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10 Noah's Bird Nest

A warm welcome awaits those who walk through Noah's Bird Nest's doors looking for just the right thing for their feathered kids.

16 On the Cover

Mermaid Kara Popps Photo was taken in Boca Grande by Brenda Fuller Read more about our Mermaid Encounter on pg. 16. 2 | THE SAND DOLLAR

06 Brendan Coudal, Artist Features

22 24 28 32 34 38 46

Prime Time Steaks & Spirts Paraiso Mexican Grille and Bar Landy's Retaurant on the Water

Fish Facts with Tracie G Let's Go Fishing! SUP Englewood Paddle Boarding Underwater Fish Light, LLC

Experience The Coastal Dream

Publisher/Editor/Designer/Photographer Brenda Fuller

Contributing Writers Rachel Strausbaugh Mallory Herzog Nicole Meirs Liz Shirey Tracie Georgiadis Sheida Marilia Larijani

Contributing Photographers Nicole Coudal Nicole Meirs Tracie Georgiadis Aiden Herzog Mallory Herzog Jessica Matherly Dave Melges Kara Popps Prime Time Steak & Spirits Underwater Fish Light

Creative Contributor Bailey Fuller (Root Toot)

For Subcription Information, Please Call 941-706-5464 or 941-999-4973

The Sand Dollar Magazine - Volume 2/Issue 1

The Sand Dollar Magazine Englewood, FL 34223 (941) 999-4973 941-706-5464

All rights regarding the printed edition of The Sand Dollar Magazine and are reserved. Reproduction of any part of The Sand Dollar Magazine/or this associated web site without the written permission of The Sand Dollar Magazine is prohibited. All views and comments expressed in The Sand Dollar Magazine are solely the opinions of the writers and not necessarily the opinions of The Sand Dollar Magazine. The Sand Dollar Magazine reserves the right to reject and refuse any materials submitted to it for The Sand Dollar Magazine or

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Brendan Coudal An Artist's Journey


t starts as a rough sketch, a blank canvas with endless possibilities. Bits and pieces of Florida style come to life as the brush moves across the canvas. It’s the tropical paradise that Brendan Coudal dreamed of as a young artist in the suburbs of Chicago. When he moved to the Sunshine State at 18, painting took a back seat, as life hurled forward. By age 30, the allure of artistry called to Coudal, bringing him into the industry full-time. 6 | THE SAND DOLLAR

Salt water fish and beach landscapes graced his canvases until 2006, when he experimented with a style that left him hooked. He combined his nautical imagery with midcentury illustration and found a unique style all his own. Today, midcentury illustrative style is something of a lost art, in a society dominated by photography and digital manipulation. This long forgotten technique is used by only a handful of contemporary artists, and Coudal is proud to be part of

that group. The result is something that resonates with people across all generations. For some, Coudal’s art is reminiscent of days gone by. For others, it captures the romanticism of an earlier era. “I decided to pay homage to a lost art, and it really has struck a chord,” said Coudal. “People responded so positively to my art, and it’s truly rewarding.”

His first painting in this style began with a scene in the garage that featured his wife, fishing line and a borrowed, eraspecific rod and reel which was used by well-to-do anglers in Boca Grande back in the day. “Boca Belle” features a stunning 1950’s blonde with a large tarpon on her line, while her beagle cheers her on. The Boca Grande lighthouse beams in the background, tying in the island’s rich nautical history. From this was born the many paintings that people across Southwest Florida have come to know and love. His pin-up style beauties range from cowgirls riding tarpons, to what Coudal jokes is ‘the Coppertone girl all grown up.” Men and women of all ages have fallen in love with the charm of his vintage ladies. “They showcase empowering, AllAmerican girls,” said Coudal. “I’m always pleased to know that so many people from all walks of life love my work.” Coudal’s art has taken on numerous forms, from mermaids and retro gals to marine life and his beloved cats. In fact, his sketches of his rescued cats, Max and Phoebe, started as a fun way get his creative juices flowing. “Starting a few years ago, each morning I would prop up on an easel a new sketch of the kitties, right next to the coffee pot,” said Coudal. “When Nicole reached for her coffee, I’d watch her joy-filled expression as she saw my sketch.” → THE SAND DOLLAR | 7

Brendan Coudal An Artist's Journey

Article by Rachel Strausbaugh - All photos provided by the artist This soon turned into a series featuring the adorable amazing ways as he explored both the realistic and the duo. Cat lovers can buy greeting cards, prints and fantastical side of the ocean. His characters started to originals of the brother and sister pair on their many include mermaids as well as pretty gals. adventures, and 15 percent of the net profits go to the Cat Depot in Sarasota. Whatever he’s working on, his art is a natural extension of the things he loves. This passion can be seen in the delicate details and precise paint strokes of everything he creates. “If I am able to make a living while pursuing my hobbies and passions, then it’s like I never have to work again,” said Coudal. Whether you call it work or play, his art progressed in

