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Comments: Reopening Snook 2013

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 Neil Taylor, www.capmel.com

The replies to the first two articles on the decision to reopen the species of snook on the west coast have been brisk and they have been interesting.    Comments in favor of the opening?   Still waiting to get some of those.   

Will they reconsider?   It is possible, but only if recent discussions lead to new discussion on the subject.

It is not a good decision, not just by my own feelings but of my contemporaries and peers.     It is painful to absorb:  We take the positives from three and a half years of a natural process and erase all of those gains?   Simple and straightforward:   Why would there be a hurry to force an opening when things simply are not that impressive?  

The first two articles that I wrote were a wake-up call (listed at the bottom).  Below are the comments that I received by the internet or email, the newest ones first, for those who saw the original draft.  The only editing I did was to references and language that is probably counter-productive.   Believe me, there were more than a few of those from people who really love this species and they are not in favor of this decision.  

************************Added July 28, 2013**********************************

It is my opinion that the gulf coast snook season should remain closed for at least another year. We are beginning to see a return of slot sized fish, but not near the former numbers that existed before the freeze. Let’s not jump the gun, but give them time to recover fully. Thank you.
Dear FWC, I’ll keep it simple. It’s too early to allow harvest of a species that got absolutely wrecked in the 2010 freeze. I am frankly amazed that FWC would consider opening a season on a fish that has not rebounded completely.
My personal choice will be to target other species, as I don’t believe Snook should be exploited yet. I am not a fish biologist, but just another concerned angler who saw the devastation and truly believes this wonderful species needs another year’s reprieve. Thanks for your consideration.
 The fwc is wrong. There is not enough accurate studies on snook population done. Ask any guide and they’ll give you more accurate information than the fwc. If you disagree just look at the protect goliath grouper population…endangered but so abundant that they are nothing but an invasive species that destroys environments
KEEP SNOOK CLOSED!
As a third generation Floridian and life-long sportsman I have seen the fish stocks and the rules come and go. The biggest difference today vrs the “Good Old Days” is the number of people fishing ie. fishing pressure. I feel that due to the lack of recovery in our snook population here on the central west coast, the season for taking snook on the gulf side should be kept closed for at least 2 more years. Longer if we have any red tide or bad freeze events.
Please rule on the side of caution and protect our gulf coast snook!
Thank You.
Greetings,
I highly recommend you keep snook season closed for at least one more year. As a native Floridian, I’ve seen the good times and the bad times. Today, we’re seeing the bad times for snook. While they’re doing better, they could sure use another year of NOT being targeted. I haven’t caught a snook in over 2 years. Rarely see many. Let’s give ’em a break for another year. Thanks for you hearing me out.
I am a kayak fisherman in the Tampa Bay area. I belong to several clubs/organizations and attend seminars/presentations about our waters and conservation. In fact FWC is one of the speakers a couple times a year. We also work in conjunction with Tampa Bay Watch, etc. While I don’t profess to be an expert by any means, I have a reasonable knowledge/ hands on expierience with the issues confronting the health & longevity of our coastal waters. Therefore:
I would urge you to ‘keep snook season closed’
In my opinion the species has not fully recovered enough from the devestation from the freeze/ cold snap of several years ago. Many of the snook being caught are barely slot size. And as you well know just a year can make a big difference in the breeding potential ie. a 5 yr old fish is capable of ‘x’ amount of offspring, while a 7 yr old fish triple those numbers. I for one would be more than glad to continue catch and release until the species has more time to recover.
Thank You,
Keep Snook Closed in 2013
For the long term good of this species please allow recovery and do not open the season to allow harvesting until sufficient breeding Stock has been established. Thank you. JTL
Let’s give them more time to make a full recovery.
Thanks for listening.
I have been reading with great interest articles about the Snook situation, in particular the Tampa Bay area. I believe the decision to reopen the season is wrong; as a sportsman, I like to see fishing conditions as close to “world class” as possible. I’ve fished trout fisheries in Arkansas and Missouri that have tight restrictions but as a result are great places to fish. Over the last several years I have made an annual trip to Florida and have been able to fish a few areas in Tampa. I’ve never caught a Snook, and I won’t target the species until it makes a comeback. I suggest that if the area had a reputation of a world class fishery, with Snook being on the list, the attraction of the area to fishermen all over the country would be great. Out of state people contribute a lot of $ to the local economy in many ways. I’m getting ready to come to Florida for trip #2 this year; hope to do a lot more in upcoming years. Please consider my request to keep Snook season closed until the numbers increase, creating a more viable population.
Sincerely,
Ray
I am simply asking that you continue the moratorium on snook harvest.
As a recreational angler I am aware that the fish population is not strong enough to warrant openening harvest . Consider rescinding this decision
Neil, I am assuming you got the same thing.   I thought they would take the input seriously this time.   The ruling itself is not as disturbing as the response.    The letter I wrote deserved a better reply then a form letter sent out to anyone who mentioned the word “snook.”    Like you and others, if they want to seriously move forward with the decision I (and we) want to know why they would make a decision that 99% of the people oppose.    By 99% that is my math.    The 1% are people who are rednecks who eat roadkill types.     I cannot thank you enough for trying.    You can be content that you made an effort.    Several guides I respected previously stayed silent.    I have no respect for that, and all the more for you.    They should have spoken up if nothing else to support what you were trying to do.   To me THAT was simple.   You wanted them to reconsider a decision that nearly all of us do not understand.
I finally got my reply.    Not from the governor.   From this Wiley guy.   I hope he enjoys his paycheck.   Probably written by an intern, I know when I have been written off.   I am sorry I took all the effort to write my letter to be treated like this?!     Thank you for trying.    You raised great points on behalf of all of us.   We do not always agree but on this one we do on all counts.    I can go catch snook if I want to, but like you, I won’t because it is not worth it.   The state endorsing the targeting of snook, it is as if they have no concept of what the numbers really are (or the sizes of different size fish).    Have a great year otherwise.
I am writing to express my concerns regarding the opening of snook to harvest September 1st. This is an irresponsible decision based on false data and assumptions. I for one kayak fish the intercostal waters frequently, and I have noticed a small increase in snook population, but no where near numbers allowing harvest. I ask that you please revoke this decision and allow snook to make a comeback. You are getting ready to open a harvest where the majority of the large, breeding fish are right in the slot! Also, please do what you are suppose to do and survey the local captains. I for one know many that were NEVER questioned in this decision and that isn’t right. Sounds to me like the FWC selected their own people for the survey. Convenient.
I wanted to take a minute to ask that you reconsider opening the snook harvest. I live in Clearwater FL. and have been fishing the area for almost ten years. I can tell you first hand that the snook are not as abundant as they were prior too 2010. It has been three years, as you know it takes just about twice that for a snook to mature. In my, and countless others opinion, opening the harvest season this year or even then next couple years, could have a serious impact on breeding snook and future generations. Please consider the input from the local anglers and guides, we are the ones on the water day in and day out.
Thank you for your time
What is mystifying, this is about whether or not to keep snook.    Who would want to?    I can catch something to eat whenever I want.   To kill a snook, for one, good luck.   For two, I want my kids to be able to catch these fish like I did a few years ago and the harvest of the species risks this opportunity.   Yes, I believe the pressure alone hurts but actual harvest of the future of the species right now is blatantly dumb.    These people should work for Disney instead of the FWC.   The Magic Kingdom is a great place for people to escape the real world and they have done it in their jobs.
Well, that was worth it.  I spent about half an hour formulating a very thoughtful letter and I feel like they just told me to stick it.   I do not see why this is necessary or even a consideration.    My four other fishing buddies, all feel the same as I, they are fearful that this will be a big shot to the future of our favorite fish to catch.

***********Added July 22, 2013*********************

Thank you for keeping this topic active.    I have seen a few more snook than the previous years but keep this in mind:   Over my entire area, which I know very well, I should be seeing many hundreds of fish but I would fairly accurately estimate that it is in the dozens.      I believe that this process of recovery will take a solid ten years.    We did have it so good for so long.  But all of you are absolutely correct, the re opening of this species to harvest is at best ill advised.   At worst, it is moronic.
 
I have not gotten a reply from day one when I heard that this was their decision.     Not that they care what I think or anything but when so many people speak up, do they not want to address the problem?     I am seriously disappointed in this system.    What you read simply does not match what is reality.     I went down south near Fort Myers and while it was fun to actually see snook again, their numbers are not what they were before either.   How much worse will that get quickly if they do endorse harvest again?
 
 
If this a joke?     I didn’t believe it until I moved back here.     I can hardly even find any much less think about killing one of them.     Are they serious?
 
I would strongly suggest that we continue to rehab the snook for another year… I been fortunate enough to report a tag snook catch to you in the past when the numbers were at there highest… I still fish these very same water weekly when lucky enough to get away from the daily grind. I had the pleasure of catching one that went 42 inches with my 10 year old stepson recently… Yet the number of juvies and slot sized fish are still way down from where they once were… I would love for my stepson to be able to bring his first one home, but even he understands that for the greater good of this species we must take action and precautions now… Hopefully in the long run our conservation efforts will reward the following generations in the years to come.
 
I can’t believe they are even considering opening it. Go kill a trout if your hungry…. Sure hope it doesn’t happen
 
Wish they would keep it closed!! Start looking at the redfish! There’s none around cause everyone kills them every day…..
 
 They do not need to open it there are way to many poachers and the other fish that are available to eat Snapper, black grouper, cobia taste just as good or even better. Snook are like Tarpon a Sport Fish !!!!!!
 
