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Scott Bachman 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 (36 p.)
Oculina Bank oral history project
Interview conducted August 24, 2010.
Oral history interview with commercial fisherman Scott Bachman. Bachman was a fisherman for twenty-five years, from 1975 to 2004. He stopped fishing due to the increased regulations, which were making it difficult for him to earn a living. He frequently fished the Oculina Bank when it was open and is very familiar with the area, which he describes as one of the best fishing grounds. Bachman does not like the use of closed areas to fishing, since it makes fishers work twice as hard for the same product. His preferred fishery management tools are closed seasons, quotas, or trip limits, as long as they are reasonable. Bachman thinks that commercial fishing is being overregulated to the point that there will soon not be any in the state of Florida, and that the people who make the rules do not take numerous factors into consideration. In this interview, Bachman also discusses his fishing history, the types of fish he caught, and the methods he used.
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: Hello. This is Robert Cardin. Today is August 24, 2010. Im at Scott Bachmans address conducting an oral history interview for the Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation project with the Fort Pierce fishermen on the Oculina Bank. Hello, Scott. Would you please state and spell your name and place of birth?
Scott Bachman: My name is Scott Bachman. Thats S-c-o-t-t B-a-c-h-m-a-n. Birth date is 8-8-61 [August 8, 1961]. Want birthplace?
RC: And birthplace.
SB: Birthplace: Sea Isle City, New Jersey.
RC: All right, Scott. When did you move to Fort Pierce?
SB: Nineteen seventy-nine.
RC: Scott, what brought you here, do you remember?
SB: Family. My mom lived in Port St. Lucie. My stepdad had a marina in Jensen Beach.
RC: Scott, are you married now?
SB: No. Im separated, actually divorced.
RC: When you were married, how old were you when you got married?
SB: I got married when I was twenty-six, twenty-five. I got divorced in 2000, because I spent so much time out there fishing there wasnt anybody at home. (laughs)
RC: Well, when they sent you back home, the ladies didnt like it. (SB laughs) There are a lot of divorces around the (inaudible). Its funny. Its not funny, but its ironic.
SB: It happens, yeah. Spent a lot of time away from home.
RC: Scott, do you have any children?
SB: Three daughters.
RC: How old are they, Scott?
SB: Nineteen. No, eighteen, twenty, and twenty-four.
RC: Scott, how bout you? What kind of an education do you have?
SB: I got a high school diploma and a 100 Ton masters captains license, STCW [Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping] training, security vessel training, firefighting
RC: You got quite a few things on your resume, dont you? Scott, what are your jobs now that youre not fishing?
SB: I work for a small tugboat company. We do a lot of artificial reef stuff, a lot of towing to the Bahamas. Right now, were involved with the BP oil cleanup.
RC: What other jobs have you done besides fishing, Scott?
SB: Boatyard work, fiberglass, and working on peoples boats. All pretty much in the marine industry besides the fishing. I fished from seventy-nine  all the way up till 2004.
RC: Scott, do you currently own your own boat?
SB: Yes. I have a twenty-five foot Wellcraft.
RC: Is that a commercial boat or recreational?
SB: Its mainly recreational, anymore. When I built it, I built it to go cast netting, but Im forty-eight years old, and cast nets are awful heavy and hard to throw.
RC: (laughs) Plus, that, youre a regular guy.
SB: Yeah, with a regular job. Keeps me busy, too. Its hard to fish part-time. You cant go out there one day a week and fish. Its next to impossible.
RC: Yeah, you got to be in loop these days. One day a week you catch em. Now, Id like to ask you some questions about the Oculina Bank. How familiar are you with the Oculina Bank?
SB: I fished it for quite a while, one end to the other.
RC: Why was the Oculina Bank designated as an area to protect? Do you know that?
SB: The Oculina coral is pretty delicate. Its small, brittle, staghorn, holds a lot of fish. Theyre trying to save the deepwater grouper, I guess. You always hear that theyre after the snowies and the other deepwater species.
RC: Yeah, they tie the two together, from the coral to the groupers. Is there anything else you can tell us about the Oculina Bank? Like, what do you know about it? Is it a good fishing hole?
SB: Oh, yeah, a lot of its good. A lot of it has no reef on it at all, all this offshore part of it. Theres some live bottom out there, but its really not generally any reef. All the reef is up on the edge inside of 300 feet, you know, 300 intoI dont know what inside it is, 230 or 220 or something on the inside. And its got little rocks on the outside. You got a long, sandy area in the middle, too. We used to set some longline gear through there because you got the big rocks along the edge. And inshore here, right on this eighty-degree line, just inside of iter, well, the offshore into it, theres another little reef right up there. Shrimp boats used to drag right down the middle; lots, where they caught all them rock shrimp for years, and years, and years, just dragging down to the middle of that.
RC: Between the two humps?
SB: Yeah, between the two reefs, because you have that inshore stuff right when you come in here and then the rest of its right here. Then, this was mostly just sandy bottom, falling off here.
RC: But you said that theyre outside of the peaks. There was actually some live bottom that you
SB: There was live bottom. It wasnt reallyyou couldnt never really mark any kind of structure, but it was always live. Youd see the bottom liven up with all
RC: Did you fish it?
SB: Yeah, thats where wed fish and catch the grouper, in that live bottom.
RC: What kind of grouper would you catch?
SB: Snowies, yellowedge, a few grey tilefish. Youd get a few big goldens [tilefish] in there, too, usually great, big ones. Usually, you didnt see too many small fish inside there. You usually saw a lot of big goldens.
