• Friday, September 02, 2016 6:40 AM | John Durkee (Administrator)

    -Thuggery Causes Sebastian North Jetty to Close at Night


    Because of increasing reports of vengeful behavior by some fishermen, Sebastian Inlet’s popular north jetty fishing pier will be closed at night for a temporary period starting in about two weeks.

    At a special meeting Wednesday, the five-member Sebastian Inlet District Commission voted 3-2 in an unprecedented move to close the 745-foot jetty from dusk to dawn daily while commission staff and its legal counsel work with state and local agencies for better law enforcement and ways to quell the reckless activity.

    Of primary concern to the commission are the numerous reports its staff has received from boaters becoming the targets of jetty anglers throwing or casting lead weights, lures and other objects into their boats, mostly at night.

    A small band of troublemakers are believed responsible.

    Despite the fact the jetty is within the Sebastian Inlet State Park, the jetty is owned and maintained by the Sebastian Inlet District making the district responsible for the management of the pier. It also maintains and manages the inlet waterway that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Indian River.

    District administrator Martin Smithson said there were isolated cases of angler-boater interaction for years, but more serious incidents have escalated in the last two years.

    “We have a file full of complaints from boaters who have been struck with objects thrown from the jetty,” Smithson said. “A bad situation is just waiting to happen where someone gets hit and falls overboard.”

    The most recent incident occurred on Aug. 12 at 8:30 p.m. when a boater nearly lost a finger that became wrapped in an angler’s line he was trying to clear from the cockpit of his boat. In the process the angler jerked hard on the line. The injury required medical treatment.

    Scott Schopke showed the commissioners the 2-ounce plastic-tail jig that was cast into the boat occupied by his son and his girlfriend.

    “It was the second of two lines cast toward them,” Schopie said. “There’s a big difference between bad sportsmanship and malicious intent. This guy who made the cast made a malicious attempt to injure my son.”

    Florida statute 790.19, in part, states that hurling or projecting a missile into a vessel is a second-degree felony punishable by the maximum of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

    During outgoing inlet tides, when the turbulence peaks at the mouth of the inlet, boaters entering and exiting the inlet will follow the calmer conditions along the curvature of the jetty, putting them within range of the casters. Because of its strong tides and narrow width Sebastian is regarded as a dangerous inlet to navigate.

    Smithson said it would take at least two weeks to construct a barrier and gate at the western most point of the jetty. The gate will be locked each evening and anyone found on the jetty between dusk and dawn will be charged with illegal trespassing.

    All other areas of the inlet and the park will remain open 24 hours a day.

    “When we find some answers to the problems we’ll call for another special (commission) meeting and the commissioners will consider re-opening the jetty,” Smithson said.

    Commissioner Beth Mitchell of Sebastian, who made the motion for closure, said the commission has been diligent. “But the agencies involved have not been as responsive. We need our people to work with these agencies to do a better job.”

    The district does not have law enforcement personnel, nor does Florida State Parks, which turned over its law enforcement responsibilities in 2012 to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office also has jurisdiction on the jetty.

    Several of the two dozen people at the meeting said there is little, if any, law enforcement presence on the jetty.

    “We need law enforcement,” Jose Dore said. “We never see law enforcement out there.”

    Mike Maher said he quit fishing at night because of the problems.

    “I’ve been hit numerous times in my boat and I’d get yelled at and threatened,” Maher said, adding that similar trouble also occurs for boaters around the catwalk areas under the State Road A1A Bridge.

    Alan Kershaw suggested charging an extra fee, in addition to the state park user fee, for using the jetty. “That might weed out the trouble makers. Education is needed for the people on the jetty.”

    The concrete-capped jetty, equipped with safety railings, offers anglers access to fishing areas otherwise inaccessible to land-based fishermen. Sebastian Inlet is recognized as one of the top sportfishing centers in Florida for multiple species and the north jetty is the focal point.