“I love painting mermaids and sea creatures, because they’re two of my favorite things. Who doesn’t like pretty girls and fish?” said Coudal. It turns out Coudal isn’t the only one who loves pretty girls and fish. This allowed Coudal to pair artistry and entrepreneurship in a way that is both creative and profitable. “The key to my success has been leveraging each painting in order to create different forms of revenue, including selling reproductions, licensing images, wholesale, direct sales, etc.,” said Coudal. “Brendan’s newest painting, titled "Best Coast", is a retro-style map of southwest Florida from Anna 8 | THE SAND DOLLAR

Maria to Boca Grande. In the painting, Coudal captures the vintage charm and tropical feel of Florida in a series of fun vignettes. A sea turtle scuttles to the shore, a smiling skier enjoys the day, an alligator sneaks onto a golf course. It makes you wish for salty air and swaying palm trees. Like many of Coudal’s pieces, it brings a smile to your face. “What I enjoy most is seeing people’s reactions to my work. Whenever people come to my studio, I like to watch their faces as they look around,” said Coudal. “It’s cool to spread happiness!” ☼

Learn more about Brendan & his artwork at


Noah's Bird Nest

Article by Liz Shirey Images by Mallory Herzog & Noah's Bird Nest

When you walk into Noah’s Bird Nest, it becomes clear why it’s known as the “Cheers” of pet stores.

A warm welcome awaits those who walk through our doors, looking for just the right thing for their feathered kids. We know and love our regulars, and we enjoy spending personal time with all of our bird friends. Who is Noah’s Bird Nest? We are a small exotic parrot-specific, retail store owned and operated solely by Mother and Daughter (with the grandbaby in training). We cater to the various needs of your feathered family member, offfering boarding, grooming, food, toys, nutrition/behavioral counseling, and we work exclusively with Florida Parrot Rescue, who you will want to contact if you are looking to adopt a new family member. ( We also offer long and short term boarding from the smallest to the largest parrots in a private room, complete with cartoons, toys, food and, of course, love. Your fine feathered friend can also enjoy our grooming services, such as a birdie spa treatment which includes a wing trim, nail trim, bath time and a beak/foot massage with vitamin E oil. Perhaps you’re looking for something quicker, such as an all over grooming or just a simple pedicure? Whatever the need, we have you covered. At Noah’s Bird Nest, we have a wide variety of nutritious foods from seed blends to pellet. We also carry various easy-to-make warm foods, such as chop or the soak and simmer varieties, and it’s never a bad idea to pick up treats and vitamin supplements to keep your little ones healthy and happy. →

Let’s not forget the best part: “TOYS”! Colorful, fun and, interactive toys for all sizes of parrots can be found at Noah's Bird Nest. We carry shredders, blocks, wood, leather, bells, balls, paper rolls, perches, swings and cozy huts. We are the only shop in this area that carries the BONKA line of toys and

much more. It’s like Christmas a NEW facility next door to every time we get an order Collingswood Animal Hospital, delivered. complete with private rooms for boarding birds, a private No other pet store in this area area for adoptables, a larger is parrot specific! No one does retail area, intake area for new it like Noah's Bird Nest! adoptees, ventilation units and much more comfortable areas Noah's Bird Nest would like to sit, talk, learn, laugh and to announce some wonderful enjoy. news! We will be building We do need a little help. The cost for this new facility is approximately $300,000.00, and every donation is extremely appreciated! ☼ If you would like to donate, please stop by the store or go to our GO FUND ME at:


4300 Kings Hwy Unit 401 Port Charlotte, FL 33983 941.979.8295



Mermaid Encounter

Written by Brenda Fuller

Photo by Dave Melges


his spring, while hanging out with some friends on a beach in Boca Grande, we all saw something very strange swimming in the water, very close to the shore.

Grande on spring break. I had never met a mermaid before, so I just had to learn more about them!

I went to get a closer look, and they came closer to the shore. This is where I met Mermaids Kara Popps and Jordan Key. They were visiting Boca

Her journey as a mermaid started as soon as she saw "The Little Mermaid", but she says she has her friend, Jordan, to thank for the physicality of being a mermaid. Together,

Kara's hobbies include crafting and any media of art. She loves A large fin came out of the to get her hands dirty and water, and it made a huge really portrays her emotions splash, as it went back in. Then in her work. we saw that there were two of be them! We were flabbergasted, This year she will and we had no clue what kind attending Saginaw Valley of sea creatures they could State University on a swim be, until, finally, we saw them scholarship to pursue her real come up for air. Our first passion; Biology with a minor in Art and Design. mermaid encounter!