RC: Well, I see you pointed over every inch of that map. So, Id say thats quite a bit about it. (SB laughs) What do you think about closing the Bank to fishing and anchoring?
SB: Well, I didnt see all the stuff where the coral was broke up, all the pictures. You heard about em. Harbor Branch had em all.
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution at Florida Atlantic University conducted scientific research referenced in the Oculina Bank closure. It is a non-profit oceanographic institution dedicated to marine and ocean research and education operated by Florida Atlantic University.
I do know that the shrimp boats did destroy a lot of bottom right up here, cause there used to be a spot where we could set right up on the end where this reef come out of the zone and them shrimp boats used to come across like this and mow right across it and run down that inside. And they just mowed that right over. I do know the shrimp boats did
RC: The satellite area is closed inside there.
SB: That used to be a nice, long strip come out of there for two, three miles, and you could fish it legally. So, you would go mess with it. That was before they extended the zone, you know, when we first started.
RC: Scott is pointing just north of the northwestern corner of the Oculina ECA [Experimental Closed Area]. All right. Well, thank you. But what is your opinion about it being closed?
SB: I dont like it. I like to fish. Theres a lot of good bottom there. I can see it probably needs to be protected. Maybe some of the anchoring issues, because it is deepwater and its hard to anchor in it anyway. But as far as bottom fishing, I dont see why it should be closed. I mean, its another natural resource of Florida, you know?
RC: Scott, has the closure of the Oculina Bank affected your fishing, and if so, how?
SB: Absolutely. I dont fish any more at all, really, because government regulations make it so hard to make a living. That was just one thing that the whole closurethats a big zone. And then, they told you couldnt run through it, so what are you supposed to do? Run twenty-five or thirty miles to the south once you have a tilefish or something on it thats in the zone to get around it? I mean, if youre fishing up heretilefishingit can be more than that. It can be fifty miles against the tide, all the way around, to legally bring a product across the zone. So economically, even the guys that are still fishing have that issue. I know a lot of em dont really go around the back and they shoot across. But every time they shoot across, they can easily get boarded and ticketed for a product in the zone.
I got stopped one time up here. We were drifting it for the night and I was just in the top corner. We had tilefish on the boat, and they kept us on the boat from about two oclock in the morning till nine, or something like that. They were on thereCoast Guard. They said they saw a line over the water.
RC: A line?
SB: A line in the water, and we didnt have any lines in the water. They couldnt find any. They searched the boat. They searched the whole area with a spotlight. They kept us there for like six hours.
RC: Oh, thought you had gear set up?
SB: Yeah, and we were just drifting. They ended up giving me a warning for possession of fish in the Oculina Bank, but it was tilefish, so they didnt
RC: But you said it was two oclock in the morning; you were drifting. What, you drifted into it?
SB: Funny story: we were right out here, got done fishing, tilefishing right here. And we werent catching anything. The movie Shimshaw Redemption [sic] was on, and the TV kept going in and out, and in and out, and in and out. So, we run to the west until we could take the boat out of gear and the TV would stay in, and thats where we drifted. And we ended up getting up there like this, and we then we drifted just like this, and ended up right here.
RC: Oh, you must have drifted eighteen miles.
SB: Sideways. Oh, yeah, when the current runs through thereI dont know exactly how far it was, but we were fishing right out here. And right here is where they got me, right in that corner right there.
RC: Were you dead in the water?
SB: Dead in the water, laying to.
RC: Ill be darned. Well, I guess you kind of got lucky, then, if they only gave you a warning.
SB: Only gave me a warning, yeah, cause
RC: Of course, it was unlucky. It took em nine hours to decide that.
SB: Yeah, they let me run back offshore cause we went out here and fished and they just followed me along. The crew stayed on the boat and it was come daylight, they were still searching and everything. I said, Man, we need to go to start our day.
RC: Sound like some decent guys, then.
SB: Yeah, well, I guess.
RC: (laughs) Could have been worse.
SB: Could have been worse. Didnt get sleep that night.
RC: You said that many regulations have affected your fishing, but did the Oculina Bank itself closing, did that affect your fishing?
SB: Sure, sure. We couldnt shark fish. A lot of sharks hang by the rocks. All the shark fishing we used to do right out here and inshore, too. You try to lay out the shark line as close to rocks as you could, cause the sharks hang around the rocks with the bait and everything else, and we caught a lot of sharks out there.
RC: You said as close to the
SB: Yeah, you didnt want to run over em. You foul up; the crabs and junk eat your bait off. If you stayed off on the edge of it, and stayed clear of all the bottom critters, all the crabs, and all the worms, and all that crap that eat your bait off the hook cause you were bottom fishing.
RC: So, you did put your gear on the reef, because
SB: Not generally, no.
RC: It was an economics thing? It fouled gear; it broke gear?
SB: It broke gear, fouled gear.
RC: It cost you bait?
SB: It cost you bait. A lot of times, you ended those bristle worms in there, and once a bristle worm gets up on your bait, nothing will touch it.
RC: Right. Come up with bones on the hook, huh?
SB: Pretty much. (RC laughs) You ever get one of those bristle worms in you?
RC: No, not in me.
SB: Oh, man, theyll burn like men-o-war [jellyfish], easy.
RC: Theyre digging the whole time, right?
SB: I guess. Its just the quills; theyre like a little caterpillar.
RC: Yeah, some people call em sand, er, fleas that
SB: Yeah, I dont know. These were about this long, orange, and just looked like a caterpillar out of a treefuzzy. And they get all up in the bait.
