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Reeves, James A.,
James Reeves oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Robert Cardin.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (46 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (38 p.)
Oculina Bank oral history project
Interview conducted August 3, 2010.
Oral history interview with commercial fisherman James Reeves. A native of Fort Pierce, Reeves began working in the fishing industry as a teenager and currently owns and operates three kingfish boats. He is fairly familiar with the Oculina Bank, having fished there often with other fishermen, but has not gone there since the regulations were enacted. Closing the area has limited the places he can fish and his options for fishing: before, he could target different fish if some were not biting, or if some were worth more, but he can no longer do that. Reeves is very concerned about the use of closed areas, and he does not see much benefit from it. His favored management methods are trip limits and closed spawning seasons. In this interview, he also recounts his personal fishing history and his work as a mate for several different local captains.
Reeves, James A.,
Fort Pierce (Fla.)
Saint Lucie County (Fla.)
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 Robert Cardin: Good afternoon. This is Robert Cardin. Today is August 3, 2010. Im at my residence conducting an oral history interview with Jimmy Reeves, commercial fisherman, for the Gulf and South Atlantic [Fisheries] Foundation project with the Fort Pierce fishermen on the Oculina Bank HAPC [Habitat Area of Particular Concern]. Welcome, Jimmy. Would you please state and spell your name?
James Reeves: James Allen Reeves.
RC: Go ahead. You can relax. You dont have to try to speak into the
JR: Oh. James Allen Reeves II. R-e-e-v-e-s.
RC: Okay. Is your nickname Jimmy, right?
RC: Okay, Jimmy. Hey, Jimmy, when were you born?
JR: Sixty-six, 1966.
RC: What day and month and all that?
JR: 2-6-66 [February 6, 1966].
RC: All right. Were you born in Fort Pierce?
JR: Yes, I was born here and raised in Fort Pierce.
RC: Are you married now, Jimmy?
RC: Do you have any children?
RC: How much schooling do you have, Jimmy?
JR: High school diploma.
RC: Do you have any other jobs besides fishing?
RC: Have you had other jobs besides fishing?
RC: What was that, Jimmy?
JR: Odd jobs: boat yard, maintenance, charter boat
RC: Charter boat?
JR: Sport boat.
RC: What were you doing with the charter boat?
RC: I mean, just
JR: Mate, captain. Ive done just about everything.
RC: What did you all fish for?
JR: Everything that swims. (laughs)
RC: Everything that swims?
RC: Did you do that here just in Fort Pierce?
JR: No, up and down the East Coast from Ocean City, Maryland, to Fort Pierce, the Bahamas.
RC: Cool. So youve been around a little bit. Thats nice. Jimmy, do you currently own a boat?
RC: What kind of boat and how long is it?
JR: I own three king mackerel boats. The boat that I fish myself is a twenty-nine foot Dyer.
RC: Just for the heck it, how do you spell Dyer?
RC: So, you got a twenty-nine Dyer, and what else do you have?
JR: A twenty-three Prowler and a twenty-five Conn Craft.
RC: Conn Craft?
JR: C-o-n-n Craft.
RC: All right, Jimmy. Are all three of these commercial fishing boats?
RC: Thank you. All right, Id like to ask you some questions about the Oculina Bank. How familiar are you with the Oculina Bank?
JR: Fairly familiar, from way back when I actually fished there.
RC: What did you fish for in the Oculina Bank?
JR: Mainly grouper and snapper.
RC: Okay. Jimmy, do you know why the Oculina Bank was designated as an area to protect?
JR: Because of the Oculina coral, the habitat.
RC: Okay. And is there anything else you can tell me about the Oculina Bank?
JR: From what I understand, its a spawning area for gag grouper and other bottom fish.
RC: Do you know, like, what kind of bottom fish are in the Oculina Bank?
JR: Grouper, various snappers, triggerfish, amberjacks.
RC: All right. Jimmy, what do you think about the closure of the Oculina Bank to anchoring and bottom fishing?
JR: I dont think that the anchoring was really detrimental, you know, as far aswe never anchored. We power fished over it, mostly. Rarely, we did anchor.
RC: Okay, Jimmy, can you explain to me what you mean by power fishing?
JR: You face into the current, and you stem the tide, and your bait drops back to the area where you want it, really.
RC: So, by stemming the tide, youre moving but youre trying to troll, or what are you trying to do?