Photo by Dave Melges

they talked about them daily, and it truly inspired their mutual love of sea life between them. Tara was the one that found the tails, originally, and, she spent no time surprising Jordan with one of her own, and since then, they have spent all free moments swimming together and trying to bring smiles and magic to people all over. She is not sure if it will benefit her swimming, because she generally sticks to the backstroke. Kara says, "I adore life as a mercreature, be it pretend or not!" Fin Fun Mermaid Tails in Michigan (www. is the place that they purchased their tails. Once they get them, the girls add their own personal touch with fins and such! →

Photo by Dave Melges THE SAND DOLLAR | 17

The other beautiful mermaid I had the pleasure to meet was Jordan.

About a year ago, Jordan's best friend Kara Popps, and many of my other her friends, all pooled their money together in order to give her something she had always dreamed of; being a mermaid. They surprised her with a mermaid tail at their first swim meet. "I cried for about half an hour. Since then, I have ordered four more tails on my own from FinFun Mermaid and Magictail.

"Kara is what I like to call my "mersister", and we swim together in our tails every chance we get!" said Jordan. "I feel blessed every day to have my dream come true of being a mermaid, and I am so thankful for such amazing friends that were willing to go out of their way to provide that dream!" I have found that so many people are obsessed with mermaids, whether it's jewelry, statues, lamps, paintings, mermaid tails; you name it! It seems


like I find mermaid items around here everywhere I look, and I seriously want all of them! There are many companies in Florida that make Mermaid Tails for women, children and men of all ages.

Mermaid tails brings fantasy to life for anyone who has ever dreamed of being a mermaid. If you interested in purchasing your own mermaid tail. Here is a website where you will find exactly what you are looking for! The prices range anywhere from $30 to $4000. You can also find out about How to be a Mermaid Classes & Camps on the same website. Go to for more information. â˜ź

2 pictures above by Kara Popps

Margaret Albritton Gallery The Margaret Albritton Gallery is located in tropical Placida, Florida. This working gallery and studio is home to original art work by Margaret and Garry Albritton. www.

Pirates Dream

Pirate’s Dream, an Plunderful Gift Shop, celebrating all things nautical. They have a huge collection of mermaid jewelry, statues and even a life-size lamp, along with just about anything you are looking for!!

Beach Road Boutique

When you walk in to Beach Road Boutique, you immediately have the feeling of being on the seashore! They have a HUGE collection art, apparel, jewelry and also lots of beautiful mermaid items, including this Manasota Key T-shirt which is available in different colors. Stop in to 1350 Beach Rd., Englewood, Fl.

Loudmouth Golf Shorts/Skirt

You can be loud and proud on the course with apparel from Loudmouth. The mermaid and pearl diver design is so much fun! You can find Loudmouth Apparel at Bealls or go to: THE SAND DOLLAR | 19




SEAFOOD • STEAKS • SALAD BAR Daily Lunch Specials Tues-Sat 11 am - 4 pm



Prime Time Steak & Spirits W

ords scrawled across a napkin say it all. They speak of loyalty, quality and the lost art of service. These words are a small tribute to a local treasure, where people are what matter most.

The words read: “You are running the best eating place in town. Keep up the good work. – A weekly customer.”

This secret admirer is a patron of Prime Time Steak and Spirits, a hidden gem tucked away off Placida Road. Mike Brady, the restaurant’s owner, takes hospitality to a new level, creating an atmosphere that leaves people craving more.

“When it comes to customer service, Mike really sets the standard for us to follow,” said Justin Bowns, the general manager for nearly 4 years. Fish and geckos and suns and sombreros decorate the walls inside this hot spot, where you’ll


find a menu that’s sure to please.

said Bowns. “It’s something we’re known for. We’re in the hospitality Prime Time serves up a little business, and we like to serve our something for everyone, from Tex- customers.” Mex and fresh seafood to their award winning prime rib. In fact, When their customers don’t have they’ve been bringing in Best of a good experience, the team finds Englewood awards for over a ways to make it right. If someone leaves a bad review online, Brady decade. encourages them to come back Bowns' buys choice prime rib again. More often than not, they competitively, so customers know leave with a smile. they are getting the very best. It’s something they’re known for,; It’s an atmosphere that helps winning the Best of Englewood’s encourage a low turnover rate award in 2014 for Best Steak and among the staff, an uncommon trait in the food service industry. Best Ribs. Prime Time offers anywhere form The food and service combine to 25-30 jobs for locals depending create a place where regulars are on the season, so it’s great for the a commonality. It’s a place where community, too. the owner and managers come around to talk with guests. It’s a This symbiotic relationship has place where Brady treats people created more than a place to eat; like family and not like dollar signs. it’s a place to gather with family and friends. Whether it’s a special “We have a lot of tarpon fishermen event or daily happy hour, there’s that are out late, and they’ll call always something going on. us, and we’ll stay open for them,

