ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has made an attempt to protect seabirds in St. Pete. New rules are now in place for anglers at the Skyway Fishing Pier State Park.
Pier fishermen said pelicans are some of the greatest thieves out there. The problem is they get caught.
“I caught one out here as a kite one night,” Fisherman Robert Pierce said. “I threw a pinfish out, pelican caught it in the air, took me 45 minutes to battle him in and get the hook out of him.”
Similar stories across the pier have led FWC to enforce new rules for these Skyway Fishing Pier anglers.
Rule #1: Complete FWC’s educational course before fishing if you’re younger than 16 and accompanied by someone who took the course.
“It’s more of a questionnaire to get a census of what’s going on out here when it comes to it, but a super simple process,” another fisherman Ben Webber said.
He said it only takes about 10 minutes to complete and it’s free.
Rule #2: No more fishing rigs with more than one hook. This regulation is only for November 15th to March 15th.
Many people we spoke with believe this should be a year-round regulation.
“I’ve gone to one hook per fishing rod,” Pierce said. “I use an ultralight to catch my bait or a cast net. You don’t need a Sabiki rig. You can buy a 4-foot cast net over this rail and catch about 10 fish.”
Rule #3: Anglers are also no longer allowed to use more than two sets of hook and line gear.
There’s still a chance seabirds like pelicans get tangled even with these new implementations. If this happens, look for the signs along the pier to learn what to do if you accidentally catch one of the pier’s best-known thieves.