RC: Well, theyre up in there trying to eat it is what theyre trying to do.
SB: Theyre eating the bait, yeah. But youre using the heads and everything else. So, theyre up in the eyeballs. A lot of times, you wont see em. And then another thing hits the deck and, like I said, I got some on my arm before and it burns like hell, like a man-o-war.
RC: Ill be damned. It tries to numb you before it eats you.
SB: Yeah, thats why the fish dont eat nothing when them things get on em.
RC: Right, right. Oh, you can imagine. Its got poison, or some kind of toxin, or something.
SB: Sure. And that whole Oculina is covered with them things when you get up into the rocks.
RC: So, it stopped your shark fishing. Did you think about grouper fishing?
SB: Oh, yeah. We did some with bandit fishing on all the wrecks and stuff in there, sure. Theres quite a few all the way up through the different spots. We really didnt fish the rocks too much, but wed get off in the wrecks, the deepwater wrecks, catching the snowies. And then, wed also longline the snowies out in the eighty-fathom stuff, all the way through from just north of Fort Pierce to Daytona, or even further than that sometimes, but thats about where the Bank stops, at Daytona, I believe. Right, Cape Canaveral or Daytona?
RC: Right. Yes. Its fifty-eight miles, I think, now. So, you did your longline shark fishing, your longline snowy grouper fishing, your bandit snowy grouper fishing. What else did you bandit fish?
SB: Everything. Now and then youd get a few porgies and stuff, a few snapper, not really too many. We were tired most of the time. At night, we were mainly longlining. So, usually, thosebandit fishing was side stuff. If the tide was running too hard, or youd get done early one afternoon and a squall would shut you down early and youd get in a little early, youd do a little bottom fishing here and there.
RC: You guys used em for feelers, too, didnt you sometimes?
SB: Oh, yeah, sure. Just if you wanted to do something, yeah.
RC: Okay, Scott, if anchoring and bottom fishing in the Oculina was not prohibited, if it would have never closed, would you fish there?
RC: And then, how and for what, I think you already explained. Sharks, snowy groupers
SB: Yellowedge, grey tilefish, mainly. There werent too many goldens in there. There was a few goldens in there.
SB: Pink porgies, snappers, a few mangroves. It was a little deep for the mangroves.
RC: Yeah, I talked to some pinky fishermen who said that closure basically closed down the fishery.
SB: Oh, yeah. You remember Ronnie Baird?
SB: He made a living for a long time from there to there catching pink porgies for a long time.
RC: I think Billy [Baird] was
Billy Baird was also interviewed for the Oculina Bank Oral History Project. The DOI for his interview is O6-00021.
SB: Billy, yeah.
RC: Well, David [Baird] did it. Since Davids passed, I guess maybe we can refer to him. David did quite a bit to the north, didnt he, on the snowies?
SB: Oh, yeah. Sure.
RC: I was at the Cape one time and he came in with like 8,000 pounds.
SB: Yeah, it got a little when you got up in here. I mean, there was a few spots where theyre really big. I know right off the CapeI dont think this one goes up far enoughthere was a few spots where wed run into some really big snowies, big bunches of justoh, thirty-pounders.
RC: Overall, how has fishing changed since youve been fishing in the Fort Pierce area?
SB: Well, I dont fish too much anymore. The fleets whittled down to next to nothing from what it was. The guys that are fishing seem like theyre doing very well. Of course, theyre still limited on where they can go. I mean, the Oculina Bank is a huge area, especially out of Fort Pierce. I mean, to get any kind of deep water you go south, and thats kind of spotty down there. Theres not a lot of stuff. And then the further down you get, youre so close to shore that every swinging dick thats got a boat is out there fishing that stuff, like the Pushbutton Hill and all that stuff.
RC: Yeah, thats the only thing equivalent to the Oculina Bank is the Pushbutton Hill. Like you say, its hit daily.
RC: Scott, you said the fleets a lot smaller. Do you attribute that to anything? Just regulations?
SB: Overregulation is the main thing. I mean, most of the time we were still catching the fish. I mean, we always caught fish right up till the time they closed us off. It wasnt like we werent catching the fish. Its just that they went into regulation after regulationnet ban. The (inaudible) started with this, then they made it bigger. Like the swordfishing, theyre all down to circle hooks. Its just everything. The whole industry is getting regulated just to death. In Florida, almost especially, seems like they dont want commercial fishing. You go to some of these other states; they embrace their commercial fishermen. In Florida, it doesnt seem to want
RC: I was up in Hatteras [North Carolina] for a month or two this year. It was unbelievable. I mean I was treated with respect.
SB: Sure. North Carolina, up in the Gulf [of Mexico], all through there. Louisiana, Alabamaas soon as you get to FloridaMississippi, all them, theyre all very friendly commercial fishing states, until you get the Panhandle. Then all they want to do is see the pearly-white beaches and condos.
RC: Right. Run out after a game of golf and catch some fish. All right. Well, Scott, I think youve already explained any law enforcement things you had to do within the Oculina Bank, so weve got that. Now, I want to talk to you about your fishing history. Whats your earliest memory of how old were you when started fishing? Like, was it with your grandpa in the lake?
SB: Grandfather had a head boat in South Jersey and my grandmother used to take us out, probably at the age of four or five. Wed go half-day fishing, full-day fishing, catching sea bass and porgies and flounder. Wed fish in the summertime.
RC: Well, that sounds like a dream for a kid, huh?
SB: Oh, yeah. I grew up on the Jersey Shore with nothing. It was a hell of a place to grow up. My parents had the head boat there and we had the beach.
