean, you know, if youre looking for some sort of stimulus, this is not the way to go because theres so much revenue thats generated for this area. Â So many people make their livelihoods from fishing, whether its recreational or commercial or otherwise. Â I dont think this area could withstand that kind of blow. Â If theyI didnt have a problem, personally, and maybe I shouldntI didnt have a problem with the closure of grouper. Â I really didnt. Â I think that we needed to close it. Â Im happy that we did. Â I think that were seeing them come back now. Â And so they open the season and I dont have a problem with that. Â I did have a problem with the vermillion snapper, because theres likeI cant go to some spots because all there is is vermillion snapper.
TH: Lots of people are saying theyre thicker now than they ever were.
DK: Very thick out there, and big, too. Â Were getting nice sized ones. Â But to close the whole area would just kill a lot of people. Â It would put a lot of people out of business. Â You know, you think you have bankruptcies now? Â Try closing fishing. Â All the tackle shops, everybody that makes tackle, all the guys that pour lead, all the guys that work on boats, nobodys gonna want to buy a boat because then nobodys gonnacause they want to fish. Â Almost all the boats that are being sold now are center consoles, and those are strictly fishing boats; theyre not pleasure boats. Â Theyre not, you know, cabin cruisers.
TH: Well, let me take it one step. Â The Oculina is a living reef and it has peaks, and the draggers, shrimp and scallop draggers, would go right along and tear up the reefs, and thats pretty substantial. Â Would you accept closing an area to dragging or trawling?
DK: Yeah, I would. Â I mean, I think you have to preserve the reef.
FD: Until they come up with gear that would not destroy the banks.
DK: Yeah, I cant see that. Â I can
FD: Yeah, because thats the (inaudible)
DK: I dont know. Â I mean, I dont want to put somebody else out of business, you know. Â Its always easy to kick the can down the road. Â But to me, we dontwhat we do, we dont devastate the reef or destroy the reef. Â As a matter of fact, we clean it up a lot of times. Â You know, were constantly picking trash out. Â Every time I see a bottle on the water or something, were constantly netting it and getting it out of there.
TH: Okay, then let methis last question is: If you could manage the fisheries, how do youwhat methods would you use? Â Youve touched on it, but you haventthis is, you knowhow would you manage the fisheries? Â Would it be quotas, trip limits?
FD: Fair quotas.
DK: Fair quotas, yeah. Â I think if you see a huge drop off in a certain species, yeah, then shut that down. Â I have no problem with that. Â I dont think
FD: And within reason. Â Like this grouper shutdown andwell, lets stick with the grouper. Â I dont think that was devastating. Â We gotwe caught several of what would have been keeper groupers that we had to return. Â The people were disappointed, but they understood. Â But if youre totally gonna totally shut that fishery down forever, an area or whatever, just shut it down, no more, like youve done with this bank, that would be devastating to a lot of people. Â It would.
DK: Yeah, you cant do that. Â Theres plenty of fish out there.
FD: Red snapper is a good example of whats going on. Â Nobody knows whats going on with that. Â The feds cant make up their mind.
TH: On snapper?
FD: Yeah, the red snapper, the red snapper.
TH: And you say theres plenty of them out there, more than theres ever been?
DK: The vermillion snapper.
FD: The vermillion snapper has.
DK: Were seeing huge numbers of those.
FD: Ive caught several red snappers during this closure season. Â Some were not keeper size. Â Some were. Â There are some species that I think you have to shut down. Â I think you have to do what you did with the grouper, a closed season on them. Â But to eliminate a whole area from all fishing, that wouldas Dave just saidwould devastate the economy, especially in Fort Pierce.
DK: It would put us out of business, obviously. Â I mean, Ive got seven full-time employees, not including me and my wife. Â Thats nine. Â Nine people make their living off this boat and feed families and make a living. Â I mean, thats just me.
FD: And we buy ice, and we buy bait and
DK: Tons of bait and hooks and leads.
FD: we have repairs, mechanical repairs, you know, the tackle. Â These people would all be impacted by us not being here.
