11
Jul 19

Ban the Nets! Belize Edition

There is an effort underway to get gillnets banned in Belize. I can’t think of many places I’d rather see nets banned.

Saw this in an email from Yellow Dog, promoting the conservation efforts going on in Belize. Kudos to the folks at Yellow Dog for including that in their email marketing… a step they don’t have to take, but are.

The folks behind this could use a bit of a financial bump. Consider donating.

I love Belize and I’ll be clicking a few dollars their way for sure.

Awesome

10
Jul 19

A bad look for Louisiana

There’s no point to this… killing tarpon in tournaments.

Dumb.

Golden Meadow Tarpon Rodeo

26
May 19

The picture, the bonefish and you

I think I’ve been pretty upfront with some of my own bonefish handling mistakes. The first bonefish I ever caught I had out of the water maybe a minute. Same goes for all the fish caught that day. The guide told me the fish would be fine and that they were hardy fish.

That green hat, my first decent bonefish and some horrible fish handling.

That was pretty much bullshit and the science shows just how wrong that is. Bonefish can and do die frequently post-release. It isn’t the exhaustion, like might kill a trout caught in water just a tad to warm. The bonefish will usually swim away just fine and you’ll think “A perfect release.” However, that fish may very well end up in the belly of of cuda or shark within the next few minutes (sometimes seconds).

I mean, yeah, there were a couple of podcast episodes on this very thing due to a fish I had eaten post-release in Grand Bahama.

You have to minimize handing and air exposure for that fish to have a fighting chance. That means your photo taking has to change. Keep that fish in the water. If you are sitting in the boat with the fish in both your hands, that fish stands a substantially higher risk of predation (being eaten). Here are some tips from the folks at the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust on good C&R habits.

The truth of the matter is, after a couple pictures, the fish pretty much look alike. You don’t need to photograph each and every one.

Abaco Lodge and Bair’s Lodge do a great job of showing good handling. Their fish pics are of fish in the water. That’s great. Modeling good handing really helps. The clients look to the guides for how things should be done.

One place you really might be more OK with a fish out of water pic is Hawaii, where natural predators have been greatly reduced. There are simply fewer things to eat those fish post-release.

So, let’s all try to be better. I know I still have work to do, but I’m up for trying to improve.


24
Apr 19

Big bad ideas in South Abaco

Here’s a story you should check out. The Abaconian paper put out a really well done piece about the latest in a LONG parade of bad development proposals for South Abaco.

. The Abaconian paper put out a really well done piece about the latest in a LONG parade of bad development proposals for South Abaco.

Kakona appears to have similar plans to the now-maligned Valencia Group from 2007. Of course, Kakona is just the latest in a string of development companies to attempt a project in South Abaco.

In 2007 it was “Valencia.” In 2012 “The Resorts of South Abaco” came knocking. Followed in 2015 by “The Ranches of South Abaco.” Finally, in 2018, “Kakona” is making a play.


http://www.theabaconian.com/2018/12/12/proposed-south-abaco-development-latest-in-poorly-planned-projects/

It feels a bit like I heard Florida was back in the day… a haven for frauds and con artists selling dreams.

What pipe dreams look like.

09
Jan 19

We need to Bahamas to be better than the US

I’ve had it in salad. I’ve had it in fritters. I’ve had it deep fried. I’ve had it in chowder. My daughter has even had it raw.

When I think of the Bahamas, I think of conch. But… there was a time when you might think of the Keys when you thought of conch. I have a vague recollection of my dad having a conch salad when I made my first trip to Florida around… oh… 1984. But, you won’t find conch for sale in the Keys these days.

From what I gather the Keys conch fishery collapsed in the mid 70’s and all commercial and recreational harvesting of conch was banned in 1985. To this day… 33 years later, the fishery still hasn’t recovered.

The Bahamas has shown signs of stress and it keeps getting more and more pressure heaped on it as the out islands gather conch to eat locally and to send to all those tourists in Nassau and export markets.

The whole show may only have 10-15 years according to a new study.

I can’t even imagine the impact a conch collapse would have economically on Bahamians. Something has to change and in this, I hope the Bahamians can learn from the mistakes of their Western neighbors.

Cracked


20
Nov 18

Five Generations of Bones

Cool little video on the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust homepage at the moment which tells the story of bonefish spawning patterns, uncovered by science.

We’ve long suspected some of this stuff, but now we know. Populations are connected. Most bonefish DON’T travel from Andros to the Florida Keys, but their little, tiny, adorable bonefish babies don’t stay put. They travel on the currents from Andros to Cuba, around Cuba and up to the Keys. So, that monster West Side bonefish will beget that monster Keys bonefish, just in a few generations.

That means Bahamas conservation and Cuban conservation are really Florida bonefish conservation. That’s pretty key to know.

Consider joining BTT this holiday season. They do great work.

Norman tagging a bonefish for BTT


27
Aug 18

DakeCast Bahamas Pod, Part II – A dead bonefish

Here is Elliott’s second part of the Bahamas trip podcast. In this part you’ll here about conservation efforts in the Bahamas and you’ll learn a bit about the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and you’ll also come along with me as we deal with the aftermath of a dead bonefish. Yup… I killed a bonefish. I didn’t do it on purpose, but I did. We’ll explore some of the ethics around that and where I may have, momentarily, fallen down.