Accurate and professional: Are you certain? They have even said they will reverse their decision if they hear enough challenge from the public. Why would they do that if their data was any good? There are inconsistencies, like the “impact” was much greater on the smaller fish than the large. I talked to people all over the state and the freeze did not discriminate. The pressure that is put on this species by the act of opening it exposes it to extra pressure and that strain will reverse the positives of having it closed since the weather event. Actually harvesting a fish? You would have to have no regard for the resource if you had seen for yourself or talked to reputable sources
 
Crap let alone the over fishing, and over harvesting that’s going to happen. With the weather at extremes i sure hope we dont see another real cold winter and a freeze again before they have a chance to recoop that would really suck…..
 
Fishing 200+ days a year, I can tell you, snook here in West Central Florida are nowhere near as abundant as 2009 and before. Not even close. I used to be able to put clients on 30-50 snook a day without much effort. Now it’s more like 3-6 a day (if I try) and on really good days it’s 10-20 tops. Keep it closed for 5 more years!
 
 I hope the right people will wake up and really see what is going on.. do you have any pictures of the fish kill that happen in the last few years due to the cold weather? If so… start showing them!
 
 ***************************************

I don’t know a single guide who wants the season open. If you can change the season opener that would be great!!!! I catch a ton of big snook but they definitely are not in their normal spots. In a perspective from the client who wants to keep one I will have to tell a story and see if they are ok to let them go. If not it will hurt me deeply and possibly change the outcome of the charter. One wise captain once said. “These snook are my business associates”. It would be nice to keep them that way!

As previous Captain and now a Rec fisherman that spends counless hours on the water every year… I have seen the devastating evect the previous winters have taken on the snook reducing the population from numbers over 5 years ago… Now with the allowing harvest of the snook come this fall, I see nothing good of it… its just taking our population of possible breeder fish to lower stats… There are so many other species of fish that have closures on them that have greater numbers and less anglers targeting… Snook is a HUGE Targeted fish and targeted by a countless number of anglers. The snook have enough trouble tring to survive winter poachers…
I believe opening the season is a mistake… It does not even really bring in any extra money either… so its not like it will effect the economy any either…

Respectfully, I am disappointed that you would even consider this.   I love to eat a snook occasionally myself but would not consider doing so until the species got a lot stronger than what exists right now.    Why kill the gains that years of recovery have provided, when waiting just a little longer strengthens the sustainability of the species?  

For the last 5 years I have spent well over 100 day per year on the water fishing for inshore species. This year is the first year since the freeze where there have been “decent” numbers of snook. With that being said, most of the snook being caught are between 14-20  inches with the occational “keeper size” and even more rare an “overslot” fish. I was shocked when I heard that the season is set to open in september. Why risk the possibility of another cold weather kill this winter while also exposing the fish that we need to spawn over the next few years to harvest. It is my opinion that those who make these decisions about the future of the snook as a species and our snook fishery need to keep it CLOSED for at least another season so that we can someday see the numbers AND size we saw before the freeze.  The individual who wishes to harvest a snook is the only person who loses in the short term while there is so much more to gain in the end by a continued closure on the gulf coast. To that angler who wants to put food on the table I would say trout and redfish are plentiful and delicious. Surely no one is going to starve because of a continued snook closure. Dedicated anglers also have the option of fishing the atlantic coast and keeping a snook where they were not as badly affected by the freeze. 

They are just now getting back to good numbers and there is still a lot of poaching and fatal by-catch going on.We need more enforcement at shore stops and seawalls.

One potential problem is that a lot of people who currently don’t target snook because they can’t keep them will start to. More snook fishermen = more snook caught, more incidental mortality, and more snook in coolers. How much that would impact the population is anybody’s guess but as someone else mentioned, if savvy guides start hunting snook for their clients, it could amount to quite a few fish.

I fish for sport but also for the table. I don’t live on the coast and only get out 2 or 3 times a month so I want to bring home some fish when I do get to go. Snook are delicious but I could do without. There’s plenty of other good eatin’ swimming around out there. If they open a season and I have a bad day, my only catch being a nice slot snook toward the end of the day, would I bring it home? Hmm…I’m not sure. 

What are you guys/gals opinions of opening the season, but for a much shorter duration? Say maybe a month or two? Just a thought…Also, if the slot fish/ breeders are the most prevalent why not “tweak” the slot lengths to ensure more breeders stay in the water?

My biggest concern will be those that are just at the top of the slot limit. My hope is they will survive long enough to become the breeders that we need. Just one more year would make a huge difference

This is NOT a scientific opinion just an observation.  I live on the Little Manatee River and this winter and I saw more snook than in the past in the lights under my dock.  Interestingly, there were some VERY large ones (probably over 36 inches and one I know was at least 4′ long) and lots of smaller ones (less than 18″) but very few if any in between.  One night I counted 38 parked under my light that I could see and I know there were lots more swimming around.  My neighbor told me one night in Feb. he counted 55 under his light.

I am not so sure we are really ready to open the season yet.  With so many small ones lets just wait a bit and let them mature some more.  

  I respectfully submit my request asking for your consideration to keep snook closed to harvest until further surveys in the field support opening this gamefish to take. It appears that most outdoorsmen and guides in Florida are in agreement that opening snook should be delayed to ensure successful recovery of old ‘Linesider’.

Thank you and I trust that the future of this magnificent gamefish will be guaranteed by your continued actions to conserve resources for generations to come. 

Please reconsider your stance on the opening of snook season.  I believe the value of keeping the season closed for at least 1 more year far outweighs any positive impact you forsee by allowing snook to be harvested now.  By waiting a bit longer we will wind up with a much bigger group of fish which are over the slot limit providing a better breeding population.
   I am a fisherman who has yet to harvest my first snook but I am willing to wait till the time is right.  I hope you can agree with me

 I told them to open Gag Grouper year round. 22 inch min with 2 per day per person and leave Snook alone. They are opening the wrong fishery. More tourism = more money. Opening Snook will not benefit anything.

I have been reading with great interest articles about the Snook situation, in particular the Tampa Bay area. I believe the decision to reopen the season is wrong; as a sportsman, I like to see fishing conditions as close to “world class” as possible. I’ve fished trout fisheries in Arkansas and Missouri that have tight restrictions but as a result are great places to fish. Over the last several years I have made an annual trip to Florida and have been able to fish a few areas in Tampa. I’ve never caught a Snook, and I won’t target the species until it makes a comeback. I suggest that if the area had a reputation of a world class fishery, with Snook being on the list, the attraction of the area to fishermen all over the country would be great. Out of state people contribute a lot of $ to the local economy in many ways. I’m getting ready to come to Florida for trip #2 this year; hope to do a lot more in upcoming years. Please consider my request to keep Snook season closed until the numbers increase, creating a more viable population.

rework the slot if needed but the East Coast has had a season for two years
and we have many more fish a much healthier stock assessment? Tired of
politics. close Spring but let’s enjoy something before a new freeze whips
out these! it made me sick to observe all the wasted fish we did without to have, only to waste. we can’t control mother nature only be good stewards
and enjoy some benefits!

My greatest concern is the huge number of snook currently being poached off private structure and from everyday fishing trips — carcasses are easy to find. There are VERY few femails above the allowable slot limit to carry he species forward. Either ighten the slot to one 24″ min. / 25″ max.” fish to eat, or close it until a reliable source of broodstock is above the current allowable maximum size.

I’m think that we should just step back regroup and take a long hard look at what could possibly happen to this species if we do open the season. If the data supports that the stocks are at a level that they once were then open the season. Don’t open because we are ready to eat snook! I for one wouldn’t mind if they close it for 5 years then take a look in 5 years.

All of the Florida fisheries need to be properly surveyed before we even consider harvesting snook. I’ve grew up in Estero,FL and grew up eating snook. I love it like a fat kid loves cake! BUT I want my Children to enjoy it too. I say no to September. It would be nice to catch 20 a day like the good times!

Open snook season, Could be disastrous for Charlotte Harbor ,!! Five generations and fishing 30 plus years 20 as a guide!! Opening snook season and a harsh winter, will just about wrap it up for snook and we won’t have to worry about it anymore !

The central to northwest FL Gulf Coast was hit hard by the freeze. I truly think the FWC should keep the snook season closed north of the Bradenton/Sarasota area, if not the entire FL gulf region.

I have some spots that have a lot of 20-25″ snook. Is there any tag studies I could help with. I think we will be ok in a few years and the west coast was hit hard. They should first cosider what are the northern boundries and look at better habitat for tbe Snook. We have a lot of snook here. But i have to agree we need to be good and think of the fish first.

Someone needs to fight to lower the 2 redfish limit of northern Florida back to 1. And the commercial harvest of trout. Save our snook and other gamefish!

I am a charter captain in ft. Myers, fl. I guide from the 10,000 islands to Charlotte harbor and anywhere in between. I love fishing for snook. I will not be offering snook nor am I going to purchase a snook tag. We have been catching a lot of snook all over the place. I do not think this fishery can sustain a open season yet. I just don’t understand why we don’t have the restocking program like some of the other gulf states. This is a renewable resource for us lets not kill itbecause we want to eat a snook! I am all for catch and release! Honestly it wouldn’t bother me to see this closed for the next 5 or ten years. I am still not seeing the numbers of snook on our beaches yet. Please reconsider the open season!

a member of “Florida’s Oldest Family”, have been fishing for 30+ plus years for Snook, and have been guiding anglers in Charlotte Harbor for 16 years. I love Snook fishing, and have enjoyed them on my table my whole life. A few years ago, I realized that it is more than water temperatures and harvesting that is creating the Snook’s problem (sort of regarding the latter…). The real problem …is OVERPOPULATION. This is a problem that cannot be fixed; We as natives (and long time residents) have to understand that the world has changed for us… The act of bringing Snook home for dinner a few nights a week cannot be practiced by the new, much larger number of angling enthusiasts. If we are going to enjoy Snook fishing for years to come, we have to be prepared to “pay it forward”, and release these fish (not to mention fight like crazy to protect the estuarine marshlands where developers are trying to satisfy the throngs of “aliens” waiting to take possession of their own piece of “Flawridah”). To all of those people pounding their chests bragging about how many Snook they see and catch; Sure I too know where I can find tons of Snook (for now). Florida, her estuaries, and the Snook cannot handle what is coming… As a result, I have vowed to do my part – I will never kill a Snook again (intentionally, notwithstanding the occasional gill damage, or Shark attack that comes with angling every now and then.) You guys don’t have be as extreme as I… just don’t be furious if the biologists say we have to keep the season closed for a few years. Ask yourself: “Do you want to eat a Snook? Or catch loads of them for the rest of your life? Catch Snook – eat Flounder!!!!!!

