I have witnessed the dramatic change here in Southwest Florida from when I started visiting in the 1970s until the present day. I think it would depend on your perspective, whether that change is positive or not. On that point, there’s a fair argument to have when speaking directly about development. On one hand, it might bring money and resources to a local community; on the other and in our case, it can create pressure on the natural ecosystem.
Here in Naples and the surrounding areas, we are lucky enough to have a natural resource, which in my opinion, is second to none. In its diverse nature, our coasts and fisheries hold numerous animal species, in the water and out. Since our family first opened Mangrove Outfitters in 1994, I along with many other captains who rely on fishing as a way of life and anglers who simply enjoy to fish have witnessed the dramatic shift in our fisheries.
You could step back and evaluate the situation from various angles, a valuation formed by personal experience. From my experience, less than ideal harvesting practices to habitat reduction has played a major role in the increased pressure we’ve witnessed over the years.
I say this to shine light on a real situation that needs to be responsibly managed, an effort many in our community have taken a hard stance on, including myself. But I also say this with encouragement. We’re nearing three decades of being in business and as time goes on, we will continue to promote sustainable fishing practices - acting as a strict catch and release guide service.
We look forward to hearing more fishing stories in the shop, even if the overall length of the fish is over exaggerated a little bit. But with this all said, I’m glad to see there is a next generation of anglers because fishing is meant to be fun and there are not many places in the world with such a wonderful fishery.
Thank you to all of the customers we’ve had the pleasure to work with over the years and to the friends we’ve made. Whether you’re a shop veteran or someone visiting us for the first time, thank you.
To many more years,
Captain Thomas M. Shadley