It is possible to have a lot of thoughts about where the line is… but sometimes… sometimes is it a little hard to see.

Bonefishing is a blood sport (the picture below isn’t from this trip even… if you fish for bonefish, this is going to happen, sooner or later). Fish will die, even when you do everything right. That’s why it’s so important to get everything right that you CAN control.

Give a listen… let me know what you think.

Thanks for the pull. Sorry it didn’t work out.

 


26
Jun 18

Florida’s Red Tide Taking a Toll

Approximately 140-pound tarpon photographed by Capt. Tommy Locke outside Cayo Costa

Things are not going well in Southwest Florida… not well at all. Below is BTT’s press release about what they are seeing.

Red Tide is Causing Unprecedented Fish Kills in SW FL

Once again, Florida’s fisheries are suffering from the legacy of long-time mismanagement of Florida’s water resources. Southwest Florida is plagued by an unprecedented red tide that is causing kills of gamefish. Reports from those on the water estimate that tens of thousands of snook are dead – all of them adults in the peak of spawning season. Breeding-size redfish, as well as tarpon, which usually seem to avoid red tide, are also being reported dead. The ongoing red tide is a sign of the ‘new normal’ in Southwest Florida because too many nutrients are entering Florida’s estuaries and coasts due to water mismanagement. Here are the facts:

  • The organism that causes red tide, Karenia brevis, has been present in southwest Florida as far back as written records go – the Spanish wrote about it.
  • Karenia brevis does not benefit directly from the extra nutrients flowing down the Caloosahatchee from polluted Lake Okeechobee, or from the extra phosphorous entering Charlotte Harbor from phosphate mining. This is because other plankton organisms are better initial competitors for those new nutrients.
  • Karenia brevis DOES benefit secondarily from the extra nutrients – once the nutrients have been used by those other plankton species, and then are cycled back into the ecosystem when those organisms die and decay, Karenia brevis goes to work. Consider this the Legacy Effect of water mismanagement.
  • The ongoing red tide is unprecedented in modern times in intensity and duration.
  • Although red tide has always been in the region, the frequency and intensity of red tide events have increased, and red tide events last longer. This is becoming a new pattern, which means events like the ongoing red tide will become more common.

The excess nutrients in Southwest Florida waters are from two sources. First, they are from the high-nutrient water from Lake Okeechobee that is discharged into the Caloosahatchee River as part of water mismanagement in South Florida (the same mismanagement that is killing the Everglades and St. Lucie River). Second, the phosphate mining industry in the Charlotte Harbor watershed produces runoff high in phosphorous, which feeds red tide and other plankton organisms.

Southwest Florida is home to Boca Grande Pass, part of Charlotte Harbor, the Tarpon Capitol of the World. Tarpon gather in Boca Grande Pass and Charlotte Harbor during May and June in association with spawning. It is likely that this red tide will negatively impact tarpon spawning.

Charlotte Harbor is also home to an amazing snook and redfish fishery. During summer months, snook spawn in passes and along beaches. This red tide is impacting spawning snook directly, which will impact the region’s snook population.

This red tide event is the new normal unless the state’s water management policies are changed. This is about the future of Florida’s $8 billion saltwater recreational fishery.

We urge readers to contact their political representatives at the local, state, and federal levels and tell them that policy change is needed immediately.


24
May 18

This is what the voice of reason sounds like

Clint Kemp from Black Fly Lodge in Abaco and the Bahamas Fly Fishing Lodge Association spoke about the regulations battle today. He didn’t have any updates or news to share, but he did have some perspective to share and I think it is worth listening to. So… here’s Clint.


01
Apr 18

Trump reveals abandonment of Puerto Rico part of Conservation Plan

The Trump Administration announced today the rational behind their abandonment of storm ravaged Puerto Rico. Surprisingly, the reasoning was focused on conservation.

Trump released the following statement:

“The Puerto Rico, I hear, is fantastic. My son, not Eric, the other one, the good one, loves to do fishing, he says to me, “Mr. Trump,” he calls me Mr. Trump,” he says to me “Do you ever wonder what it would be like to fish back in the 1800’s?” and I say to him “No,” but it gets me thinking, right, because I’m a great thinker, maybe one of the best thinkers, everyone is saying so, like on Fox they said that this morning, I think, well, if they didn’t say it, someone else did, maybe Carson, and I was thinking I can make Puerto Rico just like it was back in the old days before Russia and back when America was Great, and we are making it great again, you can be sure of that, and I thought, “No power!” Right? So, bam, big storm, not that storm, I mean the hurricane storm, comes and wipes out a bunch of infrastructure and, BAM, now it’s just like it was in the 1800’s and maybe Junior will get down there to fish for a bit and he can tell me what it was like to fish in the 1800’s. So, it is really about, ya know, the fish, #respecttheresource, and I think all these leftists and the failing Washington Post and all that, that they should say Thank You for what we do. I just think they should say Thank You and that’s what I think should happen because I don’t think there has ever been an administration that has done something like this, this forward kind of thinking about going back and the greatness and the people are going to love it.”

At last, the mystery is solved.