Sent to the state commission.   Unanswered weeks later.

****This is Neil Taylor, Clearwater, Florida.   Fishing guide and one of the co-founders of Florida Anglers United.***

-Zero reply to my last email, in almost three weeks.    Here is the followup  I promised.    I listen to the people.   And below is what they are saying.    I am on the water 280 days per year myself.   You can’t tell me snook are in great shape.  It isn’t true.   My colleagues asked me to continue this.  Honestly, I would rather it be someone else.    All the time I have devoted to this and to get this kind of thing, I would be happier if I wasn’t involved.

What a pity your organization continues down the same sad path.    You tell other people (Nick Wiley to another member) that I was “upset about the opening of snook”?   You still want to hang on to the wrong part?  It’s bad enough you wouldn’t sit in on a meeting with me yourself two years ago.   Ultimately meeting with people who couldn’t really do anything about it, the agency failed us all.

It’s not snook.     I’m bothered by a system where decisions are being made without adequate data and the input from the experts.    Snook quite honestly, just one example.    You don’t ask us about anything.  We set it up where you could.   You have chosen not to.    An executive panel of over 35 outstanding people representing all citizens:  You acknowledged it, then ignored us for the past two years.

Snook:  You have claimed your *scientists were right*?     Exactly what we predicted came true.   Below are the statements from Florida residents on the condition of the snook fishery.  Had you made different decisions that fishery would have been coming along nicely about now.   Snook are not in good shape.   We all know it.  You guys want to deny it.

I have reported back to the panel with your comments.    The feedback has been angry.     We work so hard to make a future for our resources, but get to have zero impact on it.   The theme so many expressed “they are supposed to manage our resources.”   But we are feeling that this is a great example of how you fall short.   You don’t want our input.   That is nothing short of tragic.

We have tens of thousands of members who want to know why.   I guess that we are going to report back to them that you have no interest in hearing any of it.    I made the effort, I asked what they had to say.   The response was strong.    Those are below.

The points raised are great.   You have a chance to improve management of this species.   You should listen to what the citizens have to say.     Don’t let faulty science let you continue to mismanage a fishery.

Neil Taylor, strikethreekayakfishing.com, owner www.capmel.com

Here are the statements from our contacts.  You process your input from the common idiot.  Here is what the sportsmen of Florida have to say.   These are the comments from people from various parts of the state of Florida, on “Snook.”  Some are emotional but most are intelligent and sincere.   It isn’t a stacked group.  I only know about 1/5 of the people who wrote these:  

 

