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Is fishing better or worse for you over the last 5 years?

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Is fishing better or worse for you over the last 5 years?

Old 10-13-2019, 04:36 PM
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Default Is fishing better or worse for you over the last 5 years?

I live in The Keys and it seems I am on a constant decline in my catch. It just seems either I am losing my touch or the fish don't cooperate like they used to.
Now, I realize that regulations have become stricter and more people are out on the water but have the fished declined THAT much?
As an example...it seems that Yellowtail are getting harder and harder to catch your limit. The fish are big but they don't school up behind the boat like they used to. Grouper are getting more scarce too. I guess I will either have to start dumping 500lbs of chum every day like the commercial guys do just to catch 10 Snapper or change up and start fishing deeper and deeper. I don't know.....I guess I am getting frustrated and wonder if all of the expense is even worth it anymore...
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Old 10-13-2019, 04:37 PM
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Worse, definitely worse
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Old 10-13-2019, 04:41 PM
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It is getting harder but let's be honest it's not the actual catching of fish that is the best part of fishing, it's the being out there part that makes it worth it.

It's far cheaper to go to Publix and buy fish no matter how you look at it.

Today, my son (14) and I put the boat in the water (24-foot bay) and ran out 20 miles, drifted a while listening to music and then came back in, it was a great trip.
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Old 10-13-2019, 05:18 PM
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No matter where you fish--if you find you have to fish harder AND smarter, for even the same amount of fish, the fishery is unsustainable. Now, that may seem like a "treehugger" word, but it is a good, hard description. It means you can't carry on as you are. If you are fishing both harder and smarter , and catching less and less, over a long period, you are really on a downhill run. And deeply unpopular measures will need to be taken if a viable fishery is to survive. Get down to a certain breeding stock mass in a given area, and it gets beyond recovery. It's just a matter of when, and how hard. I've been through all this--the howling that goes up can be quite comical--" it's not my fault, why should I suffer" --we all contribute, every person that kills a fish, either through take, or poor catch and release practice, is a contributor. It's often the very same people who used to regularly brag about filling a 500lb icebox on a good day, who now complain that things ain't what they used to be. And cannot see the connection. Blame the pros, who have doubtless contributed, but are likely not the whole problem. The ocean is not a bottomless pit of fish, and there are a hell of a lot of us chasing them, with better and better technology.
In general, minimum legal sizes need to be raised--the old idea of let them spawn once before we get to kill them is just not enough. Over here in WA, Australia, we had some deeply unpopular measures introduced, including large lifts on legal size for some popular species, over 20 years ago. Guess what--it only took about 2 years, and the average size of the fish had lifted, and you were keeping at least as many as you did with the old, smaller legal size. But they were bigger fish. We are pretty heavily restricted on bag limits for prize fish, and there is the usual moaning about how it will make everyone just throw away a smaller legal fish if you catch a larger one of the same species and you are bagged out. Sure there are doubtless **sholes who will do it, but not a widespread practice. The professionals who chase these same species for market are limited by quota , not on catch weight, but on fishing days per year. Generally speaking, our fisheries have levelled.
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Old 10-13-2019, 05:23 PM
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I think it’s important for people to just keep what they plan to eat. You don’t have to keep the limit. Today with the kids we tossed back a bunch of 11” mangos. The kids learned that if you thank them and toss them back, they’ll be bigger next time.
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Old 10-13-2019, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Lacoochee View Post
It is getting harder but let's be honest it's not the actual catching of fish that is the best part of fishing, it's the being out there part that makes it worth it.

It's far cheaper to go to Publix and buy fish no matter how you look at it.

Today, my son (14) and I put the boat in the water (24-foot bay) and ran out 20 miles, drifted a while listening to music and then came back in, it was a great trip.
No....I get it. I have fished my entire life and understand the enjoyment one receives just to be out on the water. But let's be honest, most of the enjoyment is the the anticipation of catching a nice haul, a big fish or at least coming back with a few dinners for you and the crew. But now....it just seems that you almost have to expect to not come back with much on top of spending a wad. And let's be honest.....that's not much fun and it takes a toll on the body as you get older. I dunno...It just seems that fishing has declined to the point where many may be better served buying a freaking party skiff and just cruising around if you simply want time on the water.

I guess I am simply discouraged, I went out two days ago and for the fourth trip in a row....it sucked. No Grouper, a few Yellowtail and a sh!tload of sandsharks. Plus...the Lobster season was a dud and summer dolphin was pretty lousy also (I heard this...I didn't chase them this year). And while I am no super fisherman by any means, I have spent over 20 years on these waters, 10 of them running Charter Boats and working a commercial boat. So...I no a little about fishing this area.

I'm at the point where I would almost agree to NOAA shutting down the entire fishery for the next five years so everything can reset and then manage it properly. Just look at the drastic action NOAA is planning for the Upper Keys. They are getting ready to make the entire Key Largo a "no anchor" zone. At first I was against it but hell....if they shut down all commercial lobstering and fishing as well, I would sacrifice my part.
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Old 10-13-2019, 07:03 PM
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I’m catching more than I did 5 years ago.

I had to adapt. Fish smarter. Pay attention to the details.

