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Emil LaViola oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Terry Howard.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (51 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (27 p.)
Oculina Bank oral history project
Interview conducted August 31, 2010.
Oral history interview with recreational fisherman Emil LaViola. LaViola began fishing as a child and has been fishing in Fort Pierce since he moved there in 1977. He is familiar with the Oculina Bank and had some great fishing trips before the area was closed. As a bottom fisherman, he is now limited to the area where he can fish. LaViola does not like closing areas to recreational fishing. He favors trip limits and quotas for commercial fishing instead. He thinks that Oculina Bank should be open to recreational bottom fishing, if the concern is to protect the coral, since typical recreational fishers would not anchor there. In this interview, LaViola also discusses his personal fishing history, the types of fish he catches, the equipment he uses, and how he decides where to fish.
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: Good afternoon, this is Terry Howard. Â August 31, 2010. Â Im at White City. Â Whats the address here?
TH: in White City, just north of Fort Pierce, Florida, conducting an oral history with Emil LaViola for the Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundations project with Fort Pierce fishermen on the Oculina Bank HAPC [Habitat Area of Particular Concern]. Â Welcome, Emil. Â Please state your name, spell your name, your place of birth, and your date of birth.
EL: Emil LaViola, E-m-i-l, LaViola, L-a-V as in Victor-i-o-l-a. Â Place of birth is Teaneck, New Jersey. Â What else?
TH: Date of birth.
EL: Date of birth is August 5, 1959.
TH: Okay, and when did you move to Fort Pierce?
EL: In 1977. Â Yes, August of 1977.
TH: What brought you to Fort Pierce?
EL: I came here to go to school. Â My grandmother lived here and I just wanted to get the hell out of New Jersey, you know, and come to the Sunshine State.
TH: Where did you go to school?
EL: In Englewood, New Jersey.
TH: I mean, when you came here. Â You said you came
EL: Oh, I went to IRCC [Indian River Community College].
TH: Oh, okay, when it was a junior college. Â You came here and you studied what?
EL: I thought I wanted to be an accountant, but that didnt work out too well and I had to go to work. Â I was working full-time and going into school full-time, and I picked up carpentry and I picked it up pretty quick, so I stuck with that and got my contractors license in 1983 and have been building custom homes ever since, since 1983, in the area.
TH: Are you married?
EL: No. Â Im divorced.
TH: Do you have any children?
EL: I do. Â I have one son, Anthony, whohell be twenty-seven in September.
TH: Okay. Â How much schooling do you have?
EL: Two years of junior college, two years of college.
TH: And the next question is: what do you do for a living? Â So, youre a contractor?
EL: A building contractor, general contractor, yes.
TH: What other jobs have you had?
EL: Well, thatsagain, since 1983, Ive had my license. Â I was a carpenter prior, a union carpenter, prior to that for four or five years. Â I was actually a union carpenter when I got my contractors license. Â So, basically thats it in my whole working career. Â Ive been a carpenter and then a general contractor.
TH: Have you worked in the fishing industries: commercial, charter, or charter fisherman?
EL: No, I have not.
TH: Do you currently own a boat?
EL: I do.
TH: Please describe your boat.
EL: I have a twenty-nine foot Twin V, power catamaran, with a cabin. Â Its what they call a weekender, or whatever, or express. Â It is a ,you know, duo-haul catamaran
TH: Powered by?
EL: Powered by twin 250 Suzuki motors, outboards. Â I love my boat, great boat.
TH: Id like to ask you some questions about the Oculina Bank. Â How familiar are you with the Oculina Bank?
EL: Im pretty familiar with it. Â I know where its at. Â I know the regulations. Â Prior to the closure I fished out there withactually, he was a recreational slash commercial fisherman. Â He did sell his fish. Â He was my next-door neighbor.
TH: His name?
EL: His name is John Clark. Â Had some great fishing trips out there, you know?
TH: Okay. Â Why was the Oculina Bank designated as an area to protect?
EL: From what I understand, the coral is being damaged by dredge or by shrimpers, and bottom trawlers, and stuff like that. Â So, I guess it was meant to protect the growth of the coral, the Oculina coral, is from what I understand.
TH: Is there anything else you can tell me about the Oculina Bank that you know?