So is life.   If we were in charge, snook would be reaching impressive levels at this time.   Instead, the number of oversize fish dwindles and we are not having more than a couple of fish escaping to “full size.”     It was an easy one.   They listened to their people.  Their people:   have you ever seen any of them out there?   Me either..      So, we suffer.    A recovery that could have taken 8 years will probably take 40.     The economy will suffer, my life will suffer.    I would love to catch those big fish again.    It simply isn’t an option.
LT
“Neil. Thank you for what you do for our resources. I am sickened by the mismanagement. I am encouraged to see ONE person stand up. And KEEP doing it. That is you. It is only you. The people behind you: Exceptional. What a shame that they have not incorporated your people into their process. What a shame. What a SHAME for us all. I know it. All my friends know it. Better decisions are possible but not on their own. Stay the path. I support it 1000%”
Neil.   I am 74 years old.  That means I have been fishing here for 67 years.     Snook is my favorite fish.    I will never see snook in a great status again in my lifetime.   I would have if they had any common sense at all.     These fish killed, first generation and second generation post freeze:    If protected, these would be full size fish now, beyond harvest.     Instead, a hurtful cycle, very few fish will pass slot and become full size adults because we have too many people out here and a legal size one caught:   It is dead.      I kept them in the past.   I will never  keep another one again.     Such magnificence, what an awful terrible sorry shame that we don’t do more for this species of fish. 
Jimmy T.
A dead snook.   The state’s legacy.    When we don’t have any after red tide and/or another freeze finishes them off, they will wonder “should we have listened to those guys.”   You, more vocal that the rest, you got the big hitters behind you.     After their decision was final.    Your predictions come true, the harvest of fish ruined what could have been a massive comeback of Florida’s Greatest Game Fish.     So it goes.      You win, they lose:   We all lose because you did not win.
G.T.
It has been a pleasure to follow your efforts.    I have been in Florida for almost 50 years.   Fishing the whole time, this is not a good time for a lot of things.  First on that list:  Snook.     I have more where I live than many other people do.     Another freeze or a red tide and we have a major problem.     Assertions that snook are recovered aren’t even true where I am.   They are still well below 2008, 2009 levels.   But better.     There is little question:  They have missed the boat entirely.   Regional management is not only needed, it is an obvious solution.     To keep snook in these most stressed areas is a mistake.    A mistake they should have reversed when you all challenged them.      I salute your attempts and I share your frustion.
Dale R
The past is past.    Their error?  They didn’t ask the people who are true experts:  The guides who live out there every day.     You have to really question a system where they say “Snook are 80% recovered” when in reality the number was probably only 1/3 of that.    Why would they put a number on it?   To embarrass themselves?     Snook activity around me is about 10% of what is was before the freeze.     Sorry but that is where I put it.     I know other areas are ahead of us but I haven’t heard of anyone who thinks it is up to 2009 levels.
Grover K
Another year, more annoyances.     My fishing buddies are back after them.    It is pretty rare when they catch a big one.    Honestly, we are worried about the female population.     Poachers take a lot of the biggest ones.     Other factors, you just know that the pool over over size fish is shrinking; possibly to critical levels (?)      I am not an expert.   But I can tell you my observations.    We are nowhere near what we had before the awful freeze that killed pretty much every snook within 20 miles of my house.     I would say we should probably consider some changes to the management system.    A system that makes no effort to consult the experts probably needs to be immediately replaced with one that does.   Captain Scott Moore is a genius.    Neil Taylor is a worker.    Both have the ideas.   None are getting through.   That is sad for the rest of us.
Ryan T.
You tree huggers, moving into the hunting and fishing world!      Don’t kill this.    We are running out of that.    Not buying into it.    Except with snook.    We have this saying:  You have to be a moron to kill a snook.    What an exceptional gamefish.     I’m fine with eliminating harvest altogether.     Too bad we can’t have the best of both worlds on this one.    Their management, we could be one incident away from not having them unless someone imports them.      It is too bad.   All the people spoke up when they made their error.    They didn’t do anything to fix it.     I am all for using the earth’s resources.   I’m also for good decisions.     It would be refreshing to see them finally admit that they just monkey f___ed the hell out of this one.
Dennis D.
The only thing dumber than the people saying snook are recovered, the moron that will put one in their cooler.
Kenny W.
You made a great effort.    You got a lot of people I know to let them go when they catch them.   We failed as a fishing society to get the word out to more people.    The number of fish removed from the population every single day is depressing.    Our future, discarded as casually as the Sewage spill.      As humans, one way or another:  We will find a way to screw it up.      My kids, it appears, will not have the fishing opportunities I had.    
Len C
Thanks for letting me know the Commissioners comment.     His scientists were right.    So he says.     I have never met anyone who has ever seen a scientist out there.  Meanwhile, I’m out there 100 days or more a year.   So are all these other people I know.     Did they ask any of us?     Nah.  And they never responded to any of our letters either.    Truth be known, they were going to do whatever they decided and they didn’t care one ioto what any citizens thought about it.       Is that who we want in charge of our resources??       You are on the right track.    Keep it public.      They have killed off the first two generations of snook because of their incompetence.    If you can find a way to get them on the chopping block, I will give you $50,000 to help make it happen.
(name omitted for privacy)
So:  This is where we are.  Arguing over management decisions.   Brought to you by the people who:  Believe it or not say that Red Tide has only existed since 1840.       It is in the fossil record.    Red tide is not caused by humans.   Did you see that one?   The people who in 2004 and 2005 kept saying “there is little we know about red tide” are now saying it is only 170 years old:  They are managing our resources?     I would rather have it be you .   No question, it would make more sense, it would be better for the end users.     I could sleep better.     What a pity.   These people have degrees.    They interviewed for these jobs.   They don’t be “go getters” and be the type people we want in these positions.        I give up.   I wrote my letters.   They never even answered my pleas.
Gaylen
Well, I’ll give them this.   They do like to be in the public eye.     They would be better to sit low and say nothing.    The fiction of the snook recovery is bad enough.   The reality that myself and so many others that I know have more hands on knowledge is noteworthy.    My input was not appreciated.     They never responded at the time that they decided to allow harvest.   Not any reply at all.   Like I don’t matter.   Apparently I don’t.      Why go to meetings?   Why do anything to try?   Why bother:?  They want to run it into the ground, I guess we just get to watch.
Bobby L.
Neil T.    I first met you in Indianapolis your last year umpiring.   I moved to Florida in 2008.     Fortunately got to catch a snook before the wheels fell off.  You sir, are a professional.     I can’t figure out when the insults get “too much.”   They were going to work with the great group you set up.    Yeah.   We see where that is.    Pity.   You are an action man.   You were as an umpire.   You were for snook.    I vote for you to take over as the FWC commissioner.   All our resources would be protected better.     Nothing like having honest people in charge.     You have my vote.
Alan K.
Closures possible by region would make perfect sense.   Take Tampa Bay.    Even now, if they created zones and Tampa Bay was closed to harvest for the next two years, we would have two generations of fish that get to be adults.    That helps us permanently in an area that needs it badly.    I can’t speak for other areas but from what I hear, they don’t need as much help.      Harvesting snook in Tampa Bay is insane.   There is just nothing good coming from it.    Other problems exist for adult fish, but what is really hurting:  Way more people fishing snook around Tampa Bay than anywhere else in the state:    Escapement to adult size has to be close to zero.     That’s not good.       Wouldn’t it make sense to give some protection and create a fishery of big snook to enjoy moving forward?     Better than appeasing the moron that doesn’t know he can keep any of ten other species that wouldn’t hurt those species??
Sandy C.
Thanks for the update.  It is good to see that Nick Wiley still can’t see the forest because of the trees.    I’m sure they will try to give you the runaround again.  Funny.  You guys set up the best advisory panel ever created and they ignore it.     Maybe it is time that you tell it like it is.     People who have very little open-mindedness, might need to move on to other jobs.    Captain Scott Moore, executive director.  I like the sounds of that.   Neil is right.   Scott is not only the most knowledgable guy, he knows all the history-how everything came to be.
  Neil Taylor, I haven’t met personally.  But he is my kind of guy.   Standing up to a system.   A bad system.  Neil fought the good fight and he did it in a way to facilitate solutions. The  problem:  The state doesn’t care what I or Neil Taylor has to say about anything.    They happily just keep cashing their checks, probably laughing at us all.      I wish I had more time. I would just jump into this too.    Even like my friends have said “What futility.   Neil proved they were wrong and they still did nothing.”  At least he did something about it.    I lay in bed at night, awake.  It bothers me.    Snook are not good.   Snook won’t be good for a long time because of the way they went about this.     Now, they want to thumb their nose at the Florida Angler Untied panel?      Our state is headed up by real douches, top to bottom.   The governor, he was no help.     The FWC commission:    Possibly they worst government agency in America.     To my knowledge, they never held up any of their end of the deal.    That is a shame.   You make promises, you keep them.   Luis Barbieri:    Shame.     I want to know when he is going to pay his debt.   He made a bet with Neil Taylor.   And lost.   A story from my fishing pals at the bar, firsthand from other guides who talk to Neil.     I would like to meet Neil.   I’d like to buy him a drink.    I would like to thank him.     Why not?   He did have to endure this idiocy and did it with class.
Conner B
It is a pleasure being on your email list.    I like the reminders on good fish handling, reporting poachers:  All the things that make you a true steward of our environment.   Snook, I don’t have much to say.   I’m not very good at this fishing thing (yet).    But I have met a ton of the guys.   They all lean toward your stand.    Things are not what they were and it is a shame because with better management it could be.    I would like to just tell you:  Keep it up.    I’ll help you however I can.
John A.
Mr Taylor,
I attended your seminar for the first time last month.    It as impressive.   I had read everything you published several years ago on this debacle.    It educated me.    My next door neighbor is a guide as well.    He told me, quote “Whatever Neil says is fact.”    That is saying a lot.    I know what you wanted.   I know the decisions were already made.    I can tell you that I think it is a pity the state didn’t include your organization in their program after your encounter.   So much for “representing the people.”    I am ready to write letters and do whatever you ask me to do.     It is apparent to me, changes would not be bad for the future of what belongs to us all.
Benjamin W.
I had higher hopes on this one.    Your intentions, so good from the beginning.   Your representation of all of us, so complete.    The challenges have to be tough on their side too.    They committed.   They did not retract.     If they did, think about where we would be.    I will continue to support the FWC and the CCA because that is what we’ve got.    I was saddened to see they still look at this as them versus Neil Taylor when we all wanted what you were trying for.
Ally B
