Category Archives: FISHING

Shrimping debate continues

NEW BERN — Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association has invited a speaker on both sides of the controversial issue.

Jerry Schill, President of the North Carolina Fisheries Association, will represent commercial fishermen; and, Donald Willis, Vice President of Coastal Conservation Association in North Carolina and President of the Neuse River Chapter will represent recreational fishermen.

Each man will present an argument for, or against, the NC Wildlife Federation Petition for Rulemaking to designate all coastal fishing waters not already classified as nursery areas as special secondary nursery areas; establish clear criteria for the opening of shrimp season; and define the type of gear and how and when gear may be used in the special secondary nursery areas in season.

The format of this presentation is designed to explain the petition and primary effects from both points of view, allow questions from the audience, and give those in attendance an opportunity to decide where they stand. The CCTA public meeting will begin at 7 pm on Tuesday, Feb. 21 in the Stanly Hall Ballroom at 305 Pollock Street, downtown New Bern. Note, for easy access there is also an elevator entrance at 249 Craven Street.

‘Travesty of the truth and moral injustice’ says one

Commercial fishing industry urges huge turnout for Jan. 17 meeting

By Doug Cross | Pamlico Packing Co.

NORTH CAROLINA — Once again the commercial fishermen of this state are faced with proposed measures that would eliminate their ability to make a living and provide for their families.

This time it comes in a guise proposed by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation that would make Pamlico Sound, additional internal waters, and the Atlantic Ocean out to three miles a ‘special secondary nursery area.’

This, just coincidentally, is where the shrimping fleet of North Carolina works to provide for their families. This measure would once again close or severely limit any trawling in these waters and virtually eliminate the shrimp fishery for this state as we know it. 

Make no mistake this will ELIMINATE it and starve families and keep any consumer from access to Wild North Carolina shrimp products.

So you may ask “How is this possible?” or “How is this even being considered from a moral point of view”?  Well, it’s possible because the average John Smith has been convinced through propaganda and rhetoric that the commercial fisherman is basically the “Evil Empire” when it comes to fishing and the ultimate cause of Mr. Smith’s lack of success with a rod and reel.

It’s considered from a moral point of view because the special interest groups have no morals when it comes to denying a hard working citizen his right to provide for his family. The North Carolina Wildlife Federation in this instance is acting and being pushed by members to seek another way to eliminate trawling from the waters.

The truth of the matter is that they are a front for the true organization behind every effort that comes up to eliminate the commercial fisherman — the Coastal Conservation Association, also known as CCA.

As with the last two efforts pushed by the CCA, the Gamefish Bill and the Hergenrader petition, the CCA is ALWAYS looking to eliminate the commercial fisherman at EVERY level.  They are a well-funded, politically entwined organization whose sole purpose is to rid the world of commercial fishing. They don’t care how or who it hurts as long as they achieve their goals.  This is where the moral questions come into play.  Just how far will they go to achieve this purpose?

There can be little to no doubt that past and current members of the Marine Fisheries Commission are on the CCA payroll or have special interests involved with them.  From active blog-site owners, administrators and current members, these commissioners have one goal and one goal only, to continue the support of any and all rules changes and modifications that will eliminate any and all commercial fishing.

They cast aside any facts and due process that will lead to the truth about fisheries and try to circumvent the fishery management plans that they themselves voted in with measures such as the re-classification of the waters that they are now seeking.

They even enlist former employees of the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries such as its former director Dr. Louis Daniel.  Dr. Daniel has been asked to represent, or perhaps retained by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation in this push to reclassify these water of North Carolina in question.

In this presentation there are numerous points that you are expected to believe as absolute fact, especially coming from a former director of the very organization that he now presents this information back to as fact for their consideration.

Is this fact or is it now well-crafted rhetoric once again designed to blind the average person to the truth?  If we are going to seek the truth in these issues, then the truth has to be based on science and proven facts. The very same facts were questioned by Dr. Daniel, when he served as Director of the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries. In an Oct. 2, 2012 letter from Dr. Daniel to the Coastal Fisheries Reform Group, Daniel wrote:

“The majority of the finfish taken as bycatch in the shrimp trawl fishery are juvenile fish, which have a high natural mortality.”