EL: Â I can tell you that its phenomenal bottom, as far asyou know, its a great fertile area for fish, I guess, bottom fish that are, you knowwhats the word Im looking for?spawning. Â And just great structure for fish togreat habitat for bottom fish and pelagics as well. Â From what I understand, its great fishing for wahoo, dolphin, so forth and so on.
TH: What do you think of the closure of the Oculina Bank to anchoring and bottom fishing?
EL: I think I can understandI think it stinks for not letting the recreational guy go in there and fish the bottom. Â I could understand where an anchor can be damaging to the corals, but I also think its pretty difficult to anchor out there. Â But the typical recreational fishermanand when I fished out there, we didnt anchor. Â We drifted.
TH: Did you drift or power fish?
EL: We drifted, power drifted, I would assume
TH: To hold it in a spot?
EL: Right, right. Â It was difficult fishing, especiallyyou know, the current is pretty strong. Â I guess youre out at the Gulf Stream or edge of the Gulf Steam at times. Â So, you know, its not the easiest thing to do, but it can be very productive.
TH: Again, what do you think about the closure to anchoring and bottom fishing?
EL: I dont agree with it. Â I think that the bottom fishing should be open to the recreational fisherman. Â The anchoring thing, you know, I could understand their reasoning, and again, I wouldnt really want to anchor there because its almost impossible to fish, you know, unless youre using electric reels and heavy weights and sinkers. Â I dont know how damaging an anchor could be to the stuff down there. Â I guess it would be damaging, you know, for the noviceor not the novice, the inexperienced fisherman trying to set an anchor in those depths of water.
TH: Has the closure of the Oculina Bank affected your fishing?
EL: Yeah. Â It limits my areas of fishing, because theres only aI like to fish in deeper water. Â I like to bottom fish in deeper water, you know? Â Its less pressure. Â So, Im left withas far as deeper water, pretty much the twenty-seven fathom edge, which is outside the Oculina Bank, is the only area I could really fish in, you know, depths greater than 150 feet. Â So, yes, Im limited to the area I can fish off of Fort Pierce, and you know, Im not gonna travel to Sebastian or whether the end of the Bank is in relation to Fort Pierce. Â Its just too long of a trip, and not economical.
TH: If anchoring and bottom fishing in the Oculina Bank was not prohibitedin other words, if you could fish therewould you do so?
EL: Sure. Â Absolutely.
TH: How and for what?
EL: I would probably power drift, and I would fish for snapper and grouper.
TH: Okay. Â Overall, how has fishing changed since you began fishing in the Fort Pierce area?
EL: It seems like its not as nearlyId have to say the catchescatches are down, especially for grouper. Â Used to be able to catch grouper right out, you know, a lot more productively inshore reefs, you know, the bar. Â So, thats why I particularly like to fish in deeper water. Â My chances of getting a bigger fish and catching a grouper are better in the deeper water. Â I think that, overall, the fishing has declined, and I dont know the reasoning for that. Â I thinkI have my own thoughts of it, but Id be happy to tell you that if youre asking. (laughs)
EL: Well, I think the commercial divers really put a hurt on the grouper fishing. Â I dont think its very sporting, especially during this time of year, summer time, when we have these cold water upwellings. Â You know, theyre sitting there; the grouper are very lethargic and theyre easy to catch, theyre easy to kill with a diver. Â Ive heard stories of them just kinda raping the reefs with these grouper that, you know, are just sitting ducks down there. Â Theyre just not able to protect themselves and haveyou know, I havemy own personal feelings that theyre the ones hurting the fishing is the commercial divers: not the recreational diver, but the commercial diver. Â I think that the limits that theyre giving us right now, I dont see us hurting the population of the fish at all. Â So, thats the discouraging thing, and I think thats whats hurt the grouper fishing, in my thoughts. Â Snapper fishing, the red snapper fishing, Ive neverits been really good. Â Its unfortunate that we cant keep em. Â I disagree with that. Â I know that might not have anything to do with the Oculina Bank, but the closure, I disagree with that.
TH: Have you had any experiences with law enforcement within or regarding the Oculina Bank?
TH: I want to ask about your fishing history, specifically. Â Whats your earliest memory of fishing, and how old were you?
EL: Oh, I was quite young, probably seven or eight years old, fishing the Hudson River, you know, for anything that would bite. Â (laughs) Â You know? Â We mostly caught eels, but it was still fun.
TH: Whatd you do with the eels?
EL: Pretty much threw them back.
TH: Eat them or anything?
