When looking back to this time last year, we were slightly less than optimistic about what the future held. Had we existed anywhere other than here, fishing may have taken a back seat. Instead, we’re documenting another epic year fishing Terra Ceia Bay.
The 2018 Red Tide was the longest in recorded history. Dead fish counts resulted in catch and release regulations for redfish, snook, and sea trout until fall 2020. Uncertainty clouded the brains and bellies of anglers and tourists alike as beaches came to a screeching halt, and local economies plummeted.
When devastation hits and requirements change, it can test the community that surrounds it. The anglers we’ve run into this year have demonstrated their willingness to be a part of the solution – wholeheartedly. From wade fishers to kayakers, to guys with big boats, anglers have joined forces and helped each other to preserve the sport of fishing in years to come. That’s a tribe we’re happy to be a part of.
Thankfully, our bait tribes inside the bay survived as well, and we ended up with large populations of pinfish, greenbacks, shrimp, and crabs. We ran into species we hadn’t seen so abundantly before, like the Speckled Swimmer crab, and caught more Spanish Mackerel, Shark, and predatory fish than the few previous years. To top it all off, the most desirable fish of the area (snook, redfish, and spotted sea trout) are not only still here, but they’re BIG. And we’re anxious for the time when we can fish them again.
The depletion of our most desired species and a shift of attention to otherwise ‘moderate’ or ‘poor’ edibility fish initially made the idea of fishing dull. But a little courage and curiosity turned those ‘poor’ edibility fish into delicious entrees. A couple of them left us pondering why we weren’t keeping and eating them before. To have your mind changed on Gafftop Sail Catfish, Jacke Crevalle, or Speckled Swimmer Crabs view these videos and try some new recipes!
Not only did we survive red tide, but we were able to fish throughout the changes. Since then, we’ve seen every species flourish right in front of our dock. Anglers bring home tales of snook, redfish, hard hits, steady runs, and BIG fish. Our residents and travelers consist of daily anglers, spearfishermen, kayakers, Captains, and professional fishing services.
Prior to the 2018 Red Tide, we found ourselves explaining where Terra Ceia Bay was located and why it was such a profound place to be. Just a year later, most serious anglers know precisely which body of water we’re referring to. The abundance of fish we’ve caught put Terra Ceia Bay on the charts in 2019, and we look forward to another epic year fishing Terra Ceia Bay. We hope you’ll join us in 2020, and wish you a very Happy New Year!
Janel Jungels, NT is an RV’er, avid outdoor enthusiast and freelance writer of all things food, travel, and fishing.