On Cinco De Mayo, the restaurant held a party that featured an authentic Mexican buffet, games and a jalapeno eating contest. On normal days, people can count on the food, service and full bar to compliment their day. Prime Time will even top off your day of fishing with a cold beer and a hot grill to cook your freshly caught fish.

“What makes my job so fun is that the owner cares more about the customers than he does his pocket book, said Bowns. “It makes the management style more open-minded to new ideas that will benefit the staff and the customers." ☼



Article by Rachel Strausbaugh & Images by Brenda Fuller The husband and wife team have Enchilada/Tostada Combo worked together over the past 18 years of their marriage, combining trial and error, family recipes and a unique flair to create the perfect dishes people love.

nglewood is known for its beaches, fishing and the historic Dearborn district. What it’s not known for is authentic Mexican food: yet. Whether you’re a faithful resident, or just passing through, you can’t miss Paraiso Mexican As a faithful following started to grow, Nunez and her husband Grille and Bar. were approached by local business This family owned restaurant owner Dave Wean with the idea of brings all the flavors of Mexico to starting a joint venture: a restaurant. your table. But long before there was a brick and mortar building, “It’s a great partnership because the delicious cuisine was served up Dave is a successful business owner in Englewood and has knowledge from the window of a food truck. of the bar,” said Nunez. “We Fernando and Erika Nunez started brought in the authentic Mexican Nando’s Taqueria in December cuisine. Together we hope to make 2012, leaving behind their jobs this a place Englewood wants to to pursue a mutual passion for keep for a long time.” cooking. Although neither had formal training, they were creating By October 2014, Paraiso Mexican the authentic Mexican dishes in Grille and Bar found a home their own kitchen Englewood was off Placida Road. It combined everything people loved about lacking. Nando’s Taqueria plus a large “We knew we loved cooking, menu, full bar, outdoor seating and and we loved people trying our even live music. different dishes,” said Nunez. “I can’t tell you how much we owe “If you ever have the opportunity to that taco truck. It has brought so to travel to Mexico, you will have dishes exactly like what we serve much to us.” at the restaurant,” said Nunez. “It 24 | THE SAND DOLLAR

Pollo en Mote


was risky, because a lot of people are used to the TexMex style, but people have responded to it well.” Some of the favorite dishes include the molcajete, a meat lover’s dream, which features carne asada, chicken, carnitas, chorizo, onions and jalapenos. Another classic is the Pollo En Mole, a chicken dish with a homemade mole sauce, and ingredients imported directly from Mexico. "My friend showed me this restaurant. We had just moved into the area from Colorado, and having lived in El Paso, Texas on the Mexican border for a few months, I find this restaurant to be very good. Great happy hour Margaritas, tasty food," said Linda Gerlinger. "This will be the place I will go to from now on." Although Nunez loved the challenge of starting a restaurant, she said the biggest struggle was learning to delegate tasks. In the taco truck, everything was done on a small scale in a controlled setting. In the restaurant, she needed some backup.

L to R: Electric Lizzard, Blue Rita, House Margarita, Caribbean Peach Colada

Fish Tacos

“The truck is smaller so you can manage everything and the customer service is very personal,” said Nunez. “I have a relationship with my customers, and that’s what I wanted to keep when this opportunity showed up.” With their first successful season under their belts, it’s a business model that has worked. “It’s what Englewood needed. They can have the nice cold margarita or beer with authentic Mexican food,” said Nunez. “That’s why people love it so much. They get the best of both worlds.” → Churros, Flan, Fried Ice Cream


Whether people come for the food, the bar or the atmosphere, patrons agree it’s some of the best Mexican food they’ve ever had. Everything on the menu is made from scratch and in-house, just the way Nunez does it at home. “We took a lot of risks this year, but we just had our first annual Cinco De Mayo festival and it was the most successful day we’ve ever had,” said Nunez. “I can’t tell you how blessed I feel.” To Nunez and her husband, this is more than just a restaurant. It’s a way to make a life and a future. This passion and dedication can be seen in every dish they make and every guest they serve. “I see this as the future for my kids. One day it’s going to be theirs,” said Nunez. “That is what keeps us going every day.” ☼ Lunch: Mon-Sat 11am-3pm • Dinner: Mon-Sat 3pm-9pm

2639 Placida Rd • Englewood, Fl 34224




Opposite Pg: Picture on top is Guillermo Saenz. Pictured on bottom is Cristian Saena. Pictured above is Erika Nunez. Pictured on top right is John, Jessica and Esteban. Erika is pictured again on the right with her husband Fernando.


