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Old 10-28-2005, 01:07 PM
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lemaymiami lemaymiami is offline
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fishing report, South Florida after Wilma

This will have to serve as a fishing report although fishing is the one thing I haven't done this week... Although I haven't posted a report in a few weeks we were on the water almost every day until a few days before the Park closed for the storm. Fishing was very good in the Everglades just before hurricane Wilma interrupted everything, particularly the interior (Whitewater and Oyster Bays) and along the Gulf coast, from Cape Sable north to Lostman's River. With the storm coming we cancelled my last three bookings. The week before the storm was the big weather change that marks this time of year and it had nothing to do with Wilma. In one short week water temperatures dropped from almost 80 degrees at dawn to 73 or 74. Tarpon responded by feeding heavily at river mouths along with a variety of other species - mackeral, snook, grouper, and sharks. We also found good numbers of snook in interior bays. These are the first of a wave of fish that will move into the interior as coastal temperatures start to fall.

Here's the current situation. Everglades National Park is closed now but when it re-opens the fishing should be very good. The coastal areas (the west side of the 'Glades) should have been altered dramatically by Wilma. It struck a direct blow at the Ten Thousand Islands with the eye passing over Chokoloskee / Everglades City. That means the "dirty side" of the storm made a direct strike along my favorite area --the coast south of Lostman's River. I'm looking forward to my first trip back to see what's changed but that's still in the future. Port of the Islands and the Everglades City area still have good accessible fishing until Flamingo re-opens. The night fishing here in the urban areas of Biscayne Bay should still be good, but since much of it is created by lighted docks and bridges, it will get going as electricity is back on line in those areas. That brings me to the part that most customers don't see. Guiding requires fuel, both for the boat and the vehicle that you tow with... At this point that's a bit of a problem but it's getting better each day. In a few days I may actually see someone fueling a boat... I have a feeling we'll have lots of fuel before we have lots of anglers again...

With all the talk of destruction and chaos after the hurricane, there's quite a bit of good news. None of the guides that I know lost their boats. We all have a lot of property damage but few lives were lost. We were all very lucky. When we actually get back on the water that will be a bonus.
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Old 10-28-2005, 10:14 PM
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Good luck out there !

I am very interested to hear how it all pans out. After hurricane Charlie the waters around Pine Island Sound were quite different. Under water there were tons of tree stumps and debris. The mangroves lost almost all the leaves and vegitation was totally blown away. I am planning on fishing the area from Whitewater Bay north to Everglades City this winter/ spring and I am very interested to hear what it looks like. I will not be down there for a while yet myself but things are almost completely done up here on Cape Cod. I did a charter today in Buzzards Bay and it was only my 7th paid day on the water up here this month. The weather has been horrible with the average winds over 25 knots. That coupled with 22+ inches of rain has made it very a very difficult October to get out. Lets hope for the storm season to come to an end soon.
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Old 10-29-2005, 06:01 AM
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lemaymiami lemaymiami is offline
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Storm results...

I can't be certain of what I'll see when I'm finally able to return to the areas of the 'Glades that I normally fish. You're right about changes, though. A fair portion of most days is usually spent working specific spots, downed trees, river corners, mud or sand bars. I expect that much of that is changed now. There'll also be more than a few new hazards like trees that are barely submerged at high tide in areas that used to be safe to run in...

Oldtimers told me, many years ago, that the Everglades really benefits from a good sloppy, wet hurricane every five to ten years. Before this year the last big flushing the 'Glades got was in 1965 (hurricane Andrew in '92 was unusual, almost completely dry - more of a monster tornado than hurricane). Katrina definitely filled the need and definitely flushed the saltwater portion thoroughly (it also put four feet of Florida Bay water up on top of Flamingo... leaving houseboats and everything else there torn up). When the Park finally re-opened three weeks later the only facilities working were just the boat ramps, everything else was still being repaired. Hurricane Rita didn't effect the Park much, the closure for Rita was only two days. I was lucky enough to be on the water after Rita almost every day, most of them in the Park until Wilma. Very little physical damage was visible from Katrina until you got out to the west coast and then only some downed trees. The fishing was great, my first day back I found snook up to almost 20lbs and they were hungry!

Wilma struck from the west so I expect lots of damage and re-shaping of things. All of us will just have to start learning the area all over again. Mangrove is designed to lose all of its foliage under high winds. That's what lets it survive and thrive in tropical areas. After Katrina there were great "weed lines" everywhere along the coast. Close inspection showed they were actually mangrove seeds... Nature's way of mangrove propagation is what it looked like to me. The one thing that the plants can't survive is being submerged completely under saltwater which is what probably happened during Wilma's storm surge. In areas where that happened everything will die off, then eventually be replaced. In Biscayne Bay there are still areas of Elliott Key (a barrier island north of Key Largo) where that process still hasn't finished thirteen years later...

At any rate I finally got through to someone in the Park yesterday and heard the good news that the Park may re-open in just two weeks. It wasn't an official response so I'll just have to wait and see. I do believe that the fishing will probably greatly benefit from this season's storms in a year or two just like areas where a forest fire generates new growth and that's where all the game is a year later. In the meantime I have fly orders to fill and plenty of time to spend at the bench...
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