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Just returned from a week in ML, and IRL. People, you just don't know how lucky we are here in the Tampa Bay area. Our estuaries are so much more healthy here than north IRL, south to the NASA Causeway and most all ML. We've fished those areas for 10 years, going for weeks at a time. Now we go once a year just to see what is going on. I remember one guy who told us he has only fished one area for ten years, between Haulover Canal south almost to Black Point on the IRL side because there were so many red fish there simply wasn't a reason to fish anywhere else. There were acres and acres of turtle grass and crystal clear water. I caught my PB red of 46 inches right there at the Science Center (Boy Scout Camp) plus so many other red fish between 24 and 34 inches. Now all one sees is dead brown grass, no visibility and no red fish or trout. It turns my stomach to see such devastation. I found the same situation over by the hospital as well as the radar tower area. South of the Max Brewer Bridge south to the NASA Causeway was the same. In ML I used to catch 4-5 red fish around Whale's Tail in an hour. Go to another close spot and more red fish or trout. Paddling out I would see schools of 25 -100, just paddling out! Now, nothing, maybe a red fish or two. The whole area east of Whale's Tail and west to the main land used to be just acres of turtle grass and crystal clear water. You could paddle and see reds moving from in front of you. Now it is all brown, dead grass and nothing much moving except some mullet and a few gators. Even the mullet populations have virtually disappeared compared to 6-10 years ago. BTW, I did not see one blade of turtle grass the whole trip. And, the powers that be, as sorry as they are, want to build another RR system to further stop the water flow in the IRL, thus creating more damage. There are also people who want to build private rocket launch sites, still further ruining the area. Hey, rent out the unused launch sites already built! DUH! We are lucky here in Tampa Bay!
15 tagged red fish have been caught! But, only one CCA member who was registered in the STAR tournament was a winner, me! GMC 1500 Sierra, $45,000. 14 others must not have wanted a new 18' Hell's Bay, 23' Contender or 22' Pathfinder plus two other boats including motors and trailers because they were not registered! I take that back. One was a CCA member and registered but didn't read the rules and let the fish go! Bye bye Hell's Bay! Still not too late. Another month to go and only one winner so far. 3 have been caught off Pasco County and the last one, in Sarasota County. I know there are at least 9 more in Tampa Bay alone and another 110 all together along the west coast of Florida. There are several more divisions besides red fish; kayak, ladies, conservation, fly, snook, trout, cobia, sheephead and $100,000 in scholarships for youth division, $500,000 in all. Only 11 entries in the fly division so far and 11 in the cobia division. The winner of the snook div will win a $14,000 Bad Boy Buggie (can be seen at BPS, although they are not a sponsor) and the others in that division alone will receive 5 more prizes including a Power Pole. I think there are at least 5 Power Poles being awarded for the various divisions.
Decided to take a late day trip with a peak high tide almost coinciding with sundown since my last few trips to this spot have not been very productive during daylight hours with hot weather, weeds and algae killing the artificial bite. Worked the usual edges and mangroves a few hours before sundown and had very little to show for it other than a small snook. Removed countless weeds and algea from my weedless spoons and paddletails. Even tossed ladyfish chunks which managed to snag and entangle in the salad bowl flats. Tired of tossing lures and baits I took a break and captured the picturesque sunset. I started heading back to the launch site afterwards feeling a bit dissapointed. By now it was almost dark and the tide was outgoing fairly strongly. Put on my favorite sardine lure for a few more last casts into some mangrove edges in the hopes of saving the day with at least one keeper sized fish. My fish was granted when I cast into one of the few weedless edges on the backside of a mangrove island. Finally a good hard hit and the sound of drag with the end result being a nice 24" fatty red fish. It was a very happy ending to my day.