JR: In a perfect situation, youre not trolling, youre not moving forward. Youre hovering in one spot stemming the tide and letting your weighted bait drop down to the area, to the ledge or whatever.
RC: So, you try to hold the position like you would if you were on anchor?
RC: Okay. And then, what do you think about it being closed to the bottom fishing, that part of it?
JR: I think it was unnecessary to close it to bottom fishing. I can understand shrimp trawls and stuff, guys going in there with bottom trawl gear.
RC: Right. Well, has the closure of the Oculina Bank affected your fishing, and if it has, would you please tell me how?
JR: It cut out an option where we cant evenwe can no longer have an option to go out there and bottom fish. Now, I mainly kingfishking mackerel.
RC: Can you explain to me a little bit about what you mean by an option?
JR: Well, it was years ago when I did fish in the Oculina Bank, and I could hop from my kingfish boat onto a bottom fish boat, usually with really experienced captains who knew the area really good, and Id go with then as a crew member.
RC: Okay. So, when I asked you how did that affect you, it just limited your options? I guess you mean its limiting your ability to catch the trip limit?
JR: Yes, yes.
RC: Okay. How bout you personally? Did you always go there as a mate on other boats?
JR: I have fished there by myself at times. But really, when I was doing it real serious, I was usually as a mate on another boat.
RC: Okay. If anchoring and bottom fishing was still allowed, was not prohibited, would you fish there now?
RC: Okay. What aboutI guess its been sixteen years. What about during that period, do you think you would have been fishing there?
RC: Okay. How would you have fished and for what, Jimmy?
JR: Power fished for grouper and amberjack.
RC: That was, what, bandit line or hook and line?
JR: Bandit line.
RC: So, you used a power operated
JR: And a rod and reel; we did do a rod and reel fishing there, too; jigging.
RC: What would you be fishing for in Oculina Bank at this time, if you could?
RC: Just grouper in general?
JR: Grouper in general, and amberjack.
RC: Overall, how has fishing changed since you began fishing in the Fort Pierce area?
JR: The fleets gotten smaller since I began, as far as the overall
RC: What fleet do you think has gotten smaller, just the commercial boats in general?
JR: In general.
RC: Okay. Is there any other changes you can think of?
JR: Now, we basicallymost of usgo king mackerel fishing.
RC: Why is that, Jimmy?
JR: Because Oculina Bank is closed. (laughs)
RC: Oh, okay. Thank you. Excuse me. We covered that one. Jimmy, have you had any experiences with law enforcement within or regarding the Oculina Bank?
RC: Okay. Now, Jimmy, I want to talk to you about your fishing history, specifically. What is your earliest memory of fishing and how old were you, like fishing with your grandpa at the lake or what have you?
JR: I grew up here and I fished with my grandpa Reeves when I was a real young kid, and I spent most of my weekends or summers in the city marina on a steel hull, a forty-two foot boat he had there named the Safari.
RC: I mean, what would your earliest memory be, like, five years or something?
JR: Yeah, fishing in the city marina catching groupers and stuff, sheepshead. (laughs)
RC: Oh, okay. Jimmy, how did you learn to fish? Who taught you?
JR: My grandpa and my father.
RC: Okay. Jimmy, is there, like, a point in a time when you decided to become a fisherman? How did you decide to become a commercial fisherman? I mean, do you remember a time or a reason?
JR: I rememberwell, I always wanted to be a fisherman, even from the beginning. It just seemed like I wanted to do that. And then when I started fishing on my own, me and a buddy of mine, we were fishing out of a seventeen foot Mako, an outboard boat, and wed just gotten into it and wed see the kingfish boats unload over at D&D Fish House.
RC: Excuse me. You said, D&D?
JR: D&D Fish House, over at Taylor Creek. Its where Harbortown is now. Harbortown Marina is there now.
RC: How long was D&D there, a long time?
JR: It was there as long as I can remember, up till when it closed.
RC: It closed because Harbortown bought em out or something?
RC: All right. Thank you. Jimmy, when did you start to work as a fisherman at Fort PierceI mean, as your job?
JR: I guess eighteen.
JR: But I fished with my dad, you know, and he was paying me.
RC: What, from fourteen or ten or twelve?
RC: Yeah, fourteen. Twelve, fourteen years old.
RC: Okay. So, you started mating at fourteen.
RC: Okay. What did you fish for, lets say, when you first started at fourteen on your Mako?
JR: On the Mako, we did a little snapper fishing, king mackerel fishing.
