Hurricane Irma and Reverse Tides
Hurricanes are a huge threat to the coastal living that many people desire. They cause millions of dollars in damage and even death, no matter how advance the notice and well you prepare.
This last weekend, Florida took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma and not only were we impacted, we got to witness a rare phenomenon called “reverse storm surge.” As an avid fisherman, I was very intrigued by this event and what causes it, and the effects it will have on fishing.
Reverse storm surge isn’t much different than a strong cold front in the winter. When you have strong North winds, and with the direction the bays flow, the wind will push the water out. When you tell people this they have a hard time buying it and all respond with, “I have seen the winter tides and it has never been out that far.”
You’re probably correct with it never being this low — there are a couple of factors that helped play a role in this phenomenon.
The winds were blowing anywhere from 40 to 125 mph, depending your location on the coast. The storm also pushed through on a dead low tide, so this intensified the already low tide to cause the reverse storm surge.
The reverse storm surge didn’t last long enough to cause any real damage to the bays. The grass was still moist from the rain, and the roots where still in the wet mud, so none of that dried out. The crustaceans (crabs, shrimp, oysters, etc.) that didn’t go out with the tide would bury down and survive.
We didn’t receive enough rain to mess up the fresh-to-saline water content. The fish were pushed out with the water in the bay and returned as soon as we had a wind shift to blow from a different direction and all the water came back in on the next high tide.
I called a friend I fish with and asked his opinion; his thought was, what if when it pushed all the water out and all the baitfish and redfish were all together, maybe the redfish gorged on the baitfish and all gained a couple of pounds and will be toads for the tournament in Apalachicola on Saturday?
The north wind and little bit of rain has cooled the water a couple of degrees and the fish will be more active and the bite will be strong. A couple of the guides and local fisherman I stay in contact with had a great day fishing yesterday and said the bite never stopped.
The storm didn’t cause any real damage to the bays or fishing here in the Panhandle, and now is the time to be out there moving into the cooler months. Everything is going to be schooling to breed and/or starting the migration pattern for the cooler part of the year.
T he word is, they are catching flounder, trout, spanish, ladyfish, cobia and redfish on cut bait and live bait around bridges and on the flats this week since Irma has passed.