Anglers Can Still Fish During Red Tide

By Jonie Maschek

Red Tide has hit St. Petersburg Beach, but it is very doubtful it will travel this far.
Red tide has been documented worldwide in cold temperature to tropical waters and is often caused by a group of organisms called dinoflagellates. This is a microscopic algae.

Scientists prefer to call red tide harmful Algal Blooms. How can it be harmful? It paralyzes fish causing them to stop breathing. Often a bloom discolors the water and often the color is red; thus “Red Tide.”

Red tide was first reported in 1844 in Florida.

It is safe to swim during red tide but it may cause skin irritation and burning eyes. Use common sense if you are susceptible to irritation, avoid swimming. Don’t swim among dead fish as they are associated with harmful bacteria. 

Some people notice respiratory irritations during red tide, like: coughing, sneezing and tearing. This is caused from the wind blowing the toxin onshore.

Anglers can still fish during red tide. There has not been any reports of human illness from eating filleted fish caught during red tide. (Just don’t pick up dead fish and try to eat them.)

Shell fish such as clams, oysters and coquinas cannot be eaten during red tide.

This condition can last for days, weeks or months. It changes direction daily due to the wind and the way it blows.

I hope this current red tide will blow away soon and not effect this area.

Anyone living in this area is living on Florida’s largest open water estuary which stretches 398 square miles at high tide. Saltwater from the sea and freshwater from the river mixes and provides nurseries for young fish, shrimp and crabs.

If boating in the Bay, glance at the shore lines. Wildlife abounds along the shores with more than 40,000 pairs of birds.

Many of the small islands are nesting colonies. The best way to observe and enjoy these beautiful birds is by being quiet and moving slowly.

From May though August, gulls, terns and skimmers are nesting. If you see a bird nesting try to stay away from it. With the growth in this area it has become a challenge to maintain the bird population.

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I have been asked, “What bait does a flounder take?” Some people use sardines, pinfish, sand fleas, live shrimp. Some anglers tell me they bounce a jig along the bottom of the water. It looks like a flounder will take any kind of bait. The problem is to wake it up to take the bait.

Redfish are often found near docks and pilings, in deep holes and channels or around grass beds and oyster bars. This gives anglers a variety of places to try and catch a redfish. Anglers can free line with a live shrimp on the bottom or try a soft bodied jig bounce slowly on the bottom or try a small gold spoon.

Many trout catches are made using live shrimp. Some free line with a popping bobber or use soft-bodied and fish like lures. Others cast as they drift using jigs or surface plugs. Whatever works for you — use it.

Large drum are being caught from the local piers.

I have seen many catches of sheepshead.

Gag grouper are still being caught.

Testing the skills of the most experienced angler is the king of the coats, the tarpon. It jumps and bursts high out of the water. Anglers need a tag on their license to hook one of these giants. Several have been caught near the Skyway Bridge this week.

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