Article by Sheida Marilia Larijani Images by Brenda Fuller

Restaurants are often warned not to open during season, as the departure of the snowbirds can leave many businesses in the red. There are those savvy owners, however, who know just how to avoid such fate. George and Lois Kouzis opened Landy's in February of 2015, and business is booming, even after tourist season came to an end. Located in the heart of Englewood, the redesigned building offers patrons a bright and airy atmosphere on the water. The entire building has been remodeled; the kitchen, the bathrooms, and the waterfront patio dining area. The owners and the staff are known for their hard work and attentiveness to detail. The water fountains and the smell of the ocean seem to give Landy's an ambience of old Florida. Open for lunch and dinner, the menu features Greek-influenced and traditional options offering; seafood, beef, pork, chicken and Italian and Greek dishes. All meals are prepared fresh and the portions are known to be generous -so much that many mention being able to enjoy their meal again at lunchtime to following day. One customer remarked, "The owner and the chef went out of their way to fill a request that my wife had made. Landy's is now our first choice for lunch in Englewood." 28 | THE SAND DOLLAR

To the delight of many, traditional Greek dishes have returned with the owners. Spinach pie, Greek salad, lamb shank, and seafood options have quickly become the top choices for new customers, while those who patronized the Kouzis' prior restaurant can enjoy their old favorites. The salad bar is by far one Landy's standout features. It is well prepared and generously stocked with fresh items. Some other favorites include eggplant parmesan on penne noodles, sirloin steak with seasoned rice and fresh zucchini, Atlantic salmon with crabmeat stuffing, along with so many other dishes to choose from on their extensive menu. Whatever you do, don’t pass up Landy’s signature homemade soups, which come complimentary with every dinner! With an outgoing and friendly staff ready to meet any diner's needs, Landy's has become a local hotspot in only a short while. The positive reviews keep coming in, most citing the comfortable atmosphere, quality and freshness of the food, generous portions and reasonable prices. The Kouzis family has done it again. They are truly a hit in Englewood!

Landy's Restaurant on the Water... A great place to eat. ☼ 1400 Aqua View Lane Englewood, FL 34223


Fish Facts with Tracie G.

What Is The Weirdest Sea Creature You’ve Ever Found? Article & Images by Tracie Georgiadis


hile paddle boarding with friends after work, I looked down and saw a silhouette on the ocean floor that I had never seen before. I am a paddle board instructor and ecotour guide, so I am familiar with the sea life in my local waterways. This could be something that I’ve never found or seen before, and I began to get super excited. I stopped paddling immediately. My friends were now a bit ahead of me, as I continued to stare down, but curiosity got the best of me. We were at Stump Pass Beach State Park, and it was mid January. I knew the water was going to be chilly, but I


didn’t care. I had to dive in! I felt a bumpy and hard surface, and it didn’t appear to move when I went to grab it. I brought it to the surface immediately and was in awe at what I had just picked up. I heard my friend say, ”That’s Tracie! She's paddling with me one moment, and then she just dives in after something.” That was such a compliment. This is why I love paddle boarding. The viewpoint from a board is amazing! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I had the chance to take a closer look. I had never seen this fish, and to

say it was weird looking was quite the understatement. I caught it by hand. Why didn’t it swim away? I quickly called my friends over to take my picture, and show them this crazy sea creature. It was a type of fish, and it appeared to be dead or close to it. I did notice that the gills were still opening and closing, slightly, so I was careful to keep him in the water when taking pictures. It was flat, triangular shaped with a bumpy back, big eyes and big lips. It had gills, which were circular shaped, located on the backside of its flat head. Its pectoral fins were circular and a yellow color