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Old 10-13-2019, 07:27 PM
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I think it’s worse.
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Old 10-13-2019, 07:39 PM
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Salt water is worse , rarely see a doormat flounder anymore at CBBT , stripers aren't in great shape even a big croaker is a oddity , thankfully specks have seem to be headed in a good direction this fall . Freshwater is about the same , doesn't seem to be as threatened here in Virginia . No gill nets .....yet
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Old 10-13-2019, 07:39 PM
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Pretty steady for me the last 5 years for most species. Maybe a bit of an improvement in the gag grouper fishing after a few slim years
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Old 10-13-2019, 07:48 PM
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depends on the day, week, month
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Old 10-14-2019, 03:07 AM
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I think it's cyclical this is a better year than last year.
2018 a direct hit from Hurricane Florence, long recovery time with a month of rain before.
Massive Striper fish kills in the Cape Fear River didn't help either.

2019 another Hurricane Dorian did less damage with a quick restart to fishing.
Also better & earlier catch of quality fish this year.

Here in NC commercial netting allowed - it's got a chokehold on our fisheries.
We had an increase in Charter guides all fishing the same waters as us recs.

Getting tougher but still very fisherable. IMHO ......ICM
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Old 10-14-2019, 03:24 AM
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For me, some of it is better and some is worse. The tarpon fishing has improved for me as I've gotten better at it. The inshore snapper bite has remained pretty consistent. Snook fishing has always been hit or miss. I used to catch more slot size fish, but I also used to target slot sized fish more. Now I fish lights at night which has always been more of a juvenile snook thing. Overall it has improved, but snook is probably the best managed fishery in florida with specific seasons, slot limits and a one fish per day max. Culling your catch with snook doesn't even make sense with the narrow slot.

The scary thing is that species like barracuda and jacks have gone downhill noticeably. I think a commercial market is emerging for them which is super bad news for aggressive fish like them. I love chasing jacks with a fly rod and would hate to see them disappear.

Sheepshead seem to be blissfully immune to commercial and overfishing methods. They are skittish to begin with and you have to really target them specifically to catch them. Even then they can drive you nuts.
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Old 10-14-2019, 03:52 AM
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I wish I had a time machine bus to take people back to the keys 30 years ago so they could truly see how good it really was and how bad we screwed it up. Fishing is not a fraction of what it was in quantity or quality.
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Old 10-14-2019, 04:05 AM
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Not only is fishing in SWFL getting worse it's getting worse year by year. Between water quality issues and overfishing we now find that we are running further and further and catching less and less.
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Old 10-14-2019, 04:17 AM
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It's a combination of factors and depends on the species but in some cases over the last decade things have changed drastically. I agree with above that poor fisheries management along with poor release techniques is not helping.

The biggest myth among fisherman is that just because you see a fish give a good kick and swim away that it survives. There are mountains of research data proving this is not true and fish need to be resuscitated fully and this isn't even talking about fish over 100+ feet deep that also have to deal with barotrauma.

We are ALL responsible - period.

If you want to do your part learn how to properly resuscitate a fish and make it common practice on your boat. Pass these techniques onto kids and other fishermen.
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Old 10-14-2019, 05:18 AM
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Too many people and too many poachers.

I have lived and fished the waters of west central Florida all my life and fishing is a fraction of what it once was.

Last Friday I ran an inshore charter to find out there were 3 events going on. The Raymond James corporate event, The YMCA event and another corporate fishing event. All in the Area between Tarpon Springs and Clearwater. I ran nearly 20 miles up the coast to find one piece of shoreline without a charter boat sitting on it. Made some phone calls when I got home and it tallied that there were 62 guided trips that day. The following day there were 42 boats in the Dorado boats owners tournament in the same area. This doesn't include all the recreational boats that were also fishing. I very seldom run any inshore charters on weekends but the amount of boat traffic and fishing pressure even during the week has gotten unbelievable.
Sunday they put 30 boats in the water at my marina that were all headed out for ARS. There are 6 other marinas on the Anclote river that are larger than the one I'm in and it was a solid stream of big CC headed west all morning. Not hard to do the math to figure out what is happening.
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Old 10-14-2019, 06:00 AM
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The last 5 years I didn’t fish much but usually do pretty well and have always had to fish hard and spend hours on the water to actually catch a good haul. I consider good being half the limit or a nice mixed bag. I have always said if they shut down the reef fishing for two years it would be a huge improvement in our fisheries. Another issue is illegal fishing. That includes undersized fish, keeping fish out of season and keeping over the limit. I believe it happens a lot more than we think. In both the Recreational and commercial sector.
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Old 10-14-2019, 06:23 AM
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The amount of fish we are catching is getting worse no doubt. More pressure = less fish. But Is it worth it...hell yeah!

These are great questions as I think it is our job as sport fisherman to recognize the fact that doing whatever little we can to keep the fisheries sustainable is very important. Only kill what you eat, release the rest, and treat the ocean well so it will be in good shape for future generations.
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Old 10-14-2019, 06:23 AM
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Maybe the Keys have disproportionally been negatively affected? I dunno....for the life of me I don't understand why any tourist would want to target the Keys as a Fishing vacation anymore. There has to be MUCH better areas arounfd the world because we have totally been ruined. On top of that, the diving also sucks. The entire reef has died. No living coral anywhere anymore except for a little re-planted patch near Looe Key.
I agree that we simply have too many people on the water nowadays. Our economy is currently "suffering" from it's longest period without a downturn. Everyone travels, has boats and wants to spend, spend, spend. And yes...I'm not a hypocrite....that includes me. As I said I would be for shutting down all fishing and diving on our reef for five years to let it "reset".
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