Each issue we share Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Law Enforcement Reports for Northwest Florida. This article originally appeared in our September/October 2019 issue

FWC Law Enforcement


YOU CAN SWIM BUT YOU CAN’T HIDE – An FWC investigator saw two subjects steal a license plate off a vehicle near the Navarre Beach boat ramp. When the investigator identified himself to the suspects, one of the subjects fled in what later was identified as a stolen vehicle. The subject crashed into a vessel trailer parked at the ramp while fleeing from law enforcement. FWC officers located the stolen vehicle a short time later, and with the assistance of the Santa Rosa County Sherriff’s Office, located the subject swimming with a crowd on Navarre Beach in an effort to remain undetected. The subject was placed under arrest for multiple felony and misdemeanor charges.


NO LICENSE = NO GOOD – Officer Corbin was on water patrol in the Destin Pass when he conducted a vessel stop on a charter vessel returning from the Gulf of Mexico. A fisheries inspection revealed two undersized red grouper. The captain was issued a citation for possession of undersize red grouper and operating a charter without a state charter license.

WHERE’D THOSE COME FROM? – Officers Corbin and Tison were on water patrol when they saw a vessel leaving a marina with fishing equipment displayed. A vessel stop was conducted, and the subjects stated they had just returned from fishing, dropped people off at the dock, were returning to the boat ramp, and did not have any fish onboard. An inspection of their coolers revealed four red snapper filets. A notice to appear citation was issued to the captain of the vessel for the violation.

BOOK ‘EM – Officer Corbin conducted a fishing license check in Cinco Bayou on two subjects fishing. After checking them through NCIC/FCIC, one had an active arrest warrant for possession of narcotic equipment out of Okaloosa County and was booked on the warrant. The other subject was issued a citation for failure to have a fishing license.

NO BUENO – Officers Pifer and Corbin were conducting saltwater fisheries inspections at the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier. There was a complaint of multiple individuals fishing from the pier harvesting undersized spanish mackerel. Four individuals were found to have harvested multiple undersized spanish mackerel. Citations were issued for the violations.

SAIL AWAY, SAIL AWAY – Officer Corbin responded to a possible boating accident where a sailboat broke anchor and drifted into a marina hitting two docked vessels. The owners of all three vessels were identified by the marina manager. An inspection of the vessels revealed no apparent damage and the sailboat was unoccupied when it broke anchor. The owner of the sailboat was issued a citation for the vessel being at risk of becoming derelict. The owner of one of the other vessels arrived and provided paperwork showing it was purchased in December of 2018 and had never been registered with the state. The owner of the vessel was issued a notice to appear citation for failure to register a documented vessel.

HOLY MACKEREL – Officer Corbin and Investigator Pifer received information of subjects catching and keeping undersize Spanish mackerel and banded rudderfish from the Okaloosa Island Pier. Resource inspections were conducted on the pier and four subjects were found to be in possession of undersize Spanish mackerel and banded rudderfish. Appropriate citations were issued for the violations.


COBIA CONUNDRUM – Officer Land was conducting resource inspections at the Shoreline Park Boat Ramp. He saw a large vessel with multiple people on board return to the ramp and contacted the operator of the vessel to conduct a marine fisheries inspection. During the inspection Officer Land located an undersized cobia. The operator was cited for the violation.

CATFISHER IS CAUGHT – Officer Mullins saw a subject fishing from the bank while on patrol on the Escambia River. The subject had multiple lines out for catfish. While checking the subject it was discovered that he was illegally using bream as bait on a bush hook line, failed to tag his line, and was fishing without a license. The subject was issued a notice to appear for the violations.


IF I’VE TOLD YOU ONCE... – Officers Tison and Letcher were on water patrol in the Choctawhatchee Bay. They contacted two subjects on the shoreline of the Eglin Air Force Base property with free roaming dogs that displayed aggressiveness when the officers exited their patrol vessel. Neither of the subjects had an Eglin Recreation Permit or any form of identification. It was later determined that one of the subjects provided a false name and date of birth to Officer Tison. The following day Officer Tison saw the subjects back on the Eglin property without a recreational permit although the violation had been previously addressed the day before. Both subjects were cited for not having an Eglin Recreational Permit and one will be cited for providing a false name to a law enforcement officer. An Eglin Security Force Officer responded and suspended the subjects from Eglin property for a period of six months

TRASHY CONDUCT – Officer Bradshaw inspected a camp site on Point Washington Wildlife Management Area after learning a subject had left a large amount of trash when he departed the site. Division of Forestry personnel had spoken to the subject about cleaning up the trash prior to leaving but no trash was removed. The subject was identified and will be issued a criminal summons for littering in excess of 15 pounds.

BUCKEYE BUNGLE – Officer White checked two subjects fishing in Choctawhatchee Bay. A records check revealed one of the subjects had an active warrant from Ohio for grand theft. The subject was taken into custody and turned over to the Walton County Sheriff’s Department for extradition.

– Courtesy of FWC Division of Law Enforcement: Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton counties


Photo: Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance  The invasive reeds form dense bamboo-like stands that can choke out waterways, like the channel connecting Western Lake to Grayton.

Photo: Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance

The invasive reeds form dense bamboo-like stands that can choke out waterways, like the channel connecting Western Lake to Grayton.

Courtesy of Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance

AmeriCorps members, Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance staff, and local volunteers have been working hard to make major progress removing invasive reeds from the coastal dune lakes of South Walton County.

The phragmites forms dense bamboo-like stands that can choke out waterways. The channel that connects Western Lake to the Grayton portion of the lake is being restricted. 

The restoration team has been cutting back the invasive vegetation, loading into Gheenoes, and towing it back by kayak to an area where it can be hauled away and destroyed.