RC: Sounds nice.
RC: So, I guess your grandfather, what, taught you how to fish?
SB: Sure, pretty much.
RC: Did you ever mate on the boat?
SB: Absolutely, that and some of the other boats up there. And then when I moved down here, I started swordfishing.
RC: Scott, how old were you when you decided to become a fisherman? Was there a point in time that said, Im going to become a commercial fisherman? Do you remember a point?
SB: I guess probably seventeen, eighteen years old, when I moved down here, started swordfishing. Went out there and pulled my first 350 pound swordfish live on the boat, and
RC: That was it.
SB: Oh, yeah. You remember how swordfishing was back then?
RC: Oh, yeah. When was that? Like, the
SB: Seventy-nine .
RC: Seventy-nine .
SB: Just about the heyday.
RC: Thats when you could go do a day trip out of here and
SB: Wed fish two days.
RC: You fished right outside of here, wouldnt you?
SB: Oh, yeah, sure. We run out of Fort Pierce, run down like this, set out like this, run down the gear at night, spot a few fish, pick em off, haul back like this up here, then youd run down, youd do it again. Next morning, youd end up right over here somewhere.
RC: Shoot right across the bank.
SB: Yeah, we made two-day trips. Some of them guys went Monday, but we went ahead and stretched it to two. We had enough box to put 3,000 or 4,000 on.
RC: Well, when I was a young man, I think I rememberit seems like sometimes the swordfish guys would set tilefish.
SB: Yeah, occasionally. We never messed with it much. We traveled. When the swordfish wasnt here, we go up to north, or down to Key West. We did a lot of traveling when we were swordfishing, following the fish around.
RC: When did you start fishing in Fort Pierce? It was like eighteen. What did you fish for? It was the swordfish.
SB: Small line swordfish, yeah, till about ninety-two , ninety-one , and then thats when I started working for Glen Black and thats when we stated bottom longlining, mackerel fishing, and swordfishing. We switched it up with the seasons.
RC: Okay. And you described the longline swordfish. Thats a big reel on the boat with what, rope or cable?
SB: Yeah, started out with rope and then we went to monofilament as the fleet progressed and the fishing methods [progressed].
RC: What did you all call that, a floating longline?
SB: A floating longpelagic longline.
RC: Who did you fish with there?
SB: First of all was this guy, Ray Allen, a guy named John Simmons. I think Bill Silcox owned the boat.
RC: Who owned the boats?
SB: Bill Silcox, I think, Ray Allen.
RC: Silcox, how do you spell that? S-i-l
SB: S-i-l. Its like a c-o-x, I guess?
RC: So, Silcox. Okay.
SB: Yeah, Silcox. George the Greek, I fished with him for a while.
RC: How were you related to these people, just friends, boss and friends?
SB: Just friends, yeah, and bosses and stuff, yeah.
RC: What was the length of that first boat? Do you remember?
SB: Forty-five foot.
RC: Was it a number?
SB: No. It was an old wood Harpers Island boat with a big, flared-out back.
RC: Oh, okay.
SB: Little doghouse up on the front. Come out of there around Marathon. They trapped and mackerel fished it back there.
RC: When you started fishing with the swordfish, it was basically out of Fort Pierce?
SB: Fort Pierce, yeah. Went to Key West. That was about as far wed go on that boat. We didnt travel far too north on that boat. We stayed close to shore.
RC: You showed me how went out south of the Oculina Bank and you came in. What depths out here were you swordfishing? Do you know?
SB: Usually, the east side, pretty much. Wed goof course, there was another line out there you used to cross, but anywhere from 100 fathoms on out. It seemed like you got up inside close to 100 fathoms, you caught a lot of smaller fish. You get on off into the tide and then on the east side of the tide is where the bigger fish (inaudible).
RC: East side of the [Gulf] Stream?
RC: During what months of the year did do that? Was that like a twelve month a year job?
SB: Oh, yeah, all year round. Like I said, wed go here, down to Key West in the wintertime and then back up through here in the spring and summer. And then, we started getting on bigger boats after that. And then, like I said, it was like 1981, I got on the Cachalot. That was a fifty-foot boat, had a lot moreit was full of accommodations. We took that all the way to New Jersey.
RC: Well, this first little forty-five footer, what was it? Youd do two-day trips?
SB: Two days, yeah.
RC: What was your average catch on those two-day trips?
SB: Usually 4,000 or 5,000.
RC: Where did you all sell those fish at the time?
SB: D&D Fish House.
RC: Now, I got to turn the tape.
SB: D&D is not even there anymore. Now its water.
RC: Oh, a lot of places have closed since back in the day.
RC: How many years did you fish on the forty-five footer, like three years?
SB: Couple years, probably, on with Ray Allen. Then we go on a boat called the Cachalot with the same guy, the same captain.
RC: And then you were back to longlining?
SB: Still longlining, yeah, on the Cachalot. Just a little bigger boat, little more comfort; we could travel a little bit. We went as far as New Jersey, fishing the canyons up there.
RC: What was the name of that boat?
SB: Cachalot. C-a-c-h-a-l-o-t. Male sperm whale.
SB: Its a male sperm whale. Its not Catch a Lot. C-a-c-h-a-l-o-t. Its Cachalot.
RC: Okay. I got you now. That was a fifty-footer?
SB: Yeah, fifty-three. It was one of those Mings, like the Wild Turkey and couple of other boats like it.
RC: For longline fishing, then?
RC: How long were your trips then?
