Indian River Lagoon

Leon Archer
Leon Archer

by Leon Archer

I learned that the fishing was pretty slow around Sebastian so I have shifted my attention to the Vero Beach area, but I am mostly unfamiliar with that section of the lagoon.

I can catch the same little nuisance fish there that I have often caught nearer our home here, but I would prefer bigger game.

I had a call from Frank Maurer a couple days ago and he confirmed the quality of the fishing in the area. He said it’s the worst he has ever experienced since he started coming to Florida to escape the snow.

He has caught some flounder, but nothing like past years, and the pompano fishing has yet to materialize. The only bright spot has been the sheepshead fishing. He has caught quite a few of them and they have been running decent size. They are very good as table fare, so that is a big plus.

I have yet to go over to the inlet, but the fishing has been rather hit or miss there; however, even on the good days, the fishing is not what it should be.

Maurer lays the lack of fish on the commercial fishermen, but I am convinced that a major factor is the disappearance of the sea grass in this section of the lagoon. The problem is more wide spread, but we seem to be one of the hardest hit sections so far.

I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal to many folks. So what if the little short grasses that grew underwater in the shallows of the lagoon has died off? But it really is a big deal.

The Indian River Lagoon is a huge nursery for many fish species and crabs that have always flourished here thanks to the sea grass, which was the base for the food chain and provided protection for the larval and fry stage of so much of the river life.

With the grass gone, the sand bottom has become a sort of desert, devoid of food or cover for all those who once called it home. Fish may pass through, but they don’t hand around.

The blue crabs that were abundant here up to about three years ago are so scarce and scattered that it hardly pays to put out traps for them. I’ve noticed the commercial crabbers are not working the area. I’m not going to even get my traps out of storage.

The fish and game biologists down here have not been able to pin the problem on one single source, but there are numerous suspects, and some of them may actually be working in concert to bring about the destruction.

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