Captain Daniel Andrews stands on the skiff’s bow, staring intently across the sunrise-pink waters of Pine Island Sound, remembering aloud when the tide flowed the wrong way.
“In the summer of 2013 we had really bad discharges,” Andrews said. “It was like a full-time outgoing tide at Redfish Pass. There were days where the tide was supposed to be slack and it was just dumping. It would have to be like a really strong incoming to be able to fight all the discharge water going out.”
That brown, nutrient-laden freshwater—billions of gallons of it of it—poured from Lake Okeechobee, through a man-made canal into the Caloosahatchee River, before inundating Pine Island Sound.
Andrews briefly broke his osprey-like scan. With his right hand cradling a 12-weight fly rod, he pointed north.
“I don’t know if you see that that red shack three or four miles up there. See a little dot of red on the horizon? I was kind of back in all that,” Andrews said. “It was like a slice of pie of clean water back there that about every damn redfish within 20 miles had gotten into. So, you know, it was survivable, but I was thinking on the way back from running back all the way to the boat ramp every day. Like, ‘well, this is what they’re talking about.’”