Author: Trouts Staff
Recently I had a humbling experience on a to Cheesman Canyon, one that will forever change the way I prepare for a long winter day of fishing. It was mid week in January, and I was in need of a good day on the water. Feeling that a long walk, and some great scenery would do me well, I headed out to the upper stretches of Cheesman Canyon. Normally I would always walk in from the bottom lot, seeing as the hike in is much more manageable (especially since they rebuilt the upper trail). But that day seemed like a good day to get out and hike and clear my head. The weather that day was supposed to be mild and sunny, with a high around 45 degrees; all in all a perfect day to spend fishing my favorite stretch of river.
The morning started out slow, with only a couple fish to hand. My game plan was to start at the very top of the canyon and fish my way down stream. By about noon, I had reached Schoonover Gulch, about 1/4 mile from the top. I was eying a nice looking pool, but I knew there was no way to fish it productively from the side of the river I was on. Determined to find some feeding fish, I searched for a good spot to cross. After spotting a shallow looking section, I made my way down the steep canyon slope and proceeded to cross. The flows in the canyon that day were around 200 cfs, so I wasn’t concerned that wading across the river would prove to be daunting or treacherous.
This came off the website for of the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust regarding the recent fish kill in Florida that resulted from the extreme cold in early January.
“The severe cold that gripped Florida in early January resulted in high levels of fish mortality. Snook appear to have been hardest hit, but bonefish and tarpon were killed as well. In response, on January 15, 2010, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission closed harvest on these three species. Catch and Release fishing is still allowed. And there is a silver lining in this cloud.
The cold weather in Florida has caused mortalities of numerous coastal gamefishes. The night temperature reached down to freezing along coastal areas in the central and southern part of the state three or four nights in a row. Reports of dead bonefish came from in the Upper Keys and scattered reports of small tarpon statewide. The FWC has closed these fisheries to harvest even though few tarpon are kept, and the limit on bonefish is only one per person per day (yes, some are still harvested in South Florida). Catch and release fishing for these species is still allowed. The FWC is taking this proactive, precautionary approach to ensure the long-term health of the fisheries. As temperatures warm, guides and anglers are finding hungry fish coming in from deeper waters.