yellowtail snapper

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Yellowtail snapper in clear water are very picky fish and will avoid visible leader lines.

I was pleased to be able to make the annual Key West trip with my brothers this year. My youngest brother gets a deal and it allows the three of us a week together in the Keys. It was wonderful to share time with my brothers away from home and work. With life’s busy schedules, it can be challenging to make time for family — but I try hard to do that. This is our quality time, and we get to fish too.

We enjoyed one day of yellowtail fishing along the reefs. Conditions looked beautiful, with calm clear waters and skies. We managed to catch a mess of ‘tails, but it was slower than usual. The fish were just teasing us and not hungry. We anchored up and chummed heavily, using good baits. They never came up top to show off and feed aggressively. It was still fun and we ate well. We’ve been spoiled by hot bites on previous trips and needed this balance to remind us it’s not always easy.

Since it was calm and our captain had a good mahi report from the previous day, we ventured out to blue water on our next trip. Local information is vital to successful fishing. We stopped at several weedlines and trolled up smaller fish. Mahi are so colorful and exciting to chase. The school will charge after your hooked fish and rally around your boat. The trick is to leave a hooked fish in the water to hold the school close by. Tossing out some chunks of fresh fish food will help too.

We were mesmerized by all the beautiful, vivid colors of these fish. The brilliance of their metallic golds, yellows, blues and greens is unique and can’t really be understood unless experienced in person. The words don’t really exist to describe their beauty.

The other highlight of my trip was the tarpon. When you’re cleaning fish most places down there, the tarpon gang up for the scraps. It’s awesome how many fish of all sizes gather to compete for fish scraps. You get to observe exactly they inhale food and how they rotate as they swallow. It’s amazing how well they see objects in the air flying towards them. Their competition for airborne food is stimulating and gets my juices flowing. Their energy and grace create lasting memories. It makes cleaning fish fun.

Climate change is nothing new. The climate is constantly changing. Our planet has gone through ice ages and hot periods, not to mention dramatic disruptions from volcanoes and meteorites.

The question now: What are we doing to affect it? I’m certain that all the blacktop roads and parking lots heat our temps up. Just consider how many miles of dark heat-absorbing pavement we have created, and how much green we destroyed to do so. We might want to consider mitigating our impacts here. Plants reflect heat and create oxygen. Pavement destroys natural habitats and absorbs heat.

I see changes locally in our summer rain patterns. We used to have evening showers about the same times every day. The exact time varied by location, but consistency prevailed. I’ve observed since they expanded I-75, the sea breezes frequently converge and stall on top of the roadway. Between the rising heat and exhaust fumes, a barrier is formed, blocking air movements. Just watch the radar in normal summer patterns and I bet you’ll see what I’m seeing. This is just one example of our effects on nature.

How much effect is our paving paradise changing the natural order? I’m guessing some scientist can figure out a formula to show the temperature differences between a square foot of green vegetation and a square foot of paved surface. It would be interesting to acknowledge the damage our development is doing to our environment.

Capt. Van Hubbard is a highly respected outdoor writer and fishing guide. He has been a professional USCG-licensed year-round guide since 1976, and has been fishing the Southwest Florida coast since 1981. Contact him at 941-468-4017 or VanHubbard@CaptVan.com. Remember that you can’t catch fish if you don’t go fishin’, so let’s go fishin’ soon.

Capt. Van Hubbard is a highly respected outdoor writer and fishing guide. He has been a professional USCG-licensed year-round guide since 1976, and has been fishing the Southwest Florida coast since 1981. Contact him at 941-468-4017 or VanHubbard@CaptVan.com.

Remember that you can’t catch fish if you don’t go fishin’, so let’s go fishin’ soon.

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