with black spots. I flipped it over to look at its belly, which was smooth and slightly slimy and light orange in color. It also had three fins, like feet on its underside; two in front, and one under the tail. “What in the world is this?” I wondered. We began taking pictures, and making fun at a friend who wouldn’t touch it, since I didn’t know what it was. I then stated, “I think that those fins underneath the creature may be for walking on the bottom.” That was one very unusual characteristic I knew would be important to assist in identifying the creature. This was by far the weirdest sea creature I had ever found. I was so excited. I love when I find something new to me. That evening, I couldn’t wait to get a look closer at the pictures to see if I could solve the mystery of what in the world this animal was. I began to tell my husband about my day and asked him how to look up the photo site he uses to identify birds. He said I should go to This site allows users to upload their own photos, and it can assist if you are looking for something unusual. I quickly searched the site with the question; “Weirdest looking fish in Florida”. I found a picture that was almost a perfect match to the one I had taken, with the same little three fins and all. Roughback Batfish (Ogcocephalus parvus) was its name. That was it! I did it! I found the crazy looking, elusive batfish. I began reading about the Batfish, and the story started to come together. The batfish has pectoral and pelvic fins that let it ”walk” across the seafloor. These fish are not fast swimmers, which is why I was able to catch it by hand. Batfish have an appendage on their nose, which they wiggle to lure small animals close to their mouth to eat. This appendage is similar to that of anglerfish, which people are more familiar with. Their diets consist of small animals such as shrimp, worms and little fish.

Most of the year they live offshore, but in the winter months, they can be found in small numbers inshore. Roughback batfish are said to inhabit the western Atlantic from North Carolina and the northern Gulf of Mexico to Brazil. I was pretty sure that I would never see another batfish again. I have since caught three more of them, all by hand. They are very docile and slow moving. Although this was by far the weirdest creature I have come across in the water, I am always looking for my next big find. Each day I carry the expectation that I may find something new to me. I love learning about sea creatures and sharing that knowledge with my clients. I’m blessed to have a job that integrates my love of the ocean and educating others. My new motto is, “A little education can lead to appreciation, which leads to preservation.” I am one lucky girl! During my tours, I usually find sea urchin, sea cucumber, large carnivores snails, sea stars, manatees and dolphin. I was lucky in finding batfish this year. I can never guarantee such encounters, but we always try to give you a memorable experience. If you’re interested in kayaking or paddle boarding with me, please call SUP Englewood at 941-234-4311. You can also book online at Let’s find something amazing together! It may be the weirdest thing you’ve ever found. ☼

There are approximately 60 species of batfishes that walk/swim the deep waters.


Let's Go Fishing Article by Mallory Herzog Photos by Benda Fuller & Aiden Herzog

T arpon season has been in full force all along the gulf coast. From the beaches of The

Gulf Of Mexico, to the most famous of them all, Boca Grande Pass. These fish are enjoying perfect temperatures and clear water. If your new to the area and are hearing about tarpon for the first time, these fish pack into the passes, and spill out on to the beaches to spawn. They range from 80-200lbs this time of year. They also travel offshore. Tarpon pack a massive punch. They are hard fighters, and put on an aerial show like you've never seen. Once you hook into your first, you will be back for more. We have resident tarpon that stay all year, but during the spring and early summer is when the largest numbers are here and are hungry. I spent a week on the water with my husband, Captain Andrew Herzog, chasing these beautiful fish around Boca Grande. We were using live bait, and tackle is key. You want to have some power, a reel with smooth drag and line capacity. We used 6,000 and 7,000 reels, that were filled with 50-65 lb braid. 50 to 60lb Fluoro carbon leader to a 6/0 inline circle hook. The rods we use are Tsunami Airwave Coastal Series 20 to 50 lb extra heavy, 8 foot rod. You can use a float or split shot, or simply, freeline your bait out ahead of the pod. This set up really gives you the upper hand on these robust fighters.

The first day out, Andrew hooked into a massive fish, well into the 200lb range. After about 45 mins, she wore though the leader. Brenda, The Sand Dollar Magazine Owner, happened to be passing though and captured a few great shots of us hooked up! A near catch always makes you come back for more. After a few days, the chase becomes addicting. You learn how to spot them in the water and what they are eating. Normally, small blue crabs or "pass crabs" gather on the hill tide in Boca Grande. They also eat a variety of dead bait, such as mullet and mackerel off the bottom. → THE SAND DOLLAR | 35

I have also seen a guy hook one in the pass on a jumbo shrimp. It all depends on what they are craving as your bait drifts by them. Although these fish have quite the appetite, they are challenging. They can be all around you, and you can literally be immersed in tarpon and still not get a bite. They have to really want it and really have an appetite for it. At the same time, it only takes one. One feeding tarpon will usually set off a chain reaction. We spotted a pod staying down deep, but you could see the color change in the clear blue/green water. I cast into the school, and I immediately I get a bite, but the fish comes off. You do not set hook on these fish, but, instead, you just start reeling when you feel the fish bite. This sets the circle hook. As I am in the live well, getting a new lively crab for my hook, the captain hooks up. Here we go! Round two! This fish put on a pretty impressive aerial show. When they leap out of the water, it's often difficult to keep a hook in its mouth. Remember to bow. Lower your rod and point


it at the fish as you feel the fish coming up to jump out of the water. This greatly increases your chances of getting your fish next to the boat for an snapshot.

