As the year draws to a close, I’m just trying to find time to get out to the marshes in this busy season. Between holidays, birthdays, parties, and work, finding time to fish has been almost impossible at times. In fact, the last time I had targeted redfish was before Halloween.
Fall fishing is upon us. Here in Louisiana, we are starting to see lower temperatures and more pictures posted on social media of coolers filled with specks and reds. With this in mind, my local kayak fishing club hosted a “Pot Luck” tournament, where the angler with the biggest fish would take all. We hit the water tournament morning with great hopes of taking advantage of fall fishing.
It's tourney time again! Once again, the KARS staff and I will host a kayak, canoe, and SUP tournament. KARS Park, located on the pristine waters of the No Motor Zone in the Merritt Island National Refuge on East Central Florida's Space Coast is perhaps one of Florida's greatest treasures for inshore anglers.
Red drum, redfish, spot-tail, puppy drum, drum, channel bass, red bass. There are so many names for this beautiful copper sport fish, depending on where you live. Their scientific name is Sciaenops ocellatus (Sciaenops – Greek word meaning perch-like marine fish; oceallatus – Latin word meaning an eye-like colored spot).They are arguably the most sought after coastal fish in Florida, which I (and many others) consider the Redfish Capital of the World.
I always find it satisfying when criminals get caught and find it even more satisfying when criminals get caught by their own stupidity! Meet Louis Castro, a 30 year old Texas resident who loves fishing and sharing photos of himself on Facebook.
So where does the stupidity part of this story come in? Castro decided to heck with the bag limit of three redfish per day between 20 and 28 inches and only one longer than 28 inches with a tag. He decided to keep eight over 28 inches. If that wasn’t enough to label this poacher as a moron the evidence ends up being uploaded to Facebook with the quote “just for fun”!
Luckily the public quickly reported the image to Cameron County game wardens that arrested him several days later.
Below is the full press release by Texas Parks and Wildlife.
AUSTIN – A South Texas man has pled guilty to nine charges of possession of oversized red drum, one charge of no saltwater fishing license, and one charge of exceeding the possession limit for red drum.
The investigation leading to the filing of charges against 30-year-old Luis Castro began with a Facebook post showing a man holding a large red drum with eight other oversize drum on display in the bed of a pickup truck. (The bag limit for redfish is three per day, and they must be between 20 and 28 inches. Only one redfish longer than that can be kept, and only with a properly completed redfish tag attached to it.)
On Nov. 1, game wardens in Cameron County were contacted about the Facebook picture, which had originally been placed on line by Castro’s brother. Accompanying the image was the comment, “just for fun.”
Game wardens ended up receiving multiple complaints regarding the Facebook post. TPWD dispatchers and game wardens were able to review records which eventually resulted in the positive identification of Castro and his place of employment.
On Nov. 6, game wardens interviewed Castro and obtained a signed written statement. Five days later, Willacy County Justice of the Peace George Solice issued an arrest warrant for Castro and game wardens arrested him the same day. Following arraignment, he was released with a court date of Nov. 19.
“Anglers on several social media sites were posting negative comments, and a day after the picture was originally posted, it was removed,” said Game Warden Maj. Alan Teague. “However, the picture had been saved by many anglers and reposted.”
Teague said the picture made it to fishing groups as far away as Florida.
“With tips from anglers and hard work by our game wardens and dispatchers, we were able to track the individual to a city in South Texas,” Teague said.
During sentencing, Justice of the Peace Solice noted how important recreational fishing is to the people in Willacy County which includes Port Mansfield. Before sentencing Castro, the judge pointed out that there are people in the county whose livelihood depends upon the quality and future of recreational fishing.
“It was an obscene number of fish that you caught,” the judge said to the defendant. “We are all living paycheck-to-paycheck but none of us are going hungry. It was completely unnecessary to take that many fish.”
Castro was fined $2,600 and an additional $2,645.91 will be assessed as part of the civil restitution.
The Columbus Day 2013 Boondoggle™ took place at Big Lagoon State Park near Perdido Key, FL. This was the first time that an event of this size locked down a state park where 350 plus kayak anglers were the only residents for three days. Also impressive was the level of organization KFR and YakAngler with an agenda of workshops on paddling strokes, tactical approach to fishing, fishing beyond the breakers, fly fishing, a video clinic, kayak safety, and proper catch and release techniques.
Fall colors peak along the Gulf Coast in October. The color red, that is. After enduring a long and muggy summer, the angler is rewarded with great opportunities to find redfish as fall sets in.
The Kayak Fishing ClassicS held the fourth annual Ozello Classic on September 7, 2013 hosted by Pecks Old Port Cove Restaurant. The Ozello Classic was the fifth and final Gulf Coast divisional tournament and series championship. Chuck Statham won first place in the three-redfish event, and captured the Gulf Series Divisional Championship. Let’s look at the winning order for the tournament, and then the Top Five finishers for the series.
The Kayak Fishing ClassicS held the Pine Island Classic on July 13, hosted by the famous Tarpon Lodge on Pine Island. The Gulf Division is still up in the air, and the series championship will come down to the wire… again. Nothing was really settled in the Gulf series, and it will be anyone’s game at Ozello in September. One thing is for sure - it remains very close after the Pine Island Classic. Here’s how it played out.
On August 11, 2013, some of the finest kayak anglers in the mid-Atlantic will gather in Swansboro, NC for the Airborne Angler Adventures Yak-Master Classic. The tournament will benefit Heroes on the Water and St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and the entry fee is a modest $25. Competitors are to receive captain’s bags and shirts, and there will be raffles as well.