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Wa t e r


Pr Han e d Pa da lin ge t g 12 o rs -1 3

Charlotte Harbor, Lemon Bay & the Gulf Keeping Fishermen and Boaters Informed since

Family Fishing Page 18


The Don Ball School of Fishing

February 2014

Great Day Last Month Page 10

Offshore Tournament Page 14-15

Harbor still has Beautiful Reds Page 7

Which Hook for What? Page 11

Fishing Report Page 23

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Water Quality and Edible Fish I have enjoyed the various editions of your publication since I have moved here in May 2012. I have thoroughly been intrigued with the various water spots in Southwest Florida with particular in Charlotte County. The major challenge I have is concerning the water quality, the fishing and digesting of them. We are all aware from repeated Federal EPA reports over at least the last four years that Punta Gorda's water quality has been recorded as marginal at best and with the Harbor and Peace, and Myakka Rivers barely making the grade. How can anything caught out of there be able to be consumed... Please let me know when you have an opportunity. Thank You, Michael P. Kerwin Editor notes: We forwarded Mr Kerwins question to Betty Staugler, the Charlotte County Sea Grant Agent. Below is her response.

This is a great question!! To answer I'm going to start with What is water quality? Water quality refers to the condition of water relative to legal standards, social expectations or ecological health. In order to evaluate the condition of the water a number of water quality programs do occur. Typical water quality parameters that are measured include nutrients (for example, nitrates, phosphates, etc), chlorophyll (a measure of microscopic algae in the water column), dissolved oxygen, and bacteria. If the water quality conditions are below what we would like, what suffers is the productivity of the ecosystem (amount of seagrasses, the number of fish), but none of these parameters affect seafood safety. To give you an example, if nutri-

ent levels were to increase the water would turn cloudy with microscopic algae. As a result sunlight would not be able to penetrate as deep as it should. Without sunlight, seagrasses which need sunlight to grow, would recede from the deeper depths. With less seagrass there would be less habitat (places for fish to live and feed) and hense less fish. The City of Punta Gorda's drinking water which comes from Shell Creek is impacted by chlorides and suspended solids, but ABOVE THE WATERLINE again these do not impact Congratulations to our regular columnist and Don Ball seafood safety. Even bacteria in School of Fishing teacher, Capt. Billy Barton, his brother the water doesn't affect fish flesh Matt and Austin Phelps for winning the Waterline trout in a way that would be harmful tournament. for consumption. You might ask what about counteract harmful effects of mercury in humans mercury? According to Florida Sea Grant adults because it tends to bind with mercury. Selenium can and sometimes do experience neurological may reduce potential harm from mercury on a symptoms from mercury in fish. However, reports one-to-one basis. The Florida Department of of such symptoms are infrequent and are associHealth maintains a geographic specific database ated with eating unusually high amounts of cerrelative to mercury in fish at tain fish containing above-average amounts of For mercury over long periods of time. Higher-mermore advice on eating seafood check out this cury fish include sharks, tilefish from the Gulf of great new publication from Florida Sea Grant: Mexico, king mackerel, swordfish, and certain like bluefins. The species of concern tend to content/uploads/SGEF_207_Seafood-Advicebe larger because they are typically longer lived QandA-web.pdf. and so could accumulate larger amounts of mercury over their lifetime. Fish caught in certain inCapt. Betty Staugler land waters can be much higher in mercury than Florida Sea Grant Agent ocean fish. Of noteworthy importance, there is UF/IFAS Extension Charlotte County evidence that the element selenium, which can (941) 764-4346 be common in ocean fish and other foods, could

Back Issues @

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Not affiliated with any other publication Vol XIII No 2 © 2014

No part of this publication (printed or electronic) may be copied or reproduced without specific written permission from the publishers.

Contributing Editors:

Photography: Senior Editor: Capt. Ron Blago River and Shore: Fishinʼ Frank Charlotte Harbor: Capt. Billy Barton Family Fishing: Capt. Bart Marx Punta Gorda: Capt. Chuck Eichner Venice: Glen Ballinger Kayaking: David Allen Sea Grant: Betty Staugler Real Estate: In Memorrium - Dave Hofer Offshore: Capt. Jim OʼBrien Gulf Fishing: Capt. Steve Skevington Circulation: Robert Cohn Office Dog: Molly Brown

on the COVER: Reds are in the Harbor and this angler fishing with Capt. Billy Barton has a fine one. – Capt. Dan Cambern gave us the colorful report photo just before deadline.

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“Like a good day on the water”

Lucky Again FEBRUARY 2014

By Michael Heller Water LIFE editor When I was 23 and living in Ft Lauderdale, I bought a Catalina 22-foot sailboat. I knew nothing about sailing. I picked the boat up from the dealer, it was in the water and motored out through Hallouver Cut into the Atlantic, put up the sails and began to figure out how to sail. I was lucky a lot, but sometimes, on the wrong days, I’d get in trouble. I broached once when my 7.5 Johnson couldn’t handle the overpowering outgoing tide in the Cut. I got blown down several times offshore testing the boat’s limits in wind I had no place sailing in. One day I ran the swing-keel aground on a sandy shoal trying to surf the boat over a shallow bar. I’d had dreams of sailing from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas on weekends, but after my first year of sailing, when I realized I could barely make it to Miami and back in two days, let alone the Bahamas, I sold the boat. Today I am still interested in sailing, but now I’m more interested in photographing sailing events from my trusty old Paramount powerboat. It was 39-degrees last month when I got up to photograph the Golden Conch Regatta outside of Burnt Store. Shivering, I put the scupper plugs - two 1.5-inch, black rubber laboratory bottle-stoppers - into the scupper holes to keep my aft deck dry. Then I swung the davits out and lowered my boat into the water. I had my old insulated Gates mountaineering gloves on and I was hunkered down behind the console wearing two sweat shirts, one with a hood, and my old dis-



Fancy Free on the way to the Golden Conch Regatta win

integrating Mustang life vest as a wind breaker. Soon I was clattering across the chop at 50+ mph, warm as toast and enjoying my morning dose of speed. Once there, I slowed down, trimmed the motor full under for handling and settled into photographing the race. The warm sun and the lack of that extra 50 mph wind made the day seem delightful. Sailors in the race even began to shed a few layers as the day wore on.


Just as the horn sounded, Fancy Free, a 39’ Soveral piloted by Jerry Poquette, made a quick move at the starting line and then grabbed a lead that she would ultimately never surrender and winning the event. Everything was going along nicely. The first few boats made it around the first mark and the fleet stretched out into one long conga line of white sails. I was watching the next two boats approach the mark, drifting at idle. I was out of the way, shooting with a telephoto lens, framing the boats as they came at me and were preparing to jibe around the mark. The action finally filled my frame and I brought the camera down from my eye to switch lenses. My boat had drifted much closer to the mark. I could now see the approaching racers weren’t going to make it around the mark. Just then, they tacked hard one time and then another. It was a sweet move, but it left one of the boats coming right at me! I put my camera down and pulled the engine into reverse, backing down hard as I worked to put some distance between us. Then I kept on it, a little longer, until they rounded the mark, but something didn’t feel right. My ankles were cold. A glitter on the deck below me caught my eye. I looked down. Water everywhere! We were sinking! Almost. All that hard backing down had churned up a wall of water that came over the transom. This was no surprise, I’ve had this boat a while, it does this with power in reverse and the motor trimmed full under and with the scuppers plugged there was no where for all the water to go. I threw the boat into forward and lumbered it up onto plane, then I crawled around and pulled out the plugs. Normalcy returned. I was lucky, but I was also soaked so I headed for home. It made me think back to my early days of sailing.