  • Tuesday, August 23, 2016 2:45 PM | John Durkee (Administrator)

    Recreational Harvest of Golden Tilefish in Federal Waters of the South Atlantic Will Close on August 27, 2016      

    Recreational harvest of golden tilefish in South Atlantic federal waters will close, at 12:01 a.m. (local time) on August 27, 2016. Recreational harvest in federal waters will reopen at 12:01 a.m. (local time) on January 1, 2017. The recreational annual catch limit for golden tilefish is 3,019 fish. Reports indicate that recreational landings have exceeded the 2016 annual catch limit for the recreational sector.

    During the closure:

    • Recreational harvest or possession of golden tilefish in or from the federal waters of the South Atlantic is prohibited.
    • The closure applies in both state and federal waters for vessels which have a valid charter/headboat permit for South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper.
      This closure is necessary to protect the golden tilefish fishery by limiting the amount that landings exceed the recreational annual catch limit.

      This Fishery Bulletin is forwarded as a courtesy of the 
    South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.  
    Questions or comments should be addressed to 
    NOAA Fisheries using the contact information provided in the Bulletin. 

  • Thursday, August 04, 2016 10:01 AM | John Durkee (Administrator)

    I'll call this a glimmer of hope!    from the SAFMC the following -  

    Notes from SAFMC regarding Red Snapper

    Discussions were often-times intense as members of the South Atlantic Council reviewed the results of the latest benchmark stock assessment for South Atlantic red snapper, showing the stock remains over shed and over shing is occurring. Red snapper continue to be closed to harvest in federal waters for the second year in a row after the estimated total number of sh removed in 2015 was more than double the allowable number of removals set at 114,000 sh. The majority of the total removals were attributed to sh discarded by recreational anglers. An estimated 28.5% of sh released by recreational anglers do not survive. 

    Members of the Council voiced concerns over the conclusion that over shing was occurring, noting the uncertainty in the stock assessment as outlined by its Scienti c and Statistical Committee and questioning the models and reference points used in the assessment. After much discussion, the Council asked that the SSC review the assessment again and address its concerns during the next SSC meeting scheduled for October 18-20, 2016. 

    “We have other species that are over shed and under a rebuilding plan where we continue to allow harvest,” said Council Chair Dr. Michelle Duval, noting snowy grouper as
an example. “The issue that folks are struggling with is the overfishing designation...it just doesn’t make sense that by not allowing harvest we’re actually killing more fish than we’re supposed to be. That speaks to the need for a different strategy.”     Emphasis added

    The different strategy may come in the form of a new adaptive management approach outlined by Council member Ben Hartig during the Council’s June meeting. Hartig presented a list of ideas for red snapper management, noting input received from the Council’s Snapper Grouper Advisory Panel and from the public as part of the Council’s Visioning Project for the Snapper Grouper fishery.  

    The comprehensive approach emphasizes the need for improvements in data collection, flexibilty, and the ability to cap effort and mortality while allowing for a limited harvest of red snapper. The presentation included several ideas for addressing the needs and it was generally well-received. The Council has requested a more formal options paper be developed for review and discussion during its September 2016 meeting. 

  • Sunday, June 26, 2016 5:29 AM | John Durkee (Administrator)

    Project Chair Eric Griggs writes:

    Thanks need to go out to our key sponsors for another successful Kids Fishing Clinic. 270 kids, plus their parents, had a fun-filled day participating in an activity that can sustain them for the rest of their lives. Without the following, the event would be impossible, or at least much more difficult:

    Canaveral Port Authority

    Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

    Fish Florida

    Sunrise Marina

    Grills Seafood Deck

    Lowe's Home Products

    Cape Canaveral Twice The Ice

    Fired Up Charters

    Strong Trucking

    Sun State Pest Management

    Kosiba's Outdoor Cookery

    Cape Canaveral Volunteer Fire Department

    Chum it Up Bait & Tackle

    Catch A Memory Radio Show 

    Dozens of volunteers

    Dozens of individual sponsors

    Thank You!!

  • Saturday, June 25, 2016 6:43 PM | John Durkee (Administrator)

    FWC’s Saltwater Angler Recognition programs entice anglers to get involved and learn more about Florida’s diverse marine resources while adding to an exciting day out on the water. These programs enhance the fishing experience for resident and visiting anglers and to those who have yet to discover the joy of fishing.