RC: Okay. How did you fish for, lets say, the king mackerel?
RC: Is that, like, a live bait fishery or was it trolling lures?
JR: We did both. We live baited, and hook and lined, and jerk bugged.
RC: Okay. Who did you fish with at that time, you said?
JR: On the seventeen foot Mako?
JR: A buddy of mine named Paul Rudinsky.
RC: And who owned that boat?
JR: Pauls mother owned it, I think. It was his boat. I mean, we were in high school.
RC: Right. How were you related to Paul?
JR: High school friends.
RC: Okay. Of course, I think you said it was a seventeen Mako?
JR: Yeah, seventeen Mako.
RC: Center console boat?
RC: Okay. Where did you all go to fish when you first began fishing? Can you show me on this map?
JR: North of 12, north of 12 Buoy.
RC: The point there, thats the 12 Buoy.
JR: All throughout this little reef area.
RC: All right. Well, thats the fifty-five foot shelf bottom.
JR: For us, a big adventure was to go to Bethel Shoals and bottom fish.
RC: Oh, really?
JR: That was one of our main
RC: So, youre pointing outside of the Bethel Shoals Buoy. I guess you (inaudible) offshore bar?
JR: Yeah, offshore of Bethel is that area.
RC: Now, thats the horseshoe of the offshore area.
RC: All right. Thank you. Where did you begin fishing? I guess were here at fifty-five, you said?
RC: Fifty-five feet. And then you would move out to ninety feet in some cases?
JR: We fished inshore, too, all along the beach on the inshore (inaudible) mangrove snappers and such.
RC: All right, just the beach reefs or the bottom out in thirty-five feet?
JR: Beach reefs.
RC: Okay, thirty.
RC: During what months of the year would you say you fished north of 12? Is that, like, an all-year thing?
JR: Mostly in the summertime. We were really limited what we could do with the boat in the winter months, as far as the rough seas went.
RC: So, say, May, June, July, August, that time? Okay
JR: Usually, Id go with somebody who had a bigger boat then.
RC: Well, back to the Mako. How long did those fishing tips last?
JR: All day.
RC: Just day trips?
RC: If you had guests, what would have been an average trip?
JR: A good trip for us then was between 115 to250 pounds.
RC: About 200 pounds, average?
RC: Okay. Once again, where did you sell your catch? I assume that would be D&D?
JR: Yeah, D&D was thewe also sold them to little restaurants, and we actually sold fish to Piggly Wiggly Supermarket.
RC: Oh, really?
JC: I dont even think when we were fishing out of that MakoI dont even think we needed federal permits.
RC: Yeah, most things you did. Oh, yeah, the federal permits is all from the nineties [1990s] and newer, basically.
JR: I dont even remember it. I remember guys about the Saltwater Products License. I was fishing before the Saltwater Products License.
RC: That was in the eighties [1980s], the Saltwater Products License.
JR: We would just go fishing and pull into D&D, and the guy there at D&D, he owned the bait shop up recently. You probably know the guy.
RC: Which bait shop?
JR: The bait shop up by Publix when you go up by the St. Lucie Inn. Its a hotel now.
RC: Right. I cant remember his name
JR: He had that bait shop. I want to say its Dave Davis, but I dont think its
RC: No, its not.
JR: Its not him.
RC: You see a guy every now and then who catches bait for them.
JR: But that guy would come down there and he would say, You boys can take ninety cents a pound now for your kingfish, cash money, or you could play the odds and get a check like everybody else. And of course, being, you know, sixteen and seventeen year olds, we always opted for the cash.
RC: Right, right. Well, thats interesting, Jimmy. You mentioned that you would move to the offshore bar and snapper fish?
RC: What would a trip like that be? What kind of poundage do you think you would get?
JR: A good day for us would be 200 pounds. And wed have a mix of snapper and grouper.
RC: And that would be back in D&D, once again?
RC: You sold grouper at the same place? Okay. For how many years did you fish out of this little Mako?
JR: Throughout high school.
JR: I think actually, during that timeactually, that was like in junior high. When I was in high school, I had bought that twenty-four Stapleton from Eddie Black, the Playboy.
RC: Okay. That was a twenty-four Stapleton.
JR: And before that, I was fishing with my dad. He had a twenty-four foot, an outboard boat with a Johnson [motor], a 140 horse[power] Johnson on it.
RC: Well, let me back up a bit here. When we were first talking about the Mako, you said that sometimes you would go out on bigger boats.