After a battle, Captain Andrew finally got this fish tired enough for me to leader, and get the hook out. It was a nice 100lb tarpon. As I got control of the fish with my right hand, I realized how strong this fish really was. My entire hand

only fit in a part of its mouth. As I went to grab it with my other hand for a better grip my 6/0 circle hook broke in this tarpon's super hard mouth. The fish thrashed right out of my hand. Sorry dear, did you want a picture with that fish? It was a healthy, fast release. That's the best anyway! Luckily, I had my 8 year old on the GoPole, and he captured some great shots of the fish boat side! â˜ź



Sea Life Adventures Images and Article by Nicole Miers

SUP Englewood offers daily tours and rentals at Stump Pass Beach State Park. Reservations are required for all paddle boarding and kayaking adventures. Rentals are also offered daily at Don Pedro Island State Park. Private tours of Don Pedro are offered year around. Call SUP Englewood for more information: 855-2PADDLE or 855-272-3353. Visit SUP Englewood online at Stump Pass Beach State Park 900 Gulf Blvd Englewood, FL 34223 $3 per Car Entrance Fee Don Pedro Island State Park Land Base 8450 Placida Rd Placida, FL 33946 $3 per Car Entrance Fee Cayo Costa State Park 4 Nautical Miles West of Pine Island Cayo Costa, FL 33922 $2 per Person Entrance Fee Call Captiva Cruises for Ferry Service Reservations at (239) 472-5100

W hat’s the closest experience you’ve had with marine life? Being in the eco tourism industry, it’s my job to bring people to marine life, and provide education. Pretty cool, huh? I’ve dedicated countless hours paddling around local waterways to determine the best paddling locations to see wildlife. Using my passion for paddle boarding as my vessel, I’ve been able to discover coves, tunnels and coastal lagoons. These estuaries and coastal areas are filled with shore birds 38 | THE SAND DOLLAR

and marine life. Tips from locals, fishermen and park rangers have led me to some of the most amazing locations. Through my fearless travels across local waters, I’ve had numerous close encounters with nature.

These paddling experiences have provided me with local knowledge of where to find some of the most amazing destinations for marine life sightings. I’ve come to realize the value of an undeveloped coastline from paddling in various areas. Locally, we are lucky to have a

With SUP Englewood

few Florida State Parks with pristine, natural coastlines. The Florida State Parks have a beautiful mission to keep these parks in their most natural state.

Protecting the native coastal environment requires the maintenance of invasive vegetation. This has a direct effect on the ecological system and encounters with marine life. The Don Pedro Island State Park features a

mangrove tunnel that leads to a coastal lagoon. A unique estuary can be found here filled with sea stars, sponges and live shells. This is the only paddle boarding location in Englewood where I have seen a colony of sea stars. Marine life can be found throughout the tunnel. The trip through the tunnel is fascinating every time I paddle here. The Hidden Lagoon is located inside the Don Pedro Island, and it can only be reached by traveling through the narrow mangrove tunnel. Due to the narrow passageway, low tides and precious → THE SAND DOLLAR | 39

Sea Life Adventures marine life, this trip is recommended for non-motorized vessels only. Again, live shelling is always prohibited. Although dolphins can be spotted traveling along almost all barrier islands, the best location for dolphin sightings is The Stump Pass Beach State Park. Manatees frequent this area, and enjoy spending time close to the seagrass flats. Manatees are present here during warm water months, as they cannot tolerate water temperatures below 70 degrees. There is also a coastal lagoon located at the southernmost point of Whidden Key. This area is usually always filled with shore birds, upside down jellyfish and live shells.

Manatees are the most requested sea creatures I hear people ask about. The Cayo Costa Island State Park can only be reached by boat. There are kayak rentals on site, therefore, make sure that you bring cash with you for a fun paddling adventure. This Florida State Park features a freshwater lagoon. This area draws the manatees as they require freshwater for survival. Most people do not realize that manatees are salt-tolerant. They require freshwater and protein to sustain themselves. They commonly find freshwater in several ways; by eating seagrass, seeking runoff from rains, and drinking from underwater springs. In the Gulf of Mexico, there are numerous freshwater springs. Manatees seek out these areas to drink the freshwater. On Cayo Costa, the lagoon is fed by underwater springs, creating an area commonly referred to as Manatee