The population is maybe where it was when the freeze hit. 2 more years to have epic snook fishing. We are talking 20 years ago conditions, seems like a easy choice.

An organization helps when the administration can’t make the right decisions. I am a fishing guide and have several thousand photos of snook, so I attest that snook are easy to catch if they are there. Not going to go deeper into evaluation of your comments, unless you want me to, but Mother Nature taking care of her own would be easier if there were not millions of anglers trying to catch this depleted number of fish. Therein lies the reason for management.

I agree also , our problem is the lack of females and even WORSE YET is on sep 1st every Tom , dick, and Harry will go out and catch 20 snook and none will be legal but 99.9% of those snook caught will be thrown back will all be eaten by porpoise !!! It’s a MAJOR PROBLEM here in naples and Marco and all pass’s around our area !!!! Just like everything in this country it will take wiping them out to do the right thing . And the next time they close the season that might be the end to snook fishing forever …

The original set of comments:

Good article Neil. Thx for getting the facts out in the open. We’ve got to get his message shared in the local fishing communities.

I have to agree!!! Thanks for the email!!!

I’ve never had the opportunity to reel in one of those babies but I’m patient enough to wait.

Well said Neil, you can only hope they listen and hear.

I would have like to see another year or so.
I’d love to have a truly world class fishery for big Snook here in Florida.

The fact that its so damn hard to catch a slot tells ya how few there are, so why allow the harvest of a fish already low in numbers.

I am a charter captain in Terra Ceia,  Manatee county, for 8 years and strongly oppose snook season to open, as well as the majority of recreational fisherman I speak to.

I was not aware of the “public meeting” to discuss snook seasons. The opening of snook season in September I feel will dramatically reduce the numbers of breeders for seasons to come.  Clients historically caught an estimate of 60-80 snook on regular snook trips, currently clients are only catching 10-15.

Ideally close the season for 2-3 years, allow the top end of the slot snook, 31-33″, grow out of the slot and they will add to our breeding population.  I don’t know what science, if any is behind this decision to open in September, but what I do know is what a client catches or doesn’t catch.

Great Read and Information Neil!

I would like to have seen one more year.

My honest opinion is that it’s too soon. I would have been happy seeing them get a break for one more year. The numbers of fish on the beaches are nothing close to what they were pre 2010 freeze. Maybe this is FWC’s way of saying we had an overpopulation of big Snook back then, and now the populations are back to ‘normal’?
I won’t be targeting them for another year, season or no.

I too think that it should have been closed another year. IMO the number of fish I have seen this year compared to before the freeze is about half. Others may have a different perspective. In places where there used to be 75-100 fish gathering to spawn, there are only 30-40. I haven’t kept a snook in probably 10 years anyways.  I would like to see the science behind the decision.

When I first saw it, I called to ask some questions but I got the run around.   I don’t think that they really care what any of us think.   What is sad is we will all have to suffer with a longer delay in having a great tourist draw return to excellence.

I have only caught two since the freeze.   Both about 20 inches.

Life (mostly work) has kept me from fishing for years now.   But I like to catch snook.   I have noticed that you are one of the guys who never mentions them through this entire ordeal.   That speaks volumes to me.   I have lived here for almost 60 years so I am not a total moron when it comes to fishery issues.   That winter weather and the sensitivity of that species, I have no doubt that you are the one who is correct here.   Why else would you go to this effort?   So, as a guy who will be soon retiring, I wanted to take the time to thank you for probably making my retirement years better if you are successful at changing their minds.   But for sure for informing people, to hell with what they decide.

What do you expect?   This from an agency that will not come out to study issues in the field.  Don’t be surprised if they recommend a bigger bag limit next.

How thick can they be?  I have not caught a snook in almost four years.   Before that, I would catch them almost every time I went out.

Whenever I have called they just hung up on me anyway.   They consider their own decisions to be “law.”   Dissenting opinions are not permitted.  Snook.   I haven’t even seen a snook in four years.   Incompetent decisions based on incomplete observations.

Neil, you said it very well.   I will share this with everyone I can.   This is not a correct way to go.  It is too soon and it can not help this situation.

Nice job on thoughtfully providing negative information in a positive way! I hope someone listens!

You should have also mentioned poachers.   We have not had a red tide in a while and that could make things that much worse but damn poachers are always hurting that species.

Neil, well written. I agree and believe your message and the same drumbeat from other guides will make a difference. It’s really up to us anyway you look at it. Thanks for leading the way.

Thanks Neil. I totally agree.

I agree 100%. Maybe we should “save the snook”

It practically warrants an investigation.   Of the few fish we have there are a lot that would be at harvest size.    That is not good.   While they are at it why don’t they increase the bag limit to three?

I have never met you but I have enjoyed your work for a long time. I have also not agreed with some of it. As a guy who lists snook as his favorite fish to catch: You should be one of 100 pros writing this kind of article right now. I know where they are too. I too have chosen to leave ’em alone. All this time later, I am still heartbroken about the loss but time will bring them back around. This decision could delay that process a great deal. Keep up the flow of information on this one!

Incorrect decision by the Florida lawmakers?  Say it isn’t so (sarcasm).   Um, saying that it is OK to start harvesting snook again is like saying it is OK to let Kasey Anthony take that job as a nanny.

That’s interesting that you were astute enough to keep statistics as to the number of accidental snook you caught during the three-year period.  Your essay is certainly well written.  It sounds as though you are writing about something you really understand – you have acquired a great deal of information about how species are nearly  obliterated, and then have come back.  I suppose many folks who fish don’t even think about such things just as long as they have fun on the water – they are the ones who need to be educated.

Neil, another well-written article (round 2) about the dilemma that re-opening of snook fishing poses. I agree that the FWCC field officers do a remarkable job and those in the offices of rules proposals should pay more attention to those outdoors with better sight pictures of actual conditions. Education will mitigate the damages but relief for the snook population can only be achieved by extending the no keep, really NO target, of these magnificent fish. Old ‘linesider’ is a piece of Florida that none of us wants to lose. Deserves better than this.

Thanks again for leading the the charge to conserve and preserve this species.

Keep it closed for at least three more years and let everyone enjoy the results.   Anyone who wants to enjoy a snook between now and then can still catch it and let it go.
I promise not to kill a snook this year!  Seriously though, I hope your message gets spread around. Hunters and fishers are the best conservationists. This FWC decision sounds completely off-base.

I got your article from a page on Facebook and saw your email address at the bottom.   You should have a bigger voice in this decision.   I have seen their reasoning and it is kind of scary.   They seem to live in a bubble.   Maybe someone needs to explain to them about predation and poaching because that is what happened to a lot of the “remaining” fish you mentioned.  I did a little research and I think you are already aware of that too.   Thank you for taking the time to draft this statement.

I wish we had snook here Neil.   On the merits of their decision, if you remember, they changed the redfish rules allowing two to be kept up here.   There was no real science behind that either but politics.   Reading your piece, I have to wonder “why” on this one.   With redfish, they are like rats and you couldn’t exterminate them if you wanted to (but one was enough and the reds did well under the old rule).   With snook, you are talking a different thing.   Sensitive to cold, targeted by poachers for the meat, heavily exploited for sport: They deserve more protection.  That’s my input Neil.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  This is what I was thinking.   Honestly, they are going to reopen it?  That is unbelievable.

More intellectual negligence out of the institute in St Pete.   I would be interested if they could actually identify a snook over there.   Maybe that’s the problem with there assessment?   Maybe there counting mullet.

What really bothers me is just being “hit with it.” No explanation really.   No sensitivity to how those of us feel  that “know” what the real situation is.   Not that it is right either way but soften the blow a little.   I’m with ya brother, I won’t keep them either.

What makes this so bad Cap’n, is that this affects not just this huge breeder but  the loss of its future production, which is drasticly needed. Especially after the dumb azz decision to reopen harvest, of this species, at this time. It should have remained closed for at least five more successful breeding cycles.

Remain closed for two more years.  Are you serious that they are opening it?   WOW!

After your first article, I thought this was a joke.   But I looked it up.   Are they just not aware of regional deficiencies of the species?   I then made a call.   A snook fisher man from southwest Florida told me “there are fish but it is way under half what there was  in ’09.”   A second call to a guide I used down there, he said “I don’t like taking the trips” for the same reasons you have stated in your articles.   So, with what I read, what I heard from talking to people it seems like they did a poor evaluation job.

Mr. Taylor.   Please feel free to use my comments as you deal with officials.   I know where to catch some snook.   And if I did, I would be part of the problem you are describing.   Wasn’t that the reason for the closure to begin with, to let pressure off of the species?    Anyway, I go and look at the collections of snook that I know of and it is just as you have stated in your “census” comments- there are not numbers that are worth being anything more than “encouraged.”   You are correct on so many levels, sadly, the one where if they are opened up so many of the fish will be in the harvest range.   I just do not understand why they can say that there is any statistical reasons to keep it closed.   That sounds like people who are doing something for other reasons.   If that is the case, the entire program should be evaluated.   Fisheries management is exactly that.   I have lived here long enough to see a lot of things.   Some good, some very bad.   This one probably fits somewhere in the middle but leans hard to the negative side.   Honest to God, I don’t see how they could make this announcement without putting riot gear on first.  The snook, as my grandfather used to put it “Is Florida royalty.”  It is a shame to see that they will not be treated as such.

