Do you ever have trouble sleeping because you can’t shut your brain off? Yeah, me neither. But I do sometimes give the old neurons a spin while I’m sitting a red light. Results follow.
There are all sorts of different theories about preparing for hurricanes. Some people have a plan that consists of simply hightailing it away from the storm. Load up a carload of important papers and irreplaceable mementos and head in a direction that’s likely to avoid impacts of the storm, then sort it out with the insurance company after it’s over.
Other people thumb their noses at named storms and don’t do a thing to get ready, other than making sure there is enough booze on hand for a big hurricane party. After all, those storms usually go someplace else — right?
But most of us make some attempt to protect our property when a storm is approaching. We secure or remove loose outdoor stuff, board up windows, fuel the vehicles and make sure we have our storm kit ready. It just makes good sense to be ready if you ask me.
Those of us with boats take steps to protect those boats. For those who own multiple boats, this can be a major task. It takes my staff at least two long, hard days to go into full “batten down the hatches” mode with our boats.
And this must be completed before the leading edge of the wind and rains arrive, which can be a day or two prior to the arrival of the storm’s center depending on the size of the storm and how fast it’s moving. This means that we might need to be starting our storm prep four or five days ahead of the storm.
Since storm tracks four or five days in advance can change — a lot — this means that we might start to prep for a storm, then stop if the track changes while we’re working. This is exactly what happened with Dorian. We ended up sitting out some pretty nice days with the boats bundled up in storm mode.
But, the alternative is to not do the storm prep in time and risk losing the boats. It’s a point that I had a difficult time explaining to a few tourists who were upset that we weren’t running trips on the sunny days they were in town.
Speaking of tourists, is it me or has the traffic around town been noticeably heavy in recent weeks? September is usually the quietest month of the year. The month when you can dart across 41 anywhere, with no need to go out of your way to cross at intersections with stoplights. The month where a quick trip to Home Depot or Walmart or Publix can really be a quick trip.
But not so much this year. I see a lot of commercial vehicles on local roads, vehicles which are probably related to the boom in residential construction. New houses are popping up everywhere you look. But the traffic seems to be more than contractor trucks, as there are a lot of private vehicles on the road too. While there are a few out-of-state license plates showing up, most of the vehicles I see are sporting Florida tags. Where did they all come from?
How has your fishing been? I’ve noticed a couple of things recently. First, I am starting to hear more and more grumbling about the closures on snook, redfish and trout, as the fishing for all three species seems to be perking up (at least in some portions of Southwest Florida’s estuaries). The extended closures do seem to be improving the fishing. We’d expect to see trout respond the most quickly, since trout reach maturity relatively young and they have a protracted spawning season. It is possible that the trout stock could replenish substantially with only a year of closure.
It would seem less likely for snook and redfish stocks to benefit from a short closure because those species have a longer generation time. But the reduced pressure on them, especially on redfish, is probably allowing them to show up in areas where they have been hounded in past years. It will be interesting to see what the FWC does when it re-evaluates the closures after the first of the year.
The other thing I’ve noticed is that I’m hearing more sheepshead reports than I can recall for September. Sheepshead are available year-round, but most anglers don’t target them until approximately Thanksgiving because that’s about when they just start schooling up for their winter spawn. But this year, I think anglers who want fillets in the frying pan are paying more “off-season” attention to sheepshead due to the closures on snook, redfish and trout.
Let’s go fishing!
Capt. Ralph Allen runs the King Fisher Fleet of sightseeing and fishing charter boats located at Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda. He is an award-winning outdoor writer and photographer, and is a past president of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association. Contact him at 941-639-2628 or Captain@KingFisherFleet.com.