The fishing industry is extremely important in Southwest Florida. So on Saturday, fisherman from across the area gathered to celebrate the beginning of Mullet Run Season.
Steve Johnston and his wife bought a fish house from the original owners in 2019 and are hoping to keep the history alive at Jug Creek.
“We share the same passion as them, they were generational fisherman that developed Cayo Costa and this end of the island. So, it was real important for them to keep it the way it is,” said Johnston.
Mullet fish are their specialty. “Last year we moved 300,000 this year we’re hoping 1 million or more this year and we didn’t have enough fishermen,” Johnston said.
Nathan Williams is a fisherman. “Trying to make money and it’s hard to do,” said Williams.
This shortage of fishermen isn’t the only thing affecting the fishing industry.
Robert Ballard grew up on Bokeelia. “The waters are a lot darker than they used to be,” he said. “Up until till last year there’s always mullet in this canal. I haven’t seen a mullet in this canal in over a year.”
“Without clean water none of us win the game. So clean water is real important and we’re going to try and do our part to educate people,” Johnston said.
But, with the waters in Southwest Florida looking better than in previous years, there is still some hope in the mullet industry. “It’s come alive again, so we’re pretty excited,” said Johnston.
Williams believes if you stick with it, you’ll be successful.”You have to stick with it. That’s all you can do. That’s all I know,” he said.
Jug Creek Fish House distributes internationally to places like Italy. Its doors open daily at 9 a.m. for anyone who wants to come out and enjoy fresh mullet.