'07 was tough for local fishing
By Sam O'Briant
special to

Originally published on December 27, 2007

It's time to reminisce about 2007.

The Tar Heel made many trips, but the sad part was that the fish population seemed to be down. I still have no explanation for that, except that I blame it on the red tide of two years ago.

Fish seem to be starting to come back in. Trout are returning and the ones that were left have spawned and their offspring are getting big. Redfish have their ups and downs.

Some people you talk to say they are more plentiful, then others claim they are fading out again. I am not positive of the exact numbers, but I bet the fishermen who claim they are on the increase have recently found a large school of reds. On the other hand, the people who claim the fish are on a decline probably have not found a school in some time. This is all a game of perception which makes it just like life itself.

The Caloosahatchee River seems to be returning to its normal condition. In the summertime we have the freshwater run-off and wintertime saltwater moves back up river.

I saw an article in the paper a couple weeks ago about dolphins being up-river and how this was strange. Historically, the dolphins used to come up-river all the time with large schools of bait fish. That is until the US Army Corps of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District started their massive water releases. That was not a strange phenomenon, it was a good omen.

Have you looked into the water lately? If so you will have seen another positive. Though not as clear as the Keys, it is getting cleaner and clearer. Yes, you can even see the bottom now. Hopefully, we still have a few sea grass sprigs about that have seeds. Then maybe the sea grass beds up-river will return. If this happens the crabs and bait will move back in and all will be well with the local world.

Yes, fishing has been tough this past year but maybe the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight. Who knows? We can only hope for a brighter year to come.

Now that I am speaking of the year to come, do not forget that trout season opens on Jan. 1. There have been plenty of trout about. Along with trout, those striped convicts should be moving in with the cooler weather. Yes, it is sheepshead time again.

My hat goes off to those who took the time and effort to decorate their boats for the Cape Coral boat parade. I watched it from a different site this year. Usually we sit out in the river and watch but this year I took the boat over to my daughter's house. Then we loaded the crew and went to the mouth of her canal (about three houses down). The parade came right by and we were up close and personal. It was really neat. If you have never experienced it, make plans to go next year. The boats are awesome.

Better yet, decorate your boat and be in it. I am too lazy but I think it would be fun.

Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve and 2008. Take care and get those kids out on the water. They are not with you all that long. Remember, your kids home from college would also like to have some time alone with you (they just do not realize it yet). Take them out fishing. It is well worth it in the end.

Wave when you see the Tar Heel go by and Happy New Year.

Captain Sam O'Briant is a local licensed captain and can help with all your boating needs. He can be reached at 549-4689,, or