Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips
Fishing pro Brian Travis casts his line as his co-angler Chuck Rounds waits for a bite at Lake Lanier during the first day of the Forrest Wood Cup on Thursday. Travis and Rounds are two of 78 fishermen competing in the four-day tournament.
Local fishermen along the coast say they're still not seeing any signs of a comeback. Some say they're continuing to see a significant decline in the amount of fish they catch - and that's how they make their living.
Some fisherman along the coast say their way of living has changed and the aftermath of the oil spill is to blame. Now, nearly ten months after the largest deepwater horizon oil spill along the gulf, some say they're still struggling to survive.
Larry Ritchie is like many commercial fishermen along the coast who depend on fishing to make ends meet.
He says, "We're all having problems. Anybody that makes a living on the water, we're all being hurt right now."
But some say for the past few months their way of life has changed drastically - and they're pointing the finger at the effects of the oil spill.
commercial fisherman Mike Hampton says, "It's our way of life, we love doing it, that's why we do it."
Ritchie says, "Usually I would average about 300, 400 or 500 pounds on a three day trip, in the areas that I've been fishing, but catching three fish my last trip is way down."
Many boats are practically just lined up on the shore now.... that's because the fisherman say they can't afford to go out on trips and come back with nothing.
Commercial fisherman Jerry Luke says, "I've caught more crabs last year in one day than I've caught this whole season, so that goes to tell you that soemthing's wrong."
A marine biologist in Panacea says the oil that rolled in along the coast killed a lot of the the food supply for the fish, but it's not the only factor.
Jack Rudloe says, "It's been a very cold year, but we've had cold years before... But if we go out there now, drop a net, we're not going to catch many fish at all."
Ritchie says, "It's a problem, it's a big problem, and it's a lot of people who are hurting."
Many of these fishermen have filed claims and are still waiting for a check from BP.
For now, they are remaining optimistic and hoping that they can get back on the water soon and make their money how they enjoy doing it .