SB: We ended up starting to make longer trips as yearsback up into the mid-eighties [1980s], we were up to five days, probably. And then, those kept getting longer and longer as theyou started traveling further and further.
RC: This is when you would travel all the way to the Keys? How far up north would you fish?
SB: Through the canyons, New York, New Jersey. I think the furthest Ive ever been up is Block Canyon, about the furthest canyon I ever fished.
RC: Were you running those fish all the way back to Fort Pierce?
SB: No, no. Wed go up into wherever we were at. I think when we went fishing up there at Point Pleasant, we went to Cape May [New Jersey] sometimes, Morehead City [North Carolina], Ocracoke [North Carolina].
RC: What would those trips land? What would be your average catch?
SB: It just depends. Some of them trips we had close to 10,000 pounds. Its about the max haul the boat could hold. We got into the big eyes up there a couple times and they were huge, huge big eyes, 200 pounders.
RC: Yeah, a friend of mine just came in the other day with 140 boxes. But he felt like he was the luckiest boat there up there. He comes out of Hatteras. I guess hes got overfish about eighty miles to the north.
SB: Whats chunking?
RC: No, hes actually setting gear.
RC: Yeah. Its twenty boxes. Well, thats not part of this. Lets go away here. (laughs) It sounds like theres still some good fishing up there.
SB: Oh, yeah.
RC: Anyway, then you did the longlining ondid you go on other boats, several different boats?
SB: Sure, sure. Went on the Proud Mary II, Proud Mary I, Wild Turkey.
RC: So, that took you up to the early nineties [1990s], you said?
RC: At what point were you doing the snowy fishing and the shark fishing?
SB: From 1990 till 2004.
RC: In ninety , what did you fish for? The combination of
SB: Tilefish, shark fishing. We hit the two seasons, cause you had the January season and then you had the July season. So, we hit both of those and then, in between, wed tilefish and snowy fish. Wed go shark fishing at night and we fished mainly, like I said, just offshore stuff. So, wed make a shark set, get done shark fishing for the day. If you didnt have a limit, youd make either a tilefish set, or youd set a snowy set, or something to just kill the day instead of just laying there. Youd fish some kind of gear. So, you were really (inaudible) all the time.
RC: Right. That was right outside the Bank there?
SB: All the way up through here, we had spots, different spots wed hit. If we were up this way, yeah, depending on the time of the year, where we were at, what the tide was doing, what we had been catching. Yeah, youd either go tilefishing for the set, or youd make a snowy set in here, or youd mess around in here on the bottom, do some bandit fishing on the reefs.
RC: Would it matter if was asome people said hard tides kept em inshore sometimes.
SB: Oh, yeah, absolutely, if the tide was running real hard. Its tough watching the fish float away, cause you know how longlining is. When youre fishing with the tide, youd lose a fish, and they float away, and you canthard to go get em, because you lose that many more, and it ends upif its close, you can go get em.
RC: So on days it was a hard tide that might make you make the decision to snowy fish?
RC: So, we were longlining and shark fishing in here. Was that with a cable or mono or rope?
SB: Both cable or mono.
RC: Cable or mono.
SB: If the tide was running slack, we had both on the boat; youd set the mono. But as soon as you had any kind of current, you pretty much had to go with the cable, because you would just beak it off too much, especially in the deeper water. If we were up inshorebecause wed would fish sharks up in here, too.
SB: Well, wed definitely use a mono in there. Still put em on the bottom cause sharks are bottom feeders except for maybe a black tip. Theyll hit it on the way down. But, generally, most sharks are bottom feeders.
RC: So, when you were longlining the sharks, you were using either cable or rope. In the Bank there, you using ten-foot leaders or hundred-foot leaders?
SB: Ten-foot, probably, for the sharks, and probably like a four-foot leader for the grouper and stuff.
RC: What kind of bait would you use for the sharks?
SB: Whatever we had: small tilefish, little puppy sharks, embryos, whatever we had. Sometimes wed buy bait. Wedmackerel, skates, just whatever was really available.
RC: Just economics. Whatever was a low price that day.
SB: We did carrywe had a little power roller on the Kelly. We did carry a little string, 300 yards of stab net, and sometimes wed go up in the shallow water and catch junk bait, whatever we could catch. Little black shark nose [blacknose shark], is that what they are, the ones with the white spots?
SB: They are real good bait, the smaller ones. It stays on the hook. You pretty much fish it all night long if you put a little puppy shark on there.
RC: Right. Skin keeps it on the hook good. Did you ever buy squid or anything?
SB: Yeah, for tilefishing and the grouper, sure. We used a lot of squid.
RC: But not in shallow with the sharks?
SB: Not generally with the shark fishing, no. It wouldnt stay on the hook long enough. Its a soft bait and their bottom time was like fifteen minutes, Id say, tops, with some squid on there. Especially, the further in you get, you get more critters, more crabs, moreall that little bait fish
SB: all that stuff just picks you clean.
RC: Very interesting there. So, youre in ninety  when you started the tilefishing and snowy fishing, what kind of boat were you on then? Which boat?
SB: Fifty-two-foot Monroe was the make. Its called the Kelly Marie. It had a 10,000-pound fish hold. It was a nice boat.
RC: Youre answering so many of my questions at one time. Im trying to catch up with you here. (SB laughs) Who owned the Kelly Marie?
SB: Inlet Fisheries, Glen Black.
RC: How were you related to Glen Black?
SB: Just worked for him.
RC: He was your boss?
SB: My boss, yeah.
RC: Boat owner?
SB: Boat owner.
