During my professional career as a land use and environmental attorney, I worked with local governments, conservationists, and biologists across the United States to protect wildlife habitat. There were wins, there were setbacks, but I was always optimistic that we were making progress. In retirement I have kept my finger on the pulse of things in the field while turning to a second career writing for outdoor magazines and conducting more personal on-stream piscatorial research (AKA fly fishing). Now the two are intersecting in an unexpected and troubling way. Entomologists are sounding the alarm about the cataclysmic decline in insects around the world, calling it the Insect Armageddon. As pollinators, food providers, pest controllers, decomposers, and soil engineers bugs are a key part of the very foundation for all life on the planet. That means, of course, for the fish we love to pursue. Already we are starting to see the decline of aquatic insects that could have a devastating impact on fishing—witness the 50% drop in mayflies in the upper Midwest just since 2012.
What can we do about it? For some ways each of us can answer the call to action click on the Powerpoint presentation below that I will presenting at a national land use and environmental conference later this month. The future of our sport may depend on it!!
One of the least-visited, but most productive kayak fishing routes in the region is just a stone’s throw from Port of the Island and the Tamiami Trail–but deep in the heart of the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge. I’ve never encountered another angler on this trip, even though I rate it as having the best potential for a big snook or red of any I have sampled hereabouts. It begins inauspiciously in a little road-side lagoon off the Tamiami Trail on what’s marked as Canoe Route #4 by the Ten Thousand Island National Wildlife Refuge folk, then follows a narrow, shallow little creek snaking its way south through a tight corridor of sawgrass into a pristine, hidden wilderness.
In stark contrast to the Port of the Islands and its sister Golden Gates Estates developments to the east, poster children for environmentally rapacious Florida-style real estate projects of the 1970s, this route wanders through a beautiful untouched haven for egrets, spoonbills, ducks, and my favorite Florida bird, the graceful swallow-tailed kite. The channels it follows and shallow ponds it flows through are loaded with mullet and other bait fish, attracting snook and reds that grow fat on the bounty. Tarpon, bass, cichlids, jacks, and snapper also are on the menu for anglers who probe the water carefully.