EL: No. Â We used to catch them on these night crawlers, those night crawlers, the things, whatever theythose worms. Â You know, that was my earliest
EL: memory. Â Of course, I got into freshwater fishing after that.
TH: So howd you learn how to fish? Â Who taught ya?
EL: Im pretty much self-taught. Â I do recall my friends family was very sporting and very outdoorsy and did a lot of fishing, ice fishing and those sort of things. Â So I learned, basically, from my friends.
TH: Did you ice fish?
EL: Yeah. Â Mm-hm.
TH: Theres not too many people down here that knows what thats about.
EL: No. Â Setting up the tip-ups, bringing out the big auger and drilling your holes.
TH: We had spuds that you had to (makes swooshing sound).
EL: Oh, no. Â We used the electric auger, you know, thats power
TH: Thats modern. Â Im a little older.
EL: Yeah. Â Right.
TH: Your friends family, you have a name of the family or your friend?
EL: The Corring family is all I can say.
EL: C-o-r-r-i-n-g. Â Yeah, his dad worked for the state in New Jersey, and they were hunters. Â I never got into hunting; strictly fishing.
TH: When did you start fishing in Fort Pierce area?
EL: As soon as I moved here in 1977.
TH: Okay. Â Whatd you fish for?
EL: I fished for everything and anything that would bite on the jetty. Â I did a lot of freshwater fishinglargemouth bass.
EL: Right in Port St. Lucie.
TH: On the ponds?
EL: All the canals, and ponds. Â I was a carpenter, you know: wherever we were building, framing homes, if there was a canal out back, Id be out there sending a rubber worm or a (inaudible), or something like that. Â I would snook fish the jetty quite a bit.
TH: Thats the Fort Pierce Inlet?
EL: At the Fort Pierce Inlet, yup. Â Go out on the charter boats; this was before I wascould afford to buy a boat.
TH: Did you go out on the charter boats, or the head boats?
EL: The head boats.
TH: There were fifty bucks a day?
EL: The bluewhat was it? Â Yeah, gosh. Â Man, when you get older, yourcant remember, you know? Â You get the CRS, Cant Rememberyou know, the old head boats. Â Hell, youve been around here forever. Â Whats the?
TH: I cant remember the blue one. Â Its Misswhat was it? Â Lady Stuart, now.
EL: No. Â No, this was prior to that.
TH: I remember the blue one youre talking
EL: The Blue something, or whatever. Â I used to go out on that, and also the one (cell phone rings) up inLady Stuart.
TH: Where did you go to fish when you began fishing? Â You say the ponds and the jetty. Â Anywhere else besides that you think of that
EL: Anywhere? Â The bridges.
TH: South Bridge?
EL: South Bridge
TH: Hot spot.
EL: a lot there.
TH: Did you catch snook there?
EL: Snook on occasion, yeah, whatever. Â Drum, sheepheads, you know, maybe a redfish now and then, trout. Â I used to catch trout at the Little Jim Bridge a lot, you know, with a bobber and a shrimp during the day.
TH: What was on the end of the hook?
TH: No, I mean, bobberwas the bait?
TH: Shrimp. Â Okay. Â So you mostly fished without a boat?
EL: In my younger years, yes.
TH: When did you get your first boat?
EL: My first boat I think I got sixteen, seventeen years ago. Â So, I was probably in my early thirties.
TH: Who did you fish with?
EL: Back then I fished with people that I employ: my subcontractors, and the people who work for me, mostly. Â I didnt meet Larry [Benning] right away, until I got my Twin V.
Larry Benning was also interviewed for the Oculina Bank Oral History Project. Â The DOI for his interview is O6-00044.
The first boat I had was a Pro-Line. Â I almost forgot about that.
TH: Can you describe that boat?
EL: It was a center consno, it was a walk around, twenty-three foot. Â Yeah, it was a twenty-three foot, single engine, powered by a 150oh, God, it was a two-stroke Mercury, I believe.
EL: It was an older boat, it was a nice boat, it was solid haul. Â Had a lot of good times on that boat.
TH: During what months of the year did you fish for what fish? Â Can you break it down, start in January? Â What youd target or fish for?
EL: I fish year round bottom fishing. Â I targetI always go out for grouper and snapper year-round. Â In the summertimeyou know, in the wintertime I would go out and bottom fish for mangroves and grouper, and then in the summertime, I would venture to the Bahamas and do a lot of bottom fishing over there.
