Stuart Fishing Pro: BullSugar Hype, Not Toxic Algae, Is Killing My Business

by | Jul 12, 2018

What’s worse than toxic algae?
The hoopla around toxic algae.
So says a professional Stuart fisherman who now must weather losses to his business even though he is taking his few remaining clients out on the water for great snook, tarpon, red fish and jack fishing.
“The fishing is great,” says Capt. Pat Price of DayMaker Charters, a 25-year veteran of the local waterways. “I took my wife and kid fishing for two and a half hours last night one mile inside the inlet and we had a great time.
“No one got sick. Our eyes weren’t red. There’s no green stuff on the hull. The water is crystal clear.”
And that could be the true irony of this year’s blue-green algae bloom on Lake Okeechobee: It sounds bad from a distance, but those expecting a doom’s day event in Stuart find business as usual.
Price, whose company runs three charter boats for deep-sea and inshore fishing, took to social media over the weekend to let the world know he and dozens of local fishing businesses are open as the algae hasn’t reached Stuart.
Within a few hours however, he had to take his Facebook post down after it sparked a discussion that degenerated into insults between those who publicize the algae bloom, killing softly Martin County summer tourism, and those who say they can continue making a living on the water away from the algae.
“It’s like you can’t express your frustration with the way things are being handled,” Price says. “This is a frustrating situation for those who make their living from tourism.”
Price said he doesn’t remember the names of those whose comments convinced him to delete his entry, although many who read the exchanges reported they came from members of the grassroots group BullSugar. The organization was branded a “hate group” by Florida Agriculture Commissioner candidate Matt Caldwell last week.
In his original post, Price singled out fellow fishing guide, BullSugar operative and Rivers Coalition Defense Fund Director Mike Conner.
Price took umbrage with Conner’s quotes in a front-page story in the respected Tampa Bay Times last week where Conner said algae blooms have become “the new normal.”
“Normally, I’m out fishing the river at night for snook,” Conner told the newspaper. “But I’m not just worried about the fishing any more. I’m worried about the human health side of it now. I’m not going to fish the St. Lucie River anymore.”
In his Facebook post, Price disagreed and wondered: “I’m not sure who Mike Conner is and neither four out of five of the guides I asked, but F me. If you’re intending on planning a vacation or booking a charter, please speak to the people who are on the water every day instead of listening to people who just want to be important for a day.”
Price says he understands the emotional response to toxic algae.
“People are very emotionally attached to this issue. I get it. But if you speak up like I do, all the sudden you’re not an advocate of the river and you’re a bad guy. Why can’t we report the good alongside the bad?”
Price isn’t downplaying this bloom, by the way.
Far from it.
Two years ago this month, another blue-green algae bloom sent thick sludge along the beaches, in canals and on rivers, creating a serious environmental problem and legitimate fears, he says.
But the media’s coverage of this year’s event and the maximum emotional response from protesters are telling the world about something that has yet to happen, Price says.
Besides, Price adds, those like him on the river daily have no voice. No one in the media, he says, has asked him or others about the shape of waterways.
And that’s costing Price and his family money.
“At this time of year, I should be getting seven to 10 calls a week about charters,” he says. “Since this thing started again, I’m getting two or three calls a week. Some people who are booked are canceling. They go online and they figure there’s no fishing.
“Well, there is good fishing, the good times are still here.
“You don’t see dead fish floating by. You don’t see dead turtles. It’s a non-issue if you know where to go.”
In addition to the losses two years ago, Price says, the 2017 hurricane season wasn’t kind to the Stuart fishing charter industry.
“We were out of work for two to three months,” he says. “And now, we’re going to struggle again.”


  1. Tony Baker

    Sorry, but that is not what I see on and in the water and I live here. I see water the color of coffee so dark you can’t see 6 inches into it. All the grass on the flats is dead and gone replaced by sand and patches of black gunk. And I do see dead fish floating in the intercoastal, and in our marina. The only live fish I’ve seen inside lately are catfish, and bull sharks. I also see the signs posted by the county warning people to stay out of the water at the Sandbar and Sandsprit park because of what is in the water. I would love if the water was as safe and pristine as you claim, but pretending there isn’t a problem doesn’t make it so. The problem needs to be fixed permanently, not ignored.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you! This is a load of BS

  2. Lou

    This is pure propaganda. Even Tokyo Rose would be ashamed of something like this

  3. Anonymous

    The water is crystal clear, lol!

  4. Anonymous

    This guy is a joke check up on him all he dose is complain one day an boast about average fishing another! This report is the absolute norm for this phony don’t believe a word you read from this source or beware

  5. Olga

    Scott makes comments about Nelson not having done anything but we need to ask what is he doing?
    He wants to drain the Everglades so developers can make more money
    Send the water Douth to the Everglades the way nature has done
    Before man interfered

  6. Frank Fender

    Sorry. I get that this fisherman is being impacted negatively by the water quality issue here, but not talking about the water quality issue will ensure that it never gets fixed and continues to get worse. He lost me at “crystal clear”. Maybe at the sandbar on an incoming tide. The river is as bad as I’ve ever seen it.

  7. Mike Harris

    Do your research and do not listen to this selfish moron who seems to only care about himself and his money. This is not hype. You can’t always see the toxin, but it can be there. They don’t test the waters enough. The water might look clear but still contain enough of the microcystin toxin to infect you. You don’t always see symptoms right away. It could take years but unfortunately it will eventually start attacking your nervous system and organs. It can trigger neurological diseases and cancers. As the waves break this toxin is released into the air and is carried by the wind. It’s airborne. It can affect you through touch with water, eating contaminated seafood, or inhalation. Contact the Florida Oceanographic Society and ask to speak with a scientist. One may not be available, but will kindly call you back. Or do your own research. Listen to the facts, the science, not this selfish captain who only cares about his money.

    The reported health problems are related to exposure to low microcystin concentrations through inhalation, consumption of contaminated water and food (agricultural products, fish, prawns, and mollusks), and dermal exposure. The liver is the most affected organ in humans, but exposure to the toxin will slowly affect other organs such as the kidneys and colon. As evidenced by in vivo and in vitro studies even low concentrations of inhaled microcystin toxin will over time attack the nervous system and can trigger many neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s diseases. The illnesses attributed to microcystin poisoning are gastroenteritis and related diseases, allergic and irritation reactions, organ diseases, diseases that attack the nervous system, and many neurological diseases. It can take years for this toxin to completely affect you. Some lesions have evolved into tumors and primary liver cancer and colorectal cancers in human populations have been caused by microcystin exposure and toxicity.
    Exposure to cyanobacterial toxic blue green algae toxins through inhalation, contact with the skin, and drinking water have caused serious poisoning in humans, even over the course of many years led to fatalities. Though inhalation of the toxin will take much longer before you suffer the most severe side effects it will greatly affect the quality of your life as the toxin progressively attacks your body.

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