Do Away With The Regs?


Those who would do away with the regs 

On one of my970-WFLA “Capt. Mel Shows” some called to talk about the lack of trout this year. Many blamed the poor showing to some degree on the 2005 red tide outbreak — but most attributed the decline of this once abundant fishery to the extreme fishing pressure of the last few years. Many suggested than most of those who catch and release these delicate fish harm them during their release by mishandling.

And then there were callers to our 970-WFLA radio show who felt that there are too many regulations and they would like to get rid of them all. Needless to say, this not only brought an avalanche of calls to our radio programs, but dozens of emailed reactions to the subject.

Here’s just a sampling of some of these messages:


Good morning to you. Enjoying listening to your show. My thought on the 20″ size limit on spotted sea trout is, I’m for it. Keep the breeders breedin’. I’ve lived here for just over six years now, Bradenton/Cortez area, and the biggest attraction is the bay fishing. Trout and Redfish fishing is my love. I want my daughters and there kids to say the same thing. My daughters’ are great fishermen by the way, and love going out with me. I’m for taking a camera with you fishing. As our memories fade, the pictures last. Take pictures of the big ones and let them go. A sixteen inch trout is pretty tasty. Thank you for your time and knowledge.

John Ray Bradenton

I know that this is going to sound argumentative; I don’t really want it to be that. i would like to learn. I have lived here for many years, and I was very into fishing up north. I know that it is different here, but I always fished and hunted for the fun and the food. I love fish. I never took any more than we could use. I caught the largest bass in Michigan when I was 12. My Dad taught me, If you kill it, it better be good to eat! You are going to eat it!

Well, you spend a lot of time talking about how to handle fish that are caught and released and how they often die.

Well, how do these people that say that they are conservationists justify that?
Now, I am not coming from a non-informed area. I have killed and skinned and eaten thousands of animals in my life. Dove, quail, grouse, squirrel, duck, turkey, cattle, hogs, chickens, etc. I have a respect for life. I also built and maintained sheltered areas for them to breed. And I allowed the breeding populace to have all of the room that I could give.

I also know that God was the first recorded killer of an animal, at least I don’t know any other way that you are going to get the skin off of one.

Now, the real reason that I have written you is, I would very much like to go out and fish. And I have. But the problem is, the rules and regulations are so involved that I do not understand them. I was threatened with a violation by a wildlife officer once. I cannot tell what I have caught sometimes. If I did not have any other life, I could take all of my spare time and learn them. I want to be able to just go out occasionally and fish. Then I want to take them home and fix them for dinner. These so-called ‘recreational fishermen’ are a major part of the damage to the fish population. ‘Catch and release?’ get a life!!!! You are killing fish, even under the best conditions!!! For what purpose? The fun of pulling them in and killing them?

I do not have enough funds to take a charter out. I hate to admit that because you often say how inexpensive it is. But if you do not have the money, it aint cheap. I have purchased fishing licenses several times. Never have I gotten my money’s worth of fish out of them.

I do very much enjoy your show. You are a very kind and caring person. I listen to 970 almost exclusively. That will not change.

David Randolph in Brandon

Dear David:

First of all, thanks for your well expressed views on the subject of fisheries conservation. Though you and I might disagree, I sense that you are a caring angler who wants to do what right for our precious resources.

Having said that, let me respond to a few of your comments. First of all, the regulations are not brain surgery. As a matter of fact, you can look up the regs anytime on our web site – where you will find a complete array of fish pictures for easy ID of all species. You can also pick up a free publication at many tackles stores and the FWC of their “Florida Saltwater Fishing Regulations.”

Just remember, these regs are not there to punish anglers — or make their fishing trips more aggravating. They have been put into place after extensive scientific evaluation to assure that the available fish stock will survive and reproduce so that your kids and grand children – future generations can enjoy what we almost take for granted. Over the years, Florida has been growing very rapidly in population, and these regulations are vital in maintaining what has been a very valuable 8-billion dollar annual industry for our state.

As for “not getting your money’s worth” from the fishing license, I don’t know what that means. For what amounts to around 15-dollars, you can have the fun of fishing our still abundant waters for a full year. And yes, even take home an occasional fillet or two for the dinner table. I personally don’t know of a better bargain anywhere.

And yes, there are many of us who enjoy finding, catching – and releasing fish. To the vast majority, it’s not about dinner – it’s about the joy of being in the beautiful natural surroundings, away from the every day cares of life and wetting a line with a friend. As they say in that commercial, “it doesn’t get any better than this.”

Best regards.

Thanks for listening to our radio shows.

Capt. Mel Berman

Well Mel you kept you cool better than I would! I think by keeping him on extra long you made his argument seem even more specious and moronic. I honestly cannot believe there are actually people like that around today-yet in reality there are a whole lot more like that than I believe we realize. I think the people you meet/greet/deal with from the forum are maybe 15 or 20% the fishing crowd (in that I mean conservation minded and lawful–limiting their catch, etc) while the vast majority are still fish hogs.
Anyway, good show-and thanks for giving a dope like that enough rope!!


Cap Mel,

Always enjoy your shows!

Why not deal with fishing regulations in a similar way to hunting regulations? Open and closed seasons for all inshore fish at the same time and preserves where fishing is prohibited in areas that are considered breeding grounds and nurseries.

During the open season most any size fish can be taken within the bag limits.

Just a thought. Personally I think the regs. are fine the way they are.

Best Fishing!

Darin Gasperson