We found a mixed bag of snook and tarpon. I am not sure which surprised me more! Some snook were still sun bathing in the shallows. I thought maybe they had all moved out with the warmth of the previous month. Their numbers were lower than during a usual winter. This might indicate some did leave, but those we found were still quite reluctant to eat, which is not uncommon for winter snook. My guess is that some left, while others stayed, and those that remained are still in winter mode. That may be good news, angling-wise, as they might still go into the Spring feeding frenzy. Snook season is now open and there was a bit of a discussion over a slot-sized fish before it was grudgingly released.
The presence of tarpon in the backcountry was a bigger surprise. In my experience, it is not common to find them this early. The ones we found were aggressive and we put a few into the air, though none to the canoe. If I had to guess, I would say these fish were also confused by the heat of this February.
So, in a nutshell, I would speculate that the abnormal February weather had caused a great deal of confusion. I am without a doubt confused. It appears that some of the snook thought winter was over, while others are holding true to the calendar. The tarpon seem to think it is almost summer.
One thing certain was how nice it was to get out fishing when the weather was pleasantly cool and where the environment did not look devastated. The only real signs of the hurricane was the unmistakable evidence of the storm surge: all of the epiphytes (air plants) that were within six feet of the water surface had either been scoured from the branches or they were dead, likely either drowned or killed by saltwater. The fact that there was a six-foot storm surge that far back is almost unbelievable.