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Thread: Who killed the jewfish?

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    Default Who killed the jewfish?

    I managed to get Tony to ban me from Spearboard so that I won't succumb to the temptation to get into some of the bullshit discussions, but I do read threads with interesting titles in hopes of learning something. Presently, there is another one of those frequent threads about jewfish- whether they have recovered sufficiently to support a harvest, how the harvest should be managed, etc.

    I really don't want to get into the question of resuming harvest since I don't live in Florida any more and its not my business. But I do wonder about some of the "facts" mentioned in the discussion. At least a couple of people who should know say that

    "those data are available clearly showing it was not the spearfishing nor the commercial sector who caught the majority of the fish in the past, but the recreational hook and line sector."
    If that is true, it surprises me. I used to shoot them when I was a teenager in the 1950s, and I was aware of a lot of other divers shooting them. I didn't hear about many being taken by recreational rod and reel fisherman, and it doesn't seem plausible. We were shooting them under bridges and around wrecks using heavy steel cable, and it was a bitch to retrieve them. I don't see how rod and reel fisherman could manage to keep from getting cut off on pilings or in the wrecks.

    I realize that most of you weren't around back then, but I wonder what your reaction is to the allegation that data shows that rod and reel fisherman took most of the fish? Is there really reliable data to support that?

    My gut feeling is that it was divers who took a majority of the fish, but then my gut is often wrong.

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    Sounds right to me. There are really beefed up reels that could do the job nowadays but back then I believe only bandit reels and longlines could get them up.

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    My dad has been in Naples since the 50's and said a lot of Jew Fish were shot by divers and sold to the crabbers for bait. I am sure some were caught on hook and line, but with a powerhead, its a done deal.

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    The fish market in St. Pete gave me a nickel per pound, but they wouldn't take any over 100 pounds because they couldn't sell them as grouper or snapper.

    A nickel in 1954 is the equivalent of 44 cents in today's dollars, so it still isn't a hell of a lot.

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    In Marathon in the 80's, jewfish was 70 cents a pound. At the same time, red grouper was 1.50 and black/gag was 1.80. Snappers ranged from 2.25 - 2.75. There wasn't really incentive for anyone to target them. Two guys with yo-yos, could catch 400-500# of yellowtail a day on the reefs. Down there, I'd guess that the majority of landed jewfish was from trophy fishing. Most of those probably ended up at the fish house, as all it took back then was a $50 license to sell commercially.

    Although a "good diver" could probably land more jewfish than a "good fisherman", the total number of fisherman would make me believe that far more were caught hook and line. When jewfish were still open, I'd estimate that in the Keys, on any given day, fishing boats outnumbered spearfishing boats by over 100:1. Everyone and their brother from anywhere in the world can step on a charter boat and land a jewfish. It takes someone with a special skill set to jump in the water and pull one out.

    For whatever reason, spearfishing catches a lot more headlines when it comes to "trophy" fish. I know of two tiger sharks that were killed by spearfisherman in the last 10 years. If you were to search online, you'll find those two stories all over the place (I think both were national news). From the media, you'd think that spearfisherman go around killing tigers all the time. Over that same time period, how many tigers do you think died from hook and line or commercial shark fishing? I'd bet it's well into the thousands in the US alone. Jewfish landings was probably the same thing.

    When we lived in the Keys, I speared two that we used for cookouts at the motel we owned. I never sold any, partly because I could catch as much money worth of lobster and grouper/snapper as I would messing with a jewfish (without worrying about bending/losing shafts) and partly because they were already in decline then and it didn't seem right to kill one for $50. We did catch a lot of them hook and line, they're easy to get off natural bottom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinmatt View Post
    We did catch a lot of them hook and line, they're easy to get off natural bottom.
    Thanks. I guess my experience was skewed by the fact that there really wasn't much "natural bottom" in the St. Pete area. Or maybe there was way offshore, but boats were slow and LORAN and fish finders hadn't been invented yet, so all our diving was under bridges or on wrecks.

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    Hey Bill,
    I caught about a 50 pound Jewfish once off Tampa on rod and reel. It gave a short fight but then petered out quickly. As you know Jewfish get big and make easy targets for divers on scuba. I've seen vintage film of boats loaded with them after a day of slaying. I recall my buddy telling me of selling them to markets for pennies a pound back then.