First time since 2009 we had good size snook again.   Exciting.     They are all gone.   Every one of them.    the adult population of big females is not good.    All the babies having to pass through slot, it will take 20 years or more before the stock is recharged, but with more people fishing and the idiots at the state saying it is OK to keep them, we may never get there.
Connie E
No question you and I share a passion.  A passion for snook.   No question we are suffering, suffering from a lack of snook.     Thanks for your work over the years.  You did more than any one man.   And it worked.  Not with the state.  I don’t think they care.   You educated thousands of people.   Think of how much worse it would be for snook if not for your impact.     Your best idea of all was for regional decisions.    There is no way snook should be open to harvest here.    UNLESS, you don’t want to have any big snook in the future.   Other areas, I can’t comment.   Here, my 44 years, I feel I can make some assertions.    This is the worst it has ever been in my lifetime.   Gains erased from open seasons, your reach was good but it was not good enough to stop the “regular guy” from killing a legal size fish.    The state said that is their right.    It has ruined our future with this species.    And by ruined, I mean to tell you, all those slot fish a year ago, EVERY one of them was gone before the season closed again.    Those fish would have been oversize now:  Our future.    Breeders.     Dead for someone’s meal, when there are 100 other species you could take home to eat.    It really doesn’t make any sense.    They didn’t ask you before they made their decision.   That was something I hoped wouldn’t happen again but from what you said, it looks like they just “forgot” things they said they were going to start doing.      That is terrible for the future of this state.
Ryan B.
I hope I get this to you before you publish your article.     I support you 100%.   It all comes down to a matter of opinion.   Their scientists especially.   They can say that they are doing this and that.  I still have never met anyone who has ever seen them out there.     So whose input has more value:  The fishermen and guides who are out there every day, or the people that claim to be doing X, Y, and Z?     They missed.   They missed big on the management of snook.    You guys tried with one guy taking the helm.     They never let you talk to anyone who could do anything about it, effectively jerking you around just like government agencies will do.    What you did accomplish, you showed that they made an atrociously wrong management decision.    The shame is on them that they didn’t do anything about it.     And what do we have now?   We have a poor snook fishery that isn’t anywhere near what it should be.    Time would have had it healed by now if they made different decisions.     Think about the tourism possibilities if we had big snook back.      I applaud your stance.   I especially applaud you for not taking anyone snook fishing since the freeze.   The others should follow your lead.     The people at the FWC, they need to wake up.  They need to start working with our resources or they need to be removed from their positions
Jimmy K
I sure didn’t want to see this again.  But I am not surprised. Arrogance.    They won’t email you but they will make references about you to other people?     That’s a great way to run an organization.   You had me in the loop last time.    I watched your communication.  You tracked how they ignored you.   You set things up stronger and stronger.     They had to acknowledged what you had done.     Pity that it literally led to nothing but I am not surprised that you have 30 proposals to consider.    You would think they would want that input????       I admire you and I feel sorry for you at the same time.
Glen D.
We are catching more than we had in the past seven years.  Average size, pretty lame.    We have very few freeze survivors.   Harvest hurt our overall size.    There is no way around it:  The biggest class of fish got mostly eliminated last fall.
Kyle M.
I have only lived here two years.    My friends showed me how to fish snook.     I won’t be doing it any more.     It was great.    It wasn’t until I talked to more people that I realized that it is a species that can’t sustain if we stress them out.     I wasn’t aware that we were fishing one of the only collections of adult fish in all of Tampa Bay.    I would have loved to live here ten years ago.  I would love to see it go back to what it was for all of us to enjoy.   I work in the tourism industry.   More snook would be better.    More big snook would be ideal.
Kenneth T.
You know where it is.   Good snook action this summer.   Sadly, only in one pretty small location.    Sadly, the dolphin took some fish.   Bigger ones.    Everywhere else I used to get them:   Very few (and sometimes none).    It isn’t great.     The one spot was pretty good but the big picture, it is a little alarming.     One red tide where these fish are and the Tampa Bay area is wiped.     It was fun to catch them again.    But I am smart enough to know it isn’t a good indicator of what is going on throughout the general region.
Clay T
I hate to be that kind of guy but “I told you so.”    They just jerked you around saying they would work with your group.   You: Put together an all star team.   They:   Just let time pass hoping you would go away.   It is a real pity because in a perfect world, not dealing with a government entity you might have really been on to something good.  Six of the people on your Board are people I would trust with the world.
KD
Hey.  You were right.  Regional management is a solution.   Tampa Bay:  80% of it, just awful snook populations.  I have been to other areas of Florida where it is much better.   I feel what you are saying.    Snook needed a lot more help around here.   I’m not catching any, to be honest.     The guys who are, I wish they weren’t because those guys are feeding a lot of them to the dolphin.   Anyway, it looked better several years ago when they acknowledged your group.   That was one great set of people you assembled.   Leave it to Florida to ignore good opportunities.     I hope you get snook closed.   I would like to invite relatives down again to fish for them.     A snook is way more valuable alive than dead (I wish more people realized that)
Hardy Y
More drivel from the head of the department.   Their scientists were right?   Again, they are declaring themselves successful based on their observations behind a desk?  I have lived here 60 years.   I’ve never seen them out there.  Now retired, I’m out there five days a week.  What does 5 days a week tell me?   Snook are in a troublesome state.    Mostly?  There aren’t any.  Where they are, people have beat on them so badly, most have died either from harvest, poaching or people just mishandling them causing their death.   Our small snook:  Only in isolated locations in the three county area (manatee, hillsboro, pinellas).  They all have to pass through the slot which means DECIMATION.     It doesn’t have to be that way.  The officials close snook for two years right now and let all these 15 to 18 inch fish get past slot, then we have a fishery again.     To say they were right: That’s like saying the 9/11 hijackers were pretty good at flying plans.
Carnegie W.
What a shame that this latest update is negative.  Of course who can be positive with what they have done?    Dolts and douches all over putting snook on ice.  Fish we can’t afford to lose, taken away from all of us.   Fish that would be permanently part of Florida’s future, eradicated.   Then to find out the director wants to say his employees were right?   Good God.   The guy should be removed.    The decisions on snook, the worst in the history of the agency.  And they have made some bad ones.   That’s what happens when you don’t talk to the experts.   I would consider myself more of an expert than any of their scientists.  Why?    I spend about two days a week for the last 40 years on the water.   Never in any of those four decades have I seen a state official out there.       They are desk jockeys guessing at science.   And that is just no good.
George H.
Pretty easy.   Where there used to be uncountable numbers of snook, now there are about 20.    This is one of the best snook fishing spots in the state’s history.    It is bad.     You can drive an hour away and catch some but even those guys will tell you, it is nothing like it used to be.    You guys spoke up.  You were right.   They didn’t listen.  Because of it, we all have to suffer.     The idiots who keep a snook, they are a mix of different kinds of people.   Some who don’t know.   Some who know but are just dumb.   But every one of them that puts one on ice is a buffoon.
David O.
It is not an easy time for me.    I have seen the number of snook go up but the actual number of large fish is zero compared to 2009 and before.      The biggest failure:   Citizens keeping these fish.   The fish we had approaching a respectable size, killed this last fall.   It was a bad decision to reopen.   Even worse to not reconsider when you guys showed them the error of there ways.      I can tell you one thing that is a fact:  The recovery of snook may take 20 years with how many people who are stupid enough to kill one.    What a shame.   The state makes a different decision and we are within two years of a really good fishery again.
Kevin A
Bummer they still make it about Neil Taylor and ignore the real issue.    There are only a couple of guides I know that will kill a snook.   They are not anything like you.    They are just complete douchebags.     Snook.   Oh how I love the snook.    And oh how upsetting this whole thing has been.     The people in charge:   Miss.    Big miss.    So easy to let time correct what nature did, we instead are letting the millions of people put 1000% pressure on a species that is in severe stress.   That’s a lot of things.   The number one I can think of:  Stupid .    I support you.     Take it to them.     Make them listen to your Panel.    You assembled a great one.
Larry H.
Snook used to be my #1 fish.   Now, I don’t fish them at all.   My friends that do, they are hurting the species.   Released fish being taken by dolphin, the ones that keep a snook are no longer in our circles.   I don’t know anyone who has any intelligence that thinks it is a good idea to keep one.    What a pity the state made the decisions they did.   Snook with protection would be approaching preeminence again.    What a great world it would be if I could fish for snook again.
Riley C.
Well done.  You have exposed the state officials for what they are.   You have taken an issue and made it news.    Enjoyed your articles during that campaign.   A long quiet period, I was laughing when I saw that the head of the agency is saying “we were right.”    They were right?     Jesus.  We had more big snook in 2010.  Should be impossible but it is not.   How it really works:    Poachers.    Predators.     Natural deaths.    Opened to harvest, no fish making it through to adult size, the natural factors mean that adult females are at an all-time low.    So.   They don’t care but all of us do.  You probably need to go ahead and hit them hard and see if it makes them put new people in these positions.  You have my support.   I will give you as much money as you want to help.       It can be part of my legacy.     I believe in you.   I do not have an ounce of respect for anyone at the state.
Ron F.
Isolated.   The number of big snook:  Few and far between.   The location of small snook is also interesting.    There are vast areas with no fish at all.   There are areas of concentration both big and small snook.    It is easy to see:  Another weather event or substantial poaching and we could be in serious trouble.
JC
Hateful.  That is what this makes me feel.     I sent my letters.  No replies.  I sent them before they even made the wrong decision.   Now:  Snook, they are not in good shape.    They are worse than they were right after the freeze.      What a damn shame.    Different choices, different results: We could be into a great situation with snook but we are not because this moron and that moron are keeping them.     All of them.   They have to pass through slot.   More people fishing for them than ever before:  Pure numbers game, none of these fish are getting to full size.    The executive director?  Douche.    His staff:  Pretenders.    I have never seen an employee out on the water.     I salute you for trying.  I hurt for you because they disrespect what it is you have to say.
Stewart S.
Best as I can tell, their agency isn’t being run by anyone any better than before.    Some of you have demonstrated that we would all benefit if you were in charge.    They don’t ask for the help.  They don’t want the input.     I have been to three commission meetings.   All heavily attended, all the others were heavily in favor of a certain outcome.   I will never go again because in all three situations it worked out against what the people wanted.    They are politicians and worse yet, they are chasing the dollars.    Change would be great.   You find a way to make that happen and I’ll put all of my weight and as much money as you want, behind it.
Kalil

