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Date of Issue: February 20, 2008

Pair faces charges of gillnetting

Valentine’s Day was decidedly unromantic for Darling and Truelove, who ended up with felony fishing charges.

Roger Darling, 37, and Cecil Truelove, 31, both of Bradenton, were accused of catching fish illegally with a 700-yard gill net in the Manatee River about 4 a.m. Valentine’s Day, with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers as an audience, the officers said.

The two were freed on $1,250 and $1,240 bonds, respectively, charged with felony use of gillnetting in state waters and misdemeanor charges of failing to take the net directly from state to federal waters. The felony charges carry fines of up to $5,000 each, misdemeanors $500 each, plus possible suspension of commercial fishing licenses.

Catching fish with gill nets in state waters has been outlawed since 1995, though such fishing is legal in federal waters nine miles offshore.

In the net when they stopped Darling and Truelove in the Manatee River near the CSX train track, said FWC officers Grant Burton and Louis Hinds, were 500 pounds of ladyfish and a few pompano. The catch was sold by the commission for 50 cents a pound, the money to be turned over to the fishermen if they are found not guilty of the charges, or be used for law enforcement if guilty.

It is rare for officers to catch suspects with a gill net in the water, FWC said, for it takes fishermen less than half an hour to set and retrieve a net.