Satellite view of the Lower Florida Keys
It has been 2 weeks since my last report. I have been stalling and waiting for some good news. You may or may not know that Florida was bludgeoned with a major cold front early this month. Cold fronts this time of year are common.. Instead of the normal front which drives the bone fish , tarpon and permit off the flats until it warms up in a couple of days... This one lingered, then got colder...record colds. Water temperature here in the keys dropped to 49 degrees one day.. That is cold for here.. Fortunately the vast majority of our flats have easy access to deep water. The bone fish, tarpon and permit go to deeper and warmer water when the flats go below 70 degrees.. Leaving us sharks, cudas, red fish, snapper, sea trout and lady fish to normally target on our cold water days.. This January it got so cold for so long, all the fish left the flats for days.... EVERY THING!
Reports of snapper fishing being off the charts on the patch reefs just off shore..
The fish that did not leave and remained in the basins died.. Mostly small snapper, grunts, angel fish, parrot fish, small cuda, etc.. It was a great month to be a pelican, frigate, or an osprey..
Unfortunately places like Tampa, Flamingo, Florida Bay, White Water Bay did not get off as easy. It was even colder there with not as much easy access to deeper water. The snook population has taken a big hit.. FWC has placed a temporary ban on the harvesting of snook, along with tarpon and bonefish. Nature hates a vacuum and hopefully the snook population will rebound rapidly. Fortunately the redfish are very resilient to the cold..
The good news... weather has warmed back into the high 70's. Water temperatures in the high 60's to mid 70's and the fish are coming back!
Permit have returned to the flats in good numbers along with the tarpon.
Spanish mackerel, sea trout and lady fish returned to the gulf side basins this weekend as well.