DK: Just today, for bottom paint, I spent $900. Â I spent $300 on paint for the hull, and then all the other things that I get at Sherwin-Williams. Â I dropped a couple hundred bucks just on rollers and that kind of thing. Â Im getting ready to paint the bottom on this boat. Â So, I mean, I spend a lot. Â I beton the businessI probably spend a quarter of a million dollars a year in Fort Pierce and Stuart and Jensen Beach, just in that area.
FD: And then the customers that we draw that go and stay in motels and hotels. Â We draw a lot of people that do that.
DK: A lot of people. Â A lot of people spend a lot of money here, you know, eat at the restaurants. Â And thats just me. Â I mean, theres hundreds of other charter boats in the area. Â You add all that up, plus all the recreational guys that go to West Marine. Â Hey, I need new fishing line, or they go to De Brooks or whatever.
De Brooks Fishing Corner was once owned by William Glenn Middlebrooks. Â He was also interviewed for the Oculina Bank Oral History Project. Â The DOI for his interview is O6-00005.
I mean, all those tackle shops would go out of business and
FD: All the fuel docks.
DK: would just shrivel up and die. Â This whole area would be creamed.
TH: Excellent, excellent. Â Thinking ahead into the future, what do you think fishing in Fort Pierce will be like in ten years?
DK: I think the fishings strong. Â I think theres good
FD: I think there some very good fishing right now. Â I spent fishing
DK: Its been getting better.
FD: Yeah. Â Ive been on this boat two years now, and from the day I started till now, Ive seen an increase in the quality of fishing.
DK: Yeah, yeah. Â The size of the snapper, for some reason, are getting bigger; and the sea bass are getting stronger.
FD: Stronger and bigger.
DK: The biggest worry for us right now, we were just talking about this oil spill in the Gulf. Â Its really horrible.
TH: Its getting scary, scary, scary. Â And they dont have a clue as what to do.
DK: Yeah, I know.
TH: A mile down.
FD: Yeah, thats a long ways.
TH: What do you attribute the better fishing to? Â Youre new in the industry, but
DK: Here, I think its just the cleaner water.
FD: I think the ecology of the ocean out there is just
DK: The waters very clean lately.
FD: Yeah, the waters clean, but the reefs are good. Â They havent been destroyed by anything.
TH: We had two years of drought. Â So, there was less runoff
DK: From Lake Okeechobee. Â That makes a big difference.
TH: Lake Okeechobee.
FD: I go out to St. Lucie Inlet a lot. Â My boats down there.
DK: And I fish that area.
FD: Dave goes out every day.
DK: Every day.
FD: I see what that river looks like when theyre dumping. Â I was there when that water was green. Â I remember that. Â Theyre destroying that river.
DK: Theres so manywhen they do that, you get so much algae on the bottom, it just destroys the reefs. Â All that green slime gets all over your tackle. Â You come upI mean, the fish cant breathe. Â So, you have to go deeper and deeper. Â Its horrible.
FD: Ive been there when you go out to St. Lucie Inlet, you can see bottom. Â You cant now.
DK: You cant now. Â You could yesterday.
FD: Could you?
DK: You could see the bottom. Â Theyre releasing today.
FD: Theyre gonna increase the dumping today. Â Theyre starting an increase today. Â You wont see anything.
TH: This is the time of year when
DK: Its like a toilet bowl.
TH: its like Keys and the Bahamas out here in Fort Pierce.
DK: Its beautiful.
TH: In the springtime, you can see
FD: You wont down there where theyre dumping.
FD: Therell be aitll look like black coffee.
DK: Thats horrible. Â Why are they doing that to St. Lucie? Â Why cant they divert some of it to the West Coast?
FD: They do.
TH: They are. Â The West Coast and
DK: But why cant some of it go down to West Palm?
TH: I dont know.
DK: I mean, divert it evenly. Â Pollute us all.
FD: It has to go back to where it originally went.
TH: It should go right south. (laughs)
DK: Straight into the Everglades.
TH: You got it. Â Thats what theyre trying to do.
DK: Who gives a crap about the sugar cane?
TH: Anyway, I think thats about it, gentlemen. Â Thinking ahead, you think if the oil spill in the Gulf does not impact us and if pollution does not impact us, and
DK: Its going strong.
