Lots of Media hype - But, there's plenty of good fishing to be had. (See my 02-15-16 Fishing Report)
Brown water along Florida’s Lee County coastline is being caused by freshwater released from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River. Such releases have taken place for years during the rainy season but they rarely happen this time of year. The releases are due to recent record rainfall and are necessary to keep homes, businesses and agriculture around the lake from being flooded and destroyed. Currently there is 4 billion gallons of water a day draining from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River. There’s also 2 billion gallons per day going into the St. Lucie River which flows to Florida’s east coast. The releases will continue for several weeks - until the lake level drops 4 feet. This must be done so the lake can hold rains that will come in June, July and August.
Is the water in and around Pine, Sanibel and Captiva Islands safe? Yes, it’s not polluted nor is it toxic, just brown. It’s much like what takes place on the Kennebec River in Maine after every big rainfall.
WINK News CBS affiliate Ft. Myers photo
Do these releases hurt fish and the ecosystem? Temporary releases like these do not cause long term damage.
Is the fishing productive in the brown water? No. Just like the Kennebec, the reduced salinity and lack of clarity makes for tuff fishing.
Will the good fishing return? Absolutely, soon after the water clears and the salinity increases the bait and the sport fish will return.
A bit of perspective:
This chart shows Charlotte Harbor. It’s the 2nd largest estuary in Florida encompassing 270 square miles. The oval shows the area that I fish. The shaded area is where the brown water is. There’s miles and miles clean and productive water to fish. Gasparilla Sound, Turtle and Bull Bays, Cape Haze and the West Wall all have great fishing for redfish, seatrout, jacks and snook. With over 12 launching ramps on the Harbor it’s easy to get to the fish.
In a few weeks the discharges will be reduced. Pine Island Sound and its barrier Islands will once again provide great fishing. But for now, know that there’s lots of great fishing to experience on Charlotte Harbor and lots of great swimming and sunbathing too.
Let’s go fishing!