I wouldn’t have believed it unless I saw it for myself.   I got out to hit all my best dock lights.   Started at 9PM and worked a full tide until 2AM and the amount of snook we saw matches your observations.   Five hours of dock light prospecting and we caught none and only saw about six or seven small fish.   At about midnight one of the property owners came out and he said “you snookin’” and when we said yes he told us “wish in one hand and s_ _ t in the other and see which one fills up first.”   He then said that he has not seen that many fish in any of the areas he likes to fish.   I wish your article was not correct but it is spot on for the region.   Thank you for doing what you can to try to stop a mistake.

It would be funny if it weren’t true.  It would be a good thing if it weren’t stoopid.  It would be great if they wasn’t  so funnily stoopid.   Save the snuks!

Good luck with your crusade.   Such simplicity to this solution.   You do not encourage removal of fish when they are battling to make a “come back.”   Pity that people that it is their paid profession cannot come up with the right answer on their own.

Still think that opening the Snook season on the East coast was a major mistake.  Yes, there were a lot of big Snook in the inlets and spillways, but in the back areas that I fish they were almost nonexistent.  Finally, this year I have hit 2 overslot Snook, accidents.  There are very few Snooklets to be found.  I used to get at least 10 shorts a day.  now the number is near zero.  Yes we have serious problems in the Indian River Lagoon.  There are major areas where the grass has died off, turning some rich flats into virtual deserts.  This problem is being studied by experts which means that a lot of over educated dolts will receive a lot of money, and nothing will be done.
I am considered to be an amateur angler.  Average 50 plus trips per year.

I know this guy who said that the species is completely recovered, he’s catching dozens per trip.   Do you have any pictures.   Nah, I don’t take pictures.   Finally I’m on his case long enough where he takes me snook fishing.   We didn’t catch any.   Did not see any either.   I told him, let’s go again tomorrow.   He says “I lied. I have not really been catching that many.”   I said, that many?   He said, I have only caught two all year long.   If they are getting data from the common people, they are processing lies.   If that is what they are doing then they should be fired for incompetence.    Numbers are low but getting a little better.   No argument here with anything you have said.   I would rather see you in charge of this decision than these people to be perfectly honest.

I am so happy I got to sit in on a conversation you had with a guy this week.   You changed his mind and for me, it is information I would not have known.   When I got home and read this article, I became a very big fan.   Your dedication to your profession, the species that you take people to catch and to helping inform the public is appreciated.   I am sure it is also attacked as well.   With the challenge of the debater you convinced I am assuming this is not a problem for you.   I would be happy to see you listed on a future advisory board for these matters.    It is just so obvious that you are in touch with the world, spend more time out there than most and you are not afraid to stand behind what you think is right.  I just wanted to write to thank you again.

You might not remember me.   I met you at the Redfish consortium they held about a year and a half ago.   Remember how there were 40 people who showed up and it was unanimous, no one wanted the stupid change they proposed?  But they passed it anyway?   I lost all faith in this system then.   This, as someone who is retired and gets to fish anytime I like, I probably rank up there with you and other full time guides as far as “seeing” out there.   Snook.  Yeah, I know where there are some snook.  About 40 of them.   And that.  That’s about it.   You are correct.   If people do not follow your lead they would be able to legally harvest ¾ of that group of snooks.     With the other areas that have a lot of under slot snook, I feel that two more full years of closure is even better than opening it up next year.      Who are they trying to appease anyway?

Charge on my friend.   I moved so I don’t really have any input directly but I was there when they died.   They drastically played down the loss in the west central area.   I will be moving back in several years so I hope your effort has results.    Let everyone keep something else if they want to eat a fish.

You are the best snook fishing guide I have ever gone with, and I have gone out with about 8 or 9 guys.  If you are making this statement, it HAS TO BE TRUE.   Jack, who I brought to your seminar, he hired a power boat guide and on their snook trip, they caught one baby.   He was a little annoyed when the guide said “there jus’ aint dat many to kitch.”   He said “Then why did you let me take a snook trip?”   I will watch how this develops.   Please let me know if I can help you in any way.

Thanks for delaying the submission of comments.   Mine:  Hurt.   I was not asked.   If I had been I would have put together something very complete that would be useful in “making a decision.”    It is time for some changes.    You, you are something not to change.   The FWRI:   Time to just get new people.    My history and knowledge, similar to yours.   The insult, probably the same as what you are feeling.     The species and the condition:   Slightly better than last year but still the third worst year I have ever seen in 54 years of “snook fishing” these waters.    Mention of down south:   Better but down.    Just about to see real results in another ten months.    I would like to push to find out how they arrived at this.    Statistically.    Statistics are on paper.   The (lack of) fish are in the water.  Don’t stop what you are doing.

 

For more on the reopening of snook in 2013, read these articles:

The Snook Fallacy

Reopen Snook?

Neil Taylor is a former professional baseball umpire, full-time kayak fishing guide, outdoor writer/speaker and the administrator and owner of www.capmel.com.

2013: Snook to Re-open Florida Gulf

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The Snook Fallacy

The rumor come true, the FWC has announced that they will reopen  snook to harvest in September.   

Very little celebration is heard from this one.   In fact, there is predominantly   confusion and dissent on this one.    Decimated by a freeze in January 2010 where daytime temperatures did not   reach 50 for four straight days, the long and slow recovery process was stunted   by a first spawn failure in 2010.     The actual regeneration of a species that, in the Tampa Bay area, lost   over 95% of the total population- is a slow and methodical   process.

The decision to open this species to harvest could not come at a   worse time.   There are a   significant number of “slot” size fish that could legally be removed from the   population.   Those would be   trophy size fish in the near future that we would be able to enjoy (again, and   again, and again) which will become large breeding female fish in the near   future.

This decision is particularly disappointing when you find out that   the state officials utilized zero of the guide resources available to them.   None of the premier guides I   talked to have stated that anyone from the FWC contacted them to ask about their   observations.    In   general, the overall feeling is that there are some reasons to be encouraged   about the species but overall, the recovery is a long way from complete.   The massive population we enjoyed   for a long time is not restored.    Locations that “would” have hundreds and hundreds of pre-spawn fish have   a few dozen.     

Personal decisions will determine the future of this species,   regardless of what their final rulings.   If you know what I do, you would   not even consider killing a snook.     If people continue to practice great release techniques and put back   every fish, the species will return to 2009 levels much quicker.  Don’t let a baffling bad decision make   all the difference:  Spread the   word.   Let all of your fishing   friends know.   Have them talk   to the guides and very experienced local anglers about this situation.  I believe that if you do your research,   you will decide that you will not be killing any snook when “the season   opens.”  Do not let their bad   decision dictate the future of a resource that belongs to us   all.

 You like to eat   fish?   Harvest one of the   other species that are abundant.     Eventually, snook will return to a level where I would classify it a   sustained fishery again.   That   time is not here.

Neil   Taylor

www.strikethreekayakfishing.com

(Cell) 727-692-6345  

LivelyBaits@aol.com

Birds and Fishing Line

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I was introduced to the author of this story through Jamie Foster at the Skyway Piers. Susan and I talked for a long time and she said that if she was allowed to write a novel on this one, she would have. I went into great detail about my thoughts on tangled birds.

I talked to Susan about expanding on the story.   She had limitations on the length of her piece and I had given her some extra details and concepts on evaluating a situation and liberating a bird that is tangled in line or “hooked.”   Below is Susan’s great story plus some other information and ideas on prevention and tactics to handling these situations.

Susan’s article link:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/wildlife/heres-the-catch-hooks-line-pose-everyday-threat-to-birds/1277119

Here’s the catch: Hooks, line pose everyday threat to birds

  • By Susan Marschalk Green, Times Correspondent

Saturday, March 2, 2013

It’s a crisp, cloudless morning at the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier, and Nguyen Sung of Lutz baits his hook, eager to try his luck alongside others who cast their lines into Tampa Bay on the pier’s south side. • Paddling about in the azure water below is another species hoping for a lucky catch: a common loon visiting from as far north as Minnesota or Canada. • Seconds after Sung’s hook zings over the railing, the loon abruptly dives, thrashing in a panic under water and then spinning wildly when forced to the surface as Sung tugs on the fishing rod. Suddenly he has a bird on a wire.

Unlucky catches like that occur daily at fishing piers all over Florida, say fishermen and wildlife rescuers. This one, which happened last month, ended with a lucky loon. Sung kept the bird on the line until veteran angler Albert Ortiz of St. Petersburg and Tampa Audubon bird monitor Sandy Reed of Valrico could remove the hook and line and set the animal free.

Many hooked or entangled birds are not so lucky, and that has lovers of feather and fin alike talking about ways to reduce the hazards of fishing line to wildlife. The recent deaths of an entangled loon and a black-legged kittiwake, an Arctic bird rarely spotted in Florida, set birders’ Internet message boards abuzz. The kittiwake was one of two to show up at the Skyway early in February and had drawn dozens of camera-toting bird watchers from out of state before it became entwined and perished.

“It’s not just birds that get caught,” said Ann Paul, regional coordinator with Audubon of Florida. “It’s turtles. It’s manatees sometimes.