RC: Was he active in the
SB: Oh, yeah. He actually fished a boatmackerel fishingfor the first couple years I was on there until he pretty much retired. And he owned the fish house, of course. He was very active in it.
RC: Yeah, I remember. Id see you all talking quite often. He really got into it, didnt he?
SB: Oh, yeah, he was very active in it. It was his life, you know? He built a very successful business, still in business today.
RC: I think youve already described when you went fishing for the tilefish. You did real good there. So, we got depths. You fished there; you caught your bait in forty or fifty feet. You set sharks in eighty, ninety, a hundred feet
SB: All the way out.
RC: All the way out todid you ever set em outside the Bank?
SB: Occasionally. You didnt get too much outside of 100 fathoms. We just didnt catch many sharks out there, and if you did, it would be those weird kind of shark, not really the ones you wanted.
RC: Right. Well, you all kind of developed the bottom longline fishery, didnt you?
SB: We did a lot of it, yeah. We changed it a lot.
RC: It started around here.
SB: Yeah, we changed it a lot, too.
RC: The cablewere the guys up north using the cable?
SB: Yeah, they were using the galvanized cable up there. It didnt last as long. We went all to stainless. And what we did is we started fishing with the tide, and thats increased our production, tremendously. Instead of hauling against it, we started with the buoy
RC: Turned around.
SB: and started fishing with Joe, and that hole is Joes fishing now with the buoys
RC: Turn backs.
RC: Er, he doesnt turn back on it, he goes and gets it
SB: Gets the other end, yeah. Just depends on what the tides doing. Anything less than two knots, you dont have to mess with that too much. But out here, most of the time you have more than two knots of tide.
RC: Were supposed to be talking aboutIll tell you, one time this year it was 5.4 knots and Joeys just sitting there humming away on it.
SB: Once you break it free and start going with it, you just peel it back, man, fast as you can get it. When you first see that buoy floating there, you go, Oh, my God, how am I going to grab that, cause the waters racing over it and it
RC: Sixty-inch (inaudible).
RC: Its pretty amazing how you guys can handle that kind of condition. All right. Let me get caught up again. How long were youryou described shark fishing trips, then during the day you would bottom fish and then maybe set sharks again. So, how long would a trip last? It depended on what you caught?
RC: If you had to average, what would you say?
SB: Shark fishing, one, two days usually. Sometimes they would stretch to three or four if you werent catching nothing, cause you were on a 4,000-pound limit.
RC: Did you ever do the tilefish, snowy fishing in drift?
SB: Yeah, sure.
RC: When sharks was closed, you said that you wouldwhat would a tilefish, snowy fish trip last?
SB: Usually four days. Then again, you had a quota there, too. I think the quota was 4,000 on the tilefish.
RC: And 2500 on the snowies.
SB: Yeah, and usually we didnt comewed have both. So, we usually wouldnt have too many more snowies to worry about, but more tilefish.
RC: We see these days managers are talking about the snowies being a by-catch, but tilefishing, I dont believe thats the case. Didnt you kind of target one or the other?
RC: Just because you landed on the trip didnt
SB: Right. You would catchthey both have stuff in the same area. All through this mud where the tilefish is, theres little wrecks, theres little chunks of rock, theres old refrigerators the shrimp boats threw overboard, and every one of them little things will hold a couple of snowy grouper. It doesnt take much to hold a snowy grouper.
RC: But just as you could learn where those things are at, you could also learn to stay away from em.
SB: Oh, sure. But thats where we used to the snowies along with the tilefish. When youre targeting the snowies, you went up inshore. And like I said, the only tilefish you usually catch in there would be a real big, jumbo golden or a (inaudible).
RC: Hunting something to eat, huh?
SB: Yeah, we usually didnt see any of the smalls or the medium. The bulkthe body of the fish was never in there.
RC: Right. How much was an average trip? Lets say, first off, the combination of shark, and groupers, and tilefish trips that were made.
SB: Well, you tried to limit out on sharks. Youd have 4,000 sharks, and then usually youd have anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 or 4,000 pounds tilefish or grouper, depending on what you were doing.
RC: Thats a pretty good haul.
RC: All thats right there in that Bank, huh?
SB: Oh, yeah.
RC: (laughs) So, youre talking
SB: The tilefish would be just offshore, but yeah.
RC: Youre talking basically 2,000 pounds a day, is what youre talking?
SB: And more, sometimes. I mean, thered be days where wed limit out in one night on the sharks right there, a lot of times in this sixty-foot fathom stuff up through here. Those sandbars would stack right up in there, especially like in the end of January, February, March. I mean, wed spank em all up through here. I mean, several boats from Daytona would come down here and wed all start setting right out through here.
RC: And before, when we were talking about you setting close to the rocksthat was on the 0.80. Now, youre out here?
SB: Yeah. Well, those are different rocks out there. Thats not the real tall bottom in there. Thats more like a ledge, runs down. I mean, theres little bit of high stuff. Most of your high stuffs here in like 250, 240 feet of water. Thats where all the big, high stuff is. You can see all
RC: But when youre talking about shark fishing here, youve described both the
SB: Both sides, yeah. Wed fish both sides.
RC: West of the peaks and your (inaudible) east of the peaks.
SB: East of the peaks, wed get mainly sandbars. Thats about all wed catch out there. In here, wed get a mix of stuff. Youd get some lemon sharks, youd get some bull sharks, youd get somea little bit of everything up in here. But yeah, we fished in here, the thirty-fathom stuff. And then again, youd try to stay off the rocks. I stayed a few times up through the middle of it and usually were usually never on the great big sets, the sand through the middle. Like I said, you wanted to stay off the rocks as best you could. You might bounce over em here or there to get on one side or the other. But you didnt generally put your line right on the rocks, because you would lose it.