Cold Weather Salvation


By Capt. David Stephens Water LIFE Inshore Winter is definitely here this year. The last couple years were much warmer and spoiled us a little bit. With the colder water temperatures this winter focus has shifted to the sheepshead. The sheepshead, not to be confused with the northern fish of a similar name, is actually in the porgy family and is a great table fish. Catching them can be quite the challenge. Often they are referred to as the best bait thieves swimming, but they are not stealing your bait (they know there is a hook in it) it is more in their feeding habits to be quick. Sheepshead feed on small crustaceans such as crabs, shrimp and small shell fish. Since they do not ambush or attack their bait you often never feel them bite and when they feel the sharp hook they simply spit it back out. Any old local fisherman will recite the secret to catching sheephead: set the hook about a half second before they bite. I believe this to be true. Locating sheepshead can be difficult if you do not understand their habits and what they feed on. Like I said, they are primarly a crustacean feeder. Sheepshead are normally found around structure such as rocks, bridge pilings, or docks, but sometimes they can even


be found on the flats. The best place in my opinion to fish for these guys is around the docks. When I am looking for docks that I want to fish, I prefer the oldest ones with lots of oysters and rocks. Depth is key also. On clear days you can visually spot them feeding on the barnacles on pilings. Once you have done your scouting and found some areas that look fishy you need the right tackle. I like to use a braided line to help feel the very light bite. Also, I prefer to use a small circle hook, I believe this helps to hook up with fish that normally you would not even feel. When picking a hook make sure not to get one too light. These guys put up a great fight and might straighten a lighter hook. Also, weight will be needed to get your bait down. The size weight depends on the depth and current flow. If your bait is going out with the current add weight. Shrimp is my preferred bait due to it being so easy to get. I know a lot of people that use fiddler crabs and sand fleas, these are great baits if you can get them. Barnacles, scraped right from the piling, are also great bait. With a little luck and some patience you should get your rod bent.

If you would like to experience some of the best fishing on Charlotte Harbor give me a call or send me an email. Capt Dave Stephens 941-916-5769




wintertime. To sum it up, the warmest days with the most water movement are the days in general that produce more fish. In my opinion, once we have a cold front overhead those fish pretty much immediately shut down. The first day the front passes is going to be your worst day to fish. Progressively day to day, the fishing will get better after the front passes. It's a cycle. If you notice we have two days in a particular week that are going to be in the upper 70s, or close to 80, those are going to be the days you want to get out there - make it count and fish hard because another front will be sure to come, and the cycle Fishing was the same all over; some nice days last month and some really cold wet and miserable ones, like will continue. You this. Capt Dave Stephens (facing page) splashed his phone (not uncommon among guides) and lost his piccatchin my drift? tures. Capt. Billy Bartonʟs pictures appear with both stories this month. They are good friends anyway! Couple more quick tips: Fish most important factor as to what will afcrustaceans such as live shrimp fect the way these fish eat. I especially and blue crabs, these are your baits like to fish the pre-frontal conditions. of choice right now. Fish slow. The couple days, and even especially the With the water temperature low, day before, a strong cold front arrives it is our fish and their metabolisms almost always a sure bet that those fish slow down. Some fish won't eat will chew. By Capt. Billy Barton quite as much and the big fish will Also planning your trips in the afterWater LIFE Charlotte Harbor most certainly not expel a lot of noon rather than early in the morning Hello fisher friends! What's the verenergy in their feeding process. should improve your success. The sun dict!? Everyone have a taste of some The slower you work that bait the beating down on the water is a big help good action last month, I hope? I know better. I hope this helps guys! and can wake those fish up pretty good. my verdict, I'm ready for spring time! Tidal movement is also key. Pay close at- Best of luck out there, keep them I know we haven't seen any temperadrags singin!! tention to your tides. A strong incoming tures in the negatives, however when this Capt. Billy Barton, Scales & Tails tide, or the initial part of the outgoing are is where you're born and it's all you know, what I fish with full confidence in the Fishing Charters 941- 979-6140 30- to 40-degrees feels like it's in the negatives! You can definitely tell who's from up north and who isn't. I've been having folks get on my boat in shorts and t-shirts, and on some of these days I think I had three or four layers of clothes on! Although it was a fairly decent month of fishing, for the most part conditions were tough and in all honesty there were a handful of days in January where I had to work real hard to put fish in the boat. Being a subtropical climate, and basically a subtropical fishery, a lot of our fish have a difficult time dealing with water temperatures below 60 degrees. At one point in January I saw our surface water temperature down to 52 degrees – that was down close to Boca Grande. On average our water temperature up in the rivers is a good five degrees or so warmer than it is out closer to the Gulf so a lot of our fish will push up into the dark water in our Harbor and up into our rivers to seek out that few degrees of warmer water this time of year. There are a couple things that I pay close attention to this time of year besides water temperature. Our cold fronts are the

Fishing the Fronts


Invertabrates PAGE


By Capt. Betty Staugler Water LIFE / Sea Grant All of the critters in the photo (of this Port Charlotte seawall) are invertebrates, meaning they lack a vertebrae (backbone). Invertebrates include a very large number and diversity of organisms including insects, bugs, shrimp, sponges, clams, squid and jellyfish. I see three different invertebrates in the photo: oysters, barnacles and mussels. Oysters and mussels are mollusks and more specifically bi-valves (2 shells). There are approximately 150,000 known species of mollusks worldwide and 20,000 of them are bi-valves. The most common characteristic of mollusks is their shell which is largely composed of calcium carbonate. Eastern Oysters are found all along the Atlantic coast and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Oysters are filter feeders and very good at it. They filter by opening their valve (shell) very slightly in the water column. Cilia (small hair like structures) carry two to three gallons of water and suspended material over their gills per hour. Food particle are then trapped in mucus and move towards the mouth. Gulf oysters spawn in the spring and again in the fall. An oyster may start out as a male, turn to a female, shed eggs then revert back to a male. Besides humans, oys-



ters are frequently eaten by black drum and cow nosed rays. Juvenile oysters are also prey to blue crabs and stone crabs. In order to harvest oysters one must have a saltwater fishing license and be harvesting in an area approved or conditionally approved AND open for harvesting. This is because oysters, and other filter feeders tend to concentrate contaminants such as bacteria and red tide when present in the water. Readers can learn more about shellfish harvesting area classifications and get daily open/closed status information by visiting e/Agriculture-Industry/Shellfish The mussels in the photo are probably hooked mussels, but it's hard to tell for certain from a photo. Mussels filter feed in the same way that oysters do. Most mussels attach themselves to solid structures or to each other by fine threads called byssus, although some burrow into soft sediment or wood. Mussels are typically a dark blue or green on the outside. On the inside they are coated with a beautiful layer of variegated mother of pearl. They often form dense colonies in marsh grass and on submerged pilings. The last species in the photo are barnacles. There are several species of barnacles that occur in our coastal waters. Barnacles extract calcium carbonate from the water to create their volcano-shaped exoskeleton (on the outside). Deferent species of barnacles are able to survive



