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.
I agree Frank. As soon as fishing hits t.v. , everyone runs to kamart to buy a rod and the next day, the streams are crowded. I have a favorite river spot near my house, and a week after the bassmasters was held in the three rivers specificly Pittsburgh area, my spot was crowded with these loud annoying folk. I left and came back the next day and to my misery, the rocky shore was covered in broken beer bottels, and trash.
I detest almost all kinds of fishing tournaments.
It brings out of worst in people instead of the best.
I can remember fishing an area by canoe when they had a bass tournament and some idiot in a red bass boat with "GAMBLER PRO STAFFER" straffed me with spray at full speed 7 times that day running back and forth in his money lust madness. He came within 20 feet of me at full speed.
later that day I ran into another guy I had fished with and had considered him a friend. He was also a BASS member and made the comment "It's your fault, he had a tournament and since we make our living at it, they ought to ban everone else from the lake during our tournaments"
On Charlotte Harbour in Florida, it's not safe to be out on the water when there's a redfish tournament. The guys will ride right over the hole you're fishing and the guys with the tower boats are the worst.
Now, we all know ( or should know) that in salt water, if you find fish in one spot they will be there the next day about an hour later to time with the tides.
So, what do the SOME of the local guides do (and remember, I said SOME, not ALL, so if someone out there is not guilty of this, he will not take offense, if he is guilty, he will be indignant ) They buzz around the flats and over the holes to see where schools of redfish are and bust them out of the hole and back to deep water, figuring that an hour later the next day or two hours later two days later there will be fish there.
The result? The fish become much more skitterish and when they are busted right off the flats it interupts their feeding. Less feeding, smaller fish.
These guys will come with 20 feet of you when you've staked out your boat and stalked in on a hole. I've been wading when they throw their wake over your wader tops.
This is the mentality that some of the tournaments encourage. or at least they don't discourage it.
Now, our old Punta Gorda Fly Fishing club had a more relaxed type of tournament. The idea was to go out and fish with another guy and have a scoreboard. You got one point for each species of fish you caught on a fly and another point if you had the largest of that species caught that day.
That's how simple a great fly fishing tournament can be. You don't have to be an ass to win!
Don't let me ramble too much or I'll start talking about another way to play football or my plan for full body contact animal golf.
Same thing happened to deer and duck hunting. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry shows up on public hunting land with a beard, face paint, decoys, calls, and screw it up for the people who used to hunt it without being on top of one another. And that same supply/demand drives up the price of hunting land either for sale or lease.