Thursday, October 06, 2005

Key West Flats Fishing and Hurricanes

Recovering from the close calls of hurricane season with Dennis, Katrina and Rita

all passing within 50 miles of the lower Florida Keys the environment is the least impacted.

With all the energy that humans use to protect themselves and their property when living in
an area that can be frequented by these swirling monsters, when it comes down to it, the flats,
mangrove islands and fish are hardly effected at all.

In fact hurricanes are a cleansing of the estuaries, removing silt and decaying vegetation in much the same way a forest fire removes undergrowth from the florest floor and improves
the soil for new sprouts.

Right after Hurricane George a few years ago, I took a ride in my skiff from Snipe Keys to the Marquesas and found the mangrove islands looking like they were all victims of forest fire.

The wind burn had turned them from lush green mangrove floating forests to brown dead,
and upsetting at first look but, what really happens?

The hurricane had infact removed the dead wood and in a few weeks after new leaves started
to appear, the Keys were the better for it.

The Tarpon, Sharks , Bonefish and Permit were back in the shallows within hours and a few days later found their inshore haunts had been swept clean.

Years ago in conversations with the old Conch fisherman, frequently someone would suggest that we needed a good storm to "clean the bottom" to improve the fishing.

Yesterday I found four schools of babies, 20-40 lb Tarpon happy for minnow fly's in the backcountry.

The old Conchs were right, but tell that to the man whose Mango tree was replanted by Katrina in his kitchen!