History of the Fort Pierce Sportfishing Club
History of the
Fort Pierce Sportfishing Club
The Fort Pierce Sportfishing Club was established in 1980 by a group of local fishermen who elected Doug Gilbert as president; Glenn Middlebrooks, vice-president; Chuck Rhoads, secretary and Rick Harris as treasurer.
The objectives of the club as stated in the constitution and bylaws are:
- To encourage fishermen to pursue fishing with sound sporting and conservation practices.
- To conduct fishing activities for the enjoyment of club members and their guests.
- To promote the preservation and enhancement of sportfishing by supporting rational legislation and proper management of the entire fishery both offshore and within estuarine areas.
- To advocate conservation measures which relate to all marine species and their habitats.
- To promote knowledgeable seamanship and safe boating practices.
- To enhance cooperation with all fishing interests within the community.
During the 4th of July weekend in 1981, the Club held its first Annual Tournament with about 60 boats entering. The goal of the tournaments was to raise funds for the Club’s Artificial Reef Program and other Community Projects.
The artificial reef project had its beginnings in 1981 when a committee lead by Gray Meier started to cut the red tape involved in obtaining a permitted reef site. This was a slow and tedious process that finally resulted in two reef sites being permitted in 1984, one in shallow water (inshore) and one in deeper water (offshore)
The Club begin saving its tournament funds for a ship. Reef materials were donated by local companies such as concrete culverts, FADS and cement mixers to be used as reef materials. The Club funded the acquisition; cleanup and sinking of two tug boats in 1985 and 1986 and a barge in 1996.
Former club member Stan Blum, who has a boat ramp named in his honor, was instrumental in the Reef program. Stan was a prominent conservationist who received the Chevron Conservation Award in 1992, one the nation’s most prestigious marine conservation awards and was named Conservationist of the Year in 1994 by the St. Lucie County Conservation Alliance. Stan Blum passed away in 1998.
Through his efforts and all of those involved in the club, the largest ship ever sank in this area for an artificial reef, the USS. Muliphen, a 460 foot C-2 freighter, hit the bottom on January 21, 1989. The Club donated $25,000 to St. Lucie County and its members helped cut through all the red tape to make this sinking possible.
The Club continues to support and help the St. Lucie county artificial reef program to this day. For a list of the Artificial Reef sites the Club and others have funded in this area, see the link under Fishing Info.
In 1996, the Club purchased $14,000 worth of night vision scopes and navigation equipment and donated it to what was known then as the Florida Marine Patrol to help in their efforts to catch illegal netters poaching in our local waters.
The Club has always been involved in community activities; it sponsors a day’s fishing on one the local head boats which takes underprivileged children fishing for the day. Club members donate their time to reach out to these children and show them how to have fun fishing.
We also sponsor a scholarship for a student at Indian River State College who wants to study marine sciences. We have given this scholarship award out every year since 1984.
In order to meet the Club’s responsibility to help conserve our fishery resources, we have always been active and donated financial support to those organizations we believe better serve our fishing community in dealing with regulatory bodies at all levels of government. Club members spent many hours gathering signatures and encouraging the public to vote in favor of the Constitutional Amendment banning nets in our local waters which passed in 1994.
The Fort Pierce Sportfishing Club continues to hold its monthly meeting the 3rd Wednesday of the month at the Fort Pierce Yacht Club, we have always had guest speakers who inform and educate members and guests about the latest tried and true techniques for catching more fish, being a better boater and conserving our great fishery here in Fort Pierce.