DUNNELLON, Fla. – Thus far, resource managers are breathing a sigh of relief in the wake of powerful Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that hammered east Texas and the entire Florida peninsula, as damage to fisheries seems minimal. Long-term impacts, however, particularly in the Sunshine State, could be more significant. Biologists will assess and monitor for months.
Harvey did little or no damage to bass fisheries in east Texas, including Toledo Bend, according to Todd Driscoll with Texas Parks and Wildlife.
"Based on what we know now, it appears that Harvey effects weren’t that severe on the Sabine, Neches and Taylor systems," he explained.
"Given all the flood-related damage, very few are fishing in these areas, but from the limited reports I’ve heard the local anglers are catching fish. There have been no reports of any fish kills due to Harvey.
"Historically, saltwater intrusion from hurricane-related surge is what has wreaked havoc on the fish populations in these systems," he added. "With Harvey, these systems escaped the saltwater surge. It seems that the historic flooding did not significantly affect the bass populations, but we will know more later this fall after our electrofishing survey, and when local anglers get back on the water."
In Florida, meanwhile, fish died on both the Withlacoochee and St. Johns Rivers, kills not unexpected – or catastrophic – considering the vulnerability of those systems. Minor die-offs continue to be reported elsewhere as well.