“For a healthy bird to be caught in fishing line and die because of careless actions by fishermen is just very unfortunate. … I think as a community we should say, ‘Let’s do better.’ ”

Paul has spent two decades patrolling bay area islands and cutting down dead birds snagged in mangroves by fishing line. Even if birds trailing twine avoid that fate, they likely will be hobbled and unable to forage. Often the tough synthetic strands act like a saw, rubbing against flesh and bone and severing wings or legs as the bird twists trying to get free.

“It will be a slow, painful death,” said Reed, who joined Tampa Audubon two years ago and has been frequenting the Skyway pier to check on birds and talk to fishermen.

Local bird rescuers say pelicans, which stalk fishing holes hoping for handouts, are the most frequent victims, with hundreds of them showing up at bird hospitals with fishing line injuries every year. But gulls, cormorants, gamuts and terns also fall prey, either getting hooked or becoming entangled in a web of nearly invisible strands when fishermen cluster at the same spot.

In the fall, Audubon and a nonprofit partner, Tampa Bay Watch, will conduct their 20th annual monofilament line cleanup of the bay, which Paul thinks has encouraged proper disposal of used fishing line. But helping ensnared birds is more complicated.

Jamie Foster, who helps manage the Skyway pier and concessions leased from the state, said she was heartbroken when she learned of the kittiwake’s fate via an Internet blog. A few days before, she said, she had driven by a group of bird watchers observing the ailing kittiwake and she stopped to talk.

No one alerted her to the bird’s distress, and she drove on.

“I thought they were having the best day of their lives,” she said. “It was only waist-deep water. … I’ve rescued hundreds of birds from this pier.

“It makes me kind of sick to my stomach that these people drove hours to watch a bird die.”

Foster has since posted signs with pictures telling anglers what to do if they hook a bird. She put together rescue kits that have line cutters and other equipment to be kept at bait shops on the north and south piers, and there’s a large net suitable for scooping birds from the water, which bird rescuers say is less likely to cause injury than hauling the animals up on the line.

But Reed said there’s no simple way to report birds in trouble. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission advises people to call its hotline, 1-888-404-3922. Depending on the location, the commission will provide a list of bird rescuers that might collect the bird and take it to a rehabilitation facility, said Amy Clifton, a species conservation biologist at the commission. Apart from that, there is no central number to call for help.

FWC officials say there’s no law requiring fishermen to remove hooks and fishing line from unintentionally trapped birds. Reed and Paul said people should feel compelled to do it anyway, and Neil Taylor, a fishing guide in Tampa Bay for eight years, agreed —with reservations.

“Yes, since they (fishermen) are the ones in the bird’s habitat,” Taylor said, then added, “I’d hate to tell someone they’re obligated to do it and then they lose an eye.”

Anglers and bird experts interviewed agreed that basic procedures for handling hooked birds are largely the same but can vary by species. Some birds can inflict serious wounds with their beaks, while others pose more threat with talons or wings, Taylor said.

Taylor said people are not required to learn bird-handling techniques to get a fishing license, and he doubted the state will ever require it. He favors education, and he is hoping to attract a grant to pay for billboards addressing the fishing line issue.

Reed and Liz Vreeland, a longtime bird rescuer in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, said they would like to organize trained volunteers to regularly monitor popular fishing spots and work with fishermen to reduce bird casualties.

Lee Fox, who has nursed countless birds back to health at her Sarasota facility, Save Our Seabirds, said those are good ideas, but the best lesson people could learn is to stop endangering wild animals by feeding them.

“Everybody throws the fish they don’t want to the birds,” she said, adding that many coastal birds are supposed to fly south in winter to prowl warmer waters, but they stay where people with more sophisticated fishing equipment do the work for them.

“They want a free handout,” Fox said. “If we can stop the people from feeding them, that’s the campaign we have to start.”

Save the birds

For tips on freeing birds from fishing line, visit saveourseabirds.org/education.aspx

More thoughts for anglers in action:
By Neil Taylor www.capmel.com
Guide and owner at Strike Three Kayak Fishing

As a fishing guide putting a lot of time in on the water, I have been the one to handle hooked birds dozens of times. One of the biggest errors I see made is people dangling a hooked fish long enough for a pelican to dive on it. If people do it once they know. Jamie Foster and the people at the Skyway Piers probably encounters this one more than anyone. Birds eat fish, it is what they do.   Do your best not to leave a target for them to dive on to avoid having to liberate a bird from hooks, lures or fishing line.  When it happens, another major failure in decision making is to “cut the line.”    This leads to what I call “the gallows birds.”   Line trailing from the bird that will eventually tangle on something and the bird will one way or another face a slow and painful death.

Handling a hooked bird can be done efficiently. I always have a good pair of pliers available but sometimes a scissors is even more helpful. A lot of the birds may have line wrapped around a wing instead of actually “hooked.” This happens most often when they fly into someone’s line.   (Potentially avoidable, the alert angler watches for low-flying birds.   If there is a low-flying bird that may hit the fishing line, drop your rod tip down into the water and the bird will pass safely above the floating line)

The process of getting the bird to you can be interesting.   The birds will fight this.   Try to maintain steady pressure to bring the bird toward you without allowing the bird to wrap in the line worse or drown the bird.   Braided lines can cut you badly so avoid wrapping these lines around your fingers when you handle it.   The buddy system is ideal with one person controlling the bird with the fishing rod while the specialist assigned to the task of free-ing the bird has the tools and is ready to do the dirty work.

Evaluating a situation, sometimes you can get a hold of the lure or hook and see the direction the line is wrapped around the wing. With the scissors, the rescuer can determine a location to cut the line staying clear of the freaked out bird and the line, without the knot or the lure/hook to foul on the fowl the line will slide or unwrap from the wing.

Pelicans and osprey will also dive on baits or lures. Big topwater lures are a target, looking like a meal. With a pelican, this is going to be a hookup in the mouth, with the osprey a talon. With the pelican, when I am at water level, I will bring it up to me slowly and then as gently as I can, control it by grabbing he leader (braided lines will cut your hands badly). I will try to grab the bird by the head or the neck close to the head and with my pliers that I “got out and ready” (so I can do this fast and no searching for it) I remove the hook. With the osprey, I am very careful and I usually take some extra time hoping that it relaxes. Like the pelicans, they do NOT like being that close to a human. I try to wait until they look away and then I try to make as little movement as possible when I reach over to remove the hook. I’m ready to pull my hand and arm away fast if they move to defend themself.

Being alert avoids the situation altogether.   A pelican or osprey in free dive on your topwater lure will not be hooked if you jerk the lure away from that location before the bird gets to it.   Like the low-flying bird flying into your line after a long cast, awareness and action prevents the dilemma.

People will talk about using a towel or shirt to help subdue the bird, which I think is legit but I can do it without having one.   I have learned this because I usually do not have something readily available to utilize.

Not unique to just Florida, birds diving on fish is something that happens all over the world.   The situations will be similar and the goal is to address these situations as quickly as possible and try to avoid having the spooked animal cause harm to you.   Speed prohibits calling in experts in most cases.   Do it safely and try to do it expediently.

Neil

www.strikethreekayakfishing.com

727-692-6345

2013: Reopen Snook Gulf Coast?

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By Neil Taylor
Guide and owner, www.strikethreekayakfishing.com
Owner and administrator www.capmel.com

If you are an angler on the Gulf Coast of Florida, perhaps you have already heard the news- Snook will be reopened to harvest on September 1st, ending a three and a half year moratorium for the species.  There may be some people who celebrate this decision.   Those would be in the minority and/or the uninformed.  This is a glaringly awful management decision for the species.   It is not about creating opposition or picking a fight, it is about the management and future of a species.  The freeze in January of 2010 crushed this species probably to an 80-year low.   Around west Central Florida, if the fish were not at a power plant, they were dead.    That is a fact.  Ship basins, marinas, offshore wrecks, all were 100% kills.   The very small percentage of fish that remained survived in the Tampa Bay area were at the warm water outflows at the power plants.   Period.

Following this event:  Numbers as bad as they were, I removed them as a charter target. Now, June of 2013, I still do not take snook trips. I was hoping to be able to add this species back into my charter business again this year but it became obvious that it just wasn’t the right thing to do.  Other guides have told me that they wish they had done the same thing.   They have seen the damage to the remaining fish done by Catch-and-Release fishing, mostly with problem dolphin attacking the released fish.   They have also seen a lot of fish mishandled, primarily kept out of the water way too long “for pictures.”  Others have said “we have a tough time really even finding that many to catch.”

What’s the big deal?   A challenger told me “Since there are as few as you say, then why would opening the species to harvest make any difference at all?”   Reopening this species to harvest could not come at a worse time.   The decision to wait one more year would spare the removal of a significant number of snook that will be in the “slot” (28 to 33 inches).   The bigger picture, what exactly are they basing this on, and where does their data/information come from?

My contacts in the guide world have all said the same thing “I have not had anyone contact me about this.”   Common sense would dictate that surveys would be done with reliable sources.   I can attest that I was not contacted either.  The consensus within this group of peers is that the species is nowhere near reaching the sustainable level in a lot of the Gulf ecosystem and that the harvest of the species will set back reaching that sustainable level significantly.    The biggest case-in-point, there are a significant percentage of fish that are 28 to 30-inches.  That would create an opportunity to remove a great portion of the first “class” of snook that hatched post-freeze.

The basis of their decision comes from speculation and poor speculation at that.  First off, their erroneous determination that baby snook were the hardest hit in the freeze.    Maybe they would have benefitted from studying the problem during the freeze as I did?   I surveyed every zone in my own area.   Seeing zero survivors was the first obvious fact.   That means, except at the power plants: It killed them all, big and small.   Regardless, the assessment of the stock should come from direct observation, not faulty data collected by unreliable sources.   Again, the reliable resources they had, they ignored and continue to ignore.   Decided behind a desk, the thousands of hours actually “on the water” ignored.

