With increasing boat traffic no motor zones may become very important to sustain a healthy fishery.
If over the next 10 years Cape Coral adds another 50,000 people, and just one-fourth of them bring boats, that's 12,500 new boats on the water.
You think your secret hot spot is crowded now? We must protect our grass flat areas and other shallow water habitats from destruction and I can't think of a better way to accomplish that.
One area that comes to mind is The Burnt Store Bar and the beautiful flat that runs from the shore out to the bar.
What an ideal area for a pushpole/trolling motor only area. I can't tell you how many times I have been there fishing with clients in the boat to have it ruined by someone traveling through the area at 60 mph. I have had flats boats, at full speed, fly between two or more wading (paying clients) anglers. There is no excuse for this as any boat traveling from Matlacha to Burnt Store Marina can simply move 50 yards to the west, to the outside of the bar, and still not lose any time and not continue to destroy the great fishing and habitat that occurs on this beautiful stretch of fishy real estate.
Obviously, the same rule should apply to anglers heading north or south out of Burnt Store Marina.
Does wading also destroy bottom habitat? I would answer yes, to a small degree, depending where you are wading, but a 75-yard long prop ditch will certainly do long lasting damage to a flat and the grass that is destroyed will in some cases take many, many, years to regrow, if at all. Less fish for all of us and for the future.
If we as fisherman continue to needlessly abuse and destroy the very environment that we depend on to provide cover, food, and nursery areas for the fish we spend so much time and money trying to catch, then that makes us rather, let's see what's the word I'm searching for? How about stupid.
The downside is if these types of regulations are to be implemented, who will be doing so? The same people that try to poison our rivers for the benefit of big sugar, the people that sit on boards that never fish, or other talking heads that have no clue and depend on junk science to make decisions about our environment that they themselves are not qualified to do?
These no motor zones should be set up to allow speedy access to them as long as there is deep enough water or channels to allow us to get there without destroying habitat, then slow down and get on the push pole when we reach them. Not just draw a line on the map and say for example, "Everything north of Matlacha Bridge, outside the designated channel, north to Burnt Store Marina is now a no motor zone."
This will be the ultimate problem and with the undeniable coming of no motor zones this is the reason that we as anglers and stewards of our environment must stay involved and actually fight for our rights in the face of junk science, bad government policy, the ignorant, the stupid, and those in the pocket of big business.
It's a shame that we need rules such as these but I believe rules are necessary to protect the "whole" as there will always be the pigs that will continue to cover our shoreline trees in monofilament spider webs, tear up the sea beds, take every fish they catch no matter what the size or limit, decorate the shorelines with beer cans and cigarette butts, and feel they have the perfect right to do so, as long as they "get theirs."
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.