Two fishermen's plan for a Lower Keys fish fry went awry when a state marine officer found protected fish on the menu Saturday.
The men had had filleted a large grouper and scaled a tarpon when interrupted by Officer Dodd Bulger of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
"The oil in their newly purchased fryer was almost to temperature," said Officer Bobby Dube, an FWC spokesman. "They were just about to drop the filets in the pot."
A witness alerted the FWC that two men fishing Saturday morning at the west end of the Bahia Honda Bridge apparently had speared and landed a tarpon.
"There were a lot of tarpon scales on the ground," Dube said.
It is illegal to spear a tarpon, prized as game fish, and anyone killing a tarpon must have a pre-purchased $50 state tarpon tag in their possession.
Evian Claro, 19, of Miami admitted to spearing the tarpon and harvesting the fish without the required tag, Dube said.
Nance Perez Sanchez, 25, of Hollywood was cited for possession of a Goliath grouper and failure to land a grouper in whole condition. Harvest of the slow-growing Goliath grouper has been banned for decades.
From its size and shape, Bulger recognized the fish as a Goliath grouper, Dube said. The filets were sent to a state testing laboratory for confirmation of the species. Both men were released after receiving notices to appear in court.
Three men aboard a commercial boat headed into a Coco Plum canal in Marathon were arrested Saturday on charges of possessing 46 separated lobster tails.
FWC Lt. David Robison and Officer Olly Adams conducted a catch inspection at 3:45 p.m. near Avenue A on Coco Plum.
"A bag containing 46 wrung tails were found in a bag that had hidden on the boat," Dube said.
Many of the tails were undersized and it is illegal to separate lobster tails from the body before the crustaceans are brought ashore, Dube said. Officers filed one misdemeanor count for each of the 46 tails against the crewmen.
Charged with multiple misdemeanors were boat operator Angel Torre, 64, of Miami; Vladimir Herrero, 48, of Marathon; and Osmin Perez Alfonso, 77, of Hialeah.
Torre also is charged with possessing two lobster traps without required registration tags and improperly displaying trap-license tag numbers on the boat. He was released on a $16,072 bond.
Herrero and Perez were each released Monday after each posting $15,416 bond.