Oyster different degrees of air exposure so if you look closely at a piling you will often see a change in species composition. Scientists call this resource partitioning, which describes how different organisms are able to use the same habitat in different ways. Oddly, although barnacles look like they should be mollusks, they are actually a crustacean (like crabs, shrimp and lobster). Barnacles feed by waving their modified appendages called cirri in the water to catch drifting particles of food. Capt. Betty Staugler Florida Sea Grant Agent UF/IFAS Extension Charlotte County (941) 764-4346

Muscle Reader始s Question: Who is MARYS REEF named after? Thanks,

According to Mike Campbell, the Sea Grant Agent in Lee County: both Marys and Helens reefs are named after donors to a 501c3 non-profit, the Lee County Fishing Reef Association Inc. that collected funds to build them. The group was based out of Boca Grande. Additional research showed Marys Reef was permitted in 1988 under a generic name and then changed later to Mary始s Reef. According to Brian Knight manager of the Inn Marina on Boca Grande who is related to one of the original founders of the non profit association, Mary was Mary Moore, a Boca Grande resident, supporter of the Non Profit, and wife of a local fisherman. Mary passed away three years ago.



Blue Water

By Capt. Orion Wholean Water LIFE Gasparilla/Boca Typically when you hear the words blue water you think pelagic species such as billfish or dolphin; in most people's minds this would all normally coincide with the east coast of Florida. However the west coast has a different kind of blue water fishing to offer. Depending on the day and the conditions you can travel about 15 miles out into the Gulf and see the water drastically change to a vibrant blue. The farther you run the more spectacular it gets, as does the fishing. There are an abundance of species to target and many of them are excellent eating. You will find a great number of different kinds of grouper species on Swiss cheese bottom in all variations of depth. These fish will put up an outstanding fight on almost any tackle. Red grouper, specifically at about 30 miles out, have been consistent throughout the month of January. Once you have found the right spot, just send down a live squirrel fish or a whole squid and you can be guaranteed a great fight from any grouper around. Sometimes it's good to just spend a day out there drifting along with lines down until you come

across the action because it may be difficult to see fish on the bottom machine due to the lack of change in structure when fishing in most blue water areas. If you're looking for the fight of your life, find just about any marked artificial reef and bring your most serious tackle. Send down a nice size piece of bait and you can hope to catch the gigantic goliath grouper. You will need a substantial reel, more than likely a 50-wide with high test mono for abrasion resistance, a harness and some serious endurance. Once you have all that together you are ready. Another fun species is the amberjack which are typically found around reefs and will hit anything from live pinfish to just a regular deep jig. Their edibility is not as great as the red grouper, but they are still quite good when smoked. Even though we don't have some of the pelagics they have on the east coast, we still have some excellent fishing that still offers the possibility of catching the fish of a lifetime. To see some awesome pictures from recent trips check out Gasparilla Big Games facebook page, and book a charter today! Reach Capt. Orion at (941) 249-0177 or visit







Great Day for Gavin PAGE

By Capt. Chuck Eichner Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor Winter visitors planning a vacation to southwest Florida expect warm sunny days but in January and February you are just as likely to get a yankee clipper or polar vortex which will change your plans especially on Charlotte Harbor. Such was the case when my three grandsons arrived in Mid-January with thoughts of fishing, boating and swimming. For Maryland kids, 40 to 60 degree temperatures are no big deal but to everyone else it is cold. After 4 days of land based activities, the boys finally got into the heated swimming pool with air temperature making the 60s. Mid afternoon and shrimp in the livewell I posed the difficult question of who wanted to go fishing. A tough choice between the warmth of a pool and a fishing pole – my grandson Gavin chose fishing while Zachary chose snorkeling in the pool. Marylanders love to eat blue crabs so our goal was to catch ladyfish for crab trap bait, deploy the traps and then fish for trout. Of course, when you want to catch ladyfish for fish or crab bait they are hard to come by and that day was no exception. Gavin luckily pulled in a large ladyfish, along with a Spanish mackerel and off we went to set the traps. As many know, the ladyfish is quite the fighter and

leaper and Gavin’s 5-year-old angling skills measured up to the test! The next stop was for trout and the top of the high tide coupled with bright sun had them biting. Our goal was a trout dinner. With two adults and one kid on board, Gavin was the only one to put 4 legal trout in the well with one pushing 19 inches! A whole shrimp fished deep under a bobber was the method and the fish bit for only one hour. Moving to another spot before days end produced the ever present catfish which put up quite the battle as well. Back at the dock, Gavin and Zachary curiously watched as I filleted the trout and Zachary was concerned that we were killing the fish. I explained to 7 year old Zach, that we were harvesting these fish to eat and that it was perfectly o.k. This was the first time we ever cleaned fish as we always practiced catch and release! My biggest surprise of the day came at the fish cleaning table as the boys became excited about fish anatomy. Each poked their fingers inside the fish and discovered two whole shrimp inside the large trout. Amazement came as we examined the contents of the other trout and studied the eyes, gills, tongue, mouth, teeth and other fish organs. Pretty cool stuff for these up and coming anglers. The grand finale was the hot skillet

Gavin with one of his trout and proud grandpa Capt. Chuck

with wine/lime juice marinated fillets, coated in chili powder and panko. Fishing is not only about reeling in a fish but the entire experience the day brings. For these young anglers, the hook is set in

their fishing future.

Capt. Chuck Eichner operates Action Flats Backcountry Charters and can be reached at 941-628-8040 or go to his website

Which Hook for What?


By Fishin’ Frank Water LIFE Baitshop I hear people say you have to use circle hooks when fishing in Florida. Not true. You only need them for reef fish and then only if you are going to keep and eat the fish. Yet in the infinite wisdom of our state, if you are going to keep and kill a fish you must use what they claim is their choice of catch and release hooks, an inline circle hook. This is ridiculous! Circle hooks are better for catch-and-kill than catch and release, that is the design-intention of circle hooks. A circle hook is a hook the fish sets itself and cannot get off of. This makes them perfect for long line commercial offshore fishermen who have been using this hook for years. I am against the use of off-set circle hooks and I would say, under many or most circumstances, in-line circle hooks as well. The problem with circle hooks is they are difficult to remove from the fish. On long-line boats the crew just rips them out – but here, we are trying not to hurt our fish. A circle hook has to come out in a circular movement, which is fine unless it is stuck in the very corner of the fishes mouth and the fishes head is in the way of making the circle. It’s easy to remove if you just cut off the fish’s head or break its jaws, but NO! of course not! You can straighten out the circle hook so it can be removed, but that puts a lot of pressure on the fish’s jaw and like snapping a leader, it can cause damage to the jaw. The good part of circle hooks is if you are not holding the pole and using an inline circle hook it will catch fish in the corner of the mouth. It works because fish grab the bait and turn at the same time, dragging the line – then the hook slides into the very back of the jaw snagging with the point as the shank is pulled towards the rear of the fish. An in-line circle hook has the point of the hook bent back at the tip to point right at the shank of the hook. An off-set circle hook has the point of the hook bent back towards the shank and twisted to the side just a little. This gives a much higher


