11-19-2007, 10:11 PM
TV has turned redfish into star
Rob Modys said television has turned 'redfish into a commodity like bass.'
One of the favorite topics of debate among southwest Florida anglers and guides these days is the effect of televised redfish tournaments on the fishery.
[img2="left"]http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/photos/files/4-clipRicRedfish_thumb.jpg[/img2] Some say having three professional redfish tournament circuits, plus numerous small-scale contests at least six months of the year, has spooked the fish, torn up seagrass beds and crowded out local recreational anglers and guides.
But captain Rob Modys of Fort Myers said televising Florida's lower Gulf Coast redfishery has had some unexpected benefits.
"What got the redfish craze going was television trying to turn redfish into a commodity like bass,'' Modys said.
With a chuckle, he added, "Thank God it didn't happen to snook!''
Looking on the bright side, Modys said redfish tournament television shows have popularized catch-and-release to the masses watching from around the United States. It also has lured these potential charter customers away from ''chunking dead bait at the mangroves'' and steered them toward the use of artificials.
''Artificials became popular from a guide standpoint,'' Modys said. "I'd like to see more artificial [lure] tournaments.''
Modys loves escorting customers to locales such as Matlacha Pass and San Carlos Bay to hunt for redfish, with fly and spin tackle along mangrove shorelines, in creeks, shallow oyster bars and mud flats.
''It's hunting, but you get to let the prey go,'' he pointed out.
Redfishing this year has been nothing short of spectacular, the guide said, because of a variety of natural factors.
''We're going through something we haven't seen in years,'' he said. "Lack of rain; we haven't had algae [blooms]; we haven't had red tide, nor an abundance of freshwater dumping from Lake Okeechobee. We're running around here sight-fishing. You couldn't even think about doing that last summer.''
Sight-fishing conditions were ideal on a recent weekday outing -- maybe a little too ideal. Medium-to-large-sized reds could be seen cruising a mud trough along a mangrove shoreline in Matlacha Pass. But most fled in terror when Modys and a friend cast five-inch Exude golden-brim jerkbaits in front of their noses.
''Redfish are considered slow and dumb, but that has not been true today,'' Modys said.
It seemed that if he and his companion could see the fish, then the fish could see them -- and showed no interest whatsoever in playing catch-and-release. The only two reds released in a morning of fishing were caught blind-casting.
Perhaps the onslaught of redfish tournaments has had another unintended effect: making an otherwise dumb fish a whole lot smarter.
IF YOU GO
To book a light-tackle charter with captain Rob Modys, call 239-851-1242 or visit www.soulmate charters.com.
BY SUSAN COCKING
SUSAN COCKING / MIAMI HERALD STAFF
Article Courtesy of the Miami Herald at MiamiHerald.com - Miami & Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Dolphins & More