BY KEVIN WADLOW –
One dead snook at Channel Five in the Upper Keys resulted in six conservation charges against a St. Augustine man last Sunday.
Ryan L. Wegele, 26, was booked into the Monroe County jail on Plantation Key for illegally spearing a snook, a game fish off-limits to spearfishing, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Other counts were filed because the snook was below the legal size limit and killed in a closed season, said Officer Bobby Dube, an agency spokesman.
FWC Officer Danielle Munkelt, working in plain clothes, saw four men diving from a dinghy in waters at the Channel Five Bridge, near mile marker 71.5, around 5:30 p.m., Dube said. “They had no dive flag, which drew the officer’s attention,” Dube said. An FWC report says, “After talking with [the men] and detecting discrepancies in their stories, she discovered a speared snook and five speared lobster on board. Munkelt retrieved a pole spear from the water.
In addition to the snook counts, Wegele was charged with spearfishing in Upper Keys state waters and possessing five undersized lobster, all of which had been speared. Wegele was released Sunday night on a $1,968 bond. His case will be heard in Monroe County Court. A second man in the boat was cited for spearfishing in Upper Keys state waters and a lobster violation.
Conviction on the misdemeanor conservation counts could carry penalties of up to 60 days in jail and $500 in fines per violation.