I changed my tune after spending hours with some longtime florida anglers.    I was unaware of just how severe the weather was in 2010.     All three of the guys I was talking to said that not only is it uncomparable to 2009, the actual recovery is hampered by a number of new factors, especially “more people fishing our waters.”    They convinced me of one thing for sure:  I will never kill one.     The way they talk about the way the fishery used to be, that is what I would like to see again.

Dale L.
I fish twice a week.  I have for 28 years.    Snook:  Snook are a sad story.    Literally, we don’t have any where I used to catch 40 a week.    You can drive half an hour to be in snook.   They are 15 inches.  That’s no snook.   Snook were the fish we had in 2009.    The state:  A failure to us as sportsmen.     People challenged their poorly based decision and even showed them that they were wrong.   They did not reverse their decision.    MISTAKE.   The damage to this species is daily.   Currently “open” these local idiots catch a slot snook, they kill that fish.   Those fish were our future.   It is practically tragic.     Snook are way more valuable alive than used one time for food.
Lonnie A.

 

 I started paying more attention after they decided to reopen.   I am now much more into fishing than I was five years ago.   I would enjoy a snook population like I have never seen.    My main fishing buddies will not keep them and they get upset when people do.    “Just because they say it’s OK doesn’t make it right.”    That’s the most impressive comment I have heard the whole time.    Studying this for so long, it is obvious to me.   They need the input of these guys who have been doing this way longer than me.   People who care, directly affected, way more than any state employee.   The state just wants to collect snook stamp money.    That is so obvious from decisions they made, perhaps it is time to make sure the input of the right people is incorporated.
Darrel T.
You guys called it.  The 2015 open season (and now the Fall 2016 open season) is the slaughter of our future.     For what?   For snook stamp money.  We all know it.    We compromise an entire fishery for ten bucks a guy.    Snook remain at a 2010 level.   We do not have more big snook, we have less.  Predation and poaching knock the final number down but almost no fish pass through the slot to become an adult.    This is a bad situation.    If we have another freeze we will be worse because we don’t have 1/100 of the females we had in 2009.    I listened.  I tried.  But the state said it was OK, all these people catch a legal size fish, they iced it.   Had they listened to you, we would be approaching a great fishery again about now.  Instead, we are one catastrophic event from not having them anymore.
Lester
You know, overall I am going to defer to you on matters of snook.     Living here, I put my time in.    I caught a lot of snook prior to the freeze.   I’m still seeing very few now.   I don’t believe their assessments to be true.    I follow you guys who work on the water.  The feedback is the same.  Yeah, there are snook but it is nothing to be very proud of.
TK
Nice to see the state is giving themselves credit for things that just aren’t true.   Snook.    What can I say about snook?      I haven’t caught one in almost six months.  I had to drive two hours to do that.     Talking to people, the numbers are in the small fish.   Another freeze and with the loss of females, snook fishing could hit a standstill for 20 years.     Why?   They didn’t allow a generation of fish to pass past slot.     It is amazing but the common guy isn’t smart enough to let them go.   They keep them when they are legal size because that’s what they told was OK.     So, we all suffer.     I see no improvements in snook fishing anytime soon.
Lawrence K.
I lived here for a decade before leaving for a few years.   I left in 2008, coming back in 2011.    Snook, my favorite fish all-time, what happened to my snook?    It didn’t take long to figure it out.   A terrible weather event.  Then terrible management.    I honestly don’t believe anyone realized how bad a kill this way.  Talking to Captain Scott Moore, he told me that the Tampa Bay area took it worst,which is true by my observations.  It is 2016 and I still haven’t caught a snook in these spots where I would catch 20 per trip.     I have only caught about five snook in my five years being back.  I used to catch on average five snook per trip (and I usually don’t fish very long.)      I was alarmed to see the statement “our scientists were right.”   Jesus Christ.    When you are wrong, Nick Wiley, at least be a man about it and own up to it.   I watched what happened. You never met with Neil Taylor yourself. And that is a pity.   Neil cares more about the environment and this fishery more than your entire staff combined.      Instead, you just want to pat yourself on the back and say “It’s too bad he can’t get past it.”   What does Neil have to get past?    The guy lives right.  He stands up for what is right.   He has been ignored by your agency (again and again).     One of your greatest assets and you treat him like a non-entity.   Shame on you.      Neil, I will help you however and whenever you ask me to.   We need 1000 more people like you.
Gary R.
You guys created a way to manage things better.   What bothers me:  They haven’t utilized it.    Your panel is the best group of people I have ever seen assembled.     Me and my pals were pleased when it was formed.  We are disheartened to hear that the state has made zero effort to implement it.     Snook.   I’d rather not even talk about it.      Snook, it has created enemies among fishermen.   No way they should have been opened to harvest, the state saying it is OK to kill them:   The #1 cause of tension between anglers I have EVER seen.      I get upset when someone gets me talking about snook.   Our #1 sport fish for sure, our officials treated it like a meat fish which is WRONG.
Lamont K.
Pity that your intelligence dwarfs anyones’ who you would be dealing with there.     You have the solutions, you handed it to them.   They wouldn’t change what they decided.   We all suffer.     This is the worst snook have ever been.  I’m sorry but it is not exciting to go catch 14 inch snook.   That’s mostly all we’ve got where I am.    Most of those are going to die in two years because the state told people it is good to keep them.     Good to keep them.    15 of my closest friends haven’t been here in years because there are no good snook.     They hate the management and they say “No airline tickets, no hotel rooms and no money spent at your restaurants” until the snook are back.   That is just my microcosm.      You did good.     They failed and from what I gather, they continue to fail but not working with you at all.
James F.
Arguments ignored, the best point you guys had was “Regional Management.”     Half of Florida should still be closed to harvest.   My knowledge of snook, you look at the body of Tampa Bay.   Roughly 3/4 of the Bay doesn’t really have any fish.     South Hillsborough around to Manatee County, there is where 75% of your snook are.   9/10 of those fish are juvenile.    This is a combination of my own calculations and guides who fish those areas.     Out front on the Gulf side, there was a return of some snook to north Pinellas beaches.   Who lost out?  The people to the north who now have fewer snook because they migrated.     Bottom line, you guys were right.    They should have changed their system and left it closed around Tampa Bay.   The harm that harvest is doing is affecting this ecosystem and will continue to as every small fish has to spend half the year exposed to harvest when they get to that size.   That translates to 99% of those fish:  DEAD.     Let’s be honest.   Dead snook do nothing for us.     Kill another fish if you want to eat.     Having a large population of very big snook as fast as possible, it benefits everyone.   Moreover:    It means more large females, something that is becoming an item of concern to me for the Bay area.    
“Pops” L.  