Instead they talk about things like Spawning Potential Ratios.    To have a big number like they are reporting, you would have to have a huge set of spawning females.   This does not match actual observations.   What does exist is a healthy population of males that is continuing to recharge every year.   Protecting the slot-size fish one more year protects a lot of the future female spawners and ultimately provides the return of a true trophy fishery again.  The extension of the closure would ensure significant momentum in the total recovery of a battling species.   It would mean I am back in business again.   I shifted to other species but that choice to leave them alone eliminated 30% of my business for the entire year but it is an ethical decision I stand by.  Time will tell if I will offer the trips in 2014.

They declare that there is “no statistical or biological reason to keep the species closed.”   How about by common sense then?   The head-scratcher is “statistical.”  Numbers are numbers.   Biological, OK.   Common sense, something that does not seem to want to enter the equation:
The goal should be to build the species back to prominence as a top sportsman fishery, something that we were spoiled with and took for granted before this weather event.   The census of snook on the Gulf coast is something that has to be done visually.   Areas to the south of the Tampa Bay area show all the signs of a faster regeneration of the species.   But, the people who knew the numbers before the freeze tell another story:   “Numbers of fish are still drastically below 2009 levels.  There is no question that things can get a lot better without another freeze, massive red tide or encouraging the removal of the fish by legal harvest.”   Absolutely.  That is some logical thinking.   It was from a guide who would like nothing more than to keep a snook again someday, but not in the current situation.

To the north: Numbers are the Tampa Bay area are troublesome.   The “census” so much easier to do in the months of June and July, the numbers that are collecting at the spawning zones is disappointing.   The euphoria I have heard by certain reports is not being backed up by observations.   Isolated areas that would normally have five to ten “groupings” of snook with 150 or more fish in each group have “a handful of fish.”   People seem to be excited to see a grouping of 20 fish.   Granted, a lot of those people started fishing in the past three years and qualify as Neuvo-Experts.  I’ll stick with other observations from people who call it “eerie.”

If the personal census means anything, here are my own snook “catch” numbers since the 2010 freeze.  These numbers are accurate and they tell a tale.   Keep in mind; this is on my charter outings and we were NOT targeting snook.  The numbers were as such:

2010:  9

2011:  16

2012:  27

This was with significantly “more days on the water than off” and with most of these trips in areas where snook would be an accidental catch in a normal (not recovery) year.   The numbers were kept very concisely and they show a trend but honestly, how can one be excited about 27 snook being caught throughout the course of an entire year?   And fifty two over a three year span?   There are a lot of ways to look at numbers but if you kind of average it all out: One accidental snook every ten times out on the water is a bad sign.  (Note:  In 2009, the totals from my “snook trips” averaged 11 snook per angler)

So, what happens next?  There is time.   September 1st is the date that the species is set to reopen every year.   They have said it is their intention to open the species.   For me, I get along exceptionally well with the FWC Enforcement officers in the field but as for the desk-scientists, the have never responded well to me.    They do balk at their decisions when they face adversaries in numbers.    In 2011 they snuck in a change to red drum regulations hidden behind the furor over a ridiculous speckled trout proposal.  They backed down on the trout proposal.    (After holding about a dozen Redfish “workshops” around the state where even the people running the sessions said “The comments against the proposal are uniform around the state.”   They passed it anyway.)

Speak up and speak out:  If you have your own observations, let them be heard.    Feel free to also share them with me; I have some others who would like to review your feedback.   Do what you think is right but given the situation I would just educate all of your fishing pals and other friends to ignore the regulation and continue to release all snook.   It is not like there are no other options for table fish out there.   If everyone does their part, the species returns to prominence regardless of whatever ill-advised rules they make.

Other thoughts:

Try to be part of the recovery all the time:

If you find that you are losing a lot of fish to dolphin, or general post-release mortality, you could do as I and just leave them alone for a while.   Or if you see a presence of dolphin, move to another location.  Tragically, dolphin like to play a death game with any released fish, and they are more than happy to do this with a snook.

Choice in lures can also pay a price.  A client of mine called to tell me some bad news.  He was competing in a tournament and used a treble hook lure to target snook.   The snook he hooked inhaled the plug with both hooks.   He cut the line and let the fish go; assessing that would do less damage than removal of the lure.   He said that he did not feel good about that fish’ chance of surviving the encounter and he was giving up on targeting the species indefinitely.

Skip the photos- The same guy witnessed another boat keep a snook out of the water for more than five minutes.   They dropped it back in dead and when it just lay there, they threw it in their cooler and sped off.   It was my observation in 2010 that they should have said “No photographs” which would have eliminated the targeting of our remaining snook for tournaments and for sure would reduce the amount of time a fish is out of the water.    The most experienced anglers are not the problem.   The biggest problem is a majority of the anglers do not have that much experience and their handling of the fish is routinely the death of the fish.

Another article on the reopening of Snook:
http://www.tampaflfishing.com/2013/06/the-snook-fallacy.html

Articles on Fish Handling and Catch-and-Release:
http://www.capmel.com/index.php/articles/catch-and-release

Neil Taylor
www.strikethreekayakfishing.com
(Cell) 727-692-6345
LivelyBaits@aol.com

Please email your own comments on the Reopening of snook to the email address above.   I would like to share those thoughts with the public as well.

Native Manta Ray Wheel Modification

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By John Veil

My Manta Ray comes with a small-diameter wheel at the rear keel.


My first thought was that this would make transportation across parking lots much easier. The concept is good, but with a single wheel, the kayak tends to lean to one side or another and drags the plastic on the ground. Further, having something with that much cross section area in the stern makes it more difficult to turn or pivot the kayak.

A few years ago I had made a set of scupper-mount wheels. The upright posts did not pass all the way through the scupper holes, adding more stress to the scuppers. I stopped using them.

Recently, I had a thought about combining the best features of both rigs to make a new hybrid version. I tried it out last week on two longer road trips where I needed to launch using a concrete ramp. I was pleased with the results.

Here is what I did. I had a 2 ft long stainless steel all-thread axle and two large wheels that were part of the kayak wheels. I removed them from the previous rig. I took the small wheel off of the Manta Ray, but left the stainless steel bracket in place. I found a spare piece of PVC pipe in the basement — it fit nicely through a hole in the bracket. Then I ran the axle through the pipe and secured the wheels with stainless steel nuts.

I can remove one wheel, insert the pipe and axle into the bracket, then attach the second wheel with a few twists on a nut. The two sturdy wheels spaced widely apart rolled nicely across the parking lot and down the concrete ramp without any leaning problems. Once in the water, I could quickly remove one nut and wheel, then slide the pipe, axle, and other wheel from the bracket. This takes only 30 seconds.

For the local spots where I typically launch, I will continue to drag/slide the kayak across the grass and sand to the water. But where a parking lot and hard ramp are involved, I will use the new wheels rig.

Daiwa Ballistic “Revisited”

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The Daiwa Ballistic- Year Two

Two full seasons fishing the Ballistic as my everyday reel for my fishing charters and time comparing some notes with my maintenance man, Phil at Bay Area Reel Service, I can tell you that I have some interesting observations and ideas.   First impressions are often accurate but there is no replacement for experience.   I have a great deal more experience with this product since the time I wrote the Ballistic product review.

For Phil, the man who maintains every fishing reel I own, he thinks that working on this particular reel is a joy.    He has experience with all fishing reels and he really likely the simplicity of the Ballistic.   He has remarked on the durability but his job has been made a lot easier with this design the Daiwa company has created.

For me, the performance and durability of this reel is exceptional.    Prior to 2012, I was using the Daiwa reels but was using the Tierra and then Team Daiwa Advantage reels.    I am sold on the Ballistic and can honestly say that they are the greatest spinning reel I have ever owned.

“Business is good.   And people beat the h___ out of my equipment.”     All of my 2012 and 2013 Ballistic reels are still in action, no small feat considering the use (and abuse) they have endured.

A huge development- Early this year, when I was meeting up with Phil to get some reels back from him, he told me “The next time you have a reel starting to slow down on you, take out that bottom screw and shoot some oil up into there.”

So, I got the tool to remove that bottom screw (I call it a “hex tool”, kind of like an asterisk shape).   I used Silicone spray and utilized the tiny tube attachment.   With that hex screw removed and that tube attached, the tube will fit right in the screw hole.     I will spray until the liquid comes out around the handle.  Lock the screw back in place and wipe off the excess.   The reel will go right back to smooth functioning .

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I have not given Phil another reel to service since he gave me this tip.    The reels will go back to sweet and smooth with the blast of lubrication.    This procedure does not replace the importance of periodic servicing of your reels but it will likely extend the amount of time before you have to have it done.   The actual process of blasting the spray into the reel will wear down the greases in the reel over time, so occasionally open your reel all the way up and re-apply the grease.

While I will look forward to trying other Daiwa products, I will likely stick with the Ballistic for a very long time.   I believe that if you choose this reel, you will feel the same way.

My original review on the Daiwa Ballistic  http://www.b3fishing.com/2012/10/27/daiwa-ballistic/

Do you need someone to work on your existing fishing reels?   To reach Phil Marz, email phil@bayareareelservice.com or visit his web site www.bayareareelservice.com

Neil Taylor Owner and Guide: www.strikethreekayakfishing.com PH: 727.692.6345 Email: Livelybaits@aol.com

Daiwa is a sponsor of the Captain Mel Classic.

Daiwa is a sponsor of the Captain Mel Classic.