hook-up ratio than the in-line, but as you would imagine with the point twisted to the side, it may grab anywhere and if it grabs down in the fishes mouth you will be cutting the line. There is no other way as it has to be turned up side down in a circle so there is no room to remove it. When it come to white bait or any small bait fish I use a short shank live bait hook. The point of the hook comes about half the distance up the shank to the eye, a good example is the VMC 9299 which comes in red or black. There are two types of these short shank hooks, Octopus which the eye is bent back away from the point and straight eye. I prefer the Octopus version, I think I get a better hook set as it will rotate the point towards the fish. Some folks have told me they use the straight eye for the very same reason. I think that is why they make both styles, so you can find the one right for you. There is one more baitfish option; the light weight short-shank hook. Owner makes the best one of these, it is a short shank Mosquito hook. This hook is still made of forged metal and will break before bending and the material is lighter weight and thinner than the VMC or the Owner in the standard short shank version. The lighter weight and thinner hook allows your bait fish to swim easier and longer which makes for a more natural appearance. I would suggest when using the Mosquito hooks, stay with line of 15-pound test or less, heavier line will often break the hook on a hard pull. The standard “J” style hook Eagle claw 89A or the Mustad 92672 are normal shank hook where the point of the hook extends 1/3 of the distance to the eye and they have a 1/3 longer shank than the short version. This is the first type of hook most people learned to fish with. It offers a very positive hook set and enough


shank to get a hook remover on so getting a hold of a standard shank hook is easier when removing it. By the way, my favorite sheepshead hook of all time is the Mustad 92671- gold #4 or #2. The best hook in the world bar none, is the kahle hook or wide gap Mustad 37140. Eagle claw makes one also, but I don’t remember the number. Any time you are using a float or bobber or poppin cork use this hook, you can set it or not set it, it will catch the fish, and unlike J or circle hooks it will 99.9999-percent of the time, hook right in the corner of the fishes mouth, not way back in the side like a circle hook. This is the best hook ever under a float. Frank@Fishin’ 625-3888

Tarpon Jigs


The lead must be above-the-hook when the line is in the water. That is the concept recently mandated by the FWC to prevent snagging tarpon in Boca Grande Pass. The ridiculous jig shown at the left is an extreme example of what is technically legal: the weight is above the hook and a treble hook is legal when you are using artificial bait. Do you think this would snag anything? Some say the FWC doesnʼt have this thought through. If they are going to arrest someone for snagging tarpon they have to prove ʻintentʼ. How do they do that? Does using a fast-winding reel prove intent? Does a particular style hookset? There will be numerous new tarpon jigs designed and tested this year. Testing was going on at the close of last yearʼs tarpon season. In the world of jig-fishing tarpon guides, this is all very hush-hush. No one wants to show their secret weapon. To make the jig that is pictured on the front page we drilled through the lead to accept a small loop of swedged wire with a standard Gamagatsu 8-0 hook. The hook can be ʻhiddenʼ in the tail or it can trail free. This will probably catch tarpon. The problem with a giant jig like that is the heavy lead is going to help unset the hook in the fishʼs mouth when he shakes his head. Then the 3- to 6-ounce weight can come flying back at the angler if (when) the fish spits the hook. Jigs with break-away weights were once an answer, and some live baiters still use them today, but they are illegal because leaving tackle on the bottom is pollution. Last week the talk we heard was about a Carolina-style rig for tarpon, one where a weight can slide up and down the line, above a swivel, placed a distance up from the hook. Itʼs been around for years.



By Mallory Herzog Water LIFE Sharks


Mallory and friend

The best moment of any fishermanʼs catch is when they finally land that fish. Pure happiness! Un-hook and pose for a great picture to remember the moment they caught that monster from the sea! But what if you are going to release that fish and what happens when your catch is over 100 lbs and has a mouth full of razor sharp teeth? De-hooking and handling the situation safely can get tricky and even dangerous if youʼre not fully prepared! Iʼve been recreationally shark fishing from the beach for the last three years and Iʼve seen a variety of ways to handle these great and powerful fish. I personally am catch-and-release-only, when it comes to sharks.

Iʼm not much of a seafood eater. I, however, do agree that if a fishermen catches a shark and it is not a protected species he has every right to make his or her own decision to keep or release the fish.

If you intend to release your shark you should take every precaution to keep the fish alive while collecting data, and or tagging and de-hooking your fish! When in doubt, cut it out. Remembering this will keep you and your shark safe! We use circle hooks which usually end up on the corner of the mouth. On average, a fishing hook will rust out of a


sharkʼs mouth within 60 days. Itʼs never worth your fingers or the sharkʼs life to try for an excessive amount of time to remove a hook. We carry simple cable cutters which easily cut the leader. We always attempt to de-hook using a long handled de-hooker, making sure to have someone gently securing the sharkʼs mouth and keeping fingers and feet out of bite range! I always make sure to keep my feet behind the sharkʼs pectoral fins, although a lemon shark can bite its own tail! Speaking of lemon sharks, they are one of many protected shark species in the state of Florida. Sharks on the list should remain in the water at all times to ensure a safe and successful release. There is the occasional grumpy lemon shark that rolls up in your leader, causing you to spend 5 minutes cutting the shark free. Or the feisty sandbar shark that rolls in the sand up the beach trying to swim at you! Do your best to return the shark to the shore line for your pictures and safe de-hooking!

If youʼre on a pier especially, try to walk your catch down to the shoreline. Itʼs never a great idea to gaff a shark that you donʼt intend to harvest. If you absolutely must pull your shark up on to the pier, use a bridge net! These are HUGE nets that are really useful for bringing up large catches easily! If you intend to harvest a shark make sure you pick up a regulation book to easily identify which you can harvest! Releasing is my favorite part! Walking out into the water with a live shark really gets your blood flowing! Day time releases are a little less stressful since itʼs easier to see the water around you. At night itʼs very important to keep a light on your release man for his safety! We've had other sharks and fish swim near us while releasing to check us out. Never let the shark get between you and the shoreline.

For the larger sharks, you have to walk out into about 2-4 feet of water. Walk slowly paying attention to the sharksʼ movements. Keeping the sharks head in front of you and holding it by the tail, making slow back and forth mo-



tions. This helps to push water through the sharkʼs gills, helping him gain energy to swim away. When you feel the shark start to move its tail youʼve done your job and itʼs ready to go! Youʼre left with a great memory and the shark swims off to be caught another day.

Iʼm excited to see so many new groups of young shark fishermen. The smile on someoneʼs face when you help them catch their first shark is priceless! Itʼs even more rewarding when you see them set out on their own and return safely and successfully. I feel that itʼs important to help educate and teach beginners proper fishing techniques. I was lucky enough to have the guidance of some amazing fishermen early on, and I am still learning new and innovative ways to fish every day! Itʼs important to handle these fish respectfully to assure future generations will enjoy them as much as we do! Mallory Herzog can be reached through Fishin Franks or at

Photos: Mallory and Andrew Herzog releasing sharks from the beach at Boca Grande last month





Handling Predators

ach Fishing:

Kayaks are used to place the bait for shark fishing from the beach


From Tom Spencer Recently I've had questions regarding my interest in shark fishing so here is a quick little FAQ.