At other points in the in the letter, Daniel also wrote:

“Also, the CRGF letter implies that other states which have banned inshore trawling have built ‘thriving fisheries’  on species such as weakfish, spot, and croakers. The decline in the stocks of these fisheries is in fact coast wide, and not just a NC phenomenon. The decline has been most apparent in states where inshore trawling is not allowed and where recreational landings have historically been the highest.”

Louis Daniel letter to CFRG about shrimp trawl by catch 2012

“North Carolina currently has the largest recreational landings of any state along the Atlantic Coast.”

Want to attend?

Open to the public, the meeting cited by Mr. Cross in this article is set for 12:30 pm Tuesday, Jan. 17, at Riverfront Convention Center in downtown New Bern.

“Scientists along the Atlantic coast have concluded that it is likely natural mortality, NOT FISHING MORTALITY (harvest or discards), that is the driving factor in the current weakfish decline.” (Emphasis added.)

Massive white marlin sets new state record

AnglerNewsMasthead

WEB-POST-Jan.-27-Fish-pic

MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries recently certified a new state record for white marlin.

Neil Manning of Ashburn, Va. reeled in the 138-pound fish Nov. 16 while fishing off Hatteras. The fish measured 85 inches from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork in the tail. The girth of the fish measured 37 inches.

The former state record for white marlin was 118 pounds, 8 ounces. That fish was caught off the coast of Oregon Inlet in 1976. The world record for white marlin is 181 pounds, 14 ounces. That fish was caught off the coast of Brazil.

Manning caught his fish using live menhaden on a 30-pound test line with a Cape Fear Rod and Shimano TLD-25 reel.

Stop by Neuse River Bait & Tackle on Hwy. 55 in Alliance. We’ll give you our best guess on the techniques Neil Manning likely used to nab the big catch!

Imports killing local shrimp industry

Tariffs on five countries could turn tide

Photo credit:  R.E. Mayo Seafood, Hobucken, N.C.

Photo credit: R.E. Mayo Seafood, Hobucken, N.C.

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

WASHINGTON, D.C. – American shrimpers, including those in eastern North Carolina, could get a major shot in the arm later this month if a federal agency approves, as is expected, significant new duties on imported shrimp products from China, Ecuador, India, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

In many parts of the country, consumers often buy the cheapest shrimp product, without checking the country of origin. That economic fact often dictates how much is paid for ‘wild-caught’ shrimp produced in this country.

In a brief telephone interview Wednesday, officials with the International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. were reluctant to predict how the six-member panel might vote – although those familiar with documentation and analysis prepared by the U.S. Commerce Department say evidence is overwhelming that the five foreign countries have for years improperly subsidized shrimp products exported to this country.

However, the world’s two biggest shrimp suppliers, Thailand and Indonesia, appear to be in the clear – at least for the time being. Shrimp growers and elected officials in those countries apparently convinced U.S. authorities that they were following World Trade Organization rules limiting the amount and types of subsidies that governments can grant to private industries engaged in international commerce.

North Carolina and other southeastern shrimpers can thank the Mississippi-based Coalition of Gulf Shrimp Industries – a mix of more than two dozen shrimping operations and processors – which filed a formal petition with the Department of Commerce that triggered the years-long investigations.

A fact sheet furnished by the Department of Commerce said “the merchandise covered by these investigations are certain frozen warmwater shrimp and prawns, whether wild-caught (ocean harvested) or farm-raised (produced by aquaculture), head-on or head-off, shell-on or peeled, tail-on or tail-off, deveined or not deveined, cooked or raw, other otherwise processed in frozen form, regardless of size.”

Certain types of shrimp products are exempt from duties, including categories known as ‘battered’ or ‘breaded’ shrimp-based foods.

    Frozen Warm-Water Shrimp Imports into the United States for 2012

*Thailand – $1.1 billion
*Indonesia – $ 634 million
India – $ 551 million
Ecuador – $ 500 million
Vietnam – $ 426 million
Malaysia – $ 142 million
China – $ 102 million

*Ruled exempt from possible new import duties

The U.S. International Trade Commission is headed by six Commissioners, who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. No more than three Commissioners may be of any one political party. Currently, three Democrats and three Republicans serve as Commissioners.

The Commission is scheduled to make its final determination on Thursday, Sept. 19.

Herein lies everything you need to know about Oriental Rotary Club’s fishing tournament, July 26 – 28

AD-Tarpon-Tourzzzndddament-pic-3By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

ORIENTAL – Everything is falling into place quite nicely for the Rotary Club’s ‘Inshore Slam & Tarpon Tournament’ fishing competition – with one exception, according to organizer Charles Skinner!

