Man jailed for 141 freshwater fishing violations
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Media contact: Joy Hill, 352-258-3426
Illegally harvesting Florida's most important freshwater sport
fish is serious business, as one Putnam County man found out
Monday. He is charged with 141 counts of illegal fishing
activity involving largemouth bass and a few other species. Each
count is a second-degree misdemeanor.
Paul Aaron Griste (DOB 02/15/78) of Palatka was booked into the
Marion County Jail Monday on $35,250 bond after Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Officer Dana Klein found
illegally caught bass, blue crab and bream onboard his boat.
Griste is charged with 42 counts of taking game fish by illegal
method (spearing); 42 counts of possession of carcasses illegally
taken; 42 counts of taking a freshwater fish by underwater
swimming; nine counts of possession of undersized largemouth bass;
three counts of illegal method of taking blue crabs; and one count
each of possession of equipment unlawful to use for game fish, over
the bag limit of largemouth bass (32 bass over the limit), and
failure to permit inspection of catch (hiding the bass, bream and
Officer Klein was checking Griste's 16-foot aluminum boat for
the required safety equipment on Salt Springs Run in Marion County
Monday afternoon when she saw a spear gun on his boat. It is
illegal to fish in fresh water with a spear gun in Florida.
In the boat's livewell she found mullet and tilapia, taken by
bow and arrow, which is a legal method for those species. However,
she found a blue crab in the livewell that had been illegally taken
by spear gun.
Griste denied having any other fish on board. But as Klein
continued to inspect the vessel, she found a huge duffle bag that
started moving around. Inside the bag were 42 largemouth bass, 14
bream and two blue crabs. All showed signs of having been
Officers said a second man on the boat was also involved in the
illegal fishing. He fled the scene after officers escorted the boat
to shore. The man is from Flagler County. Officers know his
identity and are trying to locate him.
The illegally caught fish were donated to a local charitable
Second-degree misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of 60 days in
jail and a $500 fine per count.
"Salt Springs Run is a great area for bass fishing, and most
people who fish there do it legally. Unfortunately, some
people don't follow the rules, which not only is bad news for them
when we catch them, but it is also stealing from ethical anglers
who fish legally," said Klein.
If you know of illegal fishing, hunting, wildlife or boating
activity, please report it to the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline. The
number is 888-404-3922 and is open 24-7. Callers may remain
anonymous and could be eligible for a reward if their information
leads to an arrest.