    Check out all the details at.  http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recognition/

  • Sunday, June 05, 2016 7:56 PM | John Durkee (Administrator)

    now posted. Thanks everyone and congratulations to the winners,..,btw. 17 junior anglers weighed fish, making us proud, the next generation.


  • Wednesday, April 13, 2016 6:21 PM | John Durkee (Administrator)

    Space Coast Jr./Sr. Partners With Ocearch To Make Positive Change In Marine Science

    By Space Coast Daily  //  April 12, 2016 

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on DeliciousDigg ThisStumble This


    Joining forces with Ocearch, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting global conservation and awareness efforts by expanding data collection, analysis, and research of great white sharks and other keystone marine species, students at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High have been tagged as partners in a seafaring quest to make positive ripples of change in the world of marine science. (Facebook image)

    Joining forces with the conservation organization Ocearch are students at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High, lead by marine science and biology teacher, Jennifer Cotton. (Facebook image)

    BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Joining forces with Ocearch – a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting global conservation and awareness efforts and research of great white sharks and other keystone marine species – students at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High have been tagged as partners to make positive change in marine science.

    Four years ago, Space Coast Jr./Sr. marine science and biology teacher, Jennifer Cotton, reached out to Ocearch founder Chris Fischer in search of answers to complex student questions regarding sharks’ impact on the ocean as a whole.

    Through multiple classroom Skype sessions, Fischer and the Ocearch crew have served as excellent resources by walking the students through the team’s Global Shark Tracker program, which provides waves of real-time data, enabling educators to hook students with an engaging STEM-focused educational experience.

    Students track pings produced each time a shark’s dorsal fin breaches the surface of the water.

    The classes study how various factors affect migration patterns such as typography, water temperatures, seasonal trends, and moon phases. Students also perform an in-depth comparative analysis to develop still further knowledge and expertise of marine life.

    Katharine the Great White Shark Near Brevard CountyRELATED STORY:
    Katharine the Great White Shark Near Brevard County

    Fischer recently arranged for Space Coast students to meet the Ocearch crew and tour the M/V OCEARCH, an at-sea laboratory used to safely lift, tag, and release mature sharks. Ocearch even named a newly tagged shark ‘Viper’ in honor of the Space Coast mascot.

    Jennifer Cotton

    Jennifer Cotton

    “Working with Ocearch has been an amazing partnership,” said Cotton.

  • Thursday, March 31, 2016 8:22 AM | John Durkee (Administrator)

    Florida Sport Fishing Association Propels Ocearch Voyage to BPS  

    COCOA, FL – Joining forces with Ocearch, students at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School have been tagged as partners in a seafaring quest to make positive ripples of change in the world of marine science.

    Ocearch is a non-profit dedicated to supporting global conservation and awareness efforts by expanding data collection, analysis, and research of great white sharks and other keystone marine species.

    The Florida Sport Fishing Association has organized an upcoming speaking engagement to have Ocearch crew members Brandon Eyre (Ship Manager) and Todd Goggins (First Mate) address interested BPS students and community members on Thursday, April 14th, from 6-8 p.m. The event will be held in the Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School auditorium.

    A Global Shark Tracker accessible at www.ocearch.org provides waves of real-time data, enabling educators to hook students with an engaging STEM-focused educational experience which sails far beyond classroom walls. Students track pings produced each time a shark’s dorsal fin breaches the surface of the water, and study how various factors affect migration patterns such as typography, water temperatures, seasonal trends, and moon phases. Students also perform an in-depth comparative analysis to develop still further knowledge and expertise of marine life.

    “Working with Ocearch has been an amazing partnership,” said Mrs. Jennifer Cotton, a marine science and biology teacher who also sponsors the Space Coast Anglers Club. “Analyzing great white shark migration is important because they are a vulnerable species and we need to know where their mating and birthing grounds are so we can protect those areas.”

    Four years ago, Mrs. Cotton reached out to Ocearch founder Chris Fischer. “Students kept asking me bigger and more complex questions, and those questions needed answers,” said Mrs. Cotton. “Mr. Fischer graciously offered to Skype with my classes. He educated students on ‘the importance of education now’ and emphasized how sharks are apex predators without which food chains would collapse and the ocean would be lost.”

