By Neil Taylor, owner,

“ one who kills or takes wild animals (such as game or fish) illegally”

Don’t take the law into your own hands, you try to get someone else to get them in court.   It would be great to just take them into a field and shoot them.     But people told me I can’t do that.   And that is actually too bad.    Any thief should meet that ultimate demise.      If there is one thing in the world I cannot stand it is a thief and a poacher is nothing but a common thief.

That’s being discussed again. I contributed my thought on this to the state, the FWC, Pinellas County and the Sheriff’s office via letter. In my thoughts I said “courtesy guidelines” should be included in the training to increase awareness people have of minimizing encroachment onto other water users. It’s so simple really: Plant the seed in peoples’ minds and they may actually give other water users a wide berth (unless they’re the type B people and really want to buzz close to you)

My worst poacher encounter:  I keep it quiet so that by chance this guy reads the internet- I don’t become an easy target. I also don’t want anyone else handling things the way I do.  Keep in mind:   Three hours went by from the time I made my first phone call until this guy was face down in the sand in handcuffs.

The guy had four illegal fish. Two of them snook, two of them redfish. No response from the FWC. Finally, I called the Sheriff’s marine unit. They were trying to get a boat in the water but this guy was paddling back to the causeway (yep a kayaker). I told the client “I’m not letting this guy leave with those fish, when we get back to the beach, just pull your boat up and hop in your car and go. I’ll reschedule you for another trip.”  The client didn’t care.  He was interested in seeing what I was going to do

You can knock on a deaf man’s door forever.  

Baffling.  This week’s reports:  Three situations where people had “undersize Spanish mackerel”.   What kind of a moron keeps undersize mackerel?      Of course, that pretty much applies for any species.   Me, I don’t want to waste my time filleting tiny fish.      My own personal limits are higher than those set by the state.   Examples.  Pompano 11 inches is legal.   I don’t keep them until they are 13.    Sheepshead, 12 inches.   14 inches is my minimum size.   Flounder, 12 inches:  14 inches is my personal limit.   A big one:  Redfish.   One fish 18 to 27 inches is the rule.    I think it is ridiculous to keep a redfish under 22 inches.    Speckled trout have a minimum size of 15 inches.     I don’t keep one until it is 16 and even a 16 may look too skinny for me to take.       My opinion they should make my rules “The Rules.”

So we beached, he drove off and I pulled my van up in front of this guy’s truck. The guy didn’t say anything at first but got increasingly nervous. He said “Move your car.”

“I will in a while.”

“Move it or I’ll pull out my gun and make you move it.” The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The client had waved down a sheriff on the other side of the causeway and this deputy overheard that comment. At that same time the Sheriff boat and another sheriff’s car arrived there.

I said “OK, I’ll move my car now.”   This guy, unaware, I had my gun out with the safety off.    If he pulled a gun out, I’ll bet you the bank, he’s dead.On top of the resource violations they hauled him in for aggravated assault. In a call I got later from the marine deputy it was a second offense for assault so that guy spent some time in the pokey. I showed the deputy my weapon and he nodded.   Then smiled.     He said “The guy never had a chance really.”    I said “Don’t forget the illegal fish he has stored,”   Aha.      Widen the penalties.

Lowlife, with other charges, this guy went to prison.     No fishing in prison.      Anyway, he got out but then had to go back in for screwing up again.,      Again:  Taken out into a field and shot wouldn’t hurt the system any.   I have a pure hatred of a poacher.    This week’s report:  A 38 inch snook speared.    Illegal method.   Oversize.   Out of season.    A total loser.     The other snook in this week’s report:   18 inches.     Why would you want an 18-inch snook?    A total loser.

The client booked again but refused to get a free trip out of it. He said seeing that was worth paying for.   He had a lot of respect for how strongly I felt about protecting the resource.   The Sheriff gave me the lecture about guns.     I looked at him.    He continued.   I stopped him.    I told him that as a former umpire and many, many years around guns I wasn’t the common guy he was dealing with.    He nodded    I continued “This was three hours later.  Why did I have to be involved at all?”     A legit question.