RC: What are you referring to there?
JR: Bigger boatsI dont think I ever swordfished during that time frame. That was later. That was when I was about twenty-five. But I would go with Bob Pfeiffer on the Lucky. He had that thirty footor Billy (inaudible).
RC: Okay. So you would go with Bob Pfeiffer or Billy Minute?
JR: Yeah. Bob was Billys stepdad, and he had amy boat was docked over at his little marina over in the inlet by Pelican Yacht Club. He owned a little apartment. You remember there? Right byit was 7-11 there, and I had my
RC: So, Bob Pfeiffer was the father?
RC: And Billy Minute, could you spell that for me, Minute?
JR: I used to remember how to spell his name, but its spelled real funny.
RC: Okay. All right, thank you. You mated on these
JR: Yes, yeah. I mean, wed share duties.
RC: So, let me get this straight. Bob owned the boat?
JR: I believe Billy owned the boat, and he kept it at Bobs house and he let us use it.
JR: Billy had a swordfish boat at the time namedit was that Light Dream boat, that big number one hull that was docked down there at the next dock over next to Bobs house. I think it was named Judy H III.
RC: Okay. But the boat you were fishing on, the
JR: Was the Lucky Too. It had previously belonged to, I believe, Sam Crutchfield
Samuel Crutchfield was also interviewed for the Oculina Bank Oral History Project. The DOI for his interview is O6-00032.
, and Id seen pictures of it in a magazine just recently.
JR: That boat, with lines of snook lined up behind it. Thats how long ago that was, when Sam Crutchfield was chartering that boat. He must have been snook fishing it in the inlet, and Id seen it in Indian River Magazine.
RC: Oh, really, old magazine?
JR: Yeah, an old magazine.
RC: Jimmy, what kind of boat was the Lucky Too?
JR: Offshore thirty, but I believe most of the guys most of the guys said it was a Thompson hull. Just like Cleve Lewis boat.
RC: Okay. How did you fish wheneveryou fished in the Lucky Too?
RC: What did you fish for in the Lucky Too?
JR: Snapper and grouper, all the time. Bob didnt like kingfish.
RC: How did you fish for the snapper?
JR: Bandit reels.
RC: Okay. So, you fished with Bob Pfeiffer, but the boat belonged to Billy Minute?
JR: I believe it did. I cant remember. It may have belonged to Bob, cause Bob actually sold that boat to a guy named, Charlie, who tried to kingfish it. But things just didnt work out, and I dont know whatever happened to that boat. I wanted to buy that boat in the worst way, that Lucky Too, cause it had a Caterpillar 3208 diesel in it. And I just couldnthe wanted, like, fourteen grand for it.
RC: And back then that was a lot of money.
JR: That was back then. For me, that was a lot of money. I mean, I could garner up $7,000 or $8,000, but it was just out of reach. (laughs) So, I had to settle for the Stapleton with the little 360 gasolines, 318 Chrysler gas engines in em.
RC: How were you related to these people?
JR: I kept my boats docked there. My dad kept his boat there. My uncle kept his boat in that area just
RC: Just friends?
JR: Friends in town. Yeah, friends.
RC: Okay. When you were mating on the Lucky Too, where did you go fish? Can you show me on the map?
JR: Mainly a place called Jeffs Reef.
RC: Are you pointing at the south end of the Oculina?
JR: Yeah, the south end somewhere. Now, Bob was funny. When I was fishing on that boat with him, he kept a towel up by his LORAN, and when I would get monkeying around by the LORAN where I would be liable to see the numbers, he would actually throw a towel over it so I couldnt go in and tell anybody where we were. (laughs) But I had a pretty good idea, because Jeffs Reef was one of the main spots.
RC: How deep do you think that was? Do you remember the depth?
JR: I think it was around 240, would be where
RC: That would be around the bottom.
JR: Yeah. We were fishing in about 240 feet of water, and there was a fellow namedwho was really a really good bottom fishermannamed Phil Peterson. I dont know if you remember that guy.
RC: I remember the name.
JR: Hed anchor up out there. He liked to anchor there. Now, hed anchor out on the sand and stem his boat back to where he wanted it.
JR: And hed come in with big catches, huge sea bass, black sea bass.
RC: Really? During what months of the year did you fish out there with Bob?
JR: Year round.
RC: All right. How long were your trips?
JR: Day trips. Once in a while, wed make an overnight trip, but it was rare.
