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Council doesn’t take bait with fishing ordinance

By Staff | Mar 20, 2012

Cape Coral Councilmember Kevin McGrail’s casting on his fishing ordinance Monday at the city council workshop at city hall didn’t exactly reel in the big one.

There were many reservations by council members, with the mayor even recommending McGrail “throw it back.”

The ordinance would ban fishing from 10 bridges throughout the city, including five on Old Burnt Store Road and four in the southwest side of town, with a $50 fine for violating the law.

“The police can identify with the problem of littering, fishing at all hours of the day,” McGrail said. “We need to control the situation before it gets out of hand.”

McGrail plans to control it by setting up two places in the northwest, Serenia Vista Park and at the end of Tropicana Parkway, for anglers to cast their rods from dawn to dusk.

But McGrail’s fellow council members had some problems. Rana Erbrick wondered “Why just 10 bridges?”

“The problem I have is limiting it. We could ban this from all bridges, but now we’re moving it to someone else’s property,” Erbrick said.

McGrail said the ordinance can add or subtract the number of bridges depending on where there’s a problem.

Chris Chulakes-Leetz wondered about the legality and whether the city would be the target of litigation.

He also wondered about if the two parks would work.

“You might want to make fishing from dusk ’til dawn, because that’s when the best fishing is,” Leetz said.

“I don’t see it stopping. I have difficulty making this into law. I won’t support the bill the way it’s written. Not enough glue,” Councilmember Marty McClain said.

“How is someone fishing from a bridge on private property?” Councilmember Derrick Donnell said. “Of all the problems police have, are they going to go after someone fishing for food?”

Mayor John Sullivan, an avid fisherman, also refused to bite, even though he agreed partly.

“I don’t leave garbage when I fish. Most people who fish don’t do this,” Sullivan said. “It’s like fishing with a howitzer. We need patrols.”

Police Chief Jay Murphy conceded there is no perfect solution.

“It’s a complex problem. Some bridges have a chronic problem,” Murphy said. “State law prohibits fishing off bridges on state roads. This makes it local.”

The ordinance is expected to receive public input April 9.