TH: With your small boat?
EL: No, not with the twenty-three foot. Â Once I got my twenty-six foot Twin V, which was my second boat, that was a twenty-six consoleit had a console, it was a twenty-six catamaran powered by twin 115 Suzukis, and I rode that boat hard. Â I took that to the Bahamas a lot. Â I did a lot of trips off Fort Pierce. Â I did a lot of night fishing, which I still do. Â A lot of snapper fishing, which is probably my most enjoyable type of fishing these days.
TH: Snapper and grouper?
EL: Snapper. Â Its night fishing for mangroves.
TH: Oh, yeah?
EL: Yeah. Â I do that a lot.
TH: You can do that in shallow water, too, cant you?
EL: Yeah, I know. Â Yeah, I go to theI dont go out to deep water; sixty-five, seventy foot of water, you know, the inshore bar, stuff like that.
TH: What do you use for bait?
EL: I trymostly, for snapper, the best bait is live shrimp. Â I mean, thats deadly. Â You cant beat that out there. Â You know, sardines are great, too, if I can get em, live sardines. Â I like to use live bait even at night. Â Not that it matters that much, but Ive had most success with shrimp, live shrimp. Â Theyre irresistible to the snappers.
TH: To the mangroves?
EL: Mangroves, yep.
TH: How long does a fishing trip last, or did a fishing trip last, say, when you started fishing?
EL: It was an all-day thing for me. Â Id be early at the ramp and back late afternoon. Â When I do a night trip, I would leave at four or five oclock in the afternoon, be back at midnight, one oclock. Â If I go to the Bahamas, Id leave bright and early before the sun rose and be back maybe nine oclock at night.
TH: I mean, one day? Â The whole thing?
EL: If I do a one-dayer, yeah. Â Ive done some one-dayers over there, yep. Â Ill get there, clear customs and fish and go for conch. Â And then, at nighttime, I would do some night fishing. Â If they were biting pretty good, Id hang around; if not, Id be back in two hours, two and a half hours, you know? Â Usually the bites pretty good, so we do well.
TH: How much would you catch on an average trip, say, an average night trip?
EL: An average night trip?
TH: Yeah. Â Just out fishing, either here or the Bahamas, or just the average?
EL: On average night trip, we wouldsome nights we would be pretty close to our limit. Â If I had four guys on board, wed have twenty snappers, twenty mangroves, if not including maybe some extra muttons, or vermilions, or (inaudible), and an occasional grouper or two, too. Â Ive even caught blackfin tuna in the evening. Â I cant believe it, but I have. Â Just anchored up on the reef.
TH: What reef?
EL: Right here off of Fort Pierce.
TH: How far up?
EL: In sixty-five foot, seventy-five, inshore bar.
EL: I was surprised. Â I thought it was a bonito.
TH: Thatd be north of 12 [buoy]?
EL: Probably. Â No, no.
TH: Sixty-five, seventy?
EL: Northeast grounds, the 380s, is where I like to fish.
TH: Thats almostthats getting toward Bethel.
EL: Bethel, yeah. Â 380s is where Ive had success. Â I really haventIve tried straight off of the inlet, too. Â But Ive had more success there, you know? Â It doesnt have to be very profound bottom, either, you know. Â Theyre just active at night. Â Thats, again, a fun night.
TH: Do you usually go in your own boat?
EL: I rarely go out on other peoples boats. Â I like to be in control.
TH: Now, who you usually fish with?
EL: I fish with Larry, who you interviewed, quite a bit. Â Again, the same people Ive fished with for the last twenty years, you know: my subcontractors, my workers, my girlfriend on the weekends, and family, you know, theyll come aboard. Â But typically, its a group of guys. Â My dentist is always with me, too. Â So, its like three or four pretty regulars.
TH: Whats his name?
EL: Lon Massaglia.
TH: Can you spell that?
EL: L-o-n Massaglia, M-a-s-s-a-g-l-i-a.
EL: Yeah, hes a big time fisherman. Â He does adventurous stuff a lot, too.
TH: So on an averageonce again, the average trip thing keeps coming up again. Â Theres gonna be some repeated questions.