RC: Okay. What do you think your average trips catch wassay, of grouper?
JR: When I went with Bob, probably between 250 and 400 pounds.
JR: Of grouper; mainly grouper and amberjack.
RC: So, 250 to 400 pounds would be grouper and amberjacks combined?
JR: Mainly, we caught grouper. We werent targeting amberjacks when I went with Bob.
RC: Okay. Where did Bob sell the catch at?
JR: D&D; and he had other markets, too.
RC: Okay. How many years did you fish
JR: Actually, my dad owned a seafood store on U.S. 1. I dont know if you remember it? It was right next to Pacos Tacos.
RC: What was the name of your dads fish market?
JR: Tiki Seafood.
RC: Okay. Was he like a wholesaler or a retailer?
RC: Retail seafood. All right. So, you sold to D&D and maybe to Tiki Seafood?
RC: How many years did you fish on the Lucky Too with Bob?
JR: Until Bob died. Well, actually, he got a different boat before he passed away, and they sold the Lucky Too. Id say probably about seven years.
RC: Seven years.
JR: At least seven years.
RC: Why did you stop fishing for the groupers and amberjacks in the Oculina Bank? Or, why didexcuse me. I guess right nowwhy did you stop fishing on the Lucky Too? Because Bob died?
JR: Yeah. Well, we actually fished on a boat. I want to say the boats name is the Marcliff. [It] had a funny name, and it was a Bertram, a twenty-nine foot or a twenty-five foot Bertram, like Mobys [Paul] boat, but it was smaller with twin engines in it. But we pretty muchI think thats the boat we were fishing on when the closure came, and I may have been fishing with Billy when that all happened.
RC: By closure, you mean?
JR: The Oculina Bank closure.
RC: Okay. So, when you were fishing on the Lucky Too, fishing for groupers in the Oculina Bank, what brought that to an end?
JR: The closure.
RC: Okay. You stayed at thatBob died, or something?
JR: Yeah, Bob died. I cant remember exactly when, but I was fishing with him as he got sick. He died from cancer. And when he was sick, I fished with Billy a number of times to keep the boats active.
RC: Oh, then you started fishing with Billy?
RC: Okay. So then, when did Billy stop fishing for the groupers and stuff? Is that what you referring to as the closure?
JR: Yeah, yeah.
RC: By closure, you mean the 1994 closure to the bottom fishing and all that?
RC: Bottom fishing and all that?
RC: Okay. What did you do next?
JR: We moved inshore and we fishedlimited fishbottom fished inshore on the offshore bar in a real small amount, north of 12; but then I mainly kingfished.
JR: And I was kingfishing, you know, from the get-go. For me, bottom fishing was a good sideline. When the kingfishing was slow
RC: Then youd bottom fish?
JR: I bottom fished with them guys.
RC: Well, it sounds like you jumped on the boat anytime you wanted to.
JR: Pretty much.
RC: Were they going, like, every day when you were kingfishing?
JR: Yeah. Theyd go without me. I mean, theyd go and hunt up other mates and stuff like that. I mean, it was a pretty tight-knit little community down there on the inlet where we were. You know, you didnt have any trouble finding somebody to go fishing with.
RC: There was either a boat going or someone that wanted to go, one of the two?
JR: If your boat was broke down, you could go fishing, you know, within a day or two with somebody else.
RC: Okay. So, I guess that puts us at ninety-four , when the closure stopped your bottom fishing. Then you said you started relying more on kingfishing and some bottom fishing?
RC: Okay. How did you fishokay, now when you started switching from the grouper to the kingfishing, who was you fishing with then?
JR: I kingfished alone.
RC: You mentioned earlier about having a twenty-four Stapleton; when did you get that?
JR: I had that boat when I was fishing on these boats. I was at their dock.
RC: Okay. So, you just tied off there and youd leave your boat sitting there and go fishing with them?
RC: Okay. So it must have been pretty profitable to have your own business and go grouper fishing.
JR: Yeah. It was a nice change-up, too. And you could play the price better. You know, when the price of kingfish was down, you could go out and bottom fish. (laughs)
RC: So, thats what youre talking about, your options. You had more options?
RC: Okay. Well, that makes good sense. Thank you. So, now I guess were at ninety-four  and the Oculina Bank closed, and then you started relying on the kingfish.