Q: Why do you want to catch sharks? A: It's fun. Seriously, it's a blast. But honestly, I've been fascinated with sharks since I was just a kid. They have always been my favorite animal. It just took me 38 years to get to this point and I'm not getting any younger so I might as well have fun while I'm still able to!

Q: Do you keep and eat the sharks you catch? A: No. I catch, tag, and release. Shark numbers are dropping due to over fishing for commercial purposes. 1/3 of all shark species are threatened with extinction. I want to promote conservation. Also many of the sharks we catch are protected and cannot be kept!

Q: What types of sharks do you catch? A: We catch a variety of sharks. Blacktip, bonnethead, lemon, nurse, bull, and hammerhead, just to name a few! Q: What is this tagging that you do? A: I participate in the NOAA Apex Predator Tagging Program. Data from this tagging program helps to provide valuable information on migration and the extent of fish movements. You can find out more here:

Q: Does tagging the shark hurt it? A: Sharks generally heal very quickly from wounds relative to other animals. Also, they are tough. During the mating season we often see large cuts on their backs and dorsal fins, where they give each other "love bites". To us they seem like very deep cuts, but in a matter of a week they appear much less so. And a month or so after mating season, virtually no traces of the bites remain (no scarring). In comparison, the small dart that we insert below the skin seems like a tiny splinter. Q: How hard is it to reel in a big shark? A: Very! I've only caught them up to 6 feet so far and it was much more challenging

than I had expected. Battles with larger sharks can take hours!

Q: I see you use giant reels and rods. Isn't that overkill? A: Yes we use large gear to catch sharks from the beach. If we were in boats, we could use much smaller rods and reels, as you can always follow the shark with the boat. On the beach, you don't have that option. So we need a lot of line, typically 1000 or more yards of 100 pound or higher test. We also need the larger reels with stronger drags to help get the shark in as quickly as possible to ensure a healthy release! Q: Why kind of gear do you use? A: We use conventional style reels with either star or lever drags and heavy stand-up style rods in the 50-130 to unlimited class.

Q: What is that funny looking belt you wear while fighting the shark? A: I wear a specially designed "bucket" harness. The harness helps me to hold onto the rod while fighting the shark as well as use my weight to help fight the shark. It's similar to a fighting chair on an offshore boat. Q: Is this an expensive sport? A: Yes! To quote my friend Andrew, "A drug habit might be cheaper!" Q: Can anyone do this? A: Yes. Just please please please please take the time to learn how to do it safely and properly from someone who has the experience! I can't stress this enough!

Q: Do you ever catch stuff besides sharks while fishing for sharks? A: Quite frequently! We often catch goliath groupers and sometimes we even catch a tarpon!

Q: I see you use a kayak, do you catch the sharks from that? A: No way! We use the kayak to deploy the bait. The leaders we use are very heavy cable and have lots of weight to keep them in place. Casting the bait out just isn't an option. So we kayak the bait out and drop it while the rod and reel stay on the beach. Q: What do you use for bait?


A: It really depends heavily on what the sharks are honed in on at the time. Some times they will eat stingrays, sometimes mullet, sometimes bonita. Sometimes you can throw everything at them and they will turn up their noses and keep on going....and other times they will eat anything! Q: Is fishing for sharks from the beach safe for the other people at the beach

swimming? A: Shark fishing from a beach does not put at risk swimmers. In fact, a hooked shark has never attacked a swimmer. We do not attract sharks to the beach, they already live and thrive there. If you're swimming in the Gulf, you're swimming with sharks all the time. We drop our baits 100 to 500 yards away from the beach.

Q: If I see you reeling in a shark at the beach, can I take pictures? A: Sure. The only thing that I ask is that you keep way back while we are fighting the shark. This is not only for your safety, but also for the angler's and the shark's safety. We need to work quickly once the shark has been landed. If we get distracted someone could get seriously injured or the shark could die. We don't want that! I hope this has answered your questions! If I missed anything let me know! I'd like to thank Andrew and Mallory Herzog as well as everyone at Fishin始 Franks for all of their help and guidance! If I've missed something or if you have a question you'd like answered, I'll do my best to help you. Tom Spencer 941-380-8485

Brrrrr..ueggeman PAGE





ALL THE TOURNAMENT WINNERS GAVE BACK THEIR WINNINGS Special to Water LIFE From Glen Ballinger Last month was the 10th Annual Captain John Breuggeman Memorial Tournament. This is a fund raiser for high school students’ college scholarships in Englewood - Lemon Bay High School and this year, as in years before, the winners donated their winnings back to the Brueggeman College Scholarship Fund. It is my favorite fishing event of the year. The competition is tough and the event is well run and professional. Winners catch the heaviest combined weight of 3 red grouper or catch the one largest single fish. We entered 6 fishermen on the Outcast. Myself, Dick Meyers, Rick Hall, Ben Morganson, Pete Lee and Gary Myer. The cost was $33 each. We had a great team and we went out on Saturday to catch our live baitfish. Then we cut up some bait and geared up our heavy tackle for Sunday. The weather this time of year is constantly changing (and cold) and luckily we ended up getting a light NW wind so the trip out in the dark, down SW about 50-60 miles, was workable. It was chilly and everyone wrapped up in layers of cloths. We left from the Venice Inlet at 4:30 a.m., the moon was bright, we had our spot lights on and the GPS was tracking.

Traveling down to our special tournament only grouper grounds took us well over 2 hours. Dick, Gary and Ben stayed up the entire time keeping watch. We anchored on a spot I have been saving since this fall, a waypoint is called Wisconsin. Lines in at 7 a.m. was the rule. First fish on board was caught by Rick Hall and it ended up being our largest at 15.5pounds. We anchored at close to 20 spots during the entire day. We had our limit of grouper at 24 (4 per person) and felt good about what we had to weigh in. When we arrived at Cape Haze Marina.

Another Captain had already weighed in a huge 23.5 -pound red grouper (Charter Capt. Bob Breton on Hog Hunter from Venice) His total weight of 3 red grouper was 56pounds. Then my good friend charter Capt. Joe Miller Fish Galore Offtournament shore, weighed in 52-pounds. Which left us in 3rd place, with 41.5-pounds: 2 @ 13-pounds and 84 year old Dick Meyers huge trigone at 15.5. gerfish (above) In all, 21 boats was a bycatch of entered. The awards the dayĘźs redand party were great grouper tournament. as was this as always with nugag caught by merous prizes. It Capt. Ben Morwas a very chalganson (right) of lenging and reward- Nokomis. ing day after much effort and work by all on the OutCast team from Venice. I will definitely be in this tournament again next year.





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Joel Turnner on the left and his dad Bob Turnner holding up what we weighed in.