EL: Yeah. Â Average trip, on a day trip off Fort Pierce, would be maybe four or five snappers, maybe two groupers, a kingfish or two, and a mahi now and then. Â So, wed have a pretty good cooler full. Â Wed always get at least, Id say, (inaudible) some trips; of course, you never know. Â Sometimes you hammer them hard, you know. Â But we all have a couple of dinners. Â Four or five people will have enough couple of dinners.
TH: Their families?
EL: Right, right.
TH: All right. Â So how often do you go fishing offshore now, would you say?
EL: I try to go once a week.
TH: Are there some months that you go fishing more frequently?
EL: It all depends on weather. Â So, the summertime is more conducive to fishing. Â I would like to fish more in the wintertime, but typically more in the summertime, just the simple fact of the weather.
TH: Are there months where you never or rarely go fishing?
EL: Yes, the windy months like
EL: March, right.
EL: But Ive had good trips when I do go in March and April, you know?
TH: On average, how far offshore do you go?
EL: Twenty miles.
TH: So, you fishyou primarily target grouper and snapper?
TH: Who do you fish with? Â You go with your own boat. Â How do you decide where youre gonna fish? Â You say youre gonna fish this week; how do you decide where youre gonna fish if youre gonna go out this weekend?
EL: Well, thats a hard question.
TH: I know.
EL: SometimesI typically like to just venture to the northeast and start out in sixty foot of water and see whats happening. Â And then Ill go out to ninety foot of water, and then Illor Ill shoot straight offshore when I know that theres lack of current out there. Â You know, the less amount of current, the easier it is to fish out there, and the more productive its gonna be usually. Â Before I go out, its hard to say, but I typically will start inshore and see what the conditions are, you know. Â By inshore, I mean sixty-five foot of water, you know, the inshore bar, which Im sure youre very familiar with.
TH: Right. Do you consult anything else before you go?
EL: Oh, yeah. Â I try to check with other fishermen that have been out.
TH: Most recently?
EL: Right, recently. Â Like, Ill call David King, one of your guys, and see if he knows, cause he talks to the divers and to the other fishermen.
David King was also interviewed for the Oculina Bank Oral History Project. Â The DOI for his interview is O6-00009.
Ill make some phone calls, find out where the bait is if theres bait. Â Instead of, like, going to 10-A [buoy], or whatever, Ill find out if theyre up at Bethel or whatever. Â Ill check the current, or Ill check the weather. Â Thats basically it. Â I mean, its word of mouth is what I usually
TH: I guess what Im looking for is whose mouths? Â Dave King, you mentioned Dave King.
EL: Dave King. Â Glenn Cameron, another one.
Glenn Cameron was also interviewed for the Oculina Bank Oral History Project. Â The DOI for his interview is O6-00006.
Ill give him a call now and then. Â You know, he local charter captains, which I have become friends with. Â Ill also check the bait shops to see what theyve heard.
TH: Which ones? Â Whites Tackle?
EL: Flints, usually.
TH: I dont know Flints.
EL: Grand Slam? Â What do they call his place, right on US 1?
TH: Grand Slam? Â Im not sure.
EL: Or Whites. Â Ill look at Whites website. Â They have a fishing report. Â Ill look at the Captain Lews fishing report. Â I do that religiously.
TH: Wheres Captain Lews fishing report? Â Is it on the computer?
EL: Its here. Â Its on the computer.
TH: I just talked togot off the phone with him.
EL: Yeah. Â I check his stuff out, because if hes catching snapper, then I know I can catch snapper, you know?
TH: Thats what he targets.
EL: Right, right. Â So, I know hes bottom fishing all the time. Â I pay close attention to his website, and he tells me if the waters cold, dirty, if theres sharks. Â Like, recently, hes been reporting a lot of what he calls gray suits, you know, on his website. Â Gray suits are sharks.
TH: Little puppy sharks?
EL: Yeah, I guess.
EL: That indicates to me its dirty water. Â So, when I know its dirty water on the reefs, then Ill think about going out deeper into the twenty-seven fathoms.
TH: Start out deeper?
EL: Right. Â And if I can go the Oculina Bank, I would. Â I wouldnt even stop at twenty-seven. Â Id go out to the Ocaluna [sic], work my way back in.
TH: Okay. Â Once again, Ive already asked thathow much you catch on an average trip? Â Thats a wide open question.
EL: Yeah, its wide open. Â I mean, I usually dont get stumped. Â Let me put it that way.
