I was in Islamorada last weekend. It was beautiful weather but no fish (live) to be seen in the back country. I went down for a an extended fishing weekend (4 days). When I first got there and fished for 2 hours, I wondered what was going on? No bait fish swimming around, no littlle nibbles on my shrimp, no fish in sight. Somethings wrong. At this time, I had no idea the cold water made havoc on the fish. I'm from Indiana and did not know Florida was hit so hard that far south. So, i headed to a nearby marina where I saw a couple fisherman coming back in on a boat. I talked to the fisherman who had a good day of fishing. Say what? Fish? Where? That's when they hit me with the news that the water temps dropped so low that many of the shallow water fish simply died. The fishermen told me if I want to catch anything, I've got to jump on a boat and head out 4 or 5 miles into the Atlantic where water temps were still in the 70s.
I decided to stop fishing at that point. Why overstress what few fish remain? Instead, spent the remaining days just enjoying the warmth and scenery.
The place I stayed at had a pier that extended into the back bay waters. I saw lots of dead fish on the bottom, washed up on the shore and some just floating. Never once did I see any live fish other than some very very small fry near mangroves. I didnt even see crabs chomping on the dead fish on the bottom. I would think that would be the case. Birds must have had their fill of eating, too because they were not eating any of the dead fish on the shore or ones floating.
In Indiana, when the fish are stressed, we stop fishing to let them regain their health. I hope people in Florida do the same because it didnt look good when I was there.