 

 The truth of the matter.   You guys predicted exactly what was going to happen.   A full two years ahead of it happening.     Snook just got massacred during the last open period.     Badly.    The fish we spent years growing.   99% of them are gone.     And why?  Because we are not patient enough to wait six years instead of just three to restore our resource?      You guys had fore sight.   You guys had all the knowledge.   You guys weren’t even involved until after it was all done and decided.    Hopefully that won’t be the case in the future.      I am not catching many snook.   I have caught thousands in my lifetime.    I am saddened that we could not have had the correct decisions in resource management.    I am saddened that the common guy isn’t smart enough to let them go even though the authorities told them to keep them.

Ron F.   Dunedin, FL 

 

Stupid is as stupid does.    Anyone excited about our snook situation doesn’t know what it should be.   

Kyle P.
  
Great work trying.    As usual, when dealing with government, you are going to fail.   These people are saying their science was right??   You have to be kidding.     The snook is practically endangered.   I have had a house on the water for the past 35 years.     We used to have 50 or more snook just under my own dock.   Now, we don’t have a total of 50 snook in the entire canal.    It could only be worse if we had another freeze.     The harvest was a major error.  Just think about where we could be now if the fish were left alone.     They would almost be ready to reopen if they were given a couple more years of protection.  Alas, you guys know.   Those people don’t have a clue.   Pity it is their job.
Karl P.
 
