CAPE CORAL, Fla. — As Southwest Florida heads into season, most of the usual things are here.
The sunshine. The warm weather. The open water.
Everything but the boats.
“As you can see there’s no shortage of fish out here. We are catching fish all morning long. It’s just a shortage of business that’s really what it is,” Ben Hunt said.
Hunt and Alec Dillalo run their own charter boat companies, On the Hunt Charters and All in Excursions. They say tourism isn't what it use to be since Hurricane Ian, which is bad for business. Hunt is a full-time guide, so boat chartering and fishing are his livelihood.
“Getting that tourism back down here and hopefully get people to come enjoy why we all live here in Southwest Florida is really gonna help a lot of these businesses and full-time captains.”
They say right now they have 1 to 2 bookings a week, when they normally have between 5 or 6 at this time of year.
After the storm, they said the mangroves on the shore changed and debris caused the ground underneath to change patterns.
“We always recommend for anyone who gets out on the water to be super super careful...there’s definitely some new things underwater that were not there a year and a half ago, ” Dilalo said referring to debris.
Patience is the key when fishing, and like waiting for a bite on their hook, they plan to await the return of tourism and business in the area.