Persistence. Diligence. Perseverance. Vigilance. These are characteristics that flats anglers must possess if they are to learn the ways of the flats, the habits and habitats of bonefish, tarpon and permit. Aside from occasional good luck, these characteristics are a necessity when it comes to catching these rock stars of the flats. It is these same characteristics, applied in a different arena, that are essential to ensuring that we have healthy flats fisheries for the future. It will take the same persistence, diligence, perseverance, and vigilance in the trenches of conservation to protect and improve the fisheries.
We're happy to report that thanks to the foresight of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and FWC staff, the persistence has paid off: effective September 1, bonefish and tarpon are catch and release in Florida; effective November 1, the Boca Grande Jig, the use of which has disrupted the pre-spawning aggregations of tarpon in Boca Grande Pass, will no longer be allowed. Both of these new regulations improve the outlook for the flats fishery.
Despite these successes, we must remain vigilant: guides and anglers in the Lower Florida Keys are now battling a referendum in Key West that would open the doors to deepen and widen the ship channel to allow larger cruise ships. Given the importance of this area for the annual tarpon migration that is the centerpiece for the fishery, the consequences of such an occurrence are dire. Once again, angler involvement is essential.
A person who had all of these characteristics, on the flats and as their champion, was George Hommell Jr. Sadly, George passed away recently, so the flats fishery lost a champion and one of its pioneers. But his legacy will live on as the rest of us continue to carry the banner for healthy flats fishing.
Aaron Adams, Ph.D.
For more info, visit: http://blog.bonefishtarpontrust.org