RC: But the sharks would come to you?
SB: Oh, yeah. Well, the sharks run on the edge. Theyre not on the rocks. Theyre all around it.
RC: Right. Well, they hang off of it. I think theyve shown that the shark wont hang, wont eat, wont stay in the kitchen, you know? Theyll leave and then come back to the reef and then go out to the sands. So, youre (inaudible).
RC: Now I would assume your set on the Kelly Marie was on the catch on Inlet Fisheries? Is that correct?
RC: For how many years did you do that, Scott?
SB: From, say, ninety , to 2004: fourteen years.
RC: On the Kelly?
SB: Yeah. I did some on the others.
RC: Sure it was aught-four ?
SB: About 2004, yeah.
RC: I thought it was 2002 they shut it down?
SB: No, 2004.
RC: Two thousand four, okay. Excuse me. (laughs)
SB: They had us on a quota and all the years before that, we were fishing till like April, the middle of April. And thats the year they closed us off, on February 14.
RC: Okay. Now, weve been talking about actually fishing in the Oculina Bank. When did that stop?
SB: Nineteen ninety-four.
RC: In ninety-four , okay. So, youre describing these big catches from ninety  to ninety-four , and you fished for another ten years. Was there a difference in the level of your catch once you were pushed out of the Oculina Bank?
SB: Yeah, it slowly got worse, sure. There was not as much fishing around. We tried to fish down here in the sands right on the south side for the sharks. I mean, youd get a few, but the thing here used to move up with em. You had all this area and you
RC: Follow the fish.
SB: and youd follow the fish as the bunch was moving and youd go right on up. So, Id say it made a difference. It made a big difference, yeah.
RC: Big difference.
RC: Then in ninety-four  when that quit, you just described what you moved on to next. You tried to fish outside the Oculina Bank, and that was after aught-four ?
SB: And wed push this line right here to the limit on the shark fishing. Wed still shark fish out through here.
RC: Just lay it right down on the
SB: Yeah, outside. Like I said, youd push it to the limit.
RC: Hundred and one fathoms?
SB: Well, actually, we were pushing over the original zone, because at first, they didnt enforce any of this offshore stuff. It was just right in here (taps) and we were still fishing out here. I dont know exactly when we stopped, to tell you the truth, but wed stay out offshore of the line.
RC: Right, the ECA line.
RC: This is the ECA, and then the HAPC [Habitat Area of Particular Concern] goes out to 100 fathoms.
RC: All right. Interesting. So, now were in 2004 when you stopped fishing the Kelly Marie. What did you do next, Scott? Is that when you
SB: (inaudible) and then I started working for the (inaudible) tugboat.
RC: Oh, youve been there that long?
RC: Well, good for you. I guess that brings us currently on your actual history. So, that puts us atScott, finally, Id like to talk about how your fishing has changed over time in regards to the Oculina Bank. Since eighty-four , several changes have been made in regulations of the Oculina Bank. Id like to know if any of these regulations affected your fishing, and if so, how? Okay, in 1994, this part (taps) of the Oculina Bank was described as the ECA and that quit bottom fishing. I think youve been pretty clear, but how did it affect you? It stopped you from bottom fishing?
SB: Yeah. Theyd throw you in jail on there.
RC: (laughs) In ninety-six , they extended it all the way up
SB: And out, right?
RC: Yes, all the way up and out. Well, no. It was extended out in ninety-four yeah, youre right. In ninety-six  it went all the way up and it extended out. So, how did that affect you? Thats when it shut you down?
SB: Sure. (inaudible) for grouper fishing.
RC: Fish on that line?
SB: Yeah, we stopped pretty much until we got up to the north. Wed still catch a few up past it. But down here, like we were talking before, the only place is by Pushbutton Hill, couple little wrecks out here. But, generally speaking, we pretty much were done with this grouper fishing. We still tilefished and we always pushed the limit crossing the zone with product on the boat. I mean, we did it. Theres no question about it. I mean, over and over and over, but you cant hardly fish out here and expect us to run. You looked at the map; it doesnt look like that much. You go like this one here, but you remember theres
RC: Yeah, youre turning into the Gulf Stream.
SB: four knots of tide you got to go around, and if you go this way, yeah, you go this way fast, but then youre wayit was crazy. So yeah, we pushed it. And Im still sure them guys are pushing that.
RC: I was right here on this little wreck. You probably know the wreck at 500 here, (taps) and a squall came through three or four years ago, northwest, and it was too rough. You know? The big six, eight-foot seas breaking; the tide was making em stand up and I couldnt hardly even drive into it, and I ended up doing (laughs)I mean, it was a nightmare. Im out there in a little open fishing boat catching some snowies.
SB: I mean, they make these laws and zones and rules and stuff, and they dont ever take into consideration the effectsthat kind of effect on it, you know? I mean, its easy for somebody to sit there and draw these lines all over this chart and say you cant fish there. Its another thing entirely to have to deal with it.
RC: Well, Scott, were getting to the end of our thing here. We got a couple more questions here. The designation of Marine Protected Areas islike closed areas to no fishingis being used more and more frequently as a management tool. What do you think of these types of closures, the Marine Protected Areas?
SB: Im not all that up on em. Thats where fish are. Theres another map thatsclose it down all together. Give us a season, a zone, a quota, or whatever. But the whole closing the best fishing ground, now that doesnt make any sense. It makes you work twice as hard for the same product. You got to go to all these places and fish. It doesnt make any sense to me.