TH: and with quotas, you do believe in quotas and trip limits, and you can accept
DK: What do you mean by trip limits? Â I didnt say that I believed in that. (laughs)
TH: Well, thats what we have as kingfishermen. Â Were allowed fifty head a day or seventy-five head a day. Â Fifty head a day in the wintertime, the winter fish
FD: Boat limits.
TH: Yeah, trip limits.
DK: Oh, okay.
TH: And really, for us, it stabilizes the price. Â However, north of us in the Carolinas and south of us in the Keys, they can catch all they want. Â Anyway, thats a different story, you know. Â But this is your interview. Â Thank you very much for sharing your fishing history with us, and
FD: Bag limits are okay.
FD: We would call that a bag limit.
TH: Okay, yeah.
FD: In other words, hes allowed to take two grouper, for instance. Â Right now, its fifteen per person for sea bass. Â Theres nothing wrong with that. Â That preserves the fishery.
DK: Ive stopped trips before and come back. Â But you know what? Â People
TH: When you had too many fish?
DK: Yeah. Â People are happy, like, you know, I got my limit. Â What am I gonna do? Â People are gonna freeze this fish and then, you know, it becomes a waste at that point. Â It becomes a slaughter, and I dont want to do that. Â We want to preserve what we have. Â I mean, absolutely. Â Were all for keepin'I want my kids, my son to be able to take over the business some day.
FD: And my grandson loves to fish, and hes only seven years old. Â I want the fish to be there
DK: To be there, yeah.
FD: for him, you know?
TH: This had been consistent with all the fishermen across the board. Â Everybody wants to see it, you know, nobody wants a slaughter and wants to have no regulation. Â Everybody wants regulations.
DK: But lets regulate the recreational guy, too, and enforce it. Â I never see a FWC guy out there with the double engines. Â I see them running around and talkbut I never see them at the dock checking people and looking in their coolers. Â Maybe they do. Â I havent seen it. Â You know, theyll board me and theyll check me every once in a while because were this big, easy target. Â Maybe theyll listen, maybe. Â I dont care, but lets be a little more fair on that, you know, and start enforcing it with other people. Â I mean, were very careful. Â Any undersize fish go back. Â Everything gets vetted. Â I have no problem with them boarding. Â They can board me every day. Â I dont care. Â But lets start looking at what the divers have. Â Lets start looking at the recreational boats, cause theya boat with three good anglers can go out there and do a hurtin on the reef a lot more than I can with thirty people, women and children that have never fished before.
DK: I think. Â Thats my thing, I
FD: And we do get a lot of families that have never fished before, and they come out and if we can give them a good experience, weve developed some families that are regulars now.
DK: Yeah. Â Oh, yeah, a lot.
FD: They come out with their kids, their wives, the husbands, of course. Â Some of their wives come out with their son. Â I got one wife that comes out with her son all the time, Jane and Adam, and theyll bring the husband once in a while. (TH laughs) And then about a month ago, she broughther daughter was down visiting; she brought her daughter, her grandkids, and everything else. Â They all came out. Â But they come out a couple times a month with us.
DK: Yeah, they dont want to buy a boat. Â For forty bucks, they can go fishing, have a good time, they can walk off the boat. Â They dont have to buy the license.
FD: We clean the fish for em.
DK: Clean the lane, yeah.
TH: You clean the fish. Â Do you supply the poles, the bait?
DK: Poles, baits included.
TH: Is that included in the $40?
FD: Forty dollars is the price, yep.
TH: I may go out with you here. (laughs)
FD: You should. Â Its fun.
TH: I will.
FD: And youre more than welcome to bring your own equipment, too.
DK: Yeah, people do.
FD: They do that, too. Â But we do supplies
DK: And we run a fish pool, you know, so guys that are good, they come up. Â Some people try to make a living on the boat. Â They do.
FD: (laughs) But Ive seen first-time fishermen win the pool.
DK: Oh, yeah, a lot, a lot.
FD: So, thats not unusual.
TH: Anything else you want to add? Â Thats a very good interview, gentlemen. Â I want to thank you both very much. Â I will need to get a permission form from you, and I have a follow up form I need you to fill out for me. Â Thank you much. Â Im gonna turn that off.
DK: Thank you.
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