    Mr. Fischer recently arranged for Space Coast students to meet the Ocearch crew and tour the M/V OCEARCH, an at-sea laboratory used to safely lift, tag, and release mature sharks. Ocearch even named a newly tagged shark ‘Viper’ in honor of the Space Coast mascot. Click here to see footage of this unforgettable field trip.

    For more information or to make reservations for the first-come, first-served Ocearch speaking engagement on April 14th, please contact Mrs. Cotton at cotton.jennifer@brevardschools.org.

  • Sunday, March 20, 2016 12:21 PM | John Durkee (Administrator)

    The members of the Florida Sport Fishing Association might be interested in some of Brevard Zoo’s Indian River Lagoon restoration activities. We actually have multiple Adopt-A-Mangrove workshops coming up and would love to have anglers attend! The workshops are free and held at Brevard Zoo from 6-7 pm.


    Participants are treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of Brevard Zoo’s Indian River Lagoon exhibit which houses tarpon, red and black drum, and many other species. The workshops covers the importance of mangroves and the Indian River Lagoon and participants have the opportunity to take home a mangrove seedling to "foster." Once returned, the plant will be used in shoreline restoration along the Indian River Lagoon providing habitat for native wildlife including lots of sportfish, improving Lagoon water quality, and protecting our shorelines from erosion.


    Anyone interested in attending can make reservations using the following links to provide the number of participants planning to attend:

    Wednesday, April 27, 2016



    Thursday, May 26, 2016


    Wednesday, June 22, 2016



    Our partners on this project also have restoration days out on the water to plant the mangroves and other plants on shorelines in need and I can put you in contact with them as well if that is something that might interest your members.


    We also work on diamondback terrapin conservation – this is a really unique turtle that lives in the Lagoon that not many people have heard of, let alone seen. Scientists believe there numbers have really declined so we set up an online sighting reporting system so we can track them in the lagoon. I’ve attached a flyer with more info on that since anglers are a great resource being on the water so often.


    Thanks and please feel free to call to chat any time about these programs or other ways to partner!


    Amy Fenwick Reaume

    Conservation Coordinator

    Q4C Grant Administrator

    8225 North Wickham Road

    Melbourne, FL 32940

    321.254.9453 x 240




  • Sunday, February 07, 2016 9:17 AM | John Durkee (Administrator)

    Helton tickled “pink” with FSFA Championship

    BILL SARGENT, FOR FLORIDA TODAY5:02 p.m. EST February 6, 2016


    (Photo: Photo courtesy of Capt. Troy Perez)

    Zella Helton’s favorite color is pink. It not only compliments her blonde hair and dimpled smile, she says pink also brings her good luck.

    So needless to say, Helton wore a lot of pink during countless fishing trips in 2015 with her boyfriend Troy Perez.

    While her colors may not have mattered outside of boosting her confidence, Helton had the good fortune to compile more than 30 quality catches that added up to the highest award given each year in the Florida Sport Fishing Association (FSFA), a 48-year-old fishing club of 220 members headquartered at Cape Canaveral.

    Helton was named the FSFA Club Champion for 2015 at an awards dinner in Melbourne last Sunday. She scored 500 catch points under the club’s points fishing program, one of the oldest and most respected in Florida. It includes annual competition, recognition and awards for its members.

    “Surprised isn’t the word for it,” Helton said. “I knew I was in the running but I didn’t think I had enough points.”

    Her points total was one of the highest finishes in recent years.

    Club director Chris Pashos of Merritt Island finished second with 440 points coming on 21 different species.

    Helton, a 53-year-old single parent from Mims, started dating Perez three years ago. Perez is unquestionably one of the top saltwater fishing guides in the state, and as a veteran member of the FSFA has won the club championship twice and is a double grand master, the highest rating achievable.

    One of their first dates was a fishing trip and Helton knew from that moment that she had found the right guy.

    “Growing up in Winter Park I loved fishing but never did much of it,” Helton said. “I met Troy and he started coaching me and its been a learning process ever since. It goes without saying I’ve learned a lot and I’m hooked on it.”

