Illegal Net Charges Lands Three in Jail

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officers were patrolling the Aucilla where it empties into Apalachee Bay near the Taylor-Jefferson County line when they saw a 20-foot mullet skiff with three men coming in from the bay.

Officers stopped the vessel, operated by Jim Nichols, 45, Crawfordville, and found a pile of nets stacked in the boat, including two monofilament gill nets tied together which measured 4,587 square feet.

Underneath the gill nets were two legal-sized nylon seine nets and one illegal seine net (mesh larger than two-inch stretch).

Also on board were Nichols’ father, Roger C. Nichols, 67, Sopchoppy and George Fragakis, 71, Lamont.

They had 98 mullet and two undersized red drum (redfish).

Under a new law that took effect July 1 it is now a felony to be in possession of gill nets of any type on Florida waters. The law also bans the possession of seine nets measuring over 2,000 square feet.

All three men were lodged in the Taylor County Jail. Kemp said the nets were seized and are being held as evidence.

Each man faces a felony charge of possession of a monofilament gill net on Florida waters, which is punishable by up to five years imprisonment, up to a $5,000 fine and seizure of illegal nets and fish.