“We really need ‘Observers’ for the Tarpon Tournament,” explained Skinner. “This will be the first year that we have returned to this format in the last three years. I need to get the word out that anyone interested in seeing how Tarpon are caught and who would like to commit to being on a boat Saturday and half-day on Sunday, please call my office at (252) 249-0900! It’s a lot of fun and they get two complimentary tickets to the Barbecue Dinner on Saturday night.”

Here are some other major points that Skinner wants to convey as the countdown to fishing begins:

  • Public is invited to participate in all events, even if you do not know a fishing pole from a baseball bat.
  • All events take place at Tournament Headquarters – the Oriental Marina and Inn!
  • Last day to register for Inshore Slam is Thursday, July 25, from 5-6 p.m. at Tournament Headquarters.
  • Inshore Slam begins Friday, July 26, with weigh-in from 3-5:30 pm. at Town Dock on tournament Hodges Street – public is welcome!
  • Last day to register for Tarpon Tournament is Friday, July 26, from 5-6 p.m. at Tournament Headquarters.
  • Tarpon Tournament begins Saturday, July 27. Captains check in from 4:30 – 6 p.m. to post caught fish.
  • Inshore Slam Awards Ceremony is 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 27.
  • Everyone in eastern North Carolina is invited to attend the Rotary Club’s hugely popular Barbecue Dinner, Saturday night, July 27. Tickets may be purchased on the 27th prior to the event, or from your local Oriental Rotarian, or at First Citizens Bank, or at Nautical Wheelers.
  • Enjoy free, live entertainment from Ravenz Bru, immediately after the barbecue dinner!
  • Final Day of Tarpon Tournament is Sunday, July 28. Captains check in at Tournament Headquarters from noon until 1 p.m. to post caught fish.
  • Tarpon Tournament Awards Ceremony is 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 28.
  • If you have a question, call Skinner at (252) 249-0900. He is standing by, ready to take your call.

Commercial fishing interests lambaste ‘ game fish ’ proponents . . .

 

How is it the right thing to do?

mercerBy Robbie J. Mercer | Special to the County Compass

EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA – I have been a commercial fisherman for 35 years and there is more Red Drum, Spotted Trout & Striped Bass than I have ever seen in the N.C. waters. Commercial fishing and farming has been a way of life in coastal North Carolina for hundreds of years.

Not everyone has the same opinion as you, Mr. Tim Hergenrader. To a lot of Commercial Fishermen, this has been a way of life for generations. This is not a hobby for them. Working these local waters has been a way for them to provide for their families, purchase homes, pay their bills, and send their children to college.

Recreational fishermen land a hundred times more fish than Commercial Fishermen. The numbers from the National Marine Fisheries will show this, but Mr. Hergenrader, I think you know that already, which makes you an outright liar.

As for the issue you raised that the fish houses will be able to continue to provide the products, what you don’t mention is that these will be imported or farm-raised. Most people in the United States don’t want to eat your farm-raised ‘mud fish.’ The fish houses will no longer be able to provide quality, local, fresh-caught fish and neither will our restaurants. (How good for tourism do you really think that will be?)

As for the $1 million that MAY possibly be provided for the fishermen for their loss of income, tell me how $1 million will help the thousands of commercial fishermen who will be put out of business permanently in today’s economy? You, sir, should be ashamed of yourself for trying to strip them of their way of life, their heritage. This is the way they support their families. They aren’t looking for your handouts. You claim this is to increase tourism, when that isn’t your true agenda. Let’s be honest here. What you really want is to eliminate the competition of the commercial fishermen who are making a living so hobbyists can have their limit either increased or eliminated all together! But, honesty doesn’t seem to be your strong suit.

Furthermore, Commercial Fishermen DO NOT receive subsidies and/or tax breaks from the taxpayers of North Carolina, or from anyone else as you stated in your article – and as you well know. They do, however, pay a lot of taxes just like everyone else in North Carolina. Mr. Hergenrader, that false statement once again makes you a liar – saying whatever it takes to support your hidden agenda.

Robbie J. Mercer,
Third Generation Commercial Fisherman and taxpayer.


