Published: Dec 27, 2011 4:10 AM EST
Updated: Dec 27, 2011 3:06 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla -- Dozens of dead fish are floating towards the mouth of the Caloosahatchee river. Many fear red tide is to blame, and some charter fishermen worry this could affect their bottom line.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says a high concentration of red tide bloom is lingering near the shores of Sanibel and floating down to Collier County. 

Fort Myers Beach is packed with tourists playing in the waves and enjoying the sun. But just offshore, Charter Captain George Howell noticed a disturbing sight lurking a few miles off Fort Myers Beach.

"We noticed some dead fish, and the bait fish we caught in the well died within about two minutes," said Howell.

He believes red tide is to blame. He snapped photos with his phone, and says as the day wore on, the fish kill was moving in.

"By four this afternoon it had moved into the mouth of the Caloosahatchee river," he said.

"There's a haze over the water today. We have got a huge fish kill happening. We've had clients call and cancel the next couple of days." His wife Lynda Mastronardo is the publisher of the local guide SWFL Naturally.

With the recent red tide concerns, she says she's afraid to let her young son swim in the water, and worries about her husband's business. 

"It's affecting our health, people are catching these fish and eating the fish, it's in turn affecting them and making them sick. Tourist dollars are going to be hurt," she said. 
"People that are vacationing here now, if they have a bad experience with red tide or fish kill, next year when they plan their vacation, they may decide to go somewhere else," said Howell.

He said a bad fish kill hasn't affected his business in five years, and he hopes the tide will push it out. 

SWFL Naturally is publishing an article about local water quality in their January issue.