FWC News Release
August 14, 2009
Contact: Joy Hill, 352-732-1225 or 352-258-3426
A 20-year-old St. Augustine man and a 17-year-old juvenile male, also from St. Augustine, are facing numerous saltwater-fishing charges, including a major violation for over-the-bag-limit of redfish. In the event of a conviction of a major violation, civil penalties apply in addition to criminal penalties.
Christopher L. Hobbs, (DOB 09/01/88), and the juvenile are charged with a combined 11 fishing-related violations, which include undersized redfish, sheepshead and black drum.
The legal daily bag limit for redfish is one per person; Hobbs and the juvenile had 29.
"We had been getting information from many sources for several months that a vessel matching the description of the one Hobbs was operating had been cast-netting for redfish in the general area, taking more than the legal limit and selling them locally," said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Law Enforcement Officer Rich Wilcox.
Redfish are not a commercial species, and it is therefore illegal to sell them.
Catching the two subjects began in the late afternoon of July 9, when FWC Reserve Officer David Long watched as Hobbs and the juvenile took a cooler off their fishing boat and put it on shore near a waterfront residence at 3rd Street, off the Intracoastal Waterway, in St. Augustine. The two then got back in the boat and drove it to a boat ramp, loaded it onto a trailer and left the ramp area.
As the truck and trailer traveled U.S. A1A toward 3rd Street, Officer Wilcox stopped the driver because one of the trailer's lights was out and the truck and boat matched the description of Hobbs' rig.
During the traffic stop, Officer Wilcox asked Hobbs how the fishing was, to which Hobbs answered that it had not been a good day for them. There were no fish on board the vessel.
In the meantime, an FWC investigator arrived at the traffic stop and asked Hobbs what was in the cooler he and the juvenile dropped at the 3rd Street location. Hobbs said it was "illegal fish."
The officers and Hobbs then went to where the cooler had been dropped off, and Hobbs unloaded 29 redfish, two sheepshead and four black drum. He told them that he and the juvenile caught the fish with a cast net and had intended to sell them.
After photographing the evidence, the officers donated the fresh fish to a local charitable organization.
Hobbs and the juvenile are each charged with:
- over-the-bag-limit of redfish, which in this case is a major violation and first-degree misdemeanor because they had more than two over the limit;
- three counts of undersized redfish;
- two counts of undersized sheepshead;
- four counts of undersized black drum; and
- one count of unlawful transportation of redfish.
In addition, Hobbs is charged with one count of violating the rule that prohibits a vessel operator from allowing possession of redfish not in compliance with established regulations.
A major violation occurs when someone has three or more redfish over the bag limit of one fish per person. Major violations are first-degree misdemeanors, which carry a maximum penalty of a year in jail and $1,000 fine, plus a civil penalty. The other charges are second-degree misdemeanors, and each count carries a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
If you think someone is breaking fish and wildlife laws, please call the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 or report it online at www.MyFWC.com/Law
- you can select either option 24 hours a day, and you do not have to give your name. If your information leads to an arrest, you may be eligible for a reward.