JR: And also, when you first start kingfishing, theres a learning curve. And its nice to get your feet wet with these guys, you know, like Bob and Billy. They taught me a lot about kingfishing. Now, they were standoffish about teaching me about bottom fishing. That was their thing, more or less. I got Bob Pfeiffers book of numbers. (laughs)
RC: Problem is, its probably all numbers you cant fish anymore.
JR: (laughs) Yeah. Bob showed me.
RC: Okay, now were at ninety-five , and youre kingfishing on your own. How did you fish for the kingfish?
JR: Troll. I wire lined, bug lined fished.
RC: Who did you fish with? By yourself?
JR: By myself, and my dad.
JR: We had a number of boats.
RC: Oh, God, Im gonna back up again here! You said something about fishing the Oculina Bank with your dad. Is that the same?
JR: Well, as I learned
RC: Oh, from Bob and Billy.
JR: from Bob and Billy, then we tried to transfer it over onto my dads little kingfish boat. But we were more or less limited. We didnt have the bandit reels or the bottom machines or anything like that. But we could go out there and conceivably catch a hundred pounds of grouper. You know, if the kingfish werent biting, we could go out and find the general area where we fished and drift across it.
RC: So, you actually did go fish it?
RC: So, how did you and your dad fish it? What gear was that?
JR: What kind of gear?
JR: Kingfish gear, electric reels and rod and reel fishing, jigging. We caught a lot of grouper jigging.
RC: And the kingfish reel, I assume you meant a bug reel?
JR: A bug reel.
RC: But you dropped it at the bottom?
JR: (inaudible) weight on it.
RC: Pull up on your cabin and
RC: So, youd convert your kingfish reel into atry to make it like a bandit.
JR: And it worked, but it wasnt like the big Lucky Too with two bandits; you know, it was pretty rudimentary. Here we were usingwe were trying that.
RC: And when you all were doing that, was that like a day trip or just an afternoon trip?
JR: A day trip. You know, wed kingfish in the morning, and if the kingfishing was slow wed troll offshore and catch a few dolphin.
RC: Catch you a hundred pounds of grouper, you said?
RC: Well, thatd be a heck of a day. These days, a hundred pounds of grouper and kingfish, that would be some good money. So, how long did you and your dad do that? Was it the closure date you were referring to?
JR: Yeah, it affected my dad too, the closure did. I mean, it pretty much put the Oculina Bank out, off limits totally.
RC: Okay, and that was your dads boat. I think it was also a twenty-four Stapleton, you said?
JR: No. He had a twenty-four foot outboard with a 140 on it, then he had a twenty-six Stapleton we fished out of, and I had the twenty-four. Then, when he decided to go out of the fishing business, I sold my twenty-four and bought his twenty-six from him.
RC: Golly, Jimmy. All right. (both laugh) So, when you and your dad fished together, you fished a twenty-four foot boat or his twenty foot Stapleton?
JR: We fished his twenty-six Stapleton.
RC: Okay. All right. And now were into when you were kingfishing on your own.
RC: You owned the boat. It was a twenty-four Stapleton. Where did you go to fish when you were kingfishing on your own there?
JR: Offshore bar, from Sebastian to Palm Beach.
RC: So, on this map here, youre pointing there just offshore of Bethel.
RC: And then thats down towards the
JR: Yeah, the Northeast Grounds, throughout here.
RC: All through the bar there?
JR: Yeah, all through the bar there
RC: Down seventy-five and
JR: (inaudible), all along there.
RC: So, you said you went all the way to, like, Palm Beach. What depths would those be?
JR: Same depths, ninety foot.
RC: Same depths.
JR: Sixty to ninety foot.
RC: Okay. And then you said north of our map here, you said you fished all the way to Sebastian?
JR: Sebastian, Pelican Flats, was about the farthest north back then I went.
RC: So, in summary here, it sounded like you were kingfishing close to home and grouper fishing in the Oculina Bank, and now all of a sudden youre talking about fishing kingfish into a relatively large area?
JR: Well, when the Oculina Bank closed, instead of going to the east, you start chasing kingfish farther north than south.
RC: So earlier, once again, you kept referring to options. So, your options to stay close to home was taken. Okay. Oh, interesting. This is really interesting. Okay, the twenty-four Stapleton you owned, what was the namewhat did you call that one?
JR: That boat was the Playboy.
RC: The Playboy?
JR: Yeah. It had a pink rabbit on the transom.
RC: During what months of the year did you fish the Playboy?
JR: Year round.
RC: How long was a fishing trip on the Playboy?