With Capt. Jim O’Brian Water LIFE Offshore Hey Ya all I hope you got fish'n in between the winds. The fellows I talked to that did get out done real good. With the colder weather the sheepshead are bitting like there’s no tomorrow. The red grouper are chewing good, nice fat aj's are all over the wrecks, sharks are bitting good off the beaches, on the inshore wrecks and in the passes. Me and some friends fished the John Breuggeman 10th Annual Red Grouper Tournament with Glen Keaser and Walter Jennings who supplied a beautiful 32 ft Contender with a pair of 300hp engines. The tournament was Jan. 19 and Connie Breuggeman did a superb job putting this event on. They had some nice grouper that was brought in. Our crew was Walter Jennings, Glen Keaser, Bob Turner and his son Joel Turner and me. Boy was it cold that morning, about 36 degrees if I'm not mistaken. We all looked like over

stuffed teddy bears. HA! First stop was about 44 miles out. After we got there the dag- gum bottom machine quit working so we caught a shark, then proceeded to come in about 7 to 8 miles and when we stopped the dag -gum bottom machine decided to start working again so we was back in business. We caught 6 or 7 red grouper but no BIG UNS. I think our biggest one was 10 pounds and the others were 6 and 7 pounds. In the picture you will see Joel Turnner on the left and his dad Bob Turnner holding up what we weighed in. Does the picture look like a normal fish'n picture? If it was me I would think them boys was ice fish'n. HA! All the winners gave the prize money back to Connie Breuggeman to put back in for college scholarships for deserving Lemon Bay High School students. IS THAT A BUNCH OF GREAT GUYS OR WHAT? Nice going! Well it's time to get out of here again so if you have a good ol fish'n story or a recipe for cooking fish we can share with our readers or if you want to book an offshore fishing charter with us call 941- 473 -2150 and remember: GET OUT AND SNORT SOME OF THAT GOOD CLEAN SALT AIR CUZ IT'S GOOD FER YA ! ! !




Real Estate News It is with extreme sadness that we must report our friend and Real Estate contributor for the last ten years, Dave Hoffer, passed away suddenly last month. Our sympathy and our condolences go out to his wife Marlene and his family and other friends. We will all miss him.




DDG 1000 Staff Report The Navy splashed its newest destroyer, the USS Zumwalt, two months ago. She is now undergoing sea trials. Constructed by General Dynamics the "DDG1000" Guided Missile Destroyer is unlike any vessel in the Navy’s arsenal. Built with what they call a tumblehome hull and composite armor the Zumwalt absorbs radar signals much like the stealth bomber. An all-electric drive system and proprietary underwater hull design keeps her silent when underway. The Zumwalt was named after Admiral James Zumwalt, an American naval officer and the youngest man to ever serve as Chief of Naval Operations. Zumwalt played a major role in US military history, especially during the Vietnam War.

The new ship is due to start patrolling later this year. At a cost of over $7 Billion there will be two more ships of this design built under the current contract. Planners installed a power plant in the ship that could provide power to 78,000 homes (around 78 megawatts). Such power could enable the first uses of the Navy's magnetic rail gun, which combines magnetic currents and electric fields to fire projectiles at 7 times the speed of sound. Computers and automation have reduced the necessary

crew to 158. On the outside, the USS Zumwalt is a full 100 feet longer than existing classes of destroyer. According to the Navy's press release, "The shape of the superstructure and the arrangement of its antennas significantly reduce the ship's radar cross section, making the ship less visible to enemy radar at sea.” The hull of the ship is made of a ‘special’ composite. The Zumwalt's weaponry is tailored for land attack and close-to-coast dominance and will also have a sensor and weapons suite

optimized for littoral warfare and for network-centric battles. The ship's advanced gun system (AGS), will be able to fire advanced munitions and the Zumwalt Class vessels have two landing spots for attack helicopters. Zumwalt has a peripheral vertical missile/torpedo launch system (PVLS), which consists of 20 fourcell PVLS situated round the perimeter of the deck. The DDG 1000 will be armed with tactical Tomahawks, standard missile SM-3s, and the evolved SeaSparrow missile.

Big Freeze for Manatees FEBRUARY 2014

ON THE LINE By Capt. Ron Blago Water LIFE Senior Staff Florida Statute requires an annual impartial, scientific benchmark census of the manatee population in Florida. From 1991 – 2011 there were 27 synoptic surveys conducted. Unfortunately there have been no surveys done in three of the last five years. The FWC which has the responsibility for doing the surveys have said that global warming has made it impossible to conduct a reliable survey. The FWC has two main criteria that must be met before they schedule a survey. First, the air temperature should be below 49-degrees for a few days and second, the water temperature should be below 68-degrees. It seems like the FWC won't be able to use the global warming excuse this year. Already the water temperature in our area is around 61-degrees; and there have already been 11 days in Jan that have been below 49-degrees and more unseasonal cold weather predicted for


the next few weeks. The total manatee population number is the most critical measure of manatee health and their future survival. A raising population number should be the goal of any manatee protection plan. Without that population goal we will never agree on a point where the manatee will no longer be considered endangered. We do know that there have been massive die offs of manatees the last three years, mostly due to natural causes, primarily red tide and cold weather. Last year, there was an all time record die off of 829. The State estimates that number was 16-percent of the total population; which puts their estimated population of manatees at 5181 but without a survey, that is only an educated guess. These manatee population numbers affect a lot of people in a lot of different ways. For example the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recently issued a report that said that in 2013 the commercial fishing industry in Florida was responsible for 99 manatee deaths. How

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they came up with that number is a mystery considering that the state FWC doesn't even have a listing for manatee deaths due to commercial fishing . The problem is the Fed's are using 2011 population data to say that commercial fishing has no major effect on manatee population numbers. Unfortunately, the Save the Manatee Club and the Center for Biological Diversity see this as a major new threat to manatees. Dave Laist, Senior Analyst with the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission thinks both


sides are right and that more management of manatees needs to be done. So there you have it; the manatee folks and the government want more manatee management and the commercial fishing folks want less manatee management when it comes to their livelihood. As for me, I just want to know what the real population of manatees is in Florida, and how many we need before they are removed from the endangered species list.

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Making Memories PAGE


By Capt. Bart Marx Water LIFE Family Fishing It’s February and we are looking for some good memories to be made. As I am putting my thoughts into this article I am thinking about me and my sons and my father and the many chances we have had to make some memories together. It is so important to savor the time that we get. We have had plenty of families come along with us to fish. I have a repeat customer who is into his late 80s and his daughter is in her early 60s. They fish with us around the Holidays every year

and have made some great memories of their own. Memories become bragging rights of the family fishing trip when you get back home and are sitting around the kitchen table and the stories begin to flow. In October 2012 there were just a few days before gag grouper were




going to be closed to harvest. My Dad was not one who enjoyed going into the Gulf, but that day it was calm and he agreed to go. I prepared the boat to do some grouper trolling. It was smooth and the conditions were perfect. We pulled away from the dock and returned in two hours with our limit of gag grouper. We caught six fish and released two. To me, the two hours the boat was in the water and those memories are as if we just went out together last week. Since that time my Dad’s health has been declining and now his time is short, to go be with his maker. It is important to cherish special times like fishing trips and family activities you do with your loved ones. Not too long ago, I had some family members ask me to take them fishing and

to then scatter the ashes of a loved family member. It was a successful fishing trip and they had the opportunity to have some quiet family bonding before they placed the remains to rest in the water, as was his request. Fishing helps us all cherish those family moments of time. Capt. Bart Marx 941-979-6517 or

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Sometimes Unsubstanciated, But Often True

Killed and Dieing Pilot Whales are in the News

In the North Atlantic Faroe Islands every year for the past four centuries, whales are forced, or “driven,” to authorized fjords and beaches by fleets of fishing and leisure boats. Local authorities supervise the Faroe whale drive. Whales that donʼt beach themselves when boxed in and pushed towards land by the boats are dragged to shore via blunt gaffs hooked into their blowholes. Others that fail to cooperate with the “drive” are stabbed in the blubber. Once the whales have been lured or driven to the shore, their spinal cords are severed, killing them in preparation for use in the commercial whaling industry. Spears and harpoons have been outlawed in the Faroe hunt since 1985, because those weapons are ironically deemed “too cruel.”

