ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Voters in Florida could soon decide whether to approve an addition to the state’s constitution that would make fishing and hunting a right in the Sunshine State.
Patti McCloskey is a longtime angler.
“Last week,” McCloskey said, “I have to tattle on myself, I spent 39 hours awake fishing straight because it was so fun.”
Even if you don’t have that kind of stamina, you can understand the passion and pleasure McCloskey gets casting a line out into the bay.
“It’s just in me to love,” she said. “It’s how I’m wired.”
She’s been fishing ever since she was a little girl growing up in South Dakota.
She does it as a hobby and says it’s great for her to see all the people out on the pier next to the Skyway.
“I actually catch more than I can eat myself and so I usually give them to somebody that really needs the fish to eat,” McCloskey said.
She has quite the operation at the end of the pier with several rods out, trying to catch bait and other types of fish.
“This one has a clip that slides down that line that has bait below it, so then when the fish bites that, it comes off the second clip and you fight that with your second pole,” McCloskey said.
Since 2010, she’s been making her way to this spot to enjoy the beauty and nature of Florida.
And she says things like this should be a right for Floridians.
“I think it’s about time that they did that,” she said.
Lawmakers are looking at a bill that would send the question of whether to make fishing and hunting as a constitutional right in the state of Florida to voters in 2024.
Supporters point to the role hunting and fishing play in managing wildlife, however, some states have seen efforts to ban the activities.
One state senator did question the need for a constitutional amendment saying Florida’s hunting and fishing industry isn’t in any jeopardy.
McCloskey doesn’t want to see her favorite hobby affected in any way.
“To those of us that are wired for fishing or wanting to learn or try something new,” she said, “it should be available.”
Which is why she wants this to be on the ballot so voters can decide.
In the meantime, she says she’s hopeful she’ll be able to come out here with her many poles to enjoy her endless hours of fishing for years to come.
The proposal would not limit the ability of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to set rules for fishing and hunting.
Currently, the bill has been approved by committees in the House and the Senate.
If fully approved, this decision would be put up to voters in November 2024.