Red Tide. It has been in the news. National news. It has frightened people out of coming to Florida. It has had an impact on many people, myself included. While Red Tide really damaged some areas, almost every area I fish was untouched. Mild fish kill in one of my number one areas but not a major impact. Bottom line: There was more panic than there was catastrophe.
The fishing is good. The Red Tide is not obnoxious. The opening of Tampa Bay near Fort DeSoto, mildly touched. Inside the Bay: Completely unaffected. The areas of most concern are out on the Gulf beaches. Those areas “out front” are the ones most likely to have had a problem.
I guess I’m just tired of it. No one wants to go fishing because they think it is a catastrophe down here. It’s not. All this freaking out when around here: Things are mostly the same.
Down to the south: They got hit a lot harder. Our Gulf beaches throughout Pinellas had an impact. Interior of the Bay has been just fine. Like I said: None of my fishing spots got hit hard. Most not at all.
The bloom is still there. It is somewhat weaker. Hopefully it is fading and will be gone. It has been 13 years in between severe blooms. Let’s hope it is a long time before we see another one again. My role: I was the leading guy involved in getting fertilizers banned in the rainy season throughout Florida. That was my 2005 project. I went to the Federal government when the Florida people just exhibited general malaise. I was heard. They put the heat on Governor Jeb Bush. Bush signed legislation changing research monies. County by county, they all started banning the sale of fertilizers during the rainy season. No Red Tide until this year: A coincidence. I don’t think so. We were bound to finally get one. Red Tide is a naturally occurring organism that is in the fossil record going back millions of years. But, what makes it worse? We do. If I was in charge, phosphate mining would cease to exist in Florida.
Moving forward: How can we make things better? Someone needs to organize. If Red Tide isn’t done, why don’t we experiment? The state isn’t going to do it. A lot of people are looking to me. Only so many hours in a day, I haven’t dove in. Anyway, you get every hotel and restaurant to put money into a pot. Take that money and try things. Water treatment. My idea is industrial icemakers on ships. Pump ice into the worst areas of Red Tide. Water filtration: You can’t tell me in this day and age you can’t utilize technology to clean the water, removing the algae. Right? It may not stop Red Tide but might it make it better?
Time will tell. The strong survive: In evolution, the weakest die off. By theory we should have more cold durable snook and the fish that survive an algae bloom should just be the strongest stock. In theory. We have to figure it out. Humans are going to turn the Gulf of Mexico into a bacteria pit.
I’m keenly aware and it is very sad: If humans are involved, it’s going to get screwed up. I just spent five hours going through my photo bank. The beautiful redfish that were caught in my first 8 years guiding are a thing of the past. Human caused: Can we make changes that can bring things back? That’s a bigger management issue. I have seen redfish that died in Red Tides. Many had pinfish stuck in their throat. Like an allergy to them, they get pinfish stuck in their throat and they die, something that doesn’t happen otherwise.
What will the future bring? More Red Tide? My goal is to push for action. Right now: There is no action. None. Nothing is tried. As I said, it is probably up to us to work on it. I’m in. I don’t want to be the leader. But guess what: If no one else will, “I’m in.” My father is gone now but he would be laughing right now. He would know full well, I’m probably going to be involved.
Full time kayak fishing guide, Neil was an advocate for conservation since before the time he started guiding.Outdoor writer, speaker and radio show host, Neil connected closely with Captain Mel Berman and did many positives with Mel to promote ethical angling. After Mel passed away, Neil managed www.capmel.com and eventually became that web site’s owner.