Mr. Taylor,
Your efforts are legendary with our people.    Snook:  Probably ten years away from recovered.     Yes.   They are being kept.   Yes, we all feel that is our future being knocked back.     I was right.   You were right.   At least you made them make an argument.   A bogus one but you are the only one that got them to a table.      If we can every help, let us know.
Kyle
Neil,
I haven’t talked to you in about two and a half years but I have been thinking about you the last couple of days.   I hear the messages you keep alive, an avid listener to your radio show.    I fish the same areas you do.   My experiences match yours.   The pockets of snook we have are isolated and they are significantly smaller than pods of snook we had before the freeze.   It’s not healthy.   It could be healthy with time.    The number of slot size fish for this opening is, well, in a word it’s really bad.   There will be a lot of lower slow fish taken in one area.  Upper slot in another.    And a lot of released fish eaten by dolphin no matter what size they are.
I feel hopeless.   I run into people who are excited about it.    Those people will kill one if they get it.  And why?   You said it 100 times before “Because the state said it’s OK.”     My impact much less than yours, successful with the most sportsmanlike.   With others I get villified and even cursed for telling them not to do something that is legal.     That’s OK, I don’t have to be friends with everyone.   But it just makes me sad.    Why did they not listen to you and the other 1000 experts when their own data was so inaccurate that they should have still had snook closed for at least another full year from right now??
I wanted to write to thank you.  But I also wanted to tell you that you are not alone.    I appreciate it that you speak your mind and tell it “exactly like it is.”    The world needs more of that.
Gary
Another year:  The same situation.   Snook are in good shape if you like 18 inch fish.   An 18 inch snook isn’t even sport.    The worst part:  All these fish have to pass through a slot harvest in their lifetime.   Thanks to decisions, this ruins our growth of a population of big snook, which should have been the goal.     I have never seen it this bad.    Seven years after the freeze, the condition of snook is only “secondly worse” to the time just after the freeze.      It is a shame.    I had friends from all over the world that would come here to catch them.   Now, they are going other places.
JT
This incident changed my entire opinion of the state scientist.    Now you have to wonder if you can trust anything they have ever said.     Snook, my favorite species all time (and I have fished for everything all over the world) are in poor condition around where I live.  OK, so other areas of Florida may be doing a little better but my guide friends in those areas also say:  It isn’t what it used to be.    Why was there such a rush to open them up to the harm of harvest?     I have my theory.      And it is the same theory with nearly everything else in life.      What a shame our resources have to suffer because a few politicians want to collect a snook stamp fee.
Rolando
I am upset that the harvest of snook opens up in a day.      I have fished snook for 36 years.     I got good at it fast.   I have had incredible action with this species but not anytime recently.    Snook are in a bad position.   The recovery we have is going to be set back by five years with this next open season that starts this week.       Sadly, even with the idiotic decision to open to harvest two years ago (I think, fairly certain) we now actually have fish that will be harvest size.        With how many people we have fishing them and the system where we are told “It’s OK”, what is this going to do for our future?      These fish should be our future not our food.    It hurts.      I know people that will keep them.     I also have my friends who know Florida fishing.   None of them will do it.     They’re all good enough to go catch something else to eat if they want to.    It’s not like it’s 1972 and we only have 50,000 people doing it.    This is going to be a dreadful massacre.
Ted
I didn’t know who to tell.     I talked to some people and they said you were the right one.      Snook being open to harvest is a pretty old topic now.      We finally have enough to start catching them once in a while.     But for someone to keep one is really going to hurt because a lot of the ones we have around here are “getting close.”   The number isn’t that good anyway, but there are enough that are progressing where a majority of those caught in certain locations, they will be kept.     Why would we do this to ourselves?   I know it is a long time since the decision but now we are going to really pay for it.    There weren’t any slot fish to be kept the past two years anyway.        Don’t people know that there are dozens of other fish to ice?   Don’t people know that snook are so much fun and so limited that you don’t have to kill them even if the numbers are good?    What do people know?    Apparently very little.    I know all these people that know they are opening in a couple of days and they will be keeping every one that they can.     I am unhappy for our future.
Mark L.
My situation is, a full time guide, out almost 200 days a year.     I would rather not get into the fray so I was told that I could send you a email and maybe you would share it.       I won’t let people harvest a snook.    In 2015 and 2014 combined we caught about 50 snook that were actual harvest size but we let them all go.    It isn’t good.    Small fish trying to become big fish:  That can be wrecked with every open season.   We have one coming up fast.     I would like other to do what I am doing:  keep other fish.     Snook need  a lot more time to progress.    All the other species are unstressed.     I take people fishing.    If we don’t wipe them out keeping and cooking them I stand a better chance of remaining a full time guide
******************
Kill a snook?    Why?    I love my wife. I love my four kids.   I love beer.     Snook:   I love them better than all of them.     We are not out of the woods on the future of this fish.      One red tide.   One major freeze event:  We will be set back below zero.       Can we get enough people to participate in not keeping them?  Or does the fact that they are opened again (and they are reaching harvest size, finally) going to mean that we won’t have much chance at having a great population of big snook again sooner rather than (much, much) later?
Larry
Hey,
The fellas and I were at the bar (looking for you but not finding) and I told the guys I would tell you what we talked about.  Snook “opening.”    You have a great following with some pretty great people.   We all said how we had to tip our hat to you for what you do every day but how you don’t take no for an answer and stay on task until there are resolutions.
This one, already decided before they would talk to you:   We are going to see a lot of death during this open season.   It will be a major loss of our “almost mature” snook.    It will be the biggest setback since the freeze.
Dave-O had the best comment I heard.   “Neil is the one who has said *We have a dozen other species that are great to eat and not in a predicament, why don’t we all just put those ones in the cooler instead.* ”    You are a perfect example of doing what’s right.    The poor common guy can kill one because they said it’s OK but those of us who know the situation:    One red tide or another freeze and we face near extinction of a species.    Dave got fired up and talked about how you catch (deleted) for standing up on this issue.   We all told him that you can take it but he said he would like the chance to pound on someone who belittles your efforts.     He sold us on it.    We all would like to do that.
But we won’t have to.  Keep up the fight.    We will jump in if we can ever help.     You are just about the epitome of what we would all want to be if we were fishing guides and had a bigger stake in this like you most certainly do.    I would love to see snook reappear in your reports again but I understand you probably won’t allow that to happen for many more seasons.
Fleck
Love the effort you made.  Hate seeing the authorities just put you off.   Very few people would have stuck with it.    But when you’re right, you’re right.    Snook needed our help.  We didn’t give it to them.   On my canal, where we used to have 300 to 400 snook we might have ten.      Might.  And our canal has more than others in the area.   These reports of vast improvements in populations are false.    20 miles away they have a nursery, lots of smaller fish.    Those fish, in great shape and great numbers have to succumb to the pressure of harvest when they get that size.   And that pressure is intense now.     There are way more people fishing now compared to even ten years ago.      I don’t see things getting better with snook for ten years or more given their decisions on management.    Too bad, big snook were a gift.   They were an absolute treasure.    I wish people still thought they taste like soap.
Allan V.
Another year, another failure by the FWC.   Great to see they are claiming success.    Our scientists were right?  Who are they crapping?     Snook are worse than they were right after the freeze.     You can’t tell me that hordes of 15 inch snook is what we wanted.     The real harm on our oversize fish:   People handling them badly and poachers.  That coupled with other natural mortality and we have a real problem pending.  What if we have another freeze?   We did not adequately build up the stocks of larger female fish.  Another freeze and snook may be gone for a lot longer than 8 years.     You guys tried:  They didn’t do anything to fix a wrong decision.
Kym H.
Your work, I applaud.  Your results, I’ll applaud and tell you:  It’s government.   You are on the verge of actually changing things which is needed.     Nothing I ever tried worked.   Going to meetings:   Uh, I should have just gone fishing.
The snook are going to get hammered.    They got hammered last year this time.   The difference is, this year more are going to hit the ice.    Last year they just mostly got abused and the CR mortality was the population decline.
Keep your chin up.      You have reached a lot of people.    You can’t win them all but there are a lot of my friends that you (mostly through me but not all) will not kill a fish and are encouraging others to do the same.     I look forward to continuing to watch your efforts.     I figured right now you could use some encouragement.
Rollie
UmpNeilT,
Happy hour (wish you were there) these two guys were talking about their plan to target and catch snook tomorrow.   My wife gave me that look that means “No.”
So I asked them if their goal was to kill the fish to take home.   “Hell yeah.”   These guys acted unaware.   I told them some things.  But you know what:  If they catch one (legal or not) I am fairly convinced that they are taking it.   You were right.    The most intelligent thing I ever heard “If they leave it closed, a lot fewer
people will fish for them.”
I was actually surprised when we got home my wife said she was happy I said something.   She then said “You should tell your friend the kayak guy about it.”   So here I am.
