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Ordinance could bring an end to bridge fishing

By Staff | Mar 17, 2012

A familiar sight for decades has been that of people fishing off the bridges on Burnt Store Road.

But if Cape Coral Councilmember Kevin McGrail has his way, those days will soon be a thing of the past, much to the dismay of the anglers and the mayor.

McGrail has sponsored an ordinance that would ban fishing off bridges on that road, as well as other bridges and municipal rights-of-way throughout Cape Coral, and give the fishermen designated areas where they could fish.

It will be brought up during Monday’s workshop at City Hall, where McGrail hopes it will eventually be put to law shortly after Easter.

Violators of the ordinance would be fined $50, “about the price for a good fish dinner,” McGrail said.

Besides being dangerous, residents from the Northwest Neighborhood Association have complained about the noise, trash, trespassing, fishing at all hours, and even public urination that they say have become associated with the fishermen.

“Homes abut bridges in that area and the fishermen have moved onto their property,” McGrail said. “Trespassing and littering have become a problem with the building boom.”

The goal of the ordinance is to limit fishing in those areas, and throughout the Cape, and to finally put in place rules for fishing that have been absent.

The ordinance would be in effect for 10 bridges, five on Burnt Store Road, as well as certain bridges on Cape Coral Parkway, El Dorado, Skyline, Nicholas and Chiquita, according to McGrail.

The bridges on Cape Coral Parkway, Eldorado, Skyline, and Nicholas already have signs that prohibit fishing. But McGrail said they did no good.

“They were never supported by an ordinance. When signs are put up to scare people but not supported by an ordinance, what good are they?” McGrail asked.

The anglers would be able to fish in designated spots – Serenia Vista Park, formerly Ceitus Boat Lift, and at the end of Tropicana Parkway.

The parks will have “porto-potties” to give anglers a place to go – which residents also said was a problem on bridges, McGrail said.

The hours would be from dawn to dusk so patrols can monitor the actions of the fishermen.

McGrail said he’s heard a lot of complaints from fishermen in the area, saying they’ve fished in the northwest area for years.

“The Cape Coral of 2012 isn’t same as it was in 1992. Back then there was nobody living there.” McGrail said. “If we don’t do this now, it will become a bigger issue in coming years when Burnt Store becomes more developed.

“How would you like it if I set up a volleyball court in your yard and started bringing my friends over? Would you like that?” McGrail asked. “That’s what happens with the fishermen.”

Mayor John Sullivan, who said he has fished off bridges and docks for years, is skeptical of the ordinance. He said the behavior of the few shouldn’t ruin it for everyone else.

“People shouldn’t be restricted because a few are out of line. I fished on bridges and never left anything behind,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan did agree something should be done, but in a different way.

“The areas should be policed and stiff fines instituted. If residents see littering they should call the police,” Sullivan said.