RC: Scott, this my own personal question: Ive heard you talk fishing from Key West up past New York, and you keep pointing right here and say, The best fishing grounds. Are you actually referring to the Oculina Bank?
SB: Oh, yeah, sure. Youve seen the bottom. Its impressive. Youre talking about 150, 200-foot steeples, one after another, after another, after another, after another, after another. I mean, Ill show you in this book right here. I got every one labeled in there from here to here. How many is there, a hundred?
RC: Quite a few.
SB: Quite a few, maybe not a hundred. Id say theres fifty or sixty. Then it breaks up a little bit, and then up here around the 500 line it starts again and goes clear up quite a ways. Thats a very impressive bottom. Its up and down. Its live. I mean, you look all over and its loaded with fish.
RC: Its just impressive that of all the places you fished, thats your favorite one. Excuse me
SB: Well, the longlining with swordfishing, youre not really bottom fishing much. Say youre fishing currents and eddies, its totally fishing. So, most of my bottom fishing is from here to the Carolinas.
RC: Yeah, but as a boat captain, Im sure youre in the cabin looking at the scope all the time?
SB: Oh, absolutely. Oh, yeah, like I said, this is very impressive bottom.
RC: Yeah, when you run across that it
SB: Oh, yeah, you go, Oh, my God.
RC: pokes you in the eyes, I noticed.
SB: Sure, yeah. And theres so much of it. I mean, its liketheres way more than fifty-eight miles of it. I mean, it goesSt. Augustine. I know it goes past Daytona, gets a little sporadic.
RC: It breaks up a lot and spreads out.
RC: I think theres more of the Gulf Stream tide in this south end than anywhere else. I think Fort Pierce alone is justoh, Im gonna shut up what I think. Its your interview. (both laugh) So, you dont like the closed areas so much. What type of management tools do you think would work better? Which do you prefer, like quotas, limits, seasons?
SB: Quotas. Quotas are good, too, I guess.
RC: Dont let you catch too much; tell you when to catch em. Okay. Thinking ahead to the future
SB: And the season things can go against you, too, sometimes, cause
RC: Different areas.
SB: Yeah, I mean, theyll close you down at the worst possible time when the fish are running. Like, if you were to close the mackerel out here between November and February
RC: Then that puts Florida in the picture.
SB: Yeah, I mean, thats no mackerel. Im just using mackerel for instance, cause thats when theyre here.
RC: Well, thats where quotas come in. You cant say you want to catch 100,000 pounds in Florida, and 100,000so, youre using the both together as a good tool.
SB: Maybe a little bit of gear restriction. Im all for thatlengths.
RC: How bout trip limits?
SB: Trip limits, sure, as long as theyre reasonable where you still make money with them. I mean, you dont want to put a 2,000 pound trip limit on a boat, a fifty, sixty foot boat that cant even pay its fuel bill with that. I mean, theres a lot of things that they got to take into consideration when they make these laws, and I dont think they do a very good job of it.
RC: Maybe its whos there voicing their opinion is who they listen to?
SB: Well, yeah.
RC: It seems that fishermen go to management meetings and theyre all upset. They yell and scream and they feel like theyve done their part, and they dont keep driving it where theres some of these other organizations are at every meeting, driving their point in. But gosh, youre making me discuss this. Im supposed to be interviewing you. (both laugh) Excuse me.
Thinking ahead to the future, what do you think fishing in Fort Pierce will be like in another ten years?
SB: Probably wont be much commercial fishing, I dont think.
RC: Thank you for sharing your fishing history with us, and were about done here. Is there anything you wanted to add? Do you think you covered it?
SB: We covered most everything. I mean, overregulations putting us all out of business. Florida doesnt want the commercial fishermen, and thats pretty much the size of it. Five or six million recreation guys have more clout thanhow many is there, a few thousand?
RC: While youre fishing, theyre at the meeting. (laughs) I want to back up here. You said that the fleet size has gotten smaller, but the guys that are still in are still doing pretty good?
SB: Yeah, seem like it.
RC: What made you sayI mean, can you attribute the fleet size shrinking to anything? This is my personal question.
SB: I would say a combination of all of it. Some of these fisheries, the fleet did get pretty big and they fished the different fisheries pretty hard. Swordfishing is a perfect example. That was like a 350 boat fleet at one time. Now its down to seventy, and theyre catching decent fish. Theyre making decent money.
RC: Is that outside of regulations, or is that inside of what capitalization does?
SB: Id say both economics and overregulation. I mean, because, hell, they closed all this off. When I swordfished, all this was opened up all the way outeverything. They didnt have any closed areas.
RC: Well, our area down here was kind of a seasonal thing though, wasnt it?
SB: Yeah, through this spring and summer, we would pound it out inshore, catch another small fish, and then wed just started going further and further. Through the spring here is the best. The guys that are still fishing out of here, theyre traveling a lot. They got to go 100 miles or something up the northeast and then
RC: Before they would even start.
RC: So, the closed area for swordfish, that fleet got smaller. How bout the snowy grouper?
SB: Same thing, regulations. They cant catch em at all.
RC: So, would you attribute the grouper [and] snapper fleet to being smaller in our area to regulations?
SB: Yes, regulations.
RC: Like this Oculina Bank right now. All right, Scott, is there anything else? If not, well conclude the interview.
SB: No, I think thats about it. Yeah, I think we covered it all, dont you think?
RC: All right, well cut it off.