The Tampa Bay Times
Capt. Brent Gaskill
The waters of Tampa Bay being contaminated by red tide and our inshore fishery being in crisis are no longer news. Images of dead and decaying fish circulate our news feeds daily reminding us of the devastation our natural resource has incurred. While little can be done immediately to reverse the impact to tourism and the charter fishing industry, long-term changes can improve the situation for the future. Currently every angler needs to do their part in the restoration of the bay by carefully releasing every fish caught no matter the species. Even those fish that are considered trash have a role in the balance of our delicate ecosystem. Finding clean water that has not been affected by the algae bloom is the only hope in catching fish. On my most recent charter I was unable to cast net bait in an area that only a few days prior was hosting an abundance. The tides and winds keep changing things on a daily basis and having a backup plan is always necessary. Fortunately my marina had live shrimp, which I already had in the well incase of such an event. When we arrived at our fishing destination along a mangrove shoreline a redfish greeted our first cast within seconds. Our morning continued with more redfish, some snook, and several mangrove snapper. My anglers who were visiting from out of state and who had almost changed their plans to come to the Tampa bay area because of the red tide happily released all fish caught.