Anyway, you don’t need me writing to tell you what I think about who you are or what you have been doing.   But I thought you would relate to the story.   We need to get together sometime.  It has been a while.    It’s on me.   With everything you do:  It’s always on me.
Del B.
Leave it to state employees.    Snook fishing is the worst I have seen in 50 years.    We had some lean times in the past but we didn’t have six million people fishing here then.  Now, with many more lines in the water, these fish needed our help.  And they didn’t get it.    I can’t believe the executive director said that “our scientists were right.”    I guess you can say that when you are the ones who “make up the numbers.”    Let’s face it.   No independent agency involved, they are going to skew on the side of success even though their management decisions are among the worst in the history of resource management.    What do you do?   I’ve attended meetings.   They didn’t listen to anything we had to say, henceforth, none of us will ever go to those meetings.    I guess we just have to bend over and take it.   Accept the fact that snook fishing will probably never be how it was.    A shame, it only needed two more years of help and then it would have been a self sustaining system again.   Please use my comments if you pulish more articles.    I have fished here now 50 years.  I know what I am talking about.
Bobby P.
I would like to eat a snook.     But I’m not a blithering idiot.    I’ve giggled watching the people with the kill mentality take weak shots at you for trying to create a future for our resources.      I giggle because you never blink.
CP
Mr Taylor,
You may not remember me.    I moved to Florida two years ago.     I went out on a charter to help learn how to do it here.     I caught and kept a snook (sound familiar?) and then had to endure the comments from my neighbors and friends.     I wanted to thank you for talking to me after that part of it.    You were right: I didn’t have any idea.     And no, I won’t recommend that guide to anyone.  I still see the people who are trying to line their pockets.   But I also see selfless people who are doing things for no other reason than it is the right thing to do.     That is your position.
Snook near another opening I wonder who are hypocrites and who will continue to let them go.   I have only caught about ten all year.     Seven or either were around legal size.     That can’t be good?
William S.
We got off on the wrong foot many years ago.    Internet interaction failure.    I know people who don’t like you now, in the idiot fishing circles.    A common connection:   None of them have ever met you.
Snook season.   What a pity.    Benefiting a few, with the end result, fewer fish at a time when every potential female fish is huge:   It is a mismanagement story that is several years old now.
I enjoyed it recently when some people weren’t careful about photos they shared and the story behind it.     You ended up being the bad guy.    The bad guy because you posted MY EMAIL !?!?    You do an exceptional job at keeping your eye on the ball.     You motivate others.     This one stinks to high hell.     But is better than it would be if you didn’t exist.     Lots of people are making correct decisions because you spoke out.     You make a good argument.   Better than theirs.   Your numbers are everyday numbers.   I have never seen anyone from the FWCC out counting snook.
All the best and may the weather be so bad, no one gets to go fishing!
JT McC.
I am disheartened.  A recovery, stunted by a harvest.    We had true progress on a recovery and then all these fish that had finally reached the slot:  Taken from us before they could become trophy fish.     Lost forever, instead of enjoyed for a lifetime.     It is a pity that they did not ask any of us before they made these decisions.     None of my fishing friends is very pleased with snook being open.
J.T. Dawson
I’m with you guys.   Snook should have been left alone for a lot longer.    What the state refuses to ackowledge:   How important this particular fish is compared to all the others.  And that value:  They are alive.   All my friends who use to visit, don’t because they can’t catch any snook here now.    That right there demonstrates why we should have demanded that snook not be allowed to be harvested again.  In my opinion EVER.
Lyle K.
I don’t think your jokes are bad on the show.   Hahahahaha.
Snook.   (Sigh).     I believe that they are worse than they were a year ago and the only time they were worse than that was in 2013.    Wait, 2012 was really bad.   No, 2011 was the worst.    2010 was right after the freeze, that had to be the worst.      Anyway, all the time and recovery:  It all gets erased this “open season.”      Why?  Because it is legal.    I have heard you say that.    And talk about the wrong way to go:  The fish we have reaching slot size now are the ones that should have been protected through the transition to female breeder status.
But who am I telling this to?  The guy who went over this with the state employees.    You are a more patient man than me.   Letting people tell you straight fiction and still continuing the meeting?   I’m glad I own my company.  I fire people for way less.
Snook:  It’s not good.    It could be and would be faster if you were in charge.     It is going to suffer another setback, one that is worse because it is cutting into the recovery five and a half years later.     And for what?     So people can eat one dinner off a fish that brings in the tourist money?      Again, me as CEO:  You’re fired if you endorsed this one.
I would like to book another trip for friends.  The last people who did, you made it their hobby.    They like telling their stories (and re-telling your stories).   Thank you for a great service you provide.
Bill P.
What a pathetic world.   Politics.    General stupidity.  Then there is the Florida snook.   Water under the bridge, we could have been in good shape by now.   But we are not.     And we never will be as long as all these juveniles have to pass through that stupid slot.     State endorsement:   Kill legal fish, that has led to the diminishing of a species.    There are fewer big snook than there were right after the freeze.
Lance B.
Neil,
You took me to take my first snook.   Then my second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh and even my twelfth.
That was in 2008.     I have only caught two snook since that day.    Best thing I ever did, get on your email list.    Worst thing I ever do, listen to other people.    There are people taking the opposite approach.    What you have done, I can’t figure out why everyone else isn’t doing the same thing.
I wonder (and thought I would ask) what do you think will happen with this open season starting on September 1st?
Neal
It is kind of sad how short sighted so many people are in this world.    You called it:  Opening to harvest created pressures that have hurt the recovery.    I wanted to tell you that now, in my area, the first post freeze spawn has a lot of slot size fish in the habitat.    And they are getting hammered.   My fishing pals won’t keep them.    But we are in the minority.      We have met with ire for saying anything about it.    It’s a shame.   It is not right.   I wanted to let you know what’s going on here because it matches all the arguments you posed in the articles you wrote and meetings with the state.    What a pity they didn’t re-modify and extend the closure.      We are suffering the price now more than the previous two years.
Ivan
Worst case scenario:   Guides keeping snook.    Some guys who are are not in good graces with those of us who have heard about it.     The state’s mistake should not be our burden to bear.     DON’T KEEP SNOOK.  Pretty easy, keep any other species.     We would be seeing great gains now if that wasn’t being undone by these people killing the fish that just arrived to legal size.      It is outright depressing.
KD Barnes
We have people killing a few per person per week.    With what we had here that will eradicate a lot of what we had of the most mature fish in the population.     Now we are worrying about the winter and a looming red tide, something we haven’t had for eleven years.     The decision to let people keep a snook however long ago that was:    Harming our future for this species.     We are all very disappointed around our area.
Carlos T.
Before this happened, the FWC had my support and respect.    This was handled so badly that I applaud your move to create an entity that will advise them in the future.    Snook are important to my own business and in my opinion our overall economy.   But there are so many other issues out there too.     Thanks for taking the heat and being that person who did not accept what is not good for any of us.
Brian C.
A neighbor of mine was keeping snook.   He caught three to five per week (harvest) and over the course of two months wiped out most of what we had.    I thought of you.   We warned him.   He said “They say it is OK, I am going to keep every legal one I get.”    Anyway, that one guy really killed it for us in our neighborhood population    Very few fish were over the slot.    The biggest fish we really had were the ones he killed.    In the future I hope we have an input.  What I had to say was ignored.
Niles T.
I wasn’t sure what to think a couple of years ago.   But I watched what you all were saying.   You were practically clairvoyant.   The last harvest period starting Sept 1 2015:    Wiped out all of the largest fish we had where me and my close friends go.     A massacre.    A complete loss for the future of the species.     A real shame because as you guys said “It doesn’t have to be this way.”     Pity they didn’t react to what you had to say even after they made their decisions.
Kyle L.
I’m glad that someone stood up to them.     What a joke.   Three years AFTER they made the claim we DO NOT have snook recovered 80%.  I fish the whole state, predominantly areas with snook.   They are not in great shape in most locations.  Where they are, they are getting hammered because of it.    You all did great.   I would like to see your impact in the future.   They need the help, badly.
G.T.
I am catching a few snook.    I have not caught that many snook since the freeze and the ones I find now are mostly little ones.   I stay away from the bigger ones for a very good reason:   They don’t need the pressure.   It pains me to see the people handling big fish or worse yet, taking them home.    It will be a long time before things resemble what they were in 2008 and 2009.
Kalelive
It hurts.  What we had, versus what we have now.   What the authories say, versus reality.    I wish snook were more resilient.    They are in a bad way.  They have another decade before we may have some opportunities again, all because the authorities aren’t intelligent enough to make the right management choice.     I have caught fewer than ten snook in three years.     I used to catch 10 or more every single time I went out.
Clive