Time to correct misinformation

stronBy Sherrill Styron | Special to the County Compass

I would like to address the article written by Tim Hergenrader in the May 9-15 issue of the Compass titled “Gamefish Right Thing to Do”. Also, I have additional comments regarding the letter written by the Coastal Fisheries Reform Group about severely reducing shrimp trawling in Pamlico Sound and other inland waters. Both pieces are full of misinformation and inaccuracies.

While there is no information in the article about Mr. Hergenrader’s qualifications to speak on fisheries management issues, it is obvious that he knows very little about fisheries management, economics, nor the historical and cyclical nature of fish populations in our state waters. He is, however, using the Coastal Conservation Association’s (CCA) talking points, which are easily refutable.

First, those pushing for House Bill 983 fish for fun, while commercial fishermen fish to make a living, provide for their families, and feed citizens of this state and nation. While there is nothing wrong with fishing for fun, there is plenty wrong with taking away all or part of another person’s income so that you could have more fun. What kind of a man would put his recreational pleasure ahead of another man’s ability to make a living? The answer is a man filled with greed and self-interest. Most recreational anglers do not belong to the CCA and even some of those who do don’t share their radical views on fish management, but the leadership of that group is bad news and has been since it was founded in Texas decades ago. The claim that Mr. Hergenrader and his CCA friends do not want a net ban is as disingenuous as it can be when one considers that in the CCA study promoting the bill and handed to members of the General Assembly the specific example of Florida’s gamefish status is discussed as being a model for North Carolina to follow. What is left out of the CCA study is Florida’s gamefish status was achieved by virtue of a net ban. Also, Florida’s gamefish status was argued on the basis of science, while here in North Carolina the science argument has been dropped because Division of Marine Fisheries statistics show that by virtue of sheer numbers of recreational anglers in our waters recreational discard mortality is multiple times more in all three proposed gamefish species than is discard mortality in the commercial sector. Interestingly, the Coastal Fisheries Reform Group’s argument to limit shrimp trawling is based on discard mortality rates in the commercial sector, but, again, no mention of the majority of dead fish coming from the recreational sector.

Regarding farm raised fish and the so-called “future of seafood” as Hergenrader calls it, there is no comparison between the two. The difference in price speaks volumes to the consumer’s preference for wild caught, and, moreover, farm raised is almost exclusively reserved for when wild caught is not available. HB983 would guarantee these three species are not available (wild caught) to the public.

A brief explanation of fisheries cycles is in order. Mr. Garland Fulcher (founder of Garland Fulcher Seafood) was born in 1913 and told me how when he could first remember going fishing with his dad (pound netting) they did not catch many fish of one species but rather a variety of different types. His dad told him that not many years before he believed he could have laid a board on top of the pound and walked across it on top of croakers. When the State was working on the Fisheries Reform Act (current law governing fisheries management) I was on the advisory committee. (The Moratorium Steering Committee) Another committee member, Jule Wheatley, brought a 1918 Beaufort newspaper to a meeting with the headline stating “Feds Come to Town to Look into Shortage of Fish.” Since shrimping began in earnest in the 1930’s it is hard to imagine shrimp boats destroying fisheries in 1918. I was born in 1942 and when I was a boy we had lots of fish, croakers and spots mostly, but in a short time they were gone, disappeared. In the 1970’s we had a lot of croakers, but once again they disappeared from our area. During the winter months there are still a lot of croakers off our coast but in the spring they mover north to the Chesapeake Bay, guided by nature and instinct something neither I nor the Coastal Fisheries Reform Group understand enough to make broad assumptions about the cause. It happens, and it will continue to happen in a cyclical pattern as it always has.

Summer Flounder were once so plentiful off our coast that one year we caught the commercial quota in 9 or 10 days. For the last decade the flounders have stayed further north, but like croakers they will return as they always have. In the 70’s and 80’s we had lots of weakfish (grey trout) in our area. One year Garland Fulcher Seafood froze over 200,000 pounds of trout fillets. We only freeze when supply is more than demand. Not long after trout were scarce and fly netting was banned south of Hatteras because commercial fishing was blamed. The Division and other management bodies told us the weakfish would be back in a few short years now that a certain gear was banned; every year there have been less and less, and the management bodies such as the NC Division of Marine Fisheries, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and the Mid Atlantic Council all admit the weakfish problem has nothing to do with commercial fishing. Yet, many businesses went belly up as a result of that gear ban south of Hatteras. One theory is striped bass are eating the juvenile weakfish. What does the CCA plan to do about that Mr. Hergenrader? Also, spots come and go, some years are great and others are not, not just in North Carolina but other areas as well.

