Jan 24th 2010
I just back from fishing Flamingo, Florida aka Everglades National Park. I got good news and I got bad news. Bad news is the fish kill is very very serious and unfortunately 9 out 10 of the game fish that were killed were snook. I went out there with Honson and his friend Luigi(yes like in the Mario brothers). It’s been a couple weeks since the freeze so we wanted to see what has come back. We only took fly rods to see if we can get into some sight fishing.
The conditions were slick calm that morning and we could see for miles, except for one thing. Super fog! We took our time running around the gulf side of the Everglades. Once the fog lifted we saw lots of death drifting in the glass calm waters. We would pass by anything large we saw on the water. I am sorry to say most of the large fish we ran by were breeder snooks that never made it through the freeze. A very very sad sight when you see hundreds of dead fish floating knowing most of them were breeder size snooks.
While stopping at one carcass we did see lots of life compared to one week ago. One surprise was a bunch of Palolo worms. These were the same type of worms that are found in the keys during the summer months. The Tarpon just love them. There were small bait fish slurping these little guys up all around us. This was breath taking to see. Life starting to come back once again. Hopefully tarpon would follow soon.
We poled the flats in some of the creeks and saw only a couple reds. On the way out we did bump into Honson’s friend Brian. Brian was using jigs with shrimp and saw some reds and snook earlier in the day. He did manage one redfish before they spooked off. We followed Brian back into the creeks and he caught a few snappers and groupers in the deeper holes. During the run we did see a few dead Goliath groupers that did not fare well in the cold.
Although it sound like no one should ever fish again, all is not lost however. There were plenty of reds and trout being caught that day. The water temperature was rising and the bait were showing back up on the flats. The fishing can only get better I believe. The only species I’m really worried about are the snooks. There were just way too many breeders dead. Not even seeing one alive all day is never good. I did not see any dead redfish and compared to the snook the Tarpon did fine considering. When we got back to the ramp later that day the researcher told us no one has caught a snook all day.
I will be checking out Chokoloskee later in the week. I am afraid I will be seeing the same thing. Hopefully, it should be warm enough for the fish that did make to safe haven offshore, to find their way back once again.
Photo notes: Dull and dreary day filled with images of dead fish. As you can see my images reflect that. The edits are very monochromatic on purpose. My camera still have color. 🙂
This was the scene at the boat ramp at flamingo, hundreds of dead baby tarpon and snooks. Sadly this was all too familiar. The smell was rancid.