PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - It's been a tough season for Mississippi oyster fishermen. However, they had reason to smile on Wednesday when two reef areas re-opened.
Red tide, heavy rains and high river levels all took a toll on oyster season for fishermen; working the waters less than 20 days.
But by late Wednesday morning at Pass Harbor, oyster fishermen were taking advantage of the latest re-opening.
"Everybody's happy, we're going back to work," said Rum Phan.
Phan says he loves the freedom that commercial fishing provides, even when times are tough.
"Hopefully the weather doesn't change, that's all we can hope for. Oysters looking very good right now. They taste good, I know it. I can smell it in the air, trust me," Phan said.
Fishermen at Kimball's Seafood brought in their limits of oyster sacks on opening day.
"Feels pretty good because I'm glad to have it. We have a dock here and when we can't use it, it kind of hurts our business," said Darlene Kimball.
Robert Pollock says they've been allowed to harvest oysters for just 18 days of the season.
"You have to have something else, you know. Leave this as a hobby instead of a job, and that's what you have to do. But hopefully next year it will change," Pollock said.
Despite the difficult season, reports from nearby reefs are promising.
"The guys are saying the reefs are great. They're wanting to work, and we're hoping we get until May 1, but they're telling us we might not get but two days," said Kimball.
Fishermen say despite the difficulties of this current season, they remain cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the future.
"Oh yeah, looking good. I think the next few years are going to be great. If we don't get no disasters, it's going to be awesome," said Pollock.
The overall harvest is up compared to the previous year. Not counting the most recent catch, fishermen have harvested just over 30,000 sacks of oysters in the current season.