Confession of a fish captain
By Ed Walker
Copyright 1997 St. Petersburg Times
Link to NJ Fishing Consumer Alert page Link to NJ Fishing Consumer Alert page
St. Petersburg Times 
February 7, 1997 

A friend invited me to join him at Florida Power's private one-day opening of the Paul L. Bartow Oil Plant discharge canal. Having always wanted to see what fishing was like on the other side of the fence, I accepted. 

We arrived at 8 a.m. Saturday to see perhaps 150 people fishing, many with bent rods, at the power plant near Weedon Island. Jack crevalles were hitting nearly anything thrown their way. We joined in, catching and releasing them, piling them up along the bank. 

I figured the jacks were to be eaten, but when I questioned one angler it became apparent that many, 
frustrated by catching nothing but jacks and ladyfish, were tossing them onto the shore to get them out of the way. By now dead fish were piling up on both sides of the canal. 

I picked up all the dead fish on the east side of the canal and at one point had fishermen throwing the unwanted jacks and ladyfish up the bank to me. I figured that I could sell them for chum rather than let them go to waste. I sold the 1,521 pounds of fish for $1,142.55. 

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that as a fishing guide and a fishing writer I should not profit from the mass killing of fish. I donated the entire amount to the Gulf Coast chapter of the Florida Conservation Association, of which I am an eight-year member. 

(Ed Walker charters out of Palm Harbor and contributes reports for the Captain's Corner feature that appears on the Times Fanfare page.)