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In Florida a crowd looked on sadly, last month, at a dead pilot whale near Lovers Key. According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, scientists are now looking at sonar pings from Naval vessels as a possible cause for the numerous Florida pilot whale beachings in the last few months. The US Navy had previously denied any of their ships were close enough to affect the whales. The most recent 25 dead mammals -- 16 females and nine males -- were discovered just two days after eight other pilot whales were found dead about 40 miles up the coast. In December, 51 pilot whales were stranded in the Florida Everglades. Eleven died after beaching themselves and 11 others died in the Florida Keys. Editor notes* – Necropsies on 21 of the whales so far, have shown they all had empty stomachs.


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CCA WILL TRY AGAIN Capt. Josh Greer is the new CCA Charlotte head and he says there is going to be a CCA Banquet March 6. “We have to get banquet money back to Charlotte County,” he said. Good Luck Josh!

PTTS LOSES A ROUND After their breach of confidentiality charge against Save the Tarpon was dismissed earlier, now the owners of the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series (PTTS) and their Tampa attorney will be paying the legal bills of three Save The Tarpon Inc. directors – a Charlotte County Circuit Court judge issued a sancton January 28 under a rarely-invoked state statute aimed at curbing so-called frivolous litigation. This all stems from a lawsuit filed against the Boca Grande-based Save the Tarpon conservation group last year in which the PTTS tournament claimed Save the Tarpon had cost the PTTS more than $500,000 in sponsorship and other revenues.

OYSTER POACHING Officers received information about individuals harvesting oysters at night in Apalachicola Bay. An inspection revealed approximately 3,000 pounds of untagged oysters. The two men were cited and the oysters were returned to the bay. Later officers noticed a vessel with no navigation lights entering Two Mile Channel from the east. They found approximately 1,000 pounds of untagged oysters. The men onboard were detained. Still other officers seized a total of approximately 4,000 pounds of oysters which were returned to the water alive. The five harvesters in that case were cited for 20 misdemeanors and 2 boating safety infractions.

THE SOUTH ATLANTIC FISHERY MANAGEMENT COUNCIL Asked, in a recent press release: “What is the best approach for long-term management of the 60 species

X ray of a stingray

in the snapper grouper management complex?” The Council said it was looking for input from fishermen, seafood dealers, restaurant owners, environmental groups and others interested in fisheries management. A series of informal port meetings will be held from the Outer Banks to the Florida Keys to gather input.ʼ Water LIFE notes the inclusion of restaurant owners and environmental groups in the fishery decision making process.

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Last month 29 boats competed in the two day, 2014 Golden Conch Regatta out of Platinum Point Yacht Club at Burnt Store Marina. Below are the results East Course Fancy Free Jerry Poquette Soveral 39 Bonnie Lass Tony Newing Alerion 28 Air Supply Steve Romaine Jenneau 35

True Cruising A Diva Gorda, Rudy Gottschlich Jenneau 36 Serendipity Mike Busher Hunter 42 Panache Dayton Dorey Hunter 41 True Cruising B Seadaddler Nicholas Maggio Hunter 36 Mariah dave Erdman catalina 27 Euphoria Ed Brauer Hunter 30 West Course MultiHull Kimosabi Phil Sanders Corsair F24

Spinnaker Soulshine Paul Robbins S2.9

The Flying Scott District Race scheduled for January in Charlotte Harbor was cancelled. The new date is April 5-and April 6, the hosting facility will be the Charlotte Harbor Yacht Club.

Top: Tacking and tracking before the start, racers practice their timing to the starting line. Above: Jerry Poquette始s 39 Soveral Fancy Free (red stripes) moves to the starting line. They led from start to finish (middle right) Coming to the first mark in Saturday始s race. Below: Foul weather gear with insulating layers underneath. Right: Off to the first mark on Saturday




Paddling in their winter home

By David Allen Water LIFE Kayaking How would you like to enjoy a pleasant winter outing within 4o minutes of Port Charlotte and paddle with the mManatees? Our club does this paddle every year at this time and we always have a large group. Sometimes it’s not much fun paddling in the cold water, particularly at launch time when you get wet feet and when that cold wind can make the temperature feel like 30 degrees below. So we start our paddles a little later in the morning when it’s warmer and we pick a stream that is a little more protected from the wind. But when we head south to North Ft. Myers to paddle with the manatees we can forget about these problems. You see, the manatees don’t like the cold water either and when the water in the Gulf and the larger bays and rivers gets too cold they look for warm spots to spend the winter, just like our friend the snow-birds. The Fish and Wildlife Commission reports on the number of manatee deaths from cold stress each year and the number is typically around 150 when temperatures are near the seasonal average. Even though the manatees do not ap-


pear to be overly intelligent, they do know enough to seek out the warmer waters along the Florida coastline. Some of the better known spots are Kings Bay near Crystal River, near Homosassa, and a couple in the Tampa Bay area; Bartow and Big Bend. There are also 6 or 7 on the East coast ranging all the way from Miami to Fort Pierce. We don’t have to go that far to find manatees in the winter. About 40 miles south of Port Charlotte is the Orange River where FPL has built a power plant. This plant discharges warm water yeararound into the river and the manatees love it. The power plant is about 1.5 miles above where the Orange River enters the Caloosahatchee and the water there is warm for most of this distance. But there is no question that the manatees like the section nearest the power plant best and they seem to spend most of their time there. Lee County has conveniently established a park at the entrance of the warm



Kayak Excursions in Fort Myers also offers manatee tours from kayaks

water into the Orange River called Manatee Park. You can easily get there by taking I-75 south to exit 141 and going east on Hwy. 80 to the park on the right. It’s not to far. Big signs. You can’t miss it. There is a parking fee of about $5 and you can rent a kayak from Calusa Blueways Outfitters starting at about $15/hour. Tandems are a little more. Optimum viewing times are between the months of November and March but we usually pick January or early February. Once you get into March and beyond, the manatees disappear. There is a lot to do other than kayaking at Manatee Park. There are shelters for a picnic, a butterfly garden, an observation

platform right over the warm part of the river, and many nice walkways So you can see why our club likes this paddle. You almost always see manatees and the warm water makes the paddle more comfortable in the winter. And don’t forget your waterproof camera! There is a lot more detailed information at:

The Port Charlotte Kayak Club meets each Wednesday evening at Franz-Ross Park at 5:00PM. Franz-Ross is next to the Charlotte County YMCA. The meetings are brief so don’t be late. For more information contact Dave Allen at 941-235-2588 or





