Page 3 - Palm City Spotlight - October '22
P. 3

Palm City Spotlight, Page 3
      Treasure Coast Outdoors

      Can The Local Golden
      Tilefish Population Handle

      Commercial Fishing?

      By Jim Weix
        A number of years ago,
      Tom Flynn of Palm City,
      introduced me to deep
      dropping for golden tilefish.
      The next week I bought an
      electric reel and an assortment
      of weights needed to keep my
      bait on the bottom in 600 to
      1,200 feet of water.                                                                                 Doug Goethel, of Stuart,
        My new typical fishing                                                                             caught his first tilefish while   The author is hooked on
      day was to troll until I                           Tom Flynn (left) and Jimmy McDaniel found the tilefish bite   fishing with the author.  tilefish.
      reached the 800-foot depth, and then try a few deep drops   to be good last year.
                                                                                                           for tilefish. Since the bag limit is only one per person, quite
                                                                                                           often I got my limit, and then resumed trolling for dolphin
                                                                                                           and sailfish.
                                                                                                             Then a few years ago, I noticed a commercial boat
                                                                                                           advertising that you could buy fresh locally caught fish at
                                                                                                           the dock, while supplies lasted. Since the middlemen were
                                                                                                           being eliminated, the prices were often low compared
                                                                                                           to buying fish in the store. The ads on the Internet often
                                                                                                           showed his boat with the locally caught fish available
                                                                                                           fresh that day.
                                                                                                             The pictures of dolphin, snapper, and grouper didn’t
                                                                                                           surprise me. What got my attention though was the picture
                                                                                                           of  what  looked  like  100  golden  tilefish.  I’m  not  anti-
                                                                                                           commercial fishing, so I didn’t think much of it.
                                                                                                             However, over a relatively short period of time, I noticed
                                                                                                           that catching a golden tilefish got harder and harder. My
                                                                                                           normal fishing areas seldom produced and so I expanded
                                                                                                           my range, with little success.
                                                                                                             I mentioned this to another angler and he told me that
                                                                                                           he has seen a local commercial fisherman “just hammering
                                                                                                           them.” Tilefish live in pods and burrow into the mud, so
                                                                                                           they don’t move around much. Overfishing can easily wipe
                                                                                                           out a local population.
                                                                                                             Which makes me wonder if our local population can
                                                                                                           recover after too many are caught in one area. Although
                                                                                                           the commercial fishing season for tilefish is closed from
                                                                                                           July 6 through Dec. 31, I’m not sure that helps much if the
                                                                                                           fish don’t migrate into the areas where the population has
                                                                                                           been drastically reduced.
                                                                                                             Editor’s note: Jim Weix is an avid hunter, angler,
                                                                                                           conservationist, as well as an outdoor writer. Jim is
                                                                                                           included in the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association’s Hall of
                                                                                                           Fame, for his work in helping restore thousands of acres
                                                                                                           of wetlands. Jim is a broker associate with The Keyes
                                                                                                           Company. He can be reached at (772) 341-2941 or by

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