The new year is upon us. It’s a time for gazing backward and forward, thinking about both the past that has already been written and the future which holds infinite possibility.
Of course, possibility also means uncertainty — something our species does not like. To deal with it, we often make predictions about what is going to happen. Some predictions are based on logic, but most are pure fantasy. The vast majority fail to materialize. It’s folly to presume that anyone can accurately foretell events.
But that’s not going to stop me from trying. I consulted no tea leaves or neck bones in putting these predictions together, so I have no basis except my gut. Forthwith, what I see for 2021:
First, the red tide bloom we are currently seeing along the Southwest Florida Coast will last through the first weeks of January and then peter out as a chilly winter settles in. it will be a minor event overall.
Snook, redfish and trout
The FWC will reopen snook season as scheduled on Sept. 1 with no changes. However, trout and redfish will get new regulations — specifically, closed seasons of at least two months each. Sometime this year, FWC will also announce a regular redfish (and maybe snook) hatchery program, which will operate as a public-private partnership with Duke Energy and/or Mote Marine.
Following the Great Red Snapper Count of 2020, in which it was discovered that the population of these fish in the Gulf of Mexico is double (and maybe triple) what was previously estimated, Florida’s red snapper quota will be raised. State regulators will respond by permitting a longer season (possibly even year-round) in peninsular Florida, which accounts for a much smaller proportion of the harvest than Panhandle counties.
Chronic wasting disease
Despite recent hunting rules changes, we’ll see the first cases of CWD reported in Florida this year. Very likely it’s already here but just has been caught yet. This disease is a major problem for wild deer, and I really hope I’m wrong about this prediction.
The boating industry
After a gangbusters year which saw dealers run inventories down to bare bones, 2021 sales will be slower. By mid-year, we’ll be seeing coronavirus restrictions lifting all over the world, allowing people to indulge in other forms of recreation. Manufacturers and dealers need the breather anyway. However, with accessories and parts becoming gradually more available, marine service providers are going to have a very busy year.
Following record low prices and only minor red tide kills during the 2020 roe season, the number of finger mullet in the Harbor will soar due to a very successful spawn. There may even be schools large and dense enough to be worth trying to castnet for bait. Remember that the bag limit for mullet is 50 per harvester, regardless of the size of the fish.
With cold fronts lasting into late April or early May, the 2021 tarpon season will get a late start. However, with travel restrictions lifting, it’s going to be a year to remember for local fishing guides. Many anglers had to postpone trips last year, and many more will be looking for positive travel experiences after months of staying close to home. Charter captains are advised to be well-rested by the time the weather warms, because there’ll be no time to rest once the silver kings show up.
OK, regroup here in 365 days and grade my prognostications. I’ll be very interested to see how I did (and somebody remind if I forget).
Contact Capt. Josh Olive at 941-276-9657 or Publisher@WaterLineWeekly.com.