On Sept 10th 2017 Florida saw major impacts from the now famous hurricane, Hurricane Irma. With near total devastation throughout parts of the Florida Keys, Everglades National Park, Miami, Naples, Marco Island, and a list of others, the fishing industry in the areas have taken a major hit whose effects are going to stick around for a long period afterwards. Here we are 10 days later and homes are still just getting power back, while others continue to wait. This doesn’t even account for the many homes and properties that have been totally lost. For those who live in the areas and are truly dedicated fisherman, the question arises – what will the fishing be like after Irma?
Well, our hardcore Florida fisherman have already been out on the water and reports are starting to come in. But before we get into those, we did see some social chatter from locals who were here after Hurricane Wilma and most of the words were quite promising. From fish ready to eat anything thrown their way, to the fact that many grass and sand pockets were “cleaned up” (as it was put) after that major blow through.
There are many ideas as to why the fishing get’s better after a major storm, including the fact that fish are hungry due to the fact that grass beds have blown out, which removes their usual food source, leaving them ready to attack anything bite size that swims by. I also believe that recreational fisherman in general are not rushing back to fishing directly after a hurricane, therefore you can add these moments of “reduced pressure” as one of the other aspects to consider.
All of the ideas aside, let’s talk to those who have already ventured out.
We asked Eric Estrada of Estrada Art and The 5wt Chronicles notoriety if he has been back on the water since the storm. He mentioned that he has been out successfully targeting Peacock Bass in the Miami-Dade waterways since the storm. He also added a report from one of his friends in Goodland, Florida that over 100 Snook were caught in one outing on all artificial lures. And yet another report from Flamingo, Everglades National Park stating that the Tarpon are tearing it up right now.
We then talked to Captain Jason Dozier out of Tampa, Florida who was in the middle of a fishing charter with his outfit at FishnFl when we reached out. I mention this because one of my personal worries was how this will affect full time fishing guides, and I am happy to see him out on the water. He says that “post Irma fishing has been great. Here in Tampa the only effect the hurricane had on fishing is that it cooled the water off a few degrees, and dropped the visibility down in the bay. I’m expecting that visibility to clear up by next week. Let’s go fishing!!”
I was not able to reach out to anyone I know in the Florida Key’s just yet, but I want to offer this quote from the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust that I think echoes the thoughts of Florida anglers all over:
“Bonefish & Tarpon Trust is proud to be a part of the South Florida and Keys community. We are inspired every day by this remarkable intersection of land and sea and by the people who call it home. We extend our sympathy and support to our neighbors and friends who have been affected by Hurricane Irma. Historic rainfall, flooding and tropical force winds hit hard, damaging property and curtailing power to millions of Floridians, but the first steps in recovery are already under way. We thank first responders, emergency agencies, law enforcement, volunteers, and the armies of line crews who will work long hours to restore utilities. And we thank all of you who have reached out to offer assistance to us and so many others along Hurricane Irma’s path. Your response demonstrates once again the resilience that distinguishes South Florida and the Keys–and the special sense of community that binds us.”
Key’s Update 9/23/2017
Captain Alonzo Sotillo of Tides Right Charters had this to say:
“Keys Update: The keys are in full recovery/clean up mode much other upper keys are back in operation. Hotels in the heart of islamorada are open and have vacancy. DONT cancel your trip to the keys. People are there waiting with open arms. Lots of guides are back to fishing, and the fish are waiting! Come down, go fishing, enjoy the beautiful keys and witness the resilience of all they keys people!”
If you would personally like to help, try one of these three ideas:
- Spend money – hire fishing guides and charter services, buy locally made tackle and gear, hit the local tourist shops, mom and pop joints, restaurants and more. These folks just want to get back to work and start rebuilding. When you spend money with the business you are supporting the staff as well as the surrounding community.
- Send money – for those who cannot make the jaunt down to South Florida or the Keys, you can help support the rebuilding of one of the most affected industries, the fishing guide industry, by donating through the Guides Trust Foundation.
- Be Helpful (South Floridians) – coordinate on Facebook to directly help hard hit areas with supplies. labor, a hot meal or a cold drink. There is a lot of information to be found on Facebook in regards to who can use the help. If you are free and clear of your own damage and setbacks, take a few minutes to lend a hand to others – your neighbors.