TH: Okay. Â Finally, were gonna go back to the Oculina Bank in a minute. Â Id like to talk about how your fishing has changed over time in regards to the Oculina Bank. 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, and if so, how? Â The Oculina Bank was initially closed to trawling, dredging and bottom longlining in 1984. Â Did this affect your fishing?
EL: Did it affect myyes. Â I mean
TH: When they closed to trawling, dredging and bottom longlining in 1984, did that affect your fishing? Â This is 1984.
EL: Oh, so it was still open for bottom fishing in eighty-four ?
TH: Yeah, this was just for trawling, dredging, and longlining.
EL: No. Â No, it did not affect. Â Absolutely not.
TH: Then, ten years later in 1994, the Oculina Bank was designated as an experimental closed area where fishing for and retention of snapper [and] grouper species was prohibited. Â Snapper [and] grouper fishing boats were also prohibited from anchoring. Â Was your fishing impacted by this regulation? Â It was 1994.
EL: Ninety-four . Â All right. Â The years just slide by, you know? (laughs)
TH: Now, did that affect your fishing?
EL: Yes, absolutely. Â That did indeed affect my fishing.
TH: Cause you enjoyed fishing there?
EL: I enjoyed fishing there.
TH: And it was very productive?
EL: Very productive.
TH: In 1996, all anchoring was prohibited within the Oculina Bank. Â Did this impact your fishing, and if so, how?
EL: No, because
TH: It was already impacted.
EL: It was already impacted, correct. Â I mean, because I dont troll. Â I just dont make it. Â Its just not part of my
TH: The next question: In 1996, trawling for rock shrimp was prohibited in the area to the east and north of the designated Oculina Bank. Â In 1998, this area was incorporated into the Oculina Bank HAPC. Â Fishing with a bottom longline, trawl, or dredge was prohibited in this expanded area, as was anchoring. Â I assume you could still drift fish for bottom fish, but you could not anchor, trawl, longline or dredge.
TH: Was your fishing impacted by this regulation, and if so, how?
EL: No, because I rarely fish north of Sebastianyeah, north of Sebastian, or on the outside; its just too deep on the outside edge of the Oculina Bank.
TH: As a rule.
EL: Right. Â So, it really didnt impact me because I just dont travel that far to fish, thats all.
TH: All right. Â Now, this is the essence: The designation of marine areas that are closed to fishing is being used more frequently as a fishery management tool. Â How do you thinkwhat do you think about the use of closed areas to fishing compared to other types of management regulations, such as quotas, closed seasons, trip limits, slot limits, et cetera?
EL: As far as a recreational fisherman, I think the closed areas are detrimental for me. Â I could see it beingyou know, I mean, causelet me try to understand this question.
TH: Ill repeat it.
EL: Yeah, why dont you repeat that one more time?
TH: 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, such as quotas, closed seasons, trip limits, slot limits, et cetera?
EL: Yeah, I like the idea of the other alternatives, such as size, quotas, and
TH: Trip limits.
EL: trip limits. Â I think that wouldthat gives the recreational fisherman at least a shot to go out and catch a fish and have an enjoyable fishing trip. Â I mean if you close an area, you dont even have a chance to catch a fish. Â I mean, if you can go fishing and catch one fish, one fish is better than no fish. Â I think that is a bettera viable option, using the other regulations.
TH: Trip limits.
EL: Trip limits versus closing an area completely.
TH: And then, this is a follow-up and sort of the same question: What do you think is the best, most fairest, most equitable way to manage the fisheries for both the fish and for the fishermen? Â What are the tools, you know, that should be used?
EL: I think quotas for the commercial guy, which would encompass what, the amount of weight or fish that they could catch.
TH: Well, its the total amount of fish in an area. Â Thatd be a quota. Â Like, there are so many million pounds or hundred thousand pounds are allowed for certain areas. Â And then theres trip limits.
EL: Right. Â Well, once you meet that quota, doesnt matter how many trips it takes. Â You could catch your quota in two trips or two hundred trips, right? Â I mean, I think the quotano. Â I mean, am I understanding that right? Â Im not sure how it works with a commercial guy, you know? Â He weighs his fish and it all goes in a computer and then they havethey reach the point where
TH: We have trip limits of fifty head or seventy-five head depending on the season. Â In the summertime, when theres more fish, we have seventy-five head trip limit. Â In the wintertime, its a fifty fish trip limit.
EL: I gotcha.