    My belief is that when free diving and scuba became popular in the 60's and 70's the logical target would have been a fish that's also the biggest and easiest to take. A powerhead makes quick work when harvesting jewfish. That said, the current population is overtaxing the ecosystem and should be thinned. Much like the seals at Children's pool.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Schulte View Post
    ...............That said, the current population is overtaxing the ecosystem and should be thinned. Much like the seals at Children's pool.
    They are thick some places. I swam guard my last trip out so the other guy could take down his AJ. I've had one come up and take a stoned AJ off my spear like I used to eat meat on a stick in Olongapo after a night of bouncing around the bars.
    St. Pete Underwater Club www.stpeteopen.com

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    Jewfish were used for Grouper fingers. Good market for them in the 70's - 80's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keysdivers View Post
    Jewfish were used for Grouper fingers. Good market for them in the 70's - 80's.
    I think that's what the market did with my jewfish, but apparently they didn't think they could get away with it with fish over 100 pounds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray B View Post
    They are thick some places. I swam guard my last trip out so the other guy could take down his AJ. I've had one come up and take a stoned AJ off my spear like I used to eat meat on a stick in Olongapo after a night of bouncing around the bars.
    Ah, good old Olongopo.

    A few times I got to fly a plane out to Subic from DaNang on some boondoggle or another. In retrospect, I think I was in more danger in Olongopo than in Vietnam.

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    I've managed (with help )to boatside several 150 pounders plus. I've also have caught several juveniles in the estuaries. On the gulf coast here, IMO the population is ready for culling. A slot limit on smaller ones via H&L would work just fine.
    In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot. ~Mark Twain

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    I've managed (with help )to boatside several 150 pounders plus. I've also have caught several juveniles in the estuaries. On the gulf coast here, IMO the population is ready for culling. A slot limit on smaller ones via H&L would work just fine.
    That's interesting Mark, and in fact I mentioned a thead on Spearboard that is discussing that. You might want to enter into that discussion if you can tear yourself away from conspiracies about the Jews hiding the Malaysian 777. . However, just in case you didn't read my first post, I said

    I really don't want to get into the question of resuming harvest since I don't live in Florida any more and its not my business. But I do wonder about some of the "facts" mentioned in the discussion. At least a couple of people who should know say that

    "those data are available clearly showing it was not the spearfishing nor the commercial sector who caught the majority of the fish in the past, but the recreational hook and line sector."
    Translated, that meant that I'm not here to discuss whether or not the population is ready for a culling. I was interested in the title of my thread, "Who killed the jewfish?"

    I thought it was probably me and other divers, but others have convinced me that it may well have been recreational rod and reel fisherman.

    I appreciate the fact they they were able to understand my question and respond to it.

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    Mermaids, definitely Mermaids...

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    My opinion, it was probably all 3 groups combined that did the trick, cant place blame on anyone else when you participated (Not you, but generalized you). Coms seem to have preferred more profitable fish so probably didnt target them, but they did use many non selective gears during that time that could have attributed significantly. Rod and reel folks may not catch large numbers individually but the small piles of dead fish combined can make a huge pile. This could have also been due to many of the juveniles where being found in the inshore waters by those recs. Start hitting the spawning stock (Spearos) and then hitting the young stock (Rod and reel) the middle ground will never keep up. It will fold and collapse in on itself.

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    I was stationed in Key West 69-73 we would run down to Cosgrove sholes kill jewfish and blacks. Load them in boat cover with tarp no ice run back to star fish co. Dump 700 to 900 lbs of fish on dock. All with 45 cal powerheads. Yes divers had a lot to do with the laws on jewfish. Back in those days the cubans loved a jewfish. I think we got a quarter a pound. No laws at all on jewfish or gr.

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    https://fbcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.n...13660381_n.jpg

    My $.02 cents

    Growing up spearfishing in Panama in the 50's we targeted large Jewfish freediving. Our equipment was primitive, a 2 or 4 band French Arbalete speargun attached to a yellow nylon ski rope with a Clorox bottle at the end. Best eating were those under 100 pounds but we speared many over 300 and up to 700 pounds. Spearing them was easy - landing them was hard - getting them into the boat even harder.

    Very few were taken by H&L and those that were tended to be small.

    None of the fish, and we speared a lot of them, were wasted - the small one we ate, the big ones were donated to various orphanages.

    The number of Jewfish found in Panama today is considerably less then when I was growing up - I quit spearing them years ago and I think most of my friends still active diving in Panama quit spearing them as well.

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