Simms Zip-It Bootie

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Simms-ZipIt-Bootie-II

By Neil Taylor

www.strikethreekayakfishing.com

Simms products are something I was introduced to a few months ago.  I had seen other people with Simms water boots and I was intrigued.   Decades of time around and in the water, there is one thing I learned:  Nothing is better than a good pair of water shoes.   The experiences I have had with different footwear have been interesting.  For a very long time, I have been on a quest to find the perfect water shoe.

Without question, shoes in heavy use will wear down and wear out.   I truly believe that water is the most corrosive agent in the world and that applies to footwear as well.   Just about every pair I have had, they wore out pretty quickly with heavy use in or around the water.   The Simms Zip-It Bootie is very well built and I give it the highest rating there is for marine environment footwear.

Choose the right size for comfort and you will enjoy this shoe for a very long time.   The design is very simple with a great fit of the foot, snug up above the ankle, secured by a zipper that doesn’t stick, corrode or gunk up with sand.    They slide on and off with minimal effort, wet or dry.  The design of the Zip-It Bootie prevents sand, sediment or sharp shell fragments from getting into the shoe.  Coming up above the ankle, the product design protects the feet, the toes and the ankles from injuries.

The grip of this shoe is excellent.  Walking on surfaces that are slippery is less risky than in other shoes.   Walking in the water, the shoes are not going to get sucked off your feet if you are dealing with mud.  Ultimately, you are protected from sharp objects.

The shoe “after use” is low maintenance.   They clean-up nicely and air dry quickly.   A quick blast with the hose and they are 100% clean for the next outing.   They will not get any odor like other water shoes you may have had in the past.

Add it all up and the Zip-It Bootie is an investment.   Just as it is with other equipment, you can buy cheap stuff and replace it often or you can get something with lasting qualities.   In addition to durability, this is a shoe that you will appreciate for what it is:  Superior footwear for the water lover.  If you are like me and spend so much time around the water, you too may have been searching for the perfect footwear.   I strongly recommend you try out this product.

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From the Simms web site:

Description

The ultimate bootie for hard-charging pursuits, Simms’ Zipit II goes on and off fast thanks to a cavernous gusseted opening and YKK® corrosion-resistant zippers. Wear them barefoot or stick a sock in it while storming big surf or skinny flats. And source bomber durability via perforated neoprene uppers, vulcanized rubber overlays, and the puncture-free footing of a full length Bi-Fit™ lasting board.

Features

  • Easy on/easy off saltwater wet wading shoe with gusseted zipper opening & YKK® locking corrosion-resistant zipper
  • Perforated neoprene upper with vulcanized rubber overlays for additional durability
  • Durable vulcanized rubber outsole & molded EVA sockliner& full length Bi-Fit™ lasting board for puncture resistance
  • Designed to be worn barefoot or with a light liner sock; order straight shoe size or nearest whole size up
  • Men’s whole sizes: 8 – 14, Width: EE
  • Approximate pair weight: 36.8 oz

For complete information on Simms products, visit their web site
To locate a retail outlet:  Dealer Finder

Neil Taylor is a kayak fishing guide, outdoor writer and speaker and the owner of www.capmel.com.   For more product reviews by Neil, visit this Link

He can be reached at Livelybaits@aol.com or 727-692-6345

Tuf-Line Supercast

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New for 2013

SuperCast is one of the newest products offered by the Tuf-Line company.   As a user of their lines for a long time, the company has continued to address possible improvements to their products.  I have a new “favorite line.”   A longtime fan of the Tuf-Line products, the Supercast does not disappoint.

My personal preference in line prior to the introduction of the SuperCast was the Tuf-Line XP.   The achievement with the introduction of the Supercast line- the qualities of the XP have been combined with a slicker, longer casting line with basically zero problems.   The line has a feel that is soft, very much like monofilament.   The coating on the line also prevents premature fading.

In action, the line has little to no problems, with any “knotty problems” resolved with very little effort. It spools up easily and stays neatly on the spool, even when using the lightest lures for long periods of time.    SuperCast and tying line to leader knots:  No difficulty at all.   On durability: The spools that I filled with this line are all still in use, without any line loss or splicing.    The condition of the line is excellent, with very good abrasion resistance and no signs of fading.

This line is a great choice for everyone using braided lines but particularly for the beginners to using braided lines.   Occasional tangles are inevitable but with SuperCast, more a factor of human error than anything to do with the product.    Smooth casting anglers will not have problems with this line.

I would not hesitate to use the XP again but the introduction of SuperCast probably bumps the XP out as my first choice in a braided line.   Tuf-Line has a real winner in their SuperCast braided line.

Press Release for SuperCast braided line: supercast_bulk

Supercast, as the name implies this is the longest-casting and easiest handling superline we have ever developed. Utilizing a revolutionary post process coating that adds lubricity, SuperCast will change the way you think about braided line. The coating allows the line to have superior castability and distance compared to monofilament, fluorocarbon, or standard braided lines. The added lubricity allows knots to cinch down tighter for higher strength and security.

Traditionally braided lines create a noisy telltale sound as the line moves through the rod guides. In situations where your line is over a log or timber the sound that braided lines generate can spook nearby fish. SuperCast with its smooth outer coating quietly glides through the rod guides allowing for longer distance and effortless casting. So now when you find yourself with your line over wood or when you are trying to punch through thick weeds and vegetation SuperCast will give you that stealthy approach.

SuperCast eliminates common issues associated with spinning reels when using braided lines: poor bail performance, tip wraps, and wind knots so if you have been hesitant to try braided lines on your spinning reels SuperCast is the perfect choice. For casting reel applications the ultra-round construction of SuperCast virtually eliminates the lines ability to dig into itself and will give you trouble free handling all day long. So whether you are using a casting or spinning reel you will find this to be the quietest and easiest to manage superline ever designed.

Manufactured with a unique bi-component process SuperCast incorporates an exclusive inside out coating process that ensures a perfectly round, smooth, and highly abrasion resistant superline that does not break down or lose its rigidity with prolonged use. The coating process of SuperCast ensures permanent coloration of the line so the color won’t fade, flake, or bleed.

SuperCast delivers a significant advancement in superlines by producing a line that has the smoothness and handling of monofilament and the toughness of braid.

Designed for both fresh and saltwater use and is proudly made in the USA, SuperCast is available in 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, and 30 pound tests in 100, 125, 300 and 2500 yard lengths in both green and hi-vis yellow.

For more information on Tuf Line products, visit their web site

Tuf Line is a Captain Mel Trout & Redfish Classic sponsor

Neil Taylor is a full-time kayak fishing guide in Tampa Bay.   He can be contacted at Livelybaits@aol.com or 727-692-6345

Case Against Stringers

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The Case Against Stringers

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The kayak angler, like anyone else in the fishing community, is prone to learning from the “School of Hard Knocks.”  While many of the lessons learned are pretty tame, the people who decide to tie off a fish to their kayak and then throw the stringer in the water have the wildest stories to tell.   Every one of these stories ends with eyes wide and the very loud statement, “I’ll never do that again”.

With the possible outcome that exists, if you decide to go that route, I hope we at least get to hear your version instead of just seeing the story on the news.    Don’t leave it up to reporters to tell your story.    In the age of “video”, so many situations are now being captured by people out on the water.   Watching quietly from a distance I see some big risks being taken.

There are numerous reasons not to tie off a fish to a kayak (or to yourself, if wade fishing) but the biggest one is that it is creating immediate danger for yourself.   It is an unnecessary risk taken when a fish that is being harvested could be stored in other ways, preventing what could quickly turn a perilous situation.   Those who don’t understand the risk, give me a call and I’ll also consult you on what kind of polarized sunglasses to go buy!  If you are paying attention to what is down in the water, you know what I mean.

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Reason #1 I will call “Things with big pointy teeth.”   Florida coastal waters are filled with sharks that enjoy a shot at an easy meal.   In 2010, while on a charter, I witnessed a man catch a trout, attach it to a polycord stringer and drop the fish in the water.   I said to my client, ”I’ll be right back.   I’m going to offer to put that fish in my cooler.”  I didn’t get even get moving that way before I heard frightened screaming and saw this man’s kayak was being pulled sideways and eventually under the waterline with the force of a significantly large shark that had its teeth caught on the polycord when it inhaled the trout whole.    Polycord or other stringer materials are part of the problem because it’s very possible their teeth won’t cut through it right away.    Therefore, that stringer you have attached to your kayak is also attached to an agitated (and subsequently “threatened” shark, the most dangerous kind).

When I got to him, he was clinging to his swamped kayak and terrified with the shark a short distance away, fighting to free itself from the stringer.   I told him to let go and sit perfectly still as I rode the kayak and the shark a good distance away from him, took out my knife and cut the rope.  The shark, roughly a ten-footer, now untethered- angrily and aggressively attacked the kayak twice before it slowly swam off.   This man did not give up on fishing because I still see him, but he will never do what he did that day ever again.

Do you want to be in this guy’s situation?    I would like to note that this situation was completely human error, not the shark’s.    My own close call was an eye-opener and I got lucky.      As that story goes, after having fish tied off to the drawstring of my bathing suit while wade fishing-“that was the day that I learned how to make a pair of shorts out of a tee-shirt.”    I had only lived here for a few months, but I did find a great fishing spot.   Toward the end of the day I was considering heading home and wanted to get the fish on ice anyway.   Realizing that I was being towed into water above my head, lifting up my legs seemed like the only solution to “separate” from a shark that was polycord-bound to my midsection.   I learned my lesson and fish will always go safely in a cooler or my Fish Bag.

