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SAVE THE KEYS, PLEASE
Robert F. Jones
September 14, 1987
Thoughtless fishing is harming the Florida Keys
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September 14, 1987

Save The Keys, Please

Thoughtless fishing is harming the Florida Keys

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"Ridiculous!" said Picariello when we told him. "It couldn't work. The tarpon here are all in shallow water—20 or 30 feet for the most part. Assuming a fish actually took one of those baits and hooked up, it would drag the rest of the rig into the cover of the bridge pilings and foul the whole mess."

Perhaps that is why our man gave up long-lining and took to the airwaves in search of buyable tarpon. At the time, our sources told us that he was renting a house on an old estate on one of the neighboring Keys. When we contacted another resident of the estate, he informed us that at one point there were perhaps half a dozen tarpon, which weighed about 100 pounds each—nice-sized fish for those waters—floating dead in the estate's boat basin, along with a number of lesser fish. These the tarpon merchant would periodically "whack up" with a chain saw—"scales and blood and hunks of meat flying every which way"—to prepare his bait. "The Marathon Chain Saw Massacre," Rode said.

But Mr. X apparently never completed his video. By the time we got on his trail he had already left the area—in a "bit of a hurry," the other estate resident told us.

Only the boat he had been using—a white-hulled 25-footer—remained behind, its name a legacy to the failed effort: Ship of Fools.

"The way things are going," Rode mused as we drove away, "the name could apply just as well to the Florida Keys—or the whole damned planet for that matter."

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