TH: Anyway, thats your opinion on it. Â Its not my opinion on it, and I wont insert my opinion.
EL: Right. Â I hear ya. Â I think the limits are okay. Â Again, an area can be overfished if youyou can make so many trips. Â I think the quota is a pretty foolproof way of figuring it out. Â I mean, if they put X amount of fish in this area, we got to shut this off to the commercial fishermen, you know. Â Then again, I could see that being where one guy could have a great day, the other guy doesnt, and thats a great couple of trips, and the one guy doesnt. Â Maybe trip limits would be the best way. Â Then again, theres weather to beyou know, some days you cant get out. Â So, there may be a month you cant get out. Â You know? Â But I guess trip limits would be the fairest way to do it and go about it.
TH: And quotas.
EL: And quotas, yes.
TH: How about closed seasons? Â Like right now, you cant catch
EL: Snapper. Â Snook. Â I dont like the idea, because then you cantI mean, I cant go out and fish for something I want to fish for. Â If I had a quotaif they minimize the amount of fish I could keep, I could still go out and fish and enjoy myself and bring home something to eat, you know?
TH: So instead of closed season, youd rather see the trip limits lowered?
EL: Right, right. Â Yup. Â Absolutely.
TH: Okay. Â Thinking ahead to the future, what do you think fishing in Fort Pierce will be like in ten years? Â Think about the pressures from different directions from fishermen, from pollution. Â In ten years what do you think fishing will be like in Fort Pierce?
EL: In Fort PierceI think its so regulated now that I dont think theres gonna be a problem in ten years. Â I just think its just regulated to the point where its hard to catch fish, so I dont see a problem. Â I dont see a problem. Â I think fishing will be fine.
TH: Okay, because of?
EL: Because of the existing regulations
TH: Strict regulations.
EL: strict regulations, yes, absolutely.
TH: Okay. Â That concludes the bulk of the interview. Â I have a couple of follow-up questions, and then well wrap this up. Â Can you tell me, offhand, probably one of the mostyou know, a couple of the most interesting and unique experiences youve had fishing here in Fort Pierce?
EL: Yes, I can. Â I can tell you probably the most unique-est.
TH: Most unique. (laughs)
EL: Most unique experience. Â I wasit was the doldrums of summer. Â I was anchored up out on the reef, offshore bar; I think it was ninety-foot of water. Â It was a slow, slow day. Â The fish were not chewing. Â It was hot. Â There was two of us: a friend of mine, his boat, we were anchored up out there chumming the waters; onboard the other ship, the other boat, was a marine biologist or whoever. Â And we saw a great white shark that came up to our boat and made two passes around my boat. Â It was the biggest thing Ive seen in the water.
TH: Was this your twenty-nine foot boat?
EL: No. This was my twenty-six foot boat, I believe it was. Â It was the most incredible thing Ive ever saw. Â He just (inaudible) to the boat, made two passes around the boat. Â I had some young kids on the boat, and the one of themthey had their feet out in the water. Â I said, Get your feet out of the water! Â And then I saw this submarine coming near us, and the one kid picked up a little piece of sardine or something and threw it out there, and I said, Dont do that, man! Â Dont do that! Â Dont get em worked up! Â I was actually in a state of shock, because Ive never seen anything like that.
He just made two big slow passes around our boat, and just moseyed on off. Â He was wide as a car, and as long as my boat. Â I have a lot of witnesses, and I had a camera right there, and I just froze when I saw it. Â The one guy on my boat said, Thats a great white, the guy, the biologist on the other boat confirmed it, and I just couldnt believe it. Â Man, it was the biggest fish Ive ever seen. Â It was the craziestI would never dream that I would ever see a great white shark out in Fort Pierce in the middle of summer. Â But sure enough, I did. Â So, its a vision that I have instilled in my head that Ill never forget, and it was really cool, really cool. Â So that was really one of my most memorable things out on the water. Â You want another one?
TH: If anything comes to mind, well wrap it up.
EL: If anything comes to mind. Â Probably, I got intoas far as fishing, I got into a spawn of muttons, and that was probably the most fun. Â As soon as the lightas soon as the sun went down, the fishing turned on like a light bulb. Â We were catching mutton snappers, ten to fifteen pounds, as soon as we dropped it into the water. Â Yeah, thats a genuine. Â Thats a genuine there.
TH: Where was this?
