When red tide rolls in, it can hit local tourism industries in Florida like a ton of bricks. Fishing guides in particular struggle when business is down due to the presence of red algae in areas they normally fish.
Even if red algae isn’t as much of a problem where you fish, it still scares people from out of state away who aren’t as familiar with the geography (or the waterways) of Florida—and don’t know how short-lived and transient these red tide blooms can be.
Naturally, this stuff also affects other businesses related to the fishing industry—bait shops, tackle shops, seafood restaurants, even services like boat detailers and mechanics can take a big hit when fewer people are out on the water.
However, as with any challenge, there are always ways to adapt and overcome. In this article, we’ll explore some potential strategies that fishing guides in the most affected areas can use to navigate the season and keep making money, despite the challenges posed by red tide.
Remember: while the tourism industry may take a hit during this time, there are still plenty of people who want to be out on the water—and there are still places to fish.
With some ingenuity, grit, and determination, you can still make the most of the season when other captains are giving up—and still provide customers with the unforgettable experiences on the water they’re looking for. Let’s talk about some potential business strategies to make the best of the current conditions:
1 – Escape from Red Tide: Head Offshore
Whenever red algae hits the Florida coast, offshore fishing is typically much less affected than inshore fishing, as the red algae tends to accumulate in waters closer to shore. Therefore, deep-sea fishing tours may be a good option for fishing guides to consider during this time.
Guides who have experience and equipment for offshore fishing could offer these charters to customers who are interested in fishing despite the red tide in the inshore waters.
2 – Red Tide Who? Find Nearby Inshore Areas Less Affected
Fishing guides don’t necessarily have to head hours offshore to focus on areas that are less affected by red tide. Depending on the normal areas you fish, there may be wide areas of inshore waters nearby that are not as heavily affected by red tide.
It’s completely possible for Tampa Bay to be experiencing high red tide while areas as close as Clearwater have low amounts of red tide. Sure, the fishing won’t be as good as it normally is, but at least you can still get out on the water and provide customers with a service that they enjoy—and you’ll be one of the fishing guides bothering to do so.
3 – From Catching Dolphin to Watching Dolphins: Offer Different Types of Trips
While tourism takes a big hit during red tide, it doesn’t go away completely. There are still going to be tourists who want to be on the water even when there’s algae in it.
And I’m not suggesting you have to trust tourists with renting out your boat on Spring Break—I’m talking about easy things. “Wildlife watching tours” or even “sunset cruises” might be options for fishing guides to consider offering during red tide.
These services won’t be as affected by the algae bloom, don’t require much besides a running boat and an experienced guide familiar with the waters, and can still provide customers with an enjoyable experience they’ll remember.
4 – Hook Up with the Locals: Partner with Local Businesses
If you’re in an area where red tide isn’t as bad, but you’re still feeling the effects of the bloom, consider teaming up with local restaurants and businesses. For example, partner with a nearby restaurant, hotel, or bar to offer package deals or promotions.
For example, they could offer a discount on a fishing charter, plus dinner or drinks at their establishment, or a room at a partnering hotel. This way, even if you’re not getting as much business as normal due to red tide, you’ll still be able to get bookings.
5 – There’s Better Fishing Ahead: Revamp Your Digital Marketing
Focusing on digital marketing during a red tide outbreak can be a good way for fishing guides to stay connected with their audience and put themselves in a strong position for when the red tide subsides and business picks back up.
You can use this slow period to work on Search Engine Optimization, build or revamp your website, post content across social media, and start experimenting with new marketing techniques.
Here are some ideas on how to work on your digital marketing strategies during a red tide outbreak:
- Run PPC ads: If you’re still able to go out on trips but just aren’t getting as much business, you can run online ads on social media or search engines to target potential customers who are interested in fishing in Florida. You can even run retargeting ads to re-engage with people who have visited your site but didn’t book a trip.
- Perfect your SEO: Slow periods can be a great time for fishing guides to work on their search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. By optimizing your website and content for search engines, you can improve your online visibility and attract more traffic to your site over the long term. Some SEO tactics for fishing guides to consider include keyword research, on-page optimization, backlinking, and content creation. While SEO may take some time to show results, the benefits can be significant, as it can help to drive more organic traffic to your website and ultimately result in more bookings. So, if you’re looking for a way to stay productive during a slow period, consider investing in perfecting your SEO now. Think of it as hanging back, studying your prey, and getting your gear ready for the ultimate fishing trip ahead.
- Build an email list: Fishing guides can build an email list of interested customers and send out regular updates about their business, promotions, or news related to fishing in Florida. This can help to keep their audience engaged and potentially attract new customers.
- Update website: Fishing guides can update their website with new content, such as blog posts or articles about fishing in Florida, to keep their website fresh and interesting to visitors. They could also optimize their website for search engines to improve their search engine rankings.
- Increase social media presence: Fishing guides can increase their social media presence by posting regularly on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. They could share photos and videos of their fishing tours, post fishing tips or facts, and engage with their audience by responding to comments or questions.
- Partner with influencers: Fishing guides can partner with social media influencers, YouTubers, or bloggers who have a large following in the fishing or travel niche. This can help to increase their reach and attract new customers.
The Bottom Line
Red tide is always unwanted—but it never lasts forever. The negative effects will pass, and fishing guides will be back to business as usual. In the meantime, there are still ways for guides to navigate the season and make money, even during red algae blooms. Hey—it’s Florida after all.
By being proactive, staying informed, and exploring alternative strategies, fishing charter businesses can remain resilient during these difficult times and emerge even stronger in the long run.
If you can adapt, focus on digital marketing, and roll with the waves instead of letting them capsize you—you can ensure that your business is well-positioned for when the tide turns.
If you need help keeping your bookings afloat during a red tide, get in touch with the fishing guide marketing experts at Page One Fishing. We’re here to help you navigate these stormy (well, red) waters, and help you get the most bites from your marketing efforts. Click here to contact us now.