Neil Taylor:   Umpire.   Fishing guide.   Conservationist.

Notes from over the years.    My life in Florida was about making a difference.   A positive difference.  27 years, I have washed my hands of Florida.   The condition of the fishery is part of why.    A recap on the thoughts of my own.  The thoughts of others.    A changing of the guard, there are people who would like me to come back.   I’m not coming back.   I have turned the page.

So many changes that are not positive.   It is obviously an impact of the number of people.   Where I am in Texas the fishing is like it used to be in Florida.    Tidbits and notes from a while:   This is a short expose on the condition of Florida.    The one guy left:  Captain Scott Moore, he counted on me but knows why I moved on and he accepts that I’m “out.” 

Gone a year, the fishing is still lousy.    One of your spots there were five guys fishing for three hours.    Not even a bite.

You taught me how to catch pompano.     You showed me your best spot.    I haven’t caught one there in over two years. 

Just bad.   You were here for all those years of good fishing.    Just like for the reason you left:   It’s not good.    It’s not recovering either.    My 41 years:    Good until about two years ago.   Now, I don’t go fishing anymore.    

I wrote the governor again.     Not very uplifting so I’m not sharing it yet.    I’m trying other avenues.   The fishing crashed, again.    The issues are there:   More algae blooms than any other time in history.      I read about redfish being stocked all these areas to the south.    Why would they not be released in Tampa Bay?   Tampa Bay’s fishery is way larger than Placida.    Englewood.     Those places have gotten fish.   Why isn’t Tampa Bay getting any??    It is a pity, good things are being done but are they being done right?   I’m not against those people getting fish but I challenge the decision, why them?     More importantly:  Why not us?

Following the example set by others, after 39 years, I am leaving Florida.   The fishing is not the same.    A government that doesn’t care:  This resource/fishery can’t keep up with the population pressures now imposed.    All my years here, up until about 2020, the resource could bounce back from things.    I believe that is over.   It is sad.   I had nearly four decades of pretty good fishing.    Now, things are not good and it doesn’t appear to be improving.    Four trips in a row:   Not one trout.    None.   You look at my past, we averaged 75 to 100 trout per trip up until about a year ago.    Redfish and snook had their own challenges.    Now, it’s everything.    I’m moving on.   

This is a difficult day.    I’ve been through this before.    A new situation:  New people, I’m prepared for whatever.   I have been a guide for fifteen years.   Fifteen years of success.   The past two months, there hasn’t been success.   Our fishing has completely declined.    It’s bad.   I had been sending letters to the governor before this decline.     Things needed attention before this crash.    I’ve sent 56 emails.   They have replied twice.     Zero times since things got critical.     

So, it’s time.   Probably past due.     The governor only cares about the big business stuff and has no interest in the people.    That is unacceptable.    I tried over and over.   Practically begged.    And it got nowhere.   Meanwhile, our fishing is a catastrophe.   

Accountability:   The people should have it with their elected representatives.    I hate to say it but it is very obvious:   They need to respond to me before they do others.    In what I’m seeing, they are ignoring everyone.   And I can tell you:  This governor will not be reelected.     He has failed.    But I believe that resigning is a better option.   Too much time left in his term:  He needs to resign.   That is what I am calling for.    Now.    Right now.  

In seven years I never could get in touch with Rick Scott.    He was a loser.    A new guy in there, this guy at least has an email contact to use.   But it’s worthless.      He is worthless.   With what has been going on he should have picked up the phone and called me.     I have demonstrated that I have the connections and resources and I KNOW what the issues are.   Things are not good.    I can tell you, with no one trying to fix it:   Not fixed, I’m selling and moving away from here.    Things are that bad.    We need people who are serious about our state.    If this guy is not, he needs to resign. 

The bigger picture:  A busted system.    A governor can fix it.   To work on this right, you can’t really use the system that exists.   My push:  Hire Scott Moore.    It breaks the bureaucracy.   But it is an improvement.    Scott would put things on the right path.   It is what we need.     The system as it exists:  The FWC doesn’t even know there is a problem.   Even if they did, nothing would get done.    The organization is probably only good for research, another category where they are deficient.    I have still yet to see one of them out on the water.  

