Poquoson Flats Article
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  1. #1
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    Default Poquoson Flats Article

    I don't understand why we can not drift fish the area. Tom

    From the Daily Press

    Refuge's offshore restrictions expanded
    Federal officials limit water activities in a danger zone around a former bombing range in Poquoson.


    BY DAVE SCHLECK
    247-7430

    Published April 5, 2005

    POQUOSON -- Don't let the sandy beaches and serene bay grasses allure you. The waters off Plum Tree Island National Wildlife Refuge in Poquoson are no place to dig for clams or anchor your boat.

    It's explosive territory, federal officials say. Last year, refuge managers found 40 bombs in the shallow water, including explosives that measured 3 feet long and weighed 2,000 pounds. The Army used the area as a bombing range from 1917 to the late 1950s, with planes taking off from nearby Langley Field.

    The Army Corps of Engineers has a new regulation prohibiting several water activities that could disturb the bottom of the Back River and Chesapeake Bay near the refuge, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began managing in 1972.

    Fifteen reflective signs called day markers outline a danger zone about 300 feet to 600 feet offshore of the southern end of the 3,482-acre refuge. Prohibited activities include "anchoring, clamming with rakes, shovels or hoes, dredging, prop dredging, the intentional or unintentional beaching or grounding of vessels, or walking on the bottom."

    Breaking the federal law could result in a fine of up to $500 and up to six months in prison.

    "This is a dangerous area and you should stay clear of it," said Joe McCauley, refuge manager. The land part of the refuge has been off-limits for decades. Late last year the Corps added more than 200 "no trespassing" signs to replace weathered markers that had become hard to read.

    The only known injury on the refuge came in the 1950s, when a teenager poking around on the island lost a leg after a practice bomb exploded.

    The danger zone offshore was established in July 2004, when refuge managers inspecting the area after Hurricane Isabel found bombs and jet-assisted takeoff bottles, or JATO bottles, which are fuel pods that military planes jettison after taking off.

    Watermen complained about the danger zone, saying they needed access to the water. Federal officials met with watermen last month and came up with some exceptions to the law.

    Commercial fishermen are allowed to place crab pots and use nets to catch fish in the danger zone, but everyone else is advised to stay away, McCauley said.

    "The last thing we wanted is to prevent people from making a living, but at the same time we didn't want to put people in harm's way," McCauley said.

    The permitted fishing activities should be safe because it's unlikely that crab pots or nets would dig deep enough into the river's bottom to unearth explosives, said Rick Henderson, a navigation specialist with the Corps.

    Anchors, which are prohibited in the danger zone, can dig as deep as 18 inches into the sand while crab pots disturb less than an inch of the bottom, Henderson said.

    "If you think about how a crab pot operates, it doesn't really drop to the bottom," he said. "When you put it in the water it tends to drift or float to the bottom."

    Watermen know the water the best, McCauley said.

    "They've been working this area for so many years, they're more aware than anybody about obstructions on the bottom."

    This summer the Corps will begin an 18-month study evaluating the explosive and potential chemical hazards associated with the munitions. The study will identify if any areas of the refuge are safe to open to the public.

    It's not uncommon to see kayakers paddle their boats ashore and take an illegal walk on the beach. McCauley said that even with the "no trespassing" signs, it is a challenge to keep people off the refuge.

    "With summer coming, it's certainly a good idea to remind people."

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  3. #2
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    Default Poquoson Flats Article

    Crab pots are OK, what about haul seines?

  4. #3
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    Default Poquoson Flats Article

    So a 2 oz sinker or a 1/4 oz jig head is going to detonate a bomb.

  5. #4
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    Default Poquoson Flats Article

    As far as I know there are only two types of gear used on Poquoson flats. Haul Seines and anchored gilll nets.

    Tom

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    Default Poquoson Flats Article

    Don't you find it odd that haul seines and anchored gill nets are not a danger but a kayak or 16ft skiff drifitng in the area restricted places someone in danger? I wonder what the Corps real agenda is.

  7. #6
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    Default Poquoson Flats Article

    I think the more important question is did anybody point this out to them?

    Tom

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    Default Poquoson Flats Article

    [sad]
    I heard about this closure and I thought, "Well that sucks, but at least they won't be able to haul sein the entire area anymore."

    Looks like the worst of both worlds. [sad]

    Coz

  9. #8
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    Default Poquoson Flats Article

    Personally, i think this is bull sh*t..........i have fished and duck hunted the area multiple times and there is no danger. If there was i wouldnt do the things i do. Plum tree island should be like it always has been. You should be aload to fish or hunt any body of water just not step foot on the land or marsh islands.

  10. #9

    Default Poquoson Flats Article

    From what I have read in this article, there shouldn't be a problem if you don't anchor or run the boat aground. I've been told by law enforcement types that it will be nearly impossible to enforce. Earlier, they had no state code to enforce at all. Is there one now?

  11. #10
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    Default Poquoson Flats Article

    I gathered the same as Jim but how can they put a anchored gill net[ or if on poles they must drive the poles in]. Also power hauling with the props scouring the bottom would be dangerous.
    Like someone suggested I smell a rat here.
    As an afterthought we could anchor with a crab pot that would be legal. For Poguoson flats fishing we will make small leaded crab pots. Need to have a "Pogouson flat anchor pouring party"[lol]

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