The economics argument put forward by the CCA and people like Tim Hergenrader is based on an exceptionally flawed study that looks at one aspect of the issue (monetary value of recreational fishing verses commercial fishing) and makes a case that whichever sector is of greater economic value in a fishery gets all the fish. Are Mr. Hergenrader and the CCA arguing that recreational fishing be banned in fisheries where the commercial fishery is infinitely more economically valuable? That would mean no more recreational crabbing, shrimping, or flounder fishing according to that logic. Interestingly, the author of the CCA commissioned study referred to above, Brad Gentner, stated in his own footnotes that “It is important to point out that economic impacts are not the appropriate metric for establishing allocations…” Of course, he is right, no self respecting economist would say otherwise, as there are so many other vital aspects to an appropriate economic analysis for the purpose of fisheries allocations. Facts, however, have never gotten in the way of the CCA or their mouthpieces.

It is readily admitted that bycatch in the shrimp fishery is an issue for the commercial sector, but, once again, the sky is not falling. The Coastal Fisheries Reform Group’s statistics have been thoroughly refuted by the Division of Marine Fisheries on numerous occasions in letters and at public meetings. Shrimp boats do not want to catch fish when they shrimp and have been working with government agencies for years to help find solutions to that problem. In fact, it was shrimpers in the Gulf of Mexico that first developed what we now call TEDs (turtle excluder devices) so that they would limit fish bycatch in their nets. Industry works closely with government agencies to find more innovative solutions to this issue, but destroying another North Carolina fishery is certainly not the answer. With or without shrimp nets in our Sound very few juvenile fish reach maturity compared to how many eggs are actually produced. In the overall picture of juvenile mortality shrimp boats are of minimal impact compared to natural predation from other species like rock fish and red drum and environmental factors affecting water. One or two strong hurricanes or very cold winters can severely damage fisheries populations for years. Cormorants, a large bird family of fisheaters reside in great numbers along our coast, do tremendous damage to juvenile fish populations by eating millions and millions of pounds of fish every year. Shrimp trawl juvenile mortality does not even come close to what nature does year after year.

Finally, I have been in this industry for almost all of my adult life and am totally unaware of any tax breaks or government subsidies to the North Carolina commercial industry that are not also available to other industries such as equipment depreciation and the like. The truth is the recreational sector, by virtue of the Dingell-Johnson Act or Wallop-Breaux Act, is a direct recipient of tax money as that Act provides Federal aid to the States for management and restoration of fish having “material value in connection with sport or recreation in the marine and/or fresh waters of the United States.” Even here, Mr. Hergenrader has the facts entirely backwards.

Commercial fishing has provided well for the people of Eastern North Carolina for generations and can continue to do so if misinformation like the kind the CCA, Coastal Fisheries Reform Group, and Tim Hergenrader put forward is challenged with the facts. Nothing they are proposing will add any value to the state’s economy despite what misused and flawed studies say, but management measures based on those studies such as gamefish or severe restrictions on shrimp trawling will hurt real people, real families and possibly end commercial fishing as we know it in our state.

Editor’s note: Mr. Styron is the owner of Garland Fulcher Seafood in Oriental, a graduate of Emanuel College in Georgia, and has been a commercial fisherman on numerous trawl boats. He is a current Oriental commissioner, and a former long-term Mayor of the town. He has served on the Fisheries Reform Group’s Advisory Committee, and on numerous fisheries advisory committees in the state.  

‘ Game fish ’ right thing to do, says reader

 

Tim Hergenrader

Tim Hergenrader

By Tim Hergenrader | Special to the County Compass

Editor’s note: Monday night, the Pamlico County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution opposing a proposed law that would outlaw the commercial catch of red drum, spotted sea trout, and striped bass.

EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA — In response to the commentary piece in The Beaufort Observer section of last week’s County Compass, House Bill 983 — Fisheries Economic Development Act — is not an attempt to force commercial fishermen out of business because they can’t control what they catch.

Nowhere in the bill can you find any reference to abolishing nets, net fishermen, or the commercial fishing industry. Reading tealeaves or mind reading from afar is no reason to oppose legislation.

The Coastal Conservation Commission is striving for passage of the game fish bill because the three species — red drum, spotted sea trout and estuarine striped bass — are worth more to the state of North Carolina as game fish than they are as commercially targeted species. If you don’t believe me, ask Dr. Louis Daniel, director of the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), that very question and see what response you get.