It is time to take care of our state.    The people in charge aren’t interested in doing it.   So are we?    I call it like it is:  This guy is the wrong guy to run our state.    His system, he is either ignoring me or his staff made choices to ignore me.   Either way, he’s gotta go.    At a seminar on Sunday, I went on a rant.    I told the story.    At the end of the session is asked, “Election year, how many of you are going to vote for this guy for governor again?”   Not a single hand went up.   That was just one room of people.    This article will be viewed over one million times in a week.   Up to five million in a month.    What I have to say will be heard.      I’m not pleased.    Our fishing is dead and the people in charge don’t want to get involved.  

Neil Taylor versus the state of Florida, 2019 version.    A new governor.   The fishing has crashed.   The fishing is the worst it has been in my lifetime.    Three months, writing letters every three days, just one reply.    The last one I laid it out for them:   They either start working with me or I use the web site.   I tell the world we elected the wrong guy for the job.  It has been two days without a response.     I’ll go on TV, I’ll use the website.     I’ll ruin the guy for not lifting a finger.     Our fishery is in serious peril.    The bottom line:  If it stays like this, I’m selling out and going somewhere else.    It’s brutal.

One year ago today , they dumped a half a billion gallons of sewage into the bay. It was Criminal but no one was held accountable. I just spent a couple of hours debating mental midgets about it. My father always said it, if I was in charge none of these things would ever happen

All of you people with your head in the sand. All of you media people who don’t report on it. One year ago yesterday a half a billion gallons of pollution which was mostly sewage was pumped into Tampa Bay. Now I am fully aware that most of you don’t care. I make my living out there. But I live here. I am tired of our government officials trying to turn my bae into a bacteria pit. You wonder what I’m talking about? Check the news bacteria warnings just went up all over Tampa Bay. Bacteria warnings that could only come from Human pollution. Like my father says it wouldn’t happen if I was in charge.

So disappointing.   38 years here and great fishing until a couple years ago.   Improvements are just not good enough.   It’s still bad.    Like Neil, I will be leaving Florida.    My time here was great but it is time to move on.   It isn’t how it used to be.  

With scallop season being lack-luster in Citrus County maybe the stakeholders need to think about some ways to save them and us from a closure. I personally believe that they’ve been over harvested and believe they could be on the verge of a collapse. With the scallops spawning when the water temperature cool down in September the less of them out there means less scallops spawning. Our county has had some banner years but looking at the size and meat of the scallops that was harvested in Pasco County a shorter season could be beneficial. Another method would be to put a size limit on the shellfish. We do it with fish and also with spiny lobster. With lobster a measuring device must be with you in the water, a small piece of composite with a set sized hole could be used for scallops. If the scallop falls through the hole them leave it in the water. It will grow larger as the season progresses,  We measure a limit of scallops mostly by volume ( you can keep a pint of meat per person ) and the smaller the shell the more it takes to make two gallons. There would be be some folks who would cheat but most sportsman and sportswoman would follow the rules. Just food for thought, together we can come up with a good solution.

So, to close out the day:   I just sent a letter to the FWC on snook and the entire management system.        A former umpire, 2013 was a huge lesson.    Won every argument but nothing changed.    I thought baseball was bad for certain stuff.    Government employees?   Dad, watching from a distance said “Valiant effort” (back in October) and I said “It ain’t over yet.”    He laughed and LAUGHED.     My colleagues get it too:   if it isn’t right, I am not letting it go.      What bothers me the most, I am handing them a solution on a plate.      Why hasn’t this been a success story?

My email is sent to my contacts. In the meantime, I get an email from one of my clients. He got paperwork. 22.2 tons of nitrogen was pumped into the Bay. Could this be the explanation? Fishing has crashed. I guess with this,, I go back to the Department of Interior. This adds something new.

Snook season opens in two hours.   I got about ten emails from people thanking me for my work toward that species over the past four years.      Mismanaged:  This opening, it’s going to be a slaughter.     Tell your friends:   They are more valuable alive than dead.      There are a dozen other species that aren’t in peril that you can use at home.     I’ll even help you for free to tell you how to catch them if you vow to NOT KEEP a snook.

The fight for what’s right.   Again.   This time, going way bigger.   This time I’ve pulled out the big guns.    If I die suddenly, they wiped me out.   One of you, avenge me.    It’s big business.    I’m threatening the future of people who are worth billions of dollars.    But who’s right, them or me?    The letters coming in are good.    There needs to be another 3000 of them.