EL: Over on the other side, though.
TH: Over in the Bahamas.
EL: Yeah, Bahamas waters. Â It was the funnest fishing. Â I mean, we limited out in no time. Â The deck was just covered with muttons. Â There was four of us, we caught thirty-nine of them, and I had no more room in my coolers. Â It was just nonstop. Â It was like the sharks were in feeding on them, too, so we were fighting sharks, but yet the mutton still bit.
TH: How did you fight the sharks off?
EL: We just brought them in and cut our line. Â We hoped one guy would catch a shark; the other guys could be reeling in muttons. Â You know, it was a blast. Â Also, I caught a big gag [grouper] off of Fort Pierceit was forty pounds; that was another great trip, a memorable tripthat I have mounted. Â Ill show you my mount upstairs.
TH: Gag grouper.
EL: A grouper mount. Â Ive caught a lot of big groupers in Fort Pierce, and I just love it. Â I have a lot of fun trips out there. Â Ive hooked a blue marlin once off Fort Pierce.
TH: Bottom fishing?
EL: Just threw a flatline out. Â I think what happened is I caught a dolphin, a peanut dolphin, and he came up and just, you know, pirouetted out of the water with this dolphin in his mouth, and I had him on for second. Â I wouldve never landed it. Â He was huge. Â It was quite a sight.
TH: How big?
EL: Oh, God. Â He had to behe was bigger than this couch, I could tell you that.
TH: Good twelve, fifteen foot?
EL: Yeah, maybe, maybe. Â That was a beautiful thing. Â That was a beautiful thing, seeing him come out of the water, shaking his head.
But I do miss fishing in the Oculina Bank. Â Ive caught all kinds of stuff out there, bottom fishing, when we were allowed to fish out there. Â I truly hope that they will keep the recreational fisherman in mind, do away with anchoring. Â I have no problem with that, just drift fishing over there. Â Let us keep a fish or two, you know, a grouper or two out there. Â I think thats all I can think of as far as memorable experiences.
TH: With that
EL: Another bad experience I hadI guess theres good experiences and bad experiences. Â I was stung by a stonefish trying to de-hook it. Â I was in completedo you wanna hear this?
TH: Yeah, then well wrap it up.
EL: Another bad experience I had was getting stung by a stonefish, which I pulled up and I tried to take it off the hook, and it was the most painful, instantaneous pain Ive ever had. Â My arm swelled up incredibly large, and incredibly quickly, too. Â I was just in intense pain, and we had to end the trip. Â It was early in the morning. Â I had to have somebody else take the boat in; I couldnt even run the boat. Â So, it taught me a lesson with those ugly fish: to just cut the leader, to not even try mess with them. Â So, Im very careful with that.
TH: One last question.
TH: Have you ever been in a storm that has caused you to maybe get religion?
EL: Yes, I have. Â Ive been in a storm where it was dead calm, flat calm. Â It was like the calm before the storm. Â I was out in the Gulf Stream
TH: Off Fort Pierce?
EL: Yeah, off of Fort Pierce, coming home. Â I was probably on the other side of the Gulf Stream coming home, and it was flat calm beautiful. Â This was before I hadI now have the Sirius XM Weather Satellite onboard, which has been a great tool for me. Â I ran into a storm, it just kicked up so bad that it must have been, I dont know, twelve, fifteen-foot waves, and they were probably three foot apart, and I was scared to death and so was everybody else on board. (laughs) Â So, I just went real easy into it. Â That boat justit was very, very scary. Â It was raining cats and dogs, lighting was cracking all around me, the waves were taller than the boat, and again, they were very close. Â It was very uncomfortable, and I was saying a few Hail Marys.
And then, you know, I just calmed myself down and just went slowly, quarter in the waves the best I could, and holding on for dear life and trying to be calm, because I know everybody else is just as scared as I am. Â We got through it. Â It was probably about fifteen miles of storm, but it was incredible, because it was so glassy calm just before that, you know? Â I respect Mother Nature, I truly do. Â And thats why I do have that weather satellite, because I am out in the summertime a lot. Â So, yes, that was one experience. Â Ive been out in a few; but the one in particular, it was on my twenty-six footer. Â It just made me get humble, humble quick.
TH: With that, Emil, I want to thank you very much
EL: My pleasure.
TH: for doing this interview, and thank you.
EL: Okay. Â Thank you.
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