It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone, the older you get the faster they seem to fly by. Although the poor economy has been felt by many in southwest Florida and around the country, on the water it’s been a good year for many reasons.

First, NO hurricanes, went through the entire season without as much as a threat. Hurricane Charley dismantled our mangrove Islands over five years ago, they are slowly re-growing, but it’s going to take time. I don’t expect to see a full return in my lifetime, however every season we make it through without a major storm has to help.

Second, another year without a major red tide outbreak. It’s been a few years now since the last major red tide outbreak and the fish that were decimated are really make a comeback. It’s been awhile since the sea trout fishery has looked so good. They appear to be very plentiful and an above average number of big fish. Trout really got hit hard after the toxin move inshore a couple consecutive years as did many species.

Don’t know if it’s correlated with the red tide or not (my guess is it’s a combination of that and improved water quality), but have you ever seen as much bait as was in our water this year. I have a lifetime logged on our local waters and I cannot remember baitfish and a wide variety as plentiful as over this past year. With the increase in food supply the fish can’t help but propagate and grow bigger faster.

Mentioned water quality, our waters did not feel the negative impact from extreme fresh water purging of Lake Okeechobee. Officials are finally taking notice of the deadly impact it has on the estuaries and surrounding waters and appear to be taking action to protect our natural resources. Lee County enacted a fertilizer ban over the summer to prevent harmful run-off into the canals and waterways. My daughter completed her Science Fair project testing the new ordinance to find out if it made a difference. Her results showed just how harmful all the run-off fertilizer can be and the County is definitely on the right track (it was a real eye opener).

Let’s hope we get through another quiet and uneventful year and our fishery should continue to prosper. Let’s make a resolution to get on the water more this year and enjoy why we live here in the first place. Let’s also do something that has a positive impact on our natural resources or community. There are a lot of organizations that work hard to protect the interest of anglers and boaters, choose one and get involved. Take someone less fortunate fishing for a day, you will feel great after and no doubt will want to do it again. Let’s get involved, we can make the difference!

Thanks for another great year, thanks for reading our column and thanks to my great clients for making this such a satisfying job. Happy New Year!