February Fishing Forecast

Charlotte Harbor

Frank, at Fishin’ Franks 941- 625-3888

Let’s start with everybody’s favorite; redfish has been good, the secret for the last few weeks has been a live shrimp on a Rockport rattling jig head. Not many people know this jig. The way to do it is to take the tail off the shrimp, rip it or bite it. Put the hook in just to the bend and bring it out through the top side of the tail. The shrimp will be hanging backward this way. Use the 1/4 ounce or larger size jig, lift the rod sharply and let it drop back to the bot-

Photo and photo below: Capt Billy Barton

right now and the colors don’t matter much. This jig works on reds and trout and is even getting the snook to bite. We have schools of Spanish mackerel and trout in the Harbor. Try trolling a bluewhite-silver 14 Bomber or a Storm Twitchin’ Stick. Start at the Alligator Creek Reef and troll south. There have been a bunch of fish over the top of the reef. Once you hook a fish stop and throw a poppin cork with a shrimp and pop the cork a lot. This is the time to make noise.

Photo: Capt Bart Marx

tom where it will puff up some sand. Let it sit 30 seconds to 1 minute and repeat. This rig has been producing 5 to 1 over any thing else. Be careful with this jig so you don’t pinch or break off the rattle. Most of the guys are going south to Pirate Harbor, Bull and Turtle, the tailing flats in Gasparilla Sound, the Pine Island potholes. These jigs are working all over

Re Photo on the Cover Hi Water LIFE magazine, my best fiend came home from the military last week and we spent the week out on the Harbor. My friend has been on the cover of your magazine before multiple times, his name is Jesse Smith. I caught a 20 pound redfish when I was out fishing with Jesse and thought If I sent you a picture I could possibly be on the cover of the magazine just like he was, email me back and thank you! Michael Caligiuri Editor notes: Michael, Nice Redfish! I wish I could, but you just look too sunny and summery to be on the cover this month. Keep sending us pictures, you just might make it yet! – MH

There are more fish on POSITION the west side right now AVAILABLE than the east side. New diver partner Maybe it’s due to the needed. Must show up to colder weather. The inramp on time. coming tide chills the Must not be afraid east side while the river of sharks / cold water. water flowing out Must help with gas warms the west side. Must bring back There are larger reds to half as much fish the south and more but as I do to the boat. Any takers? smaller fish north. Outside the bar, on the east side, in 5-to 6feet of water, there are pretty good numbers of pompano right now. Watch behind the boat for pompano to be skipping. Then come back and zero in on them. White and pink with a green feather seem to be the best in the baTommy Davis (top) posted this on facebook last month: nana style pompano jig. below, ʻtakerʼ Ronny Perry, with an amberjack from the day In the Gulf, there are a lot of grunts but AJ are the big story right now. Some are on night with an outgoing tide they are movthe Palm Island ferry and over at Pegasus. ing pretty good. In a boat go to any pass at Nine to 10-miles is where they are starting high tide and put your lights out and have your dip nets ready. The more light you to hit good. It’s a little too cold for the king macks. have the more shrimp you’ll catch. The The red grouper are a little closer but you light needs to be focused down into the still have to be out at 50 feet. There are water. With a led light on a pole stuck in some in the passes, but it’s hard to find a the sand at Boca Grande, in shallow water, keeper till you get out further. Best bait in you can catch shrimp like that too, but at Boca or Captiva right now is 1/2 squid on that point you are kind of like the bait the hook first and then put a live shrimp yourself. The peak of shrimping will come on. They will be keying in on the shrimp in March. Bass fishing is going crazy 4-8 pound migration. bass are common . Try the Rapalla Scatter February and March are the two best Wrap crank bait or the June Bug creature. months for shrimping in this area. Every


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The BIG-4 Fish to expect in February


Gulf Temps are 58

The fish are biting, I can and cooling off. hear them from here. There Fish are moving is a big variety of fish out in closer RED GROUPER Bigger fish TROUT Big trout to the south REDFISH Whidden Creek and SHEEPSHEAD Close-in reefs there right now and guys are on Swiss cheese bottom in Pine Island Sound the Gasparilla back country ICW docks Placida Trestle catching them, but it seems you have to work a little harder. Guys that are always really 95˚ good on sheepshead said they had to work hard inshore but the reefs 90˚ off coast were a little easier. I had one guy with a keeper cobia caught by Stump Pass on the 85˚ beach outside of the pass. I know he was tossing some live bait, I think he said he threw a pinfish. Some guys have had good luck 80˚ on redfish, but they had to really work at it to get into the back country. North of the Tom Adams Bridge, Forked Creek up that way, Photo Opʼ with Capt. Billy Bartonʼs anglers last month and down into Whidden and around 72˚ Leelyn Fisher and Timmy Treska with two kid-size the top of Bull Bay have all been sharks from an outing with Fishbone Charters 70˚ mangrove snapper and bigger red with said they pretty good for reds. Guys caught a grouper. One guy caught an were catching, or 68˚ lot of trout in the morning there on mouths. African pompano on Sunday and at least hooking and fighting them, shrimp and doing better working The freshwater guys are catching others wrestled with AJs out on the for a while. They said they were the water column with a jig. some bass, some in the back little Bayronto wreck. throwing small little plugs – they Offshore, fishing has really been ponds and some further inland. In The only other thing is, there are were using X-Wrap No 8s, but it 50˚ pretty good. Some guys are going a the Big O bass tournaments they a bunch of small tarpon in the was hard to get them with the little little further, 30- to 40-miles, and have been doing really well with Coral Creek area. The guys I spoke trebble hooks and those boney are getting nice yellowtail snapper, the fish this year.

OFFSHORE from Capt. Jim OʼBrien

SHARKS - are all over the place. Some guys I talked to caught some sharks at m-15 concrete culverts the barge off Stump Pass and some are hooking sharks off the beaches in the evening.

KING MACKEREL - there are a few being caught but not many. SPANISH MACKEREL - are being caught in 30 to 65 ft of water, nice shiny spoons are working well

AMBERJACKS are smashing blue runners on the offshore wrecks. I have a couple of charters coming up and that's all they want to fish for. RED GROUPER - if you can get in between blows they are chewing real good. They are hitting in 70 ft on out. The Gulf hasn't been clear so the best bait is stink bait - try the mullet-chunks tipped with squid or frozen sardines, double hook them and twist the tail off so it lets more scent out TRIPLETAIL - are moving in around the crab

traps and out of Stump Pass. They go out 9 miles you won't find fish on every trap, but cast around the traps for 10 min and then if you don't get anything move to the next. One trap may hold up to three fish MANGROVE SNAPPER - what can I say everyone is fish'n for these tasty little guys. They are in Charlotte Harbor, Boca Grande Pass, the trestle going to Boca Grande and on the inshore and offshore reefs and wrecks. The bigger ones are out deeper.




if you slow down






Water LIFE Feb 2014  

Fishing, boating and other water related subjects in the pristine environs of Charlotte Harbor Florida and the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Pres...

Water LIFE Feb 2014  

Fishing, boating and other water related subjects in the pristine environs of Charlotte Harbor Florida and the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Pres...