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Shark fishermen deny chumming on Belleair Beach

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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – “We followed the law 100%.” That is coming from one of the men accused of using chum to attract sharks on Belleair Beach.

Jake DeRado insists, his group of friends did not violate any laws on two recent fishing trips,  And he wants to set the record straight.

Taking advantage of a law that went into effect on July first, DeRado and 3 of his friends, set out lines off Bellair Beach, for sharks.

Condo owner and neighbor, Cliff Gibbons didn’t like what he saw.

“It’s reckless conduct to be able to have people out here, 8 people fishing with this kind of crude bait and attempt to kill sharks out here on this beach,” said Gibbons.

Gibbons’ primary concern: the illegal use of chum to attract sharks.

“Chumming is illegal.  And shark permit, and no, no chumming is used” said DeRado.

DeRado said Gibbons got it all wrong.

“We only use 1 bait, one line, one hook, one piece of bait. We drop it out there with our kayaks, and that’s it” he said.

A Pinellas County sheriff deputy dropped by on both Monday and Wednesday nights and did not find any violations.

DeRado said he waits for swimmers to leave, then baits the hooks.

“Where we’re catching sharks is where the sharks live: 200-300 plus yards out.  That’s where the sharks live. We’re bringing the bait to the sharks, not the sharks to us,” said Cliff Gibbons on Tuesday night. “I love to fish. I’ve been doing it all my life. But this is over the line”

That’s not how Jake and his friends see it.

“We have every means necessary. We’re doing everything legal. We have our shark permits.  We’re not doing anything wrong” insisted DeRado.

He said, if he does catch a shark, he releases it right away.

“I have all respect for those sharks.  Those are big sharks.  These sharks have been around longer than we have. I have full respect for them.  I want this fishery to be living for my kids and their kids” said DeRado.

Cliff Gibbons wants a local law to prohibit shark fishing near the beach.

Jake DeRado worries this kind of incident gives law-abiding fishermen, a bad name.     

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