Or course, the exaltation of this one died down when we got no replies to the emails to set it up after both Rachel and I said that we thought the meeting was worthless if they did not still have an open mind about reversing their decision.       Improving a terrible system is probably not that easy to do when the underlying factor, which should be science, is money.    

300 million gallons of sewage, into Tampa Bay. Another couple hundred million, poisoned water from Mosaic added to the water table. We humans, we sure know how to screw up all the good things on this planet. The people we have in charge of this state are buffoons.

Dear Governor DeSantis –

I am writing to express my serious concern about the decline in Florida saltwater fisheries over the past few years.  I travel from my home in Maryland often to fish in the warmer, clearer waters of Florida and to catch species I cannot find at home.  Since 2013, I traveled 38 times to fish in the Tampa area for 142 individual fishing trips.  I also fished several other times in the Florida Keys.  Those trips required me to spend tens of thousands of dollars in Florida for lodging, meals, beverages, gasoline, fishing licenses, fishing tackle, and fishing guide fees.  I have noticed a definite decline in the past 2-3 years in the number of fish I catch and the abundance of the more desirable game species (trout, redfish, snook, flounder, cobia, and others).  If the quality of the saltwater fishing does not improve soon, I will reduce the number of trips I make to your state and may completely stop traveling there in lieu of other destinations with better fishing.

Fisheries management is a complex process.  More often than not, science and good judgement are ignored while political pressure and continuing old habits are maintained.  The current decline in Florida saltwater fishing is serious and must be dealt with to avoid losing a valuable natural asset as well as a huge economic driver for the state.  

I know fishing guide Neil Taylor and respect his dedication to the fish and the environment.  He will not shy away from a fight with other interests that want to maintain practices harmful to the long-term health of the fisheries.  I encourage you to get Neil more engaged in the decision-making and management of Florida fisheries.  

Sincerely,

Governor DeSantis, 

I voted for you in this past election cycle partly for concern with the 2nd amendment, the rise of socialized movements, and our lack of leadership from the previous Governor on our environment in consideration of our multi- billion dollar fishing and tourism industries. The current local leadership in St. Petersburg deems it more important to build a pier instead of dealing with the dumping of sewage in the Tampa Bay estuaries. This trend doesn’t just stop with St. Petersburg. Last year we had a horrible red tide, with the dumping of lake okeechobee into both sides of the state, devastated already fragile environments. I applaud you for making these concerns in your run up to the election, but YOU can make a real difference in breaking an already broken system. 

I implore you to get real local sources to form accurate and moral panel or board to help accessing why and what can be done to correct our current emergency in our beloved state. Please consider the voices of Kayak Fishing Guide Neil Taylor from strike three kayak charters and Dylan Hubbard from Hubbard’s Marina for two of those local honest and moral voices to be heard by you. I appreciate your time and look forward to moving forward with a great new Florida and voting a second term for an honest moral governor of this frat state.

Mr. Desantis I am sending this email because of the great concern the state of Florida fishery is in. All through the Tampa bay area has been very difficult to find fish. Places where fish were plentiful for years are empty. Places where bait fish where always there are empty. Yearly migration of fish no where near where they were. The area in Tampa bay is in dire striaghts. Neil Taylor who is a guide has been doing so for 15 plus years. He is very respected and liked in the fishing community. He knows what needs to be done to help restore the fishery to what it was. If nothing is done Florida will suffer from lost of tourism to residents not staying here to fish on vacations. Please listen to the emails and suggestions of every one trying to save it. Mr Taylor has ideas on how to fix the fishery now and secure it for the future. Thank you for your time.

Hello Sir,  I like the step forward that you have taken about Florida waters. Our state is the Fishing Capital of The World and we need more steps taken in cleaning our waters. Fertilizer is probably the number one on my list to get rid of. HOA’s are a huge problem with making residents keep their lawns green. They need to be addressed and remove anyone who opposes this. I am an avid angler and I finally caught some trout today. Water by Caladesi Island was very dirty. It’s too beautiful to ignore. Water treatment plants need to be updated as well. Please get with kayak guide, Neil Taylor. This man knows the fisheries better than any one else that I know. I did vote for you, and I know that you will do the right thing.

Please do something about the dwindling saltwater fishery. I have fished west central Florida for over 30 years and have never seen it this bad. We cannot blame it all on red tide. Major problems with FWC fishery management. In 30 years fishing I have never been stopped by FWC or even seen them out there! Somethings wrong with that. Please contact Neil Taylor and/or Scott Moore and work with them to get this problem solved. Thanks.