To say that North Carolinians will not be able to eat red drum, spotted sea trout and striped bass is disingenuous. The three species are found in seafood houses in all the other states that have instituted either game fish and/or an outright net ban. If there is a demand for the fish, the seafood houses will provide the fish — it is in their best financial interests to do so.

The future of seafood is commercially raised fish, whether the writer likes to believe that or not. The stocks of almost all fish have been so diminished and the human population has grown to such levels, that without commercial fish farms we won’t have fish to eat.
By his own admission in the piece, the future of commercial fishermen in North Carolina is bleak and it will be bleak with or without the game fish bill.

Of the seven states that have instituted game fish and/or an outright net ban in inshore waters (beginning with Texas some 25 years ago) not one has seen fit to return to their old ways of doing business. Not one has reinstituted netting of red drum and specs

These states are reaping the financial whirlwind known as recreational fishing and laughing all the way to the bank at North Carolina for clinging to the old way of selling the fish off for a fraction of what recreational fishermen will spend to catch the same fish.

Already the three fish are designated as game fish in inland waters administered by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. In federal waters outside our three-mile limit, red drum and stripers are off limits to commercial fishermen.

This bill is all about improving the economic well being of eastern North Carolina and providing much needed revenues to the tax payers of the entire state.

As a sidebar, the bill also provides up to $1 million for payments to commercial fishermen who can prove they have suffered financial damage from the bill. And the bill raises the fishing license fees for recreational fishermen, which will provide even more money to the Division of Marine Fisheries to continue their fine work of managing our inshore fishery.

In addition, the bill will take a small portion of the gas tax funds paid by boat owners for fuel and put it into a fund to help dredge our inlets. That too will benefit all boaters, including commercial operators, who depend upon our inlets for access to the ocean.

Furthermore, unlike the commercial fishing industry, which receives many subsidies and tax breaks from the tax payers of North Carolina, this bill will not ask for one red cent from the tax payers.

Catamaran fishing offers new twist

Editor’s note: Richard Hodges spends several months of every year in Oriental. Eight years ago, Hodges and his wife Patricia established a foundation known as Leadership Information For Tomorrow, which imparts career-building skills to students at Pamlico County High School.

By Richard Hodges | Special to the County Compass

NEWS1-Catamaran-picORIENTAL – Broadblue Catamarans USA has a demo boat that we take up and down the east coast. We show the vessel to folks along the way with a sail now and then.

In early winter, we sail down to Florida and spend time there during the winter.

In May, we sail the boat back to Oriental, leaving from St Augustine. If conditions are favorable and the winds are brisk, we can make the sail in two days.

Last year, a group of six gentlemen called me about taking them offshore fishing.

I should mention that I am not a commercial captain, nor am I licensed as a commercial captain. I am not licensed for fishing charters, nor interested in doing that business.

There are folks out there who make a living doing that work, and I have no desire to compete or take business away from them.

However, these guys were interested in a different twist. Instead of a one-day power boat charter, they wanted to go out fishing off a sailing catamaran for several days. They felt that rising fuel costs would ultimately make offshore fishing very expensive so they were testing a different approach.

I told them about my annual sail from St Augustine to Oriental and they wanted to go along

So we slowed the trip from two to five days, allowing the fishing guys to fish 24 hours a day for those 5 days. We all had lots of fun, caught about 800 pounds of mahi, wahoo, and tuna.

All in all, I used just 25 gallons of diesel — which is more than desired, but we powered up to avoid some storms and to run the on-board generator for charging of batteries.

The fishing guys and I split the cost of the boat (as I cannot make money since it is not a commercial business), then they made a $1000 contribution to the Hodges Education Foundation, which sponsors the LIFT program at our local high school

Wow! A perfect fit: A fishing trip for charity!

We will do it again this year during the weather window of May 1 – 11. Except this year, we have two 42-foot catamarans making the trip, so we will have up 12 fishing guys on the boats. At the moment, we have 10 confirmed, with room for 2 more.

The cost per person is approximately $700 (in addition to travel to St Augustine), which includes the boat cost, food, bait, ice, and other fishing necessities. Paying $700 for four to five days of offshore fishing is a real bargain, and our local Foundation is the benefactor.

Readers may e-mail Hodges at rpahodges@hotmail.com.