Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sometimes, It's Anglers vs. Surfers at the Pier; Says One Fisherman: "Something Has to Be Done about It."

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sometimes, It's Anglers vs. Surfers at the Pier; Says One Fisherman: "Something Has to Be Done about It."

Article excerpt

Byline: Drew Dixon

JACKSONVILLE BEACH -- Joseph Rohena doesn't want any interference when he fishes off the pier at Fourth Avenue North. But with increasing numbers of surfers in the water beneath the pier's railings, Rohena says solitude while fishing difficult to find.

"All the time, that happens with the surfers," Rohena said as he was casting a line over the pier's south rail Wednesday. "You tell them to move and they get closer and closer. You have to fight with them."

Similar complaints got the attention of Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton during a town hall meeting at Florida Community College at Jacksonville last month, when about a half-dozen fishermen aired their gripes about surfers. Peyton said he wasn't sure if Jacksonville had any jurisdiction over the pier, although he sympathized with the anglers.

Joe Dionne was one of those fishermen who approached Peyton to complain. He said many from his group who visit the Internet site he created this year, www.jacksonvillebeachpier.com, will approach the Jacksonville Beach City Council at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 11 Third St. N.

"This has just about reached a head," Dionne said, while acknowledging he wouldn't make the meeting due to other commitments. "Something has to be done about it. I think there's possible ways that both of us [anglers and surfers] can work together on it. Not one side is to blame on it."

It's a recurring scenario since the pier was opened Dec. 30, replacing the old Jacksonville Beach pier at Sixth Avenue South that was destroyed during Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The pier is not only popular with fishermen; huge crowds of surfers flock to the structure seeking premier surf pumped up by the pier's pilings and nearby sandbars.

"They have a right to surf," Rohena said. "But we don't want them to get hurt."

ANTAGONISM INTENTIONAL?

Rohena and other other fishermen have lamented run-ins with surfers for months now. Some fishermen have claimed surfers intentionally antagonize the anglers by disturbing their tackle on the lines cast over the pier.

Other fishermen, such as Rick Hale, acknowledge that there may not be any deliberate attempt by surfers to tangle with tackle. But the popularity of the pier by both anglers and surfers is leading to unavoidable run-ins.

"The pier does create a good sandbar," said Hale, a former Jacksonville Beach city councilman who last served in 1989. "Everyone deserves a right to the beach and fishermen have a right to the pier.

"We're just growing so big and we've got such limited space," Hale said as he fished off the pier Wednesday. …

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