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Reason #2 I’ll callThe rotten fish.”    Personally, I’d like to eat a fish that’s fresh.   A fish that’s dead in the hot water for even a few minutes isn’t going to be as good as the flesh of a fish that’s iced down thoroughly and immediately.   From the upbringing of “if you’re going to kill it, don’t waste it” there are options for the kayak angler to do this, eliminating the aforementioned risk of shark encounters and preserving the quality of the harvested fish.  Most modern day kayaks now have the capacity to take a cooler along.   Many anglers will utilize the “tankwell” area for their fishing supplies, eliminating the ability to put their cooler in that position.  The solution is the fish cooler of fish bag.   Smaller to larger insulated fish bags are readily available.   They can be placed in various locations such as inside hatches or on other open areas.   For the sit-on-top kayak owner, the fish bag may be bungeed to a surface area toward the bow if other deck space is being utilized.   Frozen water bottles or ice can be put in the fish bag and the fish is safely and properly placed and preserved for the anglers’ dinner.    The now-and-then angler can get a freezer bag from a grocery store but the serious angler should invest in a fish bag that’s insulated and designed for holding your catch, such as the Watertrail fish bags by Native Watercraft.

People I have addressed who do utilize a stringer instead of a fish bag and are aware of the risk, they use quick release attachments to their kayaks but all admit in the discussion:  They may be eating fish that isn’t exactly fresh if they do not stay alive on the stringer.  One admits “I just threw it out anyway because I was nervous about eating it.”   I grew up being told that if you kill it, you should eat it so the cooler or fish bag also prevents unnecessary waste.

A majority of the year, with substantial populations of sharks lurking in the same waters you fish, ditch the stringer and do something safer and smarter.   I contend that sharks are not inherently dangerous or an immediate threat to humans.    They don’t want to bite you, but they will certainly take a bite out of a fish you tie off to your kayak.   Trolling for danger:   It is your choice.   You can take my word for it, or you can tell your story later.

Think it through:  the risks exist in other situations for the kayak angler.    Case in point:  A hooked fish under attack from a major predator.  If you reel that fish up to the kayak, did you or did you not just bring the “target” right up into your personal space?   Putting your reel into free-spool may prevent the prey from being eaten, reduces your own risk and if the predator leaves, you may enable you to finish the catch.   It would be wise to evaluate each situation and decide “should I bring this fish in closer?”     Prevailing wisdom, sometimes the answer will be a resounding “No.”

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Ultimately-The question you need to ask yourself: Do I really want to end up in the water with a feeding, very agitated shark?  If you disregard the message, “roll the dice” and keep using a stringer my question is:  Are you going to be the next person telling the “I’ll never do that again!” story?   That is, if you get to tell the story.      If you read the article maybe you heed the warning.   If you read it and don’t adjust what you are doing:  Darwinism still needs more evidentiary support anyway!

Neil Taylor Owner and Guide: www.strikethreekayakfishing.com
Owner  and administrator:  www.capmel.com
PH: 727.692.6345
Email: Livelybaits@aol.com

2013 Captain Mel Classic Storyline

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The 2013 Captain Mel Classic went off without a hitch on March 23. A competitive field of 170 anglers in five divisions competed in the Classic.  The Captain’s Meeting, Awards party and the Raffle were fun for everyone who attended.   Congratulations to our winners and to everyone who just enjoyed the event.  The Fat Cat Tavern will remain the permanent home for The Classic, with the perfect facility and parking to make it easy on everyone.   A date for the 2014 Classic will be announced later this year.

The weather forecast was annoying the day before the event but the tournament committee studied it and voted 9 to 0 to have the event on schedule.    We emphasized safety and making good decisions to our participants but conditions were great (something that cannot be said for the following four days after the Classic) with a gorgeous early morning and then a rising breeze at midday.  Participation was excellent, but fourteen registered but unpaid anglers “no-showed” for the event because of the weather.

On victory…and defeat.   A lot of the very best anglers did not catch anything to be in contention this year.  Without question, there was skill involved in the Classic but with the changes in the weather pattern; it also included plenty of “luck”.    Some people caught one species but couldn’t catch the other.   As usual, a few stories of some great fish that were lost that would have changed the leaderboard.   Some of the winners were people who started fishing locally in the past year: Like Pam Wirth and Ben Kirkconnell.   Read on for the rest of the results and stories:

 

The Divisional winners:  Our event, a “five contests in one” format had the following results

The Junior division a total shutout.  The tough fishing for all our adult anglers, for the junior participants it turned out to be a zero-fish-caught scenario.   One Junior division qualifier opted for the No Motor division instead and caught a great redfish (Austin Lanyon, 28.75”).   Even though they caught no fish they were some of the most popular participants we had.   Samantha Horne and Garrett Taylor fished in the Classic for the third straight year.

The Ladies division was won by Jenni Pora Kent (20″ trout).   Jenni, who fished with her husband Gene, was also the 2012 champ. Pam Wirth came in second place and another local favorite BJ “Brenda” Burger came in third place.   Pam has been kayak fishing for under a year but is far from inexperienced.   The Adventurous Woman was a tournament sponsor again this year, with a donation to the event.   We hope to improve attendance with our Lady anglers in 2014.

The Fly division was fielded by 24 participants, with ten from the University of Alabama Fly Fishing club. Fred McClendon was the overall champion, catching both species.   2012 top-finisher Bob Finck caught the “Largest Trout” (22″). Chris Ravelo got the third place overall with his 20-inch trout.  Great fish caught by our fly anglers, using the flies tied by some of our participants and www.capmel.com web site forums.   The University of Alabama guys enjoyed the event and are talking about returning next year.   Our other participants were great with making these guys feel welcome.

The two largest divisions in The Classic were the Open and the No Motor.

Open: Logan Wongseprasert caught the largest trout (24.25″), Anthony Rufo longest redfish (26″) and Barry Rose was the overall winner (defeating Wongseprasert by tie-breaker) with 46-inches of trout and redfish. Barry also won the Bonus Species money ($130) with a 15.75-inch flounder.

The No Motor Division For the third straight year, this division has had the most competitors.   And competitive would be a great word to describe this division AGAIN this year.   The winners were: Kasey Arrowsmith, trout (25.7″); Aaron Myers, redfish (31″); and the Grand Prize winner was Bob Schorejs (49.5″ redfish/trout). The winner of the Bonus pool money ($175) was Ben Kirkconnell for his 17-inch flounder. Bob’s first place finish earned him the 2013 Native Slayer, donated by capmel.com and tournament sponsor Native Watercraft.

The Bonus Species results:

Only flounder caught in the Open and No Motor divisions.   In the Open, 26 people participated and Barry Rose won the $130 with his 15.75” fish.  Second place went to Matt Leach (12.5”).   In the No Motor division, Ben Kirkconnell won the pot with his 17” flounder.  Second place went to local celebrity kayak angler Curt Willocks with his 14.5” flounder.

The biggest fish:  Aaron Myers caught a great 31-inch redfish, the biggest of the event.    One trout that was almost 26-inches was caught by Kasey Arrowsmith.   The Bonus Species (flounder) largest fish was a 17-inch flattie caught by Ben Kirkconnell.

The look at top finishers in individual categories and the total inches categories is always very interesting.   The cash payouts combined with the prizes for third place (prize) winners made for an interesting set of results.    Excluding the Bonus species category, we had nice payouts for single category winners but impressive combined totals for anglers who parlayed their winnings in individual species plus combined inches.   Even more interesting, as it is every year is how close other anglers were to being in the winnings.    “Including” the bonus species, Barry Rose was the top winner, taking money payouts in two categories in the Classic plus winning the flounder pool money for the Open division.  No Motor angler John Sherwood had two payouts (second place redfish, second place combined inches) plus the Yak Attack BlackPak (with a custom lid with the tournament logo engraved).   Fred McClendon’s multiple payout in the Fly division also yielded a great payout. 

The lack of fish caught in the Junior division and the absence of a redfish caught in the Ladies division shifted prizes to some of our other winners and added to the raffle supplies.  The format of the event: 100% of the cash and prizes go to the charity, our winners and any extra materials after the raffle go back to our sponsors.

“Getting there first” and “What a difference ¾ of an inch can make?”

The check-in cards worked out great.  The process went very well and we know that it will go even faster in 2014.   One issue arose when a participant listed a shorter length on their fish than the actual length.   Because of that, he would not have been in contention for third place.   After he mentioned it, the judges looked at his photos and he was brought up to a tie for third place and awarded the same prizes as the other angler.

Multiple ties were decided by which competitor checked in first.   That was decided for the original tournament in 2011 and has remained the rule.

Payouts:

Payouts were weighed based on participation in each division but offset by the huge donation by Native Watercraft for the grand prize in the No Motor division.   The fishing wasn’t easy.   The “favorites” had struggles and enjoyed the event but were humbled by an out-of-pattern day on the water.    The winners fought the same conditions, plied their craft and put up some numbers.

Multiple pot winners led to one $460 payout, one $450 payout and one $320 for the fly division and a combined payout of $530 in the No Motor category. Payouts were weighed out by entry fee monies but all divisions had better payouts overall because of that Native watercraft donation.  With the prizes our cash winners won, the payout values were much higher than what is listed above.

Charity money: The Humane Society of Tampa Bay is the 2013 recipient with $950 going to the charity.   Thanks to your participation, this is a record amount for the charity in three years of having the event.   In 2014, I believe we will almost double this number with some developments in the tournament and sponsors.   Regardless, it is a very good thing and the organization is grateful for your contributions.

Sponsors of the tournament were predictably strong.   Without contemplation, dozens of companies supported the event in the memory of the departed Captain Mel Berman. I truly miss my friend but he would have been pleased with the people that participated in the tournament on both the sponsor and angler side.   Support these companies ALL YEAR LONG.   Here is the article devoted to our event sponsors:   Click HERE   Please email me your comments you would like me to pass along to our sponsors!

Thanks,

Neil Taylor

www.capmel.com

www.strikethreekayakfishing.com