JR: Day trips, occasional overnight trips, but that was, again, a rare occurrence.
RC: How much was your average trips catch?
JR: Id say 200 pounds of kings or better.
RC: Okay. Where did you sell the Playboys catch?
JR: I believe by then D&D was gone, and I moved to Hudgens.
RC: And Hudgens had a market in Palm Beach back then, didnt they?
JR: Yeah, yeah. So, when I fished in Palm Beach, I had free dockage. Free dockage and placesit was a good setup as far as fishing for Hudgens. Thats one of the reasons I liked fishing for them.
RC: So, you would fish for Hudgens from Palm Beach. You fished for Hudgens south of Fort Pierce, and when you moved up to Pelican Flats and stuff, where would you sell your catch?
JR: Semblers. Charlie Semblers.
RC: Thats in Sebastian.
RC: How many years did you fish for kingfish in this manner?
RC: You mean till now?
RC: So, thatsokay. So, here we are, you havent quit fishing, youre still kingfishing. You own three boats now. I guess you run them all the same way?
JR: Yeah. Theyre all fishing for the same thing with the same gear.
RC: You said you still fish from Palm Beach to Sebastian. Are you still doing the day trips?
RC: What is your average catch nowadays?
JR: Id say 200 or 300 pounds.
RC: Okay. Where do you sell your catch these days?
JR: Inlet Fisheries [Inc.].
RC: And that would be in Fort Pierce?
JR: Fort Pierce.
RC: What if youre down towards Palm Beach or something?
JR: They have a fish depot in [Port] Salerno that we can unload at Inlet.
RC: What is that, like a co-op? What is that, a co-op?
JR: The port authority leases them that and theyve got two fish depots there. I believe now its, what, Day Boats there, and Inlet can pick up.
RC: Some years its been Seafood Atlantic [Inc.]?
JR: Yeah, and when I fish up north in Sebastian there, its Seafood Atlantic.
RC: Okay, when you fish Sebastian, you sell to Seafood Atlantic?
RC: And when you fish Pelican Flats, you sell to
JR: Seafood Atlantic.
RC: Okay. Thats what were stillthats what youre still doing today?
RC: Im going to have to find me another place on this list, what to talk about next. All right. Do you ever grouper/snapper fish anymore?
JR: Very rarely, very rarely.
RC: And why?
JR: Mainly because the Oculina Bank is closed. (laughs)
RC: All right. Jimmy, finally, I would like to talk to you about how your fishing has changed over time in regards to the Oculina Bank. Since 1984, several changes have been made in the regulations of the Oculina Bank. Id like to know if any of these regulations affected you, and if so, how? Im gonna start by reading the question and pointing on the map. Okay, prior to 1984, you know, it was all open. Then in eighty-four , you werent allowed to bottom longline or trawl in this closed area. Did that affect you?
RC: Bottom longlining and trawling?
JR: No, no. I never fished with a longline. Well, I tilefishI didnt tilefish. When I tilefish, I fished with my cousin on the Gambler.
RC: Oh, another boat to talk about. (laughs)
RC: Okay. (laughs) We can miss that one. Well, then, right now, lets talk about the Gambler a little bit. Can you tell me what deal that was?
JR: My uncles bought a kingfish boat, the Gambler, thats presently at Inlet that Billy Curry owns. And when I was growing up, I also fished on that with my cousin, Eddie, and my uncle, Jerry: kingfished, tilefished with bandit reels.
RC: When was that, back in the eighties [1980s]?
JR: Probably. That was beforethat was when I was really young. (laughs)
RC: Oh, really?
RC: You already described the relationship to you. What was that, just for a couple of years or one year?
JR: Yeah, a couple years.
RC: Okay. All right, back to the Oculina Bank questions about the dates here. Now, in 1994, this area was designated as [an] experimental closed area. Fishing for and retention of snapper/groupers was prohibited. Snapper/grouper boats were also prohibited from anchoring. Was your fishery impacted by this regulation? This is the 1994 closure.
JR: Yes, yeah.
RC: Once again, how?
JR: Basically, we were no longer allowed to fish there, really.
RC: Okay, its a loss of income?
RC: Okay, and as you described earlier, a loss of options.
RC: Anything else?
JR: And I had an unlimited snapper/grouper permit, and then I was demoted down to a 225 [pound trip limit], the non-transferrable permit that I still have.
RC: How did the Oculina Bank affect that, as far as your permits being demoted?