Tough to call.   Not getting fishing reports like I should be.   What I am seeing:  Fish caught but not many.    My observation:   The farther away from Tampa Bay you get the better.    North of Dunedin way better.      Inside Tampa Bay, bad reports.   Heavy gorilla snot, bad results.     New yesterday, the bad action goes out off the coast, straight out from Tampa Bay.  Same thing, you get 20 miles north and the offshore boats are catching fish like normal.

Nice job Neil Taylor.   The state commission doesn’t want your emails anymore?   Write more of them.    I think this exhibits how the rest of us failed.    They should be telling 10,000 of us the same thing they just told you.     So you dared to not accept their declarations.  You dedicated your time to meet with them (which we all knew what that result would be).     You never let it die.    That, in my opinion is great integrity.    I would like to see you successful and change a long-standing reality with the people and the FWCC.    I would like to see them make rules that are correct according to reality.

Went fishing yesterday Neil.   A location you showed me.    The clumps of seaweed/algae were massive.   The water was ugly.   The fishing?    Just like you had been talking about.   It was not good at all.   I only caught one fish.   A lizard fish.   The trout hole you showed me:   Zip.     Looking around.   Just nothing going on.     I will start writing my letter to the governor.”

Feel free to get in on this action when you see it:    Neil Taylor, to the reply below: Here are things I know: I have not exhibited attitude or hate. If what I have done has not been toward reaching a solution then you are the one with your head in the sand. I’m not taking a lecture fro you and enjoy the chance to reply to this one a great deal. What else I know: I have intentionally avoided you the last nine years. The state and snook: Just another in a list of disappointing decisions that lend evidence that that entire program should be disbanded and rebuild. Complaints: When decisions are just made for us without getting any feedback, complaints are all that is left. What else I know, the Snook Foundation sent out an email announcing this decision, pretty much unquestioningly supporting it- that says a great deal. What else I know: My efforts to connect with people to work together has fallen on deaf ears for years. The most that ever came from it was a few emails back and forth with Ron. Their field officers in enforcement: Different story, shortstaffed but sharp. You take your advertising for putting money in your own pocket and keep it away from me because if I see it spammed in front of me ever again I will get into more depth on moral character, on which, I don’t think you can go toe-to-toe with me. But I’m fine if you try. 

From The Snook Foundation: Rick wrote: “Neil, you are a grumpy guy. Jeeze brother, you know some things but you really don’t know it all, neither do I nor anyone else….The problem is complaints and they are questions not answers. Attitude and hate is not the answer. Sticking our head in the sand and complaining is not the answer. No need to quit on the FWRI, the SGF or working with UF in trying to find solution we are trying to work toward solution. Lead with your big voice in trying to help.”

Nick Wiley, the “executive director” of the FWC did not respond to my  last email so I have sent him another reply.       Refusal to talk about the proposals I took to him from you, the stakeholders of the species, and basically not demonstrating that he even knew about the contents of the 2013 meetings we had with his staff:     I now can say that I am voting ZERO CONFIDENCE in the guy.    He is the director.   He took the time to take me on head on by email.   He has said that he will not devote agency resources to connect with our panel of local anglers and guides.   How does that make you feel?    I can tell you how I feel about it.    I’m livid.   I live it.    I want what’s best.    These people get paid to hold a title.   To do what the agency objectives are.   This agency is failing.    This is not about making a mistake.  We all make mistakes.   This is about system failure.

Cobia are targeted heavily.    Tower boats make it easy.   Power plants make it easy.    No question, with as fast as they grow, if cobia were closed for a length of time it should recharge the species.      A recent closure of inshore fish has brought them back to numbers not seen in seven years.   Why not consider it for other species, including cobia?    Major issues caused by population pressures.     Things are not what they used to be.    You want input:   It is time that we start taking care of all species.     A sustainable resource, we take too much from it.    If we back off the right way the sustainability will return.     If we continue on the track we are on, the fishery will continue to dive.    Give it a try.   If it works, use a closure every couple of years or whatever science dictates to give the species the best opportunities.   

I have left Florida.   My 27 years there, I supported and tried to improve the fishery.     It is over.   This is a recapitulation of that experience.   Florida lags behind is proper resource management.   

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