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Effort Underway to Replace Bug Light Marker in South Florida
More than one year after the South Florida fishing community’s most popular live-bait fishing reef was demolished by a U.S. Coast Guard contractor, two prominent local recreational anglers have renewed a grassroots effort to replace Bug Light.
The tall, rickety metal tower located off Cape Florida, also known as the Biscayne Channel Light, was erected in 1929 to guide mariners in Biscayne Bay. Until July of 2014, it served as the go-to spot for charter captains and recreational anglers from as far away as the Upper Keys and Palm Beach County to catch pilchards, blue runners, threadfin herring and other live bait. The Coast Guard said it did not intend to replace the structure.
When Bug Light was torn down, Miami maritime lawyer Bruce Marx, former Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission chairman Rodney Barreto, and Miami charter captain Jimmy Lewis– among others– urged that it be replaced with a fish attracting device, or FAD such as another tower or a buoy. But that campaign got sidetracked when the fishermen learned the Coast Guard planned to demolish another popular bait-catching reef off Government Cut known as the “Bent Range”. Over six months, Marx, Barreto and their supporters managed to raise more than $135,000 from private donations in a successful drive to keep the Bent Range intact.
Now they’ve zeroed back in on building some kind of fish attractor where Bug Light used to stand. It’s critical now because an ongoing dredging project to widen and deepen Government Cut has reduced the availability of bait at the Bent Range.
Restoring a structure to the site of the old Bug Light will require local, state, and federal agency approvals including Biscayne National Park, in whose waters it lies.
Marx has taken to Facebook to urge members of the angling community to email him at email@example.com detailing their reasons for replacing Bug Light with a FAD. Marx said he will forward those emails to Biscayne National Park superintendent Brian Carlstrom.
If being able to catch live bait is important to your angling enjoyment and success, then do get involved.
Sue Cocking chronicles the Guy Harvey Outpost travel and adventure experience in regular blog posts on GuyHarveyOutpostNews.com/. For 21 years, Cocking covered the full spectrum of outdoors adventure opportunities in South Florida and beyond for the Miami Herald, including fishing, diving, hunting, paddling, camping, sailing, and powerboat racing. She is a certified scuba diver and holder of an IGFA women’s world fly fishing record for a 29-pound permit.