JR: Well, I would obviously have been fishing in the Oculina Bank and got the thousand pounds that I needed to qualify for the unlimited permit.
RC: Oh, okay. Youre actually referring to the permit exclusions they made when they made it limited entry. It was based on your landings.
RC: And it was based on landingswhat was that, in ninety-five , ninety-six , and ninety-seven ?
RC: And this closed in ninety-four ? So, then your
JR: I would have loved to have been able to take my own twenty-four foot Stapleton out there and do it.
RC: And basically, one thousand pound catch would have been the difference between
JR: Having an unlimited permit or not having an unlimited permit. (laughs)
RC: My understanding of the unlimited one is theyre not transferrable or sellable, right?
JR: Yeah. Thats your permit entail. You cant transfer it. Now, you can transfer it from boat to boat.
RC: But you cant sell it as a money value?
JR: You cant sell it, no.
RC: Like the unlimited permits have a $15,000 value or something. Is that what youre referring to as one of your losses?
RC: Okay. Cool. Interesting. Okay, in 1996, all anchoring was prohibited within the Oculina Bank. That would be this deeper area on the outside and all that. Did that affect you?
RC: Why not? I mean, in ninety-four  you said this closing the bottom fishing shut you out.
RC: Why didnt the ninety-six  one affect you, because you were already done?
JR: Yeah. I didnt fish off there.
RC: So basically, you havent fished the Oculina Bank since ninety-four  when it closed.
RC: Okay. Heres another one. In 1996, trawling of rock shrimp was prohibited in the area east and north of the designated Oculina Bank. Thats the south side area and thats going up to the north. The area was incorporated into the Oculina Bank HAPC. Fishing with bottom longline, trawl, [or] dredge was prohibited in the extended area, as was anchoring by any vessel. Was your fishing impacted by that regulation?
RC: Okay. All right, were about done here. The designation of marine areas that are closed to fishing is being used more frequently as a fishery management tool. In other words, MPAs [Marine Protected Areas] are being used more and more frequently. What do you think about the use of closed areas?
JR: Im scared to death of em.
RC: What do you think of them compared to other types of management regulations like quotas, closed seasons? As a management measure, what do you think of em compared to all the other stuff you see coming down the pike?
JR: Im not sure what alls coming down the pike. (laughs)
RC: I mean, weve seen season closures, size limits, trip limits. Weve seen head count limits.
JR: Well, it seems like once the areas closed, its a done deal. Youre just not going back there anymore in your future fishing.
RC: But as a management measure, do you think that has positive effects or is it all negative effects?
JR: I really dont know, because Ive done limited bottom fishing now inshore of that. But talking to the guys, I dont see any benefit from it as far as, you know, more grouper being available inshore because of an offshore closure.
RC: Yeah, and I think back when they were promoting this, they were talking about overflows and
JR: Yeah. That was gonna be the sanctuary and if there were gonna be so many fish, they were gonna come inshore.
RC: Spilling out of it, I remember it.
JR: And that was also, I rememberyou know, at the time I wasnt really that muchbut the other guys talking about it like Bob and Billy and those guys, and Phil Peterson, who really did that bottom fishing out there, and I worked for him. There was a hope that once things got better there that we would be able to fish in a limited ability in that area. And it just remains closed, period, the end.
RC: Right, after sixteen years of experimenting. Okay. So, apparently it sounds like you described [that] you dont like the MPAs as a management measure.
RC: So, which do you prefer, which type of management measures?
JR: Trip limits, quotas, seasons.
RC: Okay. So, what do you think the best way to manage a fishery is?
JR: Trip limits, spawning season closures.
RC: Okay. Thank you. All right, last question. Thinking ahead to the future, what do you think fishing in Fort Pierce will be like in ten years?
JR: Hopefully, itll be the same as it is now as far as regulations go.
RC: No, I mean about fishing itself. I mean, you knowit says, What do you think fishing in Fort Pierce will be like in ten years? I guess the ability to catch fish and fishing. Do you think it is gonna be good?
JR: Yeah, yeah, the king mackerel fishery seems great.
RC: Do you think that the king mackerel fishery is limited off through past measures?
RC: Okay. All right. Thank you very much, Jimmy, for sharing your fishery history with us. Is there anything that you would like to add, sir?
JR: Nothing I can think of right now.
RC: All right, Jimmy. Well, it was very informative, and I would like to thank you. Well turn off the recording off now.