Now, when I make a phone call, they are on their way.     Because they know if I have to I will take action.

Anyway, I added the live rounds to my gun. I’ve gotta go get the concealed permit so I don’t get busted for carrying it with me.  But it seems like, without it, I’m still in the right when I have to put my hands on it.

The poacher is an interesting one to me.    There is the poacher that doesn’t know they are the poacher a minority when it comes to poachers.     Most know what they are doing is wrong and they do it anyway.     I come from a family where it is dreadful to be a thief.    And a poacher is nothing more than a thief.    Stealing from all of us.

From the time I was 4 years old my father told me about the rules when we went fishing.   He told me even if I didn’t like the rule to go by it.   So, I always have.    It has been easy.

Once in all my fishing years have I had an illegal fish.    A redfish.     Way, way too short.    My girlfriend Amy, while catching whiting:  Threw one fish in the cooler herself the whole day.   I’m at home cutting up all these whiting and I get to this redfish.     I said, “What is this?”   She said, “That one is thicker.”    I said, “It’s also not a whiting.”      I picked up the whole and dialed.      I called in the violation.      The woman who answered the phone put me on hold.    The guy who comes on is a guy I still deal with from time to time now.    He said “Neil, you’re not the guy we are after.     Tell your girlfriend to be more careful moving forward.”    I said “She’ll never put a fish in the cooler again.   She’s in the back crying.”

From several years ago:

The professional poachers are the worst.     My efforts along with those of another guide I will leave nameless:   We have put a bunch of them out of business.     The other guy, a family, much better no one knows what he has done.   Me, they want to take a poke at me, they better be good at it or I’ll make their lives way worse than they are as just a lowlife thief.       I am not afraid of any of them.

It’s worldwide.   Ivory in Arica.     Lions.     You name it, there are rules and everywhere there are rules there is someone ignoring them.

Interesting times.    Myself and some big names in the Florida fishing world are pushing for some change.     A redfish stamp.    Increased enforcement.

We have all kinds of people in the world.    Unfortunately, a lot of them are thieves.   A poacher is a thief.    A thief of the worst kind:  Stealing from all of us.   A poacher should be in jail.     Penalties should be strict enough to discourage poaching.      Enforcement needs to be better.      It is a tough one.   In Texas they do it right.   I have fished in Texas about 40 days of my life.   And do you know it, I have been checked more in Texas than I have in 25 years in Florida.     Money:   It just isn’t there.    It is sad because it could be there.    Bad decisions.     We lack proper licensing.   If I had my way, licensing would change and the money generated would pay field enforcement staff.

Get a guy like Scott Moore on the inside:   Watch it improve.   People have pitched me.    Yes, things would work better.    But I don’t want it.   I want the people that it is their jobs to do it right.    I want poachers caught.   I want poachers prosecuted.      If no one’s looking maybe I’ll just shoot them.      My mother, very unhappy with me after she just read this, I’m not kidding.    (I just said it two paragraphs ago, and probably back at the beginning of the whole thing)  If you are a lowlife enough to blatantly ignore the rules, you are a common thief and I am fine with any common thief to just be taken out into a field and shot.    I never understood a thief.   I will never understand a thief.      I don’t care if you are like that if you get shot.      If you are the one doing the shooting, I will reimburse you for the ammunition.

This world is kind of sad.   We have way more of this kind of people than we should.    If it doesn’t belong to me, I don’t touch it.   If it isn’t legal to keep, I let it go.  That’s how I live.   How is it so many more people have a hard time going by those simple rules??

See a poacher, report a poacher.    Keep your eyes peeled for illegal activity and make a call if you see poaching, 888-404-FWCC (3922).  Your tips will help make cases and you could be eligible for a reward.

Neil Taylor
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