This is a tough one because I like to fish so much.   Snook?  I had to watch the common guy just punish our populations since September of 2015.   And I mean punish it bad.    What would have been a majority of the biggest fish we have, are dead and gone.    Who is to blame?  I have my choice.    Personal decisions are part of it.     A contingency of people like Captain Scotty Moore, kayak guide Neil Taylor and other of the most reputable in the state pushed hard to encourage people not to keep them.    I saw “Good for them” even though their reach really wasn’t wide enough.      I would have to say that given the setup for continued harvest, I will not see snook return to prominence in my lifetime.     And that is too bad. How great did we have it for close to 30 years?   And how close would we be to having it back if they were still closed?
Gilbert W.
Three years later.    They want to give themselves accolades for their mistakes?      There should be a review board.     I will make some phone calls.
Pat McG
The decisions of the commission:    Often challenged.  Snook is a perfect example of their failure.    They close the door after the horses are all gone.   They missed on this one.   They had it pointed out to them.   They didn’t do anything about it.  The result:   A sub par fishery.     I have fished here for 50 years.  This is the worst this fishery has been in that entire time.      The harvest is the reason.     If not for last years harvest, an entire generation of fish would have escaped to untouhable.   Instead:  Dead.    Think about where we would be if we left protection for the first couple of spawns post freeze.    We have small fish.   That is great EXCEPT they have to pass through the slot.   They will die.    Very few will escape to adulthood.
Gary R.
We have hundreds of snook off my dock.  Average size, 14 inches.     We have about a dozen oversize fish.    I have lived on this property for 28 years.     This is not a good population.    Compare to pre freeze conditions:   It would have been reverse, it would have been a thousand oversize fish and a small percentage of babies.     Numbers, not even close.  The actual size of snook, they are not big.   The problem, these small fish we have will be killed during their open seasons.      Almost none of these fish will escape to be big adult snooks.
Carl T.
It is not good.    We have almost zero snook in my area.     You have to go 20 miles to see any at all.     And even those ones?  They’re small.     You have to shake your head on this one.    The people who manage our resources failed us big time here.     The idiots who keep snook, and there are a lot of them, wiped out our future.  Why?  Because the state endorsed it.   Guys like Scott Moore, Neal Taylor and others did what they could to get people to ignore the state and continue releasing all snook.    That only went so far.    The slot fished out, those were our fish for the next 20 years, eliminated from existence.     That is very sad.
Ally
I was gone from the state during the freeze.  I heard stories.   I got back, things were worse than I had heard.     Then, reopen to harvest?     Things are not improving.   They would be if they didn’t open them up to the abuse of harvesting.      Dead snook, used one time does not compare to a single snook caught and released 50 times.    I have visitors who aren’t coming anymore because the snook fishing is that bad.     It would stand to reason, we would have done better to protect a species back to greatness instead of letting people put them in coolers.     I am not the only one who feels this way.
Katey
It hurts.  Not so much the condition of snook.   The reality that they can’t put more importance on a fish that is more valuable alive than dead.   All of this so people could keep them?   The people in these jobs, they should find others.    If it was a good system snook would have remained closed for 7 to 10 years.
Jamie F
Neil,
I followed this your whole trek.   I was sorry to hear these people never connected with your group and I appreciate you letting me know.     I will support you however I can.    Financially or otherwise.    You care.    That puts you in a category separate from these people.   They want their paycheck.    In my 40 years, I only ever ran into one person that I believed they were in it for the more sincere reasons.   This commission, these scientists:   They wanted their snook stamp money.     I will gladly fund anything you want to do to help make changes.    You have earned it.    You do more for coastal issues than anyone else I have ever known.   You stood up to the system when they made these atrocious mistakes and you made them answer for it.         Please keep me in the loop.
DST
Irony:  They tell you that they are right.    You, a guy out there 300 days a year, what do you know?    I am friends with three other premier guides.     All three are right there with you.    Snook would be coming back to prominence if it wasn’t idiots in charge of their rules.    So much of it just simple logic, it is a shame that they did not change their decisions based on your previous efforts.    Nonetheless, they ruined it.    Tell a man he can keep a fish, he will.    So, it came to be, the common idiot kept our future instead of those fish being our greatest state asset.       Absolute idiocy.
Cassandra O.
I am very sad about the management of snook.    I wrote letters.  They never wrote back.    It isn’t any better.    I would catch 20 snook a day back in 2009.   I might not have caught 20 total in the last seven years.   Pleased with your effort.  Saddened that they just ignore you.    I would say that you should keep trying.   Because you are in the right.   Snook are in a very perilous condition.
Cameron H.
The FWC.   I formerly supported what they do until this situation.    They made their decision without talking to anyone.    We all continue to suffer because of it.   I can attest:  We do not have big snook around this general area.     Fishing here for 35 years, snook used to be our first target.  Now it isn’t a choice at all.    What a shame.  If they left them closed until now, all those fish would be there for us.   Snook are in worse shape than right after the freeze.    Spawning, gives us small snook.    None of those fish are surviving their harvest period.   You tell these morons they can keep snook, they keep snook.  And they ruin our future.
Lionel L.
So Wiley actually said his scientists were right?   That alone is reason to remove the guy.   I don’t know anyone who says snook are recovered.   The accounts I hear, it may be worse now than right after the Freeze.     And that might make sense.  30% more people fishing them.    Very few adult fish after the freeze.    Predation.   Poaching.     And the absolute idiocy of allowing harvest of fish we should be protecting to adulthood.    It was a miss.    The guy standing behind his scientists.   He should be taken into a field and whipped.    Sincerely.
Bruce N.
Momma used to tell me if I don’t have something nice to say, to keep quiet.     She has allowed me to talk about snooks.    The state’s management of our most important fish, a lesson in why we should have more qualified people in these most important positions.    They compound mistakes.   How sad it was to make the mistake.  But then to not correct it?     So what do we have?   We have the setup for disaster.   We have a poor snook population.  We have the possibility of another freeze or catastrophic event.   Then where will we be?   We didn’t protect any fish to female size. So, we don’t restock the entire gene pool for what survives a bad event.     It is shortsighted.  I hope they enjoyed their snook stamp money.   That is all this was ever about.
Dylan S.
Man do I love me some snook.   On the end of my line not dead in a cooler.  I lost two good friends who said “It’s legal, I’m keeping them.”    To hell with guys like that.    What we have in snook is a state treasure.  What we have with the FWC is people too stupid to realize the value of the fish alive versus allowing these mental deficients to remove these fish from our entertainment fair.    Pathetic.    It’s too bad snook don’t go into Federal waters, then maybe we could get someone intelligent involved in their management?
Karen T.
I read your reports as you post them.    It was depressing to read that the director of the FWC still doesn’t get it.     You, a guide who doesn’t bend to the almighty dollar:  You haven’t even offered snook to your clients since the freeze.    Other guides should have followed suit.   The ones I know the best ended up pulling snook trips because there just weren’t enough fish to target.     I get out once a week.   So, say I fish 50 times a year.    That would be 350 to 400 trips since the freeze.  I keep records.     I have only caught 29 snook since 2010.   Think about that.    I, like you, not targeting snook- would say that is a great sampling.    29 accidental snook in seven years?   That does not bode well for what our population is, especially considering where I go.     I’m in areas where I would be finding lots of accidental snook.    They are just not there.      Your proposition on regional management was the best of all.    Tampa Bay should have remained closed for three more years.      Other areas of Florida:   Maybe.  People I know in other areas have way more snook but a lot of them would like to see a lot more big fish.     I admire your effort.   I am saddened that they don’t make any kind of an effort.
Carl M.
Don’t fault the Commission.   They just went by what their scientists said.   That is where the blame is.   Florida science:  I used to believe in it.   After this with the snook, I can’t figure out how I can believe anything they have to say.    We are about 20% recovered 7 years later.    A year into it they were saying we were 80% recovered???     The commission’s failure was to not take action to override the science.   An entire fishery in trouble because of it, they don’t want to admit they are wrong.   But what an idiotic move, to claim their scientists are right     There isn’t anyone out there that says their science is right.     In vast areas there are no snook at all.  Other places, they are predominantly small    The locations with bigger fish, getting hit pretty hard including some poaching.  The big picture:  The future of snook does not look good in this state.    And it all is because of faulty “science.”
Aaron M.
I actually had my best snook fishing I have had since the bad weather in 2010.   I can tell by talking to others I was just lucky.    Most people I know say that they are still leaving them alone.  Harvest?    Who would keep one.  Anyone who has any concern about that species wouldn’t keep one.      You guys did a great job trying to facilitate that but it didn’t work.   The common idiot, they will take them home if they measure.    That is the world we live in.
Carlton B
What a pity no one listened.   Can you imagine where we would be if all those fish weren’t harvested last Fall and they weren’t being killed right now?     We could be making true progress toward a recovery.  Instead, we are at a standstill.   Some people think we are going backwards and they may be right.    Stresses on the biggest fish and the inability for fish to pass slot size to become Future Fish:   We may be in decline.
Alvin A.

 

 

Neil Taylor

Neil Taylor

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.
Neil Taylor

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