Lagoon. Remember to be respectful by allowing space to the manatees this time of year. In the spring and summer, manatees return to the warm waters with their young calves. Did you know that manatees can swim up to 20 miles an hour when scared? Scaring a manatee can cause the mother and baby to become separated. Always remember to stay safe when planning a paddling adventure. Bring communication with you, pay attention to the weather, and always let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back. These barrier island destinations feature amazing views, while supporting Florida State Parks. SUP Englewood is proud to support these parks by bringing visitors to local Florida State Parks. Paying the entrance fees helps to keep Florida State Parks well maintained and natural. â˜ź


7571 Sawyer Circle Port Charlotte, Fl 33981


Fish Guaranteed or Money Back • Fresh & Saltwater Approved 60 Day Risk Free Home Trial • Self Cleaning Dock Lights Great Gift Idea • The Brightest HID & LED Lights! Extremely Energy Efficient - No Maintenance Necessary Installs Easily In Just Minutes - Just Plug It In! Dock Lights are Completely Automatic - On at Dusk, Off at Dawn

Call Us Today Toll Free at (855) 347-4544 20400 Veterans Blvd, Port Charlotte FL 33954




Catch More Fish

with Underwater Fish light!

Article by Rachel Strausbaugh

It all begins with a microscopic creature swimming toward a green light. Although no bigger than a grain of rice, zooplankton are the backbone of a food chain that cater to some of the waters biggest creatures.

leveraged this knowledge to create a product that took fishing to a new level. For years, anglers and scientists have understood that lights attract plankton, plankton attracts small fish, and small fish attract big fish. Frustrated with overhead fish It’s simple biology that produces lights that reflected off the water, big results, and John Molle Molle worked to develop an 46 | THE SAND DOLLAR

underwater fish light that would illuminate his back waterway, and attract fish.

As marine life of all varieties and sizes began swarming, Molle’s dock neighbors took notice. Within a month, he had sold 7 lights. From there, he sold the lights on Craigslist and EBay, and

before long, he started his own company.

Underwater Fish Light began 11 years ago and has since grown from a one man operation to a 7 person crew. This locally operated business handles everything from production to distribution in a 5,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Port Charlotte. The facility also includes a storefront featuring numerous, helpful displays, diagrams and products. Visitors to the shop can even look forward to walk-in discounts. If you’re not nearby, the lights can be ordered online and are shipped daily all over the United States and internationally. “We always encourage locals to visit our store, meet our friendly staff, and see what we have to offer,” said Molle.

Whether you purchase an installable dock light for your home or the portable version, Molle guarantees the quality. These locally-made products are made from environmentally friendly materials, and all of the components are UL certified. The dock lights are automatic, coming on at dusk and turning off at dawn. They are energy efficient, easy to install, and they require no maintenance. If you’re a traveling angler, the portable lights are an excellent choice. They offer all the benefits of the dock lights but have extra features that allow you to take and use them anywhere. Whichever option you choose, the company is so confident with their product, they offer a 60 night money-back guarantee and a 3 year warranty.

Over the past decade, there have been several imitations and knock-offs, but none can rival the quality of the Underwater Fish Light. Molle’s lights have been tested and refined, proving invaluable to professionals, hobbyists and nature lovers alike. In fact, Molle’s lights have been used successfully by universities like Texas A&M in their studies, as well as by research organizations for educational and scientific purposes. No matter the use, people love the results they get with the Underwater Fish Light.

“Grandparents in particular love these lights, because they have something to do with their grandchildren in the evening hours,” said Molle. “Their grandchildren look forward to coming to visit, so they can go out and fish in the light.” Customers report enjoying the presence of a variety of marine life from snook → THE SAND DOLLAR | 47

and redfish to dolphins and manatees, and there’s no limit to what might swim by your dock. Not only is the fishing great, it creates a unique viewing experience, as well. Each night you’ll have the opportunity to see firsthand what’s swimming in your own backyard.

While they are most popular in Florida, customers around the country report similar results. “I have seen anything from a 3-4 inch fish swim through to a 3-4 foot fish swim by,” said Brian B. of Chesapeake Bay. “Anything can happen. These lights make you look forward to spending any night over the lights, at the end of the pier, awaiting that huge fish, that most think isn’t there, lurking in the shadows.” ☼

[Call, or stop in, and mention you saw this article in the Sand Dollar Magazine to receive a discount at Underwater Fish Light!]

Underwater Fish Light, LLC 20400 Veterans Blvd. Port Charlotte, FL 33954 (941) 391-5846

Profile for Brenda Fuller

The Sand Dollar Magazine - Summer 2015  

Experience The Coastal Dream!

The Sand Dollar Magazine - Summer 2015  

Experience The Coastal Dream!