    Helton insisted that due credit go to Perez.

    “It was a 110-percent team effort,” she said. “I’d never accomplished this without all of Troy’s work.”

    During the year Helton and Perez made more than 100 trips on Mosquito Lagoon, the Indian, Banana and St. Johns rivers and offshore Port Canaveral, sometimes late in the day after Perez had finished a day of guiding.

    “There were times when we’d go six or seven trips without a fish,” explained Helton, a former certified nursing assistant at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville. “We wanted the larger 20-pointers and we were always prepared with rods rigged in each tackle category.”

    Under the program, which has minimum weights for each species, catches carry a 10- or 20-point value for the class of tackle used.

    Perez ran the boat, helped Helton prepare and rig her tackle, and he located the fish. Still it was Helton who had to properly present the bait and fight each fish single-handedly. All catches must be made unassisted.

    Helton joined the FSFA in January 2015 and immediately began amassing points. She also won seven other awards, among them a Species Master for redfish, one of the more difficult achievements because the angler must catch a single species in all six of the tackle categories — fly, untralight, spin, plug, light general and general. Each category has specified line-test maximums, with light general and general tackle allowing the use of natural baits and stronger test line.

    Some of her best 20-point catches included an estimated 100-pound tarpon, multiple 20- to 30-pound redfish and one giant red at 40 pounds, black drum to 67 pounds, and a 24½-pound tripletail. In all cases the fish were released.

    She landed a 130-pound Goliath grouper unfortunately not recognized as a points species. “It was like trying to pull a car out of the water,” she laughed.

    The tarpon took more than an hour to bring to the boat during a blistering day in July.

    “I thought I was going to pass out on that one. It was so physical,” she said. “Troy was pouring water over my head.”

    Helton was among more than 30 club members receiving awards, most of them custom wood carvings by Chris Costello of Port St. John, owner of FishingTournamentTrophies.com.

    William Hawley of Indialantic received the Fish of the Year Award for a 29-pound redfish on 4-pound test ultralight tackle. It was judged the best single catch by a panel of experts.

    In addition, Hawley was named the Ultralight Champion and he received an award for releasing a seven-foot sailfish.

    Hawley said all of his catches came with Capt. Joseph Smith of Fin Factor Charters.

    Ryan Vetsch, a 19-year-old Eastern Florida State College finance and economics student, achieved his Grand Master status, becoming one of the youngest to reach the 1,000-point plateau required.

    “I skipped a lot of school to do this,” Vetsch grinned. “I was determined to get it in 2015.”

    Vetsch also made Species Master in redfish and he was named the Fly Division Champion.

    Other champions were Laurie Thomas, Women’s Champion; Pashos, Saltwater Champion; John Dobbins, Freshwater Champion; Club President John Durkee, Spin Champion; and Mark Wilson, Light General Champion. Championships in plug and general tackle were not awarded for lack of entries.

    Pashos also set four club records for striped bass during a trip to Massachusetts in June and he received a Heavyweight Award for a 38-pound, 10-ounce gag grouper he caught on Dec. 31, the final day for 2015 catches.

    Another impressive heavyweight was a 44¼-pound king mackerel by Alex Gorichky, Jr. of Merritt Island.

    Four youth took awards in the Junior Division led by Junior Champion Hunter Delaney, a 10-year-old Roy Allen Elementary 5th-grader who took home seven awards. Seven-year-old Greg Bernard of Satellite Beach received a Junior Heavyweight award for a 21-inch seatrout.

    Junior Liam Hawley of Indialantic landed a 23-inch snook, and young Dylen Pullias of Satellite Beach took a 3-pound 11-ounce bass.

    Leading the list of new club records was a 600-pound blue marlin released on 30-pound tackle by Chloe Corbitt while fishing in the Bahamas.

    For more on the FSFA go to the club website at www.fsfaclub.org.

    Contact Bill Sargent at sargentwb@gmail.com.

The "Florida Sport Fishing Association" is a 501(c)7 non-profit organization. PO Box 1216 Cape Canaveral, FL 32920

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software