Possession of 33 gigged redfish recently resulted in fines and jail time for two Fernandina Beach men.
George Bartchlette (DOB 07/16/39) and Ronald Waters (DOB 09/25/65) were caught by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers with 33 redfish taken by illegal method.
FWC officers Chris Holleman, Sandy Blackburn and Tim Sweat worked the case.
“Officer Blackburn let me know a boat was headed my way,” said Holleman, who had been on patrol at Holly Point boat ramp in Nassau County. “I could hear the vessel’s engine running as they neared in the Nassau River. When they got inside Christopher Creek, they shut down the engine. I could hear the men walking in the marsh approximately 25 yards from the ramp just before they paddled into the ramp.”
The officers walked into the marsh and discovered two laundry baskets with 33 redfish. All the fish had punctures consistent with gig marks. There were 19 undersize redfish between 14.25 inches and 17.75 inches, one oversize redfish (29.5 inches) and 13 slot-size redfish.
“We seized the gigs and lights. The case went to the state’s attorney and we obtained arrest warrants for Bartchlette and Waters,” Holleman said.
Bartchlette was charged with over the bag limit, possession of undersize and oversize fish and illegal take because the fish had been gigged. Waters was charged with illegal take of two fish.
Both men were recently adjudicated guilty in Nassau County.
Waters was fined $1,003.
Bartchlette was fined $4,150 and sentenced to 30 days in jail. His seized equipment was forfeited to the FWC. In addition, Bartchlette received a $90 fine for operating a vessel with no navigational lights.
“This was a great resource case,” said FWC Lt. Clint Thompson, patrol supervisor for Duval and Nassau counties. “The officers involved did an outstanding job.
“I’d also like to thank Nassau County Prosecutor Johnna Lessard, who did an outstanding job in prosecuting this case,” Thompson said.
Logo courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission