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Sh H NSID ar ow E! k Pa s ge Hu 13 nt

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LIFE

Charlotte Harbor, Lemon Bay & the Gulf

The Don Ball School of Fishing

May 2014 No Bait But... Page 8

Big Sharks are HERE! Page 12

Snook now Catch & Relese only

Fishing Guides Page 22-23

Other changes Letters - Page 4

On the Beach!

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MAY 2014

Tune in to the Radio Fishinʼ anytime! talk show with Fishinʼ Frank @ FishinFranks.com LETTERS

Race Results

The Charlotte Harbor Grand Prix, as an event, was fun (they shouldnʼt have cancelled the bikini contest!) and I would like to see it, or something like it, (maybe smaller race boats up in the Harbor?) every year. But financially the race was a flop. We made magazine deliveries the day after the race. Merchants were not happy. Employees at Farlows, Steffanos, Flounders, the Gulf View Grill and the White Elephant all reported business was down. Regular Sunday customers, they said, were afraid of the predicted traffic. Charlotte County provided the race group with $250,000 to produce this event. Commissioners said the expenditure ʻwould be an economic booster for the county.ʼ They were initially promised 85,000 people would attend, then it was 40,000, and in the end there were, maybe, 12,000 watching and only half of

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them paid admission. There were busses to transport people, there were vendors on Englewood Beach and they had a small field of race boats, but what they didn't have were the crowds. The operator of the Shell Station on the main drag told me the busses were hardly filled. Estimates around the area put the crowd as smaller than on a normal busy beach weekend. Maybe 5,000 people on the beach was the number I heard most. One merchant on the beach who did not want to be identified told me his store sales were down and the only thing anyone did buy was 'cheap beer'. The complaint was that food, drink and souvenir

sales were by site vendors from out of the area. Fuel sales at Stump Pass and Gasparilla Marina were no better than normal either. It was a good boating weekend, so faced with a $15 general admission or $100 VIP ticket, a lot of local boaters, (maybe 4000 people in all) simply went by water for free. It was a huge raft up! The sheriff's department helicopter shot this picture of the boaters anchored outside of the race course on the Gulf side. They counted 981 spectator boats proving an event doesnʼt have to be profitable to be successful. Michael Heller

Perspective on Snapper One of the reasons the feds announced their 11 day season for snapper for 2014 is that the Florida FWC already had said "screw it!" to the Gulf council, when, last month, they announced a 52 day snapper season in state waters. Capt. RA Perspective on Grouper NOAA Fisheries is implementing an in-season adjustment to the red grouper recreational fishing season. The red grouper recreational daily bag limit in federal waters will be reduced from four fish to three fish (within the current four-fish grouper aggregate bag limit) beginning on May 5, 2014, and the recreational harvest of red grouper in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico will close at 12:01 a.m., local time, September 16, 2014, and remain closed until January 1, 2015, (unless changed by new rulemaking) OK, ask yourself: who decided to set the limit of 4

red grouper per person in the FIRST Place?? The Feds did. AND NOW they say we are overfishing them and so they HAVE shut the season down on Sept 16. Hello?? Snowbirds and fishermen that travel to Florida to fish for a week or so: THERE WILL BE NO FALL SEASON Personally I thought 2-3 red grouper was an ok limit anyway per person - the Feds went from 2 to 4 /person. The gags will still be in season, we hope, So then gags (and scamp) will be the sole grouper targets after Sept 16. Glen Ballinger

Mr. Heller: Read your article on all the permits that are required. You forgot the migratory fish permit if you fish for sharks and tuna in Federal waters I get one every year to stay legal, most people don't even know about it. I also attached the UF work shop papers that was held at Laishley's on 3-27-14 and the work papers for the permit to fish off shore meeting at Bass outlet early March. There were only 8 people interested enough to come to the UF meeting and maybe 15 came to the FFWC Gulf Fishing Permit meeting. Frank was there. I am sure that the off shore permit will be pushed through this year and be required in 2015. They said no cost for the 1st 5 years because they have a grant , nobody is exempt, if youʼre breathing you need it, they don't know how they will enforce it or what the penalties will be for not having it. The regulations will keep coming, these people need to justify their value to keep their jobs and get more grants. And the fishing public does not pay attention or care, until it bites them. Thank You Jim Hoffman Editor Notes: Think of permitting as MSBUs for fishing. Itʼs not a tax, but you still must pay.

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Photography: ASA1000.com 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 Offshore: Capt. Jim OʼBrien Gulf Fishing: Capt. Steve Skevington Gasparilla: Capt. Orion Wholean Beach Fishing: Mallory Herzog Circulation: Robert Cohn Office Dog: Molly Brown

on the COVER: Matt Barton, holds whatʼs left of a blackfin tuna, caught in 65 feet, a big bull shark took the rest. Thanks to Matt and brother Capt. Billy Barton for all the great fish pix this month!

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MAY 2014

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Missing the Good Stuff By Michael Heller Water LIFE editor There is an element on the Periodic Chart that scientists know of but don’t talk much about. It’s called Unobtanium. It’s the stuff they sometimes need to make an experiment successful but that they just can’t get a hold of. Unobtanium; I didn’t have any last month. In early April I had surgery to fix a ‘trigger finger.’ It was a minor operation, a small incision and 5 stitches in my right palm. For two weeks I couldn’t close my fist. I had not considered how this would affect me. Not only could I not hold a fishing rod, I also could not drive the boat or shift my stick shift, not that hard at least. Of course I did it anyway. A fishing rod just lay the wrong part of my palm. No lifting the doctor had told me. To make matters worse, Capt. Billy had left his boat tied up at my dock a couple of times right around then. Too much temptation, watching him come and go. I resisted, for a little while at least. Then one evening, with the tide starting to run out good, I caved. I had seen jacks swimming and an under-slot redfish had been idleing right below my dock. There were schools of bat-wing rays cruising the canal and there were snook in my neighbor’s underwater light every night. I picked up a clean 17MR and my fa-

vorite old Redbone rod and walked down to the dock. I can do this, I told myself, but when I tried to tie a loop knot on the lure, I realized; I may not be able to do this easily and went back up to my ‘rod cluster’ to find a rod that had a gold spoon on it. The light was almost as golden as the spoon. Next problem: ever tried to cast with your ‘other’ hand – the one you don’t usually cast with? Try it, I almost lost my rod while trying to close the bale. But it can be done and after a few failures I was able to throw, really flip, the spoon about 40 feet, down and under my neighbor’s sailboat, which he keeps on a lift. He never uses the boat so the whole area below it is a shady, undisturbed little ecosystem. It’s often a live spot, but it was not, on that night. I had almost given up, having cast there, up the canal and down the canal and even across the canal a good number of times without even a bump. Cast, retrieve, repeat, I had it worked out. I would stick the rod in the rod holder on my dock piling and crank it normally with my left hand. It sounds easy, but by then alcohol had become involved. Finally, I agreed with myself that after two more casts that would be it. It was almost dark, I was having trouble seeing and worse yet, I had finished my last beer. I had a feeble plan for what I would

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Sunday evening, April 27, a traditional drift boat captain hits the throttle, acelerating the boat forward to hook a fish and pull it out of the school. This is standard procedure for this type of fishing as compared to jig fishing where the angler lowers his jig into the school and then cranks it up quickly. Tarpon have been in and out of the Pass lately. In the 1.5 hours before the tide change we saw 12 boats fishing tarpon, 6 hook-ups, two fish jumped.

do if I did hook up a good fish. I had the drag tight and I thought I would just stick the reel under my right arm and head up the lawn. I figured I could keep pressure on the fish and then reel, but it didn’t work out that way. The fish that took my spoon on my sworn last cast was not a big snook, a snook would have run right under my neighbor’s boat and I would have sprung into action. It was probably a jack or a big catfish and it turned and went straight up the middle of the canal with a traditional hard pulsing pull. It didn’t matter, my run-upthe-open-lawn plan went straight to hell.

Instead I had to head in the direction of the pool, which involved zig-zagging around a cluster of areca palms, around an umbrella and past a low block wall. The fish didnt have to do anything. I wrapped myself in the palms and when I pulled hard, holding the reel with my shirt as planned, I broke myself off on the sharp corner of the wall. Trying to be positive, I figured I was lucky I didn’t fall into the pool. I gathered up my plyers and leader, my rod and my lightened Bud-Light bottles and headed back to the house. Fish were laughing, I could hear them. Somewhere that evening my unobtanium had been misplaced.


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Little Tiger Shark

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Matt Barton, 20 miles offshore, shows a young tiger shark they were in the process of releasing. Tiger sharks are one of the larger shark species; the largest individuals can exceed 18 feet and 2,000 pounds. This is a true apex predator with a very broad diet that can be found throughout Florida in both Gulf and Atlantic waters. Adults mature at approximately 9 feet and are relatively rare, yet it is thought they come inshore to give birth to their pups in the late summer. Some of the Southwest Florida Shark Clubʼs members experimented with multiple shark rigs, made of coated and uncoated wire and put out with the same baits which showed that 100% of the time the coated rig was hit first and more often than the uncoated rig. Texas shark fishermen have reported similar results which is why they go a step further and wrap their shark hooks with electrical tape.

The Theory is: Sometimes the fishing is just on, but on some nights you canʼt get a run even though you had the perfect bait and the conditions were right? Could it be there were just no sharks in the water? Or it could be they just never grabbed your bait because they detected an electrical pulse set up by the saltwater and an uncoated cable? Note* See page 13: How Sharks Hunt

By Capt. Bart Marx Water LIFE Family Fishing Summer is here and the waters are getting warmer. This means the bait is getting thicker on the beach and in the harbor. This means that there is natural order, small fish are being followed by bigger fish and bigger fish are being followed by, hello, even bigger fish. This is the time of year that the big sharks are following their food of choice, tarpon, and the tarpon are following their food choice, the threadfin herring. There are king mackerel involved in this process and Spanish mackerel too. The snook are starting to move to their perspective prespawn locations hoping to feed on scaled sardines that are starting to grow into the perfect morsel for snook, reds and trout. The transition to summer patterns can be frustrating or off the hook, no pun intended. You have to figure out the movement of the species that you want to target and get the bait that they just have to have. This may take in the process of throwing the cast net, or casting a sabiki rig to harvest your livebait. Threadfins and scaled sardines are some of the choice baits for most species, but there are pinfish that work well too. This would be a great time to invest in some dry chum to draw the baits near so you can have a better chance of catching some. Menhaden oil is a good additive to your dry chum mix to kick it up a notch. After you master the live bait catching, it is time to go trade those small baits in for bigger fish that you can take home and

MAY 2014

have a fish-fry or cookout with. Or, you can go play tug a war with the big critters, get a few pictures and let them swim off, that’s lots of fun too! Tarpon, sharks and goliath grouper are some of those big tackle-testers that people like to target and mark off of their bucket list. The tarpon and goliath are catch and release, a few of the sharks we catch we harvest, the black tip and bonnet head are two of the best eating in our area. If any of you would like to come along with Capt. Bart Marx and create some of your own Florida fishing adventures call me 941-9796517 0r e-mail captbart@alphaomegacharters.com <*(((((>{ Always remember, singing drags and tight lines make me smile.

PEE WEE SEASON Shrimp is a prolific creature, each pair making thousands of eggs and reproducing faster than almost any other critter. We have good supplies of shrimp here in Florida and we are in no danger of running out, but this year there is a problem, with fewer bait fish anglers are more reliant on shrimp for bait, and with fewer baitfish other fish are feasting on shrimp as well. Shrimp only hatch once a year. This month we are getting to the time of year called PEE-Wee season, in which the adult shrimp have left the shallow water in the Harbor where they grew up, for the deep water of the Gulf where they will live out their lives. Those shrimp never return again so the ones that are here after June are the ones which hatched this year, the tiny shrimp we call Pee-Wees. - Fishinʼ Frank


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YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT SIZE OR SPECIES YOU MAY CATCH By Mallory Herzog Water LIFE Beach Fishing Every spring we get the privilege of spending time with the Grindle family during their spring break. They are big fans of the beach and enjoy fishing our local waters. This trip I was determined to get them out for some night fishing for sharks. Most of my time spent with them has been fishing the Englewood and Boca Grande beaches during the day. I wanted to change things up a bit, so we headed out with Larry and Beulah, they have been married over 50 years and are still as adventurous as they were in their teens! We arrived at the beach about 4pm anxious to get a great spot and to get lines in the water. The bite has been best on the beginning of the tide changes, so we wanted to make sure our baits were in the water when the incoming began. We used stingray and jack crevalle as the bait and cable 480-pound leader, as always. Andrew set off to drop baits from the kayak. We placed one bait short and one a little further out to cover the most ground. Our bait didn't sit in the water more than a half hour before we had our first bite. Larry was first up on the reel. We helped him into a fight belt. The shark decided to swim directly at us almost the entire time it was hooked. This is a concern because it’s much easier for them to shake the hook out of their mouths if they gain any slack. Larry handled the challenge well and soon landed a six foot sandbar shark. We had Larry tag this shark. We explained the data collection process and where to place the tag. This was the 13th sandbar shark I have tagged in 2014. The sandbar shark numbers this winter have been very impressive and point to their numbers increasing. When the Gulf warms up the sandbar sharks will move into cooler water and we won’t see them again until fall. Just as the sun was hitting the horizon line Beulah hooked up on the Spinfisher 10,000/500. I was hoping for this. Sandbar sharks are such a fun fight on spinning tackle. This reel has serious drag, and is not to be mistaken for your average spinning reel! This shark took off, peeling 250 yards of line off the reel before Beulah could put the breaks on! It was heading towards the only pilings in the area, and then she was broken off. This fish picked up a piece of jack four feet off the shore on a cable leader with heavy weight. After dark Beulah got another shot! The 80W started going off with tremendous speed and force. This fish was

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pulling serious drag, it’s the time of year that you never know what size or species you may catch, but I knew it was a good sized shark by the way it would run every time she inched it closer to the beach. As she would take back the fish would feel the sand on its belly and get another burst of attitude and energy to peel that line back off. Eventually Beulah won the battle and landed her very

first shark, a 6-foot 8inch female bull shark. This was the first bull shark we've caught this year and it was a welcome change. Beulah also tagged her shark. Spring is in full force now and I am looking forward to the fish that follow. Over the next few weeks there will be an increase in sharks and many of these will be pregnant females. Please show extra care and attention and release them quickly if you do not intend to harvest them. Pregnant sharks are extra large, sometimes 50-percent larger than average. They are much more delicate and having their full weight resting on the beach for too long could

cause problems, not only to their young but to the adult shark as well. We encourage all anglers to strive for a 60 second release time by taking quick pictures and having your de-hooking and tagging equipment easily accessible.


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Bait is Late EMAIL:

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But the Fish Gottaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Eat

By Capt Billy Barton Water LIFE INSHORE Well friends, it's official... Winter time has come to pass. It's steadily warming up out there, the sun is shinning and the BIG fish are chewing!! Last month I wrote about our most popular inshore summertime bait fish, the scaled sardine.

Commonly known by us locals as "greenbacks" or "whitebait", these typically plentiful bait fish usually make their presence known during the later part of winter, or in early spring. Especially when targeting snook, whitebait is by far the bait of choice during our warmer months. The snook will put full focus on these baits during their summer spawn, as the oils in the sardine

are vital to the snooks reproductive system. The majority of your local inshore charter captains will get an early start and throw their cast nets at sunrise in order to fill the live well up with these spunky baits before their trip begins. When I wrote my story last month, I was just beginning to see some nice bait around. The fish were really turning on to it hard when it showed up. As far as I could tell at the end of March things seemed to be warming up. To the naked eye the seasons seemed to be at a change


MAY 2014

on schedule, and to most of us guides and fisherman it appeared the white bait was showing up just as it should. When I wrote my last story I expected it would soon be here in full force. However things did not come into play as expected and at this point in time we are now way behind schedule. So what is the deal? Why are we in this scenario? I need answers and I know I'm definitely not the only one. I've had several conversations with very knowledgeable fisherman about this subject. Some say that the shortage is due to over cast netting and basically raping our supply and taking so much bait for granted. If this is the case than I ask myself why is there bait North and South of us? Why are they catching it

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without a problem in Sarasota and Tampa Bay? If I had a guess, there has got to be more fishermen up there than we have down here...?? A reasonable explanation that came from a fellow captain was the Caloosahatchee river pump out that they did last year in the early to mid fall. I'm no scientist and I don't know for sure what came out of that river, however I do know that there was a crazy amount of fresh water involved with the whole release. Maybe whatever was in that fresh water could be to blame. We already have two rivers, the Peace and the Myakka that flow from way up in the state and are constantly flowing fresh water into our harbor. Maybe all this fresh water is to blame? The majority

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of white bait is being caught is closer to the Gulf and ICW, rather than up inside the north end of the harbor. I don't believe that it has to do with any pollution or algae bloom or anything of that sort. If it were that, it would be affecting other species and everything else appears to be spunky, happy, and thriving! It just makes you wonder. I know it makes me think about all of those times that I took more bait with me than I needed on a trip and how I took advantage of having it being as plentiful as it was. Every day that goes by gives me more and more respect for our fishery. Every ounce of me wants it to thrive. Scenarios like this can really teach us a lesson and put things into perspective. Only take what

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No, this is NOT Fishin始 Frank!

you're gonna use. Catch em up guys. Until next time. P.S. Don't let the lack of sardines dishearten you to the point where you don't want to go fishing! Charlotte Harbor is still full of big fish ready to chew at this very moment! Just put a half dollar sized pin fish, or a good size shrimp in their face and they'll eat it! Tight lines my fisher friends. Capt. Billy Barton, Scales & Tails Fishing Charters 941- 979-6140


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Pass or Harbor

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The Fish You Were Expecting Have Arrived! By Capt. David Stephens Water LIFE Inshore That special time of year has arrived in southwest Florida when the Silver Kings (aka tarpon) begin to migrate into Charlotte Harbor. If you know what a tarpon is, then you have heard of Boca Grande Pass. Considered the tarpon capitol of the world, at any giving time during the month of May, some of the largest schools of tarpon gather in and around the Pass. Why? No one really knows for sure. My opinion is these fish gather here to form spawning schools and head off shore to spawn, that’s just my opinion. There are many techniques to target fish in the pass. The preferred method is drifting through the hole, so whether you use live bait or prefer jigs, get in line make your drift then idle back around and repeat. The biggest thing you can do to upset the guides that are trying to make a living is chase the schools of rolling fish! Remember, fish that are rolling are not feeding. Tarpon are one of a few fish that can gulp air from the surface. This ability gives them the capability to live in some of the freshest waters and some of the waters with very low oxygen levels. I grew

up on the Peace River, and have fished for and caught tarpon up into Desoto County at the Fort Ogden trestle. The biggest part of putting tarpon in the air is knowing what bait to use and where to use it. When I am fishing around the Pass and the beaches, my go to bait is small crabs. If you look on the surface you will see little crabs floating in the Pass. These are pass crabs. If possible I will dip up these guys for bait, however there are times that they are not running and when that is the case most of the local bait shops will have small blue crabs that work just as good. Charlotte Harbor is also a great fishery for tarpon. When I fish in the Harbor I put the crabs away in favor of something a little different. Threadfin herring is my go-to bait in the Harbor, however catching these guys can be a little tricky. Even though you can see large schools of threaddies on the surface, it does not mean you can just pull up and cast-net on them. Net selection plays a big part. Your average shallow water bait net will not get the job done. It takes a heavy, quality, net

that sinks fast in order to get these guys in open water. I prefer a 10- to12-foot Calusa Cast Net. The depth of water and the size of bait determine the mesh size. For catching big threadfins in open water you want a ½ inch to 5/8 inch mesh. I like the Calusa net because I know I can load and throw it repeatedly without any tangles, but even with the best net you still have to work at it to get them. A good net only makes it a little easier. Later in the summer when fall starts knocking on the door and most people think the Silver-King has left the building, something magical happens. Large

schools of ladyfish move into thee Harbor feeding on schools of glass minnows. This is in my opinion one of the greatest times on Charlotte Harbor and ladyfish are then the bait to use to catch some of the most aggressive tarpon. I am not sure why, but I think it has to do with preparation for their migration. Ladyfish are very oily and so they are just the thing for tarpon who are trying to put on some extra weight. If you would like to experience some of South West Florida’s best fishing give me a call or send me an email. All of our charters are private and customized to fit you and your party’s needs. Capt. Dave Stephens 941-916-5769 www.backbayxtremes.com


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How Local Fishermen Hunt

Water LIFE Gasparilla The warming waters and the tarpon migration in full swing has not only attracted anglers from across the country but it has attracted some of the largest sharks in our oceans. These sharks include huge bulls and the prized hammer head. Most recently we have landed many fish over 9 feet. Including bull sharks and lemon sharks, as well as scalloped and greater hammer heads. Anglers have been catching these fish in sizes ranging up to 14 feet. Although tarpon seem to catch the spot light, the overall big-game fishing in general has been unreal. I have fished off a boat, on land, and from a pier many times, but until recently I haven't known the experience of fishing off the beach and then jumping in a boat to chase the catch of a life time. I recently purchased a 10 foot inflatable hard bottom with a 9.9 horse on it to bring baits out, then it struck me: the boat could also be used to chase what is at the end of my line. Recently, my 50'wide was being spooled, so we hopped in the inflatable to chase what we thought was the fish of a lifetime. After being dragged over a mile offshore we were able to chase this fish and bring it back on the beach. We landed a 9 foot greater hammerhead. After trying to revive the fish properly and removing the hook, we ended up having to swim with the shark to get it up to full health before we were comfortable with releasing it and having it swim away. It is imperative that these fish are handled properly and released with care. For complete videos of our latest catches, check out www.YouTube.com/gasparillabiggame

DIADEMA RESEARCH

Prior to their region-wide die-off in 1983, the long-spined sea urchin, Diadema antillarum, was a key herbivore on Florida始s coral reefs. The loss of these urchin populations appears to be responsible for accelerated benthic algal growth and a loss in coral cover. Mote Marine has been developing aquaculture methods to produce urchins for restoration trials in conjunction with scientists from the Florida Keys and the University of Miami.

MAY 2014

AQUA

Why Coral Reefs Died


MAY 2014

A TICA

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How Local Sharks Hunt By Betty Staugler Water LIFE Sea Grant In a study published last month by researchers from the University of South Florida, Mote Marine Laboratory and Boston University, sensory cues (sight, smell, etc.) relating to hunting behavior were examined in three different shark species (Blacktip, Nurse and Bonnethead). Tests involved blocking different sensory systems and then seeing how the sharks responded to live bait that was tethered upstream. Despite differences in sensory specialization in shark species, all three species detected distant presence of prey upstream by smell (olfaction). When the olfactory senses were blocked the blacktip and bonnethead continued to cruise without tracking the bait. However once they were within 2 meters (blacktip) and 1 meter (bonnethead) their visual senses took over and they proceeded to strike and capture the bait. When both the olfaction and visions senses were blocked, neither the blacktip nor the bonnethead were able to detect the prey and as a result did not feed. The nurse shark on the other hand required olfaction to feed. Interestingly, although nurse sharks do have retinal areas specialized for visual acuity; they appear unable to detect prey visually. This may be because nurse sharks are nocturnal (nighttime) hunters and on dark nights or in the case of hidden prey, olfaction cues would be more important for hunting. Many sharks hunt from downstream using olfaction as the primary mode of prey detection. The results of this study determined that some species could feed successfully from upstream provided there is good visibility. Another aspect of this study evaluated tracking. In all three species, when olfaction was blocked, alone or in combination with other senses, sharks turned less frequently and at significantly slower speeds. When vision and the lateral line

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Multisensory Integration and Behavioral Plasticity in Sharks from Different Ecological Niches â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Mote Marine

were both blocked, blacktip and bonnetheads turned quickly, but infrequently and could not locate the prey, suggesting that these species required a directional cue from either vision or the lateral line. The nurse shark however could continue to track and successfully locate prey when both vision and the lateral line were blocked.

Once a shark tracks an odor to its source, a strike occurs. Successful strikes are fast and precisely oriented. Normally blacktip sharks orient themselves a few meters from their prey and execute direct and rapid strikes. However when vision was blocked, blacktips only struck after long search times; at much closer distances to prey, at greater angles and reduced velocities. Without vision, strikes were guided by the lateral line. When both vision and the lateral line were blocked, strikes did not occur. Bonnetheads, normally strike in closer proximity, at greater angles and at lower velocity than blacktip sharks. When vision was blocked on bonnetheads, they were unable to successfully strike indicating that for this species, striking is entirely guided by vision. Hammerhead sharks (bonnethead shark being one) have superior binocular vision compared to pointed-nose sharks, like the blacktip shark. This may explain the bonnetheadĘźs reliance on vision for striking at prey in the water column. Normally nurse sharks orient from distances closer than blacktip sharks or bonnetheads, and at greater angles and slower velocity. For this species, vision, lateral line, or electroreception blocks did not cause significant changes in either the frequency of striking or in striking distance. Strike angle, however, was significantly greater after lateral line plus vision blocks or electroreception blocks. When vision was blocked strike velocity was slower; however it was faster when the lateral line or electroreception was blocked. Because suction feeders, such as a nurse shark, are only effective over

short distances they are able to use any of these senses to successfully align strikes, although slight differences in the strike were noted depending on the sensory system being used.

The take home message from this study is that sharks are capable of using multiple sensory cues at the same time, switching between sensory cues in a pri-

oritized fashion as they approach their prey, and substituting alternate sensory cues, when necessary, to accomplish behavioral tasks such as hunting and capturing prey. Capt. Betty Staugler Florida Sea Grant Agent UF/IFAS Extension Charlotte County (941) 764-4346


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Hey Ya - All - how in the heck do you like the winds we have been having? 20 to 25 knot winds with gusts over 30. Every time they have a blizzard up north and the winds come down out of the north we get the fronts with the wind. I hope they get their spring or summer season going up north so we can have some decent weather down here. Ha! I have had to shuffle some charters around to get away from the wind. On our last couple of charters we had Wes Maki, David Lesamen, Dick Wright and his wife Lucy, Chuck Edmoston, AND Larry Cornell. With the winds the way they have been, if you did get out our morning the bite has been slow, but from afternoon on, the bite has been a whole lot better. I have noticed when the water temperature is in the high 70s the bite is good in the morning and afternoon, but you get some cold fronts coming down and the water temperature gets down in the low 70s the bite gets sluggish in the morning. I personally want the water temp to stay in the 80s. We have still been catching some nice size gag grouper but we have to throw them back until they open July 1. We are catching red grouper and a scamp or two, some nice size mangrove snapper, some nice size triggerfish and some reef porgies. It's still a smorgase board of fish out there! By the time you read this article you will have one more month till red snapper season opens, we have got some charters lined up to go. The last charter we had out we was seeing flying fish and that is usually a sign summer is here. The cudas are on the offshore wrecks now. Well folks it's time to get out of here so if you have a good ol' fish'n story or a recipe for cooking fish that we can share with our readers or if you want to book an offshore charter with us aboard The Predator II call us at (941) 473 - 2150 AND REMEMBER GET OUT AND SNORT SOME OF THAT GOOD CLEAN SALT AIR C U Z IT’S GOOD FER YA! ! !

MAY 2014


MAY 2014

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Stump Pass Charlotte Takes it in the Groin

ON THE LINE

By Capt. Ron Blago Water LIFE Senior Staff Back in January I predicted that Stump Pass would have a fixed structure in place on the north side of the Pass this year. Unfortunately; I have to push that prediction forward until 2015. My original prediction was based on reliable information that assumed that everything worked out as planned. I should have known that anything involving more than one government agency would never work out as planned. As it stands right now all the permits for the project should be in hand by Dec. 2014 . I can't help but compare our efforts to keep Stump Pass open with the efforts to keep Big Pass open in Sarasota County our northern neighbor. Big Pass is located between Lido Key to the north ( a well known, rich tourist area) and Siesta Key to the south (an even more well know and richer tourist area). Their project should begin sometime in 2015. The Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is over seeing their project

which involves pumping sand out of Big Pass and placing it on the beach at Lido Key. The USACE is paying for 65-percent of the $22.7 million project with the City of Sarasota paying the rest. They will also be installing three groins in the north side to slow down the erosion of sand into the newly dredged pass. This does bring up several questions. Ten years ago, when the series of maintenance dredging began to keep Stump Pass open, we were given a list of conditions that we had to comply with. First was no fixed structures; no jetty, no groins, no piers. Second was that no sand could be pumped to the north side of the Pass. All sand had to be placed on the south side of the pass and Charlotte County was on the hook for the cost of the project. Obviously, Sarasota got a totally different set of conditions for their project. The first question is, why is the USACE running and paying for the Big Pass project and not the Stump Pass project. Back in the 70s the USACE maintained all the passes in Florida. In the 80s because of a budget cutting program,

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Fishing at Stump Pass, negative #81592, photograph by Francis Johnson, 1964 State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory section.

they divided all passes into critical and non-critical based on importance to national security and commerce. Stump Pass was deemed to be non-critical so no more help from the USACE. The second question is why does Sarasota get to pump their sand to the north and Charlotte County has to pump to the south ? Well, Lido Key is a rich commercial tourist area and their beaches are considered essential to Sarasota's economy. South Manasota Key: not so

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essential, not so important. Third and last is why does Sarasota get three groins and Charlotte County only gets one groin and that only after fighting for it for ten years? Sarasota is rich and has the USACE behind them; so they get their projects moved to the front of the line while Charlotte County has to go it alone and only gets delay after delay and more forms to fill out. Captronb@juno.com

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MAY 2014

Will Trade for Peacocks By Mallory Herzog Water LIFE Freshwater Recently my husband Andrew got the opportunity to join Capt. Josh Greer, the new Charlotte CCA president and owner of XXL Sportfishing Charters, for an adventure in the Everglades. They were headed down to get Capt. Josh’s custom canal boat ready for upcoming peacock bass trips. In return for some manual labor, Andrew was promised the chance to fish the most isolated peacock spots that only Capt. Josh’s boat has the ability

to get to. The Everglades are full of thousands of isolated canals and water systems that hold a variety of creatures ranging from alligators to oscars and peakcock bass. Before the trip Andrew filled his tackle box with new lures for targeting the peacocks. Fishin’ Frank had suggested bright colors with strong patterns on them. At 4:30 am we set out for Homestead. This is about a three-to four hour drive from Port Charolette depending on traffic, but any fisherman will tell you it’s always worth the trip. After we arrived we finished setting the boat up and then we were on the way to the ramp. It is immediately apparent why a normal day here produces 100plus fish. Capt. Josh went right to his favorite technique of throwing a torpedo and landed three peacocks within his first 5 casts. Andrew was set on catching his first fish on a frog and after a few casts using a BOOYAH pad-crasher jr. he was hooked up. After a short but intense fight he landed his first peacock bass! Peacocks offer the fight of a small mouth with the size of a large mouth. Once Andrew got that first fish out of

Andrew above, Josh below

the way it was time to experiment with all the other lures. Fire Tiger was definitely the color of choice. The fish really keyed in on the Scatter Wrap shallow crank bait. In only a few short hours they were able to catch not only numerous peacocks, but large mouths, oscars, jaguar guapotes and even a tilapia on an olive X-wrap. Capt. Josh’s local knowledge of the waters he’s been fishing since he was a kid gave us an unfair advantage and the low water level didn’t hurt either. With crystal clear water down to 20-feet and calm un-pressured fish it made for some of the most exciting fishing an angler could ask for. Andrew said he hopes to return in the near future and try his hand at catching some of these fish on the fly.


MAY 2014

Baited By Frank By Fishin’ Frank Water LIFE Baitshop We killed them! I would guess this is not the best way to start a story, but as far as I am concerned, it is the truth. White bait as a whole is subject to water temperatures and water pollution and someday there may be nothing we can do to bring the bait back. One thing is for sure, what we are seeing now is not good. This needs to be looked at to see if we are just catching too much bait, as I suspect, or if there may be a more wide spread problem; maybe a virus or a contaminate in the waters. At this point the easy thing to say is we catch too many before they spawn. This is the easiest part to fix. I only hope this is the problem. Maybe we need to stop using phrases like The bait moved and start using a more correct explination like: We killed that school. Harsh? Maybe, but here is what I know: in 1968 Zapata Foods did a fly over aerial survey of southwest Florida, Mike Mack Sr. flew the plane. The report was that there was a school of bait, not different schools, but one unbroken school of bait, extending from Naples to St. Pete. It was never less than 1/4 mile wide and in places it was reportedly over a mile wide. All baitfish. That was almost 50 years ago. Now let’s jump ahead to the

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1980s when I first started throwing a net for bait. The threadfin would come into Charlotte Harbor and cover the whole of the river from the 41bridges to Marker No. 2 300 feet from the shore, both sides, right across. The greenbacks were thick from Ponce Park, which was my favorite place to catch bait, all the way to Two Pines. I would just cruise along and watch. When I saw them it was one throw and done. Then, 10 years ago, I knew the bait was in trouble when at the bait shop we began selling more This photo is from 1999. I was wading under a mangrove bush off the south side of Aligator Creek. ʻFlip a bait at meʼ I said to Frank and he did. One perfect flip, one perfect frame, 1/1000@f8, on film, with my old Nikon. 1/4- inch-mesh nets than In photography, like in fishing, itʼs better to be lucky than good! – Michael Heller Water LIFE publisher 3/8- inch-mesh nets. The writing on the wall said you and me, we are the problem. sure to release the bait alive. people were throwing on smaller sized It is time to take responsibility for what Bait fish only live 6 months to 2 bait. we are doing and I am not talking about years.Think of it this way: if 100 boats go I believe by simply admitting the truth, us not having bait to fish with. I am talkout and get 50 pieces of bait each, that is that we killed them, we could start to fix ing about us taking food away from fish 5000 pieces a day and that’s a very low this problem. A hard scaled sardine or like snook, tarpon, and others that rely on estimate, the real number would be much green back needs 4 to 6 months to be big what we call white bait for the oils they higher. Maybe we need to ban all cast netenough to spawn and make babies. We need. Over eons of time fish have develting in the Harbor from April through Aukill them before they have a chance to oped a need for oily food before breeding. gust, just to let the bait that is left grow spawn. This is not they or them, this is us, In truth, it is hard to starve a fish. They big enough to spawn. This may be the can live on very little food, but those fish only way to bring the bait fish schools grow much slower and do not have viable back into the Harbor in numbers. eggs when they spawn. Look at the fact: Now here is the kicker, everything I in taking all this whitebait we are taking just told you may be B.S. – it may all turn the nourishment needed by the fish to sur- out not to be true at all. Maybe it’s the vive properly. weather, cold water or maybe just an off Many people at the end of their fishing year for bait. Maybe the bait is just not trip do not even put the remaining bait here YET. The truth lies somewhere in the back in the water, they pull the trailer up various different theories circulating. onto the ramp and toss the bait onto the There is bait offshore, just none in the concrete to die. What is the answer? Only Harbor. Pollution and other factors have take what you need, not what you want. got to be contributing, but I would say we Do not squeeze the bait when you use fishermen are 95-percent responsible. them for chum, let some escape. When the Think about it, do your part, or eventually, day is over release everything in your well someday, we may really have a problem. Frank@Fishin’ Franks.com 941-625-3888 long before you get to the ramp and make


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Kayak Wind Bag Regatta PAGE

Staff Report They call it the Kite Kayak Regatta, Hawaii-Ki to Kahala, on the island of O'ahu. There are no divisions, everyone gets to ‘run what they brung’. The only rules are that you have to have a kayak and a wind driven device and you have to get to the finish line. “It doesn't matter if you have sails, a kite, bedsheet, a beach umbrella or whatever,” John Reyno, one of the competitors said. For steering entrants used sails, rudders, paddles or in one case an aluminum farm shovel. “Some guys obviously did this before" Tony Williams Gorman, Reyno’s partner observed as he stood on the beach before the race. “I am going to go as fast as I can,”

Reyno said. His plan was a good one, to the point of the boat becoming airborne. I was strapped in the seat harness with a hook to the boat a buckle off to the side, a sort of quick release" Reyno said. Reyno and Gorman piloted a 16-foot two man kayak. A wind gauge on the beach showed a steady 42 mph. The kayak was tied to a leading-edge inflatable kite.

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‘We were a little overpowered,’ Williams observed, wryly. It didn’t look very windy so he said they put up their larger kite which pulled Williams out of the boat often and lifted the boat and it’s two occupants airborne off waves several times. The kite was the size of a small car. My ribs took a beating really bad,

MAY 2014

Reyno said, but he also said they will be back again next year. The race was about 8 miles long and the winning kayak had traditional sails. There was no prize.

Photos courtesy of Ocean Paddler video at oceanpaddler.com


Livinʼ On Tarpon Time MAY 2014

By Capt. Chuck Eichner Water LIFE Road Trip Tarpon fishing is a game of stealth, stamina and endurance. At first you might think that this is all related to fighting the fish, but in reality it relates to the angler. Tarpon in Charlotte Harbor are here in major numbers and they can be seen rolling, slurping and free jumping. The fever I get when I see this is beyond anything else in sport fishing. At day’s end, success is sometimes measured as a hook up or two. Boating a fish with odds of 5 to 1 is typical because this silver monster is the most wreckless, acrobatic, line-searing fish that swims. For the angler, the pursuit will wear you down after 10 hours of fishing them without a bite, which is common. I always say you are on tarpon time. Perhaps if you fish in the eleventh hour you will hook and land two or three fish….you just never know when the tarpon will eat regardless of what baits your are fishing. Do you think you need 300 yards of heavy braided line to land this fish? Sound crazy? Well think again, you often need more line, more strength and a need to follow the fish before your spooled... even on 50-pound braid! Late in April 2013, my first trip out for tarpon was slow for 4 hours. Snook fishing was hot but I stayed in an area where there were no tarpon showing, I stayed based on faith alone as I had caught fish in this area previously in April. The magic moment came and I hooked a large 125 pound class fish that was wound up tight! My Shimano 8000 reel was screaming and I was determined to slow this fish down with heavy pressure and not to break anchor. My drag literally started to smoke so with 200 yards of line out I had my wife Joyce scrambling to break the anchor before we were into the backing. But too late! Nearly all of my 50-pound braid was gone. I wrenched the drag further and snap! This fish jumped 7 times, had 300 yards of my line out on a heavy rod and

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all of this in less than a minute! The reel drag literally burned up. So for my first trip out in 2014 last month, I located tarpon in shallow water and free drifted ladyfish across their heads. My friend Scott Jackson had never caught a tarpon and after an entire day of not connecting with fish that we could see, it finally happened. The drag started singing, rod bent and a silver king leaped skyward as Scott pressured the fish with all his might. Suddenly, there was again 150 yards out with no stopping. The fish went westward and an 18 knot breeze blew the boat eastward. With no time to turn around I jammed the boat in reverse, waves breaking over the stern and reached for Scotts spool to tighten drag. There was hardly any tension on the reel. Cranking down snug was the only option as once again this year the yellow backing was showing! Snap goes the line, fish is gone and the epic adrenaline rush turns to a flat-line! Totally puzzled as to how the drag got so loose I tweaked the drag knob and found it was frozen to the shaft! This was my trusty Shimano 6500 Baitrunner that had fished tarpon for over 20 years without a hitch. The moral to the story is that to be successful at tarpon fishing you have to have the patience of Jobe, tackle that is in tiptop shape with special care given to the drag systems no matter how new, and you also need a whole lot of luck! Capt. Chuck Eichner operates Action Flats Backcountry Guide Service and can be reached at 941-628-8040.

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Whether you are looking to list your home, buy a new home, or bring friends and family to join you in Florida, call me to help you find what you are looking for!

Lennore Shubel – Realtor Cell: 631-741-4589 Email: lennore@liveswflorida.com


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Sometimes Unsubstanciated, But Often True FL FADING Look at the latest yellow FL stickers on Florida boats. They have all faded out.

COLD MOVING SOUTH Scientists are monitoring an iceberg roughly six times the size of Manhattan - one of the largest now in existence - that broke off from Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier last November and is now heading into the open ocean.

LOTS OF PAPERWORK Two men walked away from a crash-landing in a field near Highway 74 and Farabee Grade. The plane was severely mangled. The incident required investigation by the Glades County Sheriffʼs Office, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Transportation Safety Board. PELICANS STILL HUNGRY Local pelicans have been pests lately. These birds were stalking the live well. Local guides say itʼs because there isnʼt much bait (sardines ) around for them to eat.

LAW ENFORCEMENT TOOL Information was received from Lee County Solid Waste in reference to frequent felony dumping in Lehigh Acres. During a fourmonth investigation, a suspect was identified. Subsequently, a court order was obtained to place a GPS tracker on the suspectʼs vehicle and after monitoring the suspect was arrested for felony dumping and driving on a suspended license. RADIATION SMUGGLING? HERE? Last

month, in a joint effort of FWC officers, officers from the Key West Police Department and members from the United States Coast Guard participated in a waterborne exercise in support of the Department of Homeland Security. The exercise was an effort to detect, locate, and secure radioactive test targets and radiation sources that may, hypothetically, be transported into state waters around the port of Key West or potentially to another harbor within the state of Florida - thatʼs us! MO H2O Lima, Peru, population 7.5 million, receives almost no rainfall. 700,000 people have no access to clean water. Another 600,000 rely on cisterns. But Limaʼs coastal location experiences humidity of more than 90 percent. So engineers from Peru's University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) devised a way to turn humid air into usable water with a self contained billboard shaped device that has a condensor inside to turn humid air into water. Installed in a remote area in December, by early March it had produced 2500 gallons of clean water. People simply walk up to it and fill their containers.

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MAY 2014

May Fishing Forecast

Salinity Slam

Steve Cenko shows off Charlotte Harborʼs rare redfish, bass and snook Salinity Slam

Charlotte Harbor

Frank, at Fishin’ Franks 941- 625-3888

The 41-Bridges are becoming very popular. By boat, get away from the bridge, anchor and chum. This produces sharks and some decent cobia. You need to be back a way’s – 200 feet up current is better than 20. You want to put a chum bag out and have the fish come to you. Most everybody fishes too close to the bridge. The mouth of the Myakka is a spot to anchor and look for small sharks and tarpon. Cobia will be there too. The big thing is to get out of the run-zone of the boats. If you are just looking for tarpon look in 6 to 7 feet of water off the east side or the west side bars. Either side. Look down for fish cruising. The majority of the tarpon have been caught along the sandbars in the Harbor. Cut bait is the rule of the beast now. If you try for tarpon, anchor off the bar, toss cut whiting... mullet, or ladyfish. You can use any fish cut into pieces of about the size of your fist. The tarpon are coming in and out of the passes and there are a variety of things you can do to catch them. The best thing right now, in the Pass, is if you can find shrimp use shrimp. Shrimp are going to be your best bet. We have a little shrimp migration still going on and guys who have caught decent size shrimp are doing real well with it on tarpon. I have had no reports yet on which of the new tarpon jigs are working in the Pass, just know, if you are using a tarpon jig that is not correct in the Boca Grande triangle it is a class 2 misdemeanor, which means a court date in Lee county and a

fine. In Boca Grande the lead has to be at least a little above the hook. You can still use the old style jig anywhere else, EXCEPT Boca Grande Pass. There have been good tarpon reOn the shores of Sanibel, Chuck Wanda caught a Black Tip Shark on a live shrimp. Watch those fingers, Chuck! ports from the Captiva Pass and the bar, and there are a lot of ladyfish out Redfish Pass areas off Pine Island, and the there right now too. It’s been pretty steady flats south of Cabbage Key. for the last few months, I’m actually surIf you want snook, right now the east prised they are still here, what with the side is your place. Snook are hiding under water getting warmer and warmer now. any green branch you can find. Find an isThe best tip today (April 29) is to go land with 3 feet of water and a trough and down along the east side and catch ladyyou’ll find snook. Out by Bull and Turtle fish and cut them up into small pieces for Bay and out towards the intercoastal, the reds or bigger pieces for the bigger more and more snook are moving to the fish; snook, tarpon and sharks will all take salt. ladyfish right now. Use two- to three-finThere are snook on the beaches at Gasger-sized chunks for them. parilla, Stump Pass, Englewood Beach Sharks are everywhere. Big ones on anywhere along the barrier islands from the beaches and out in the Gulf and big Captiva to Venice. Your best bet on the bulls and lemons on the flats in 2- to 3 beach is first thing at daybreak, cast along feet of water in the Harbor. If you want the shoreline, try throwing the Twitch shark there are sharks! Anchor up about Stick from Storm. Walk out knee deep 1/3 way across the Harbor from either and cast left or right along the shore. Most side and put out a chum bag. There are a of the hits will be 4-to 5-feet from the lot of fish out there, you catch shark, tarsand, they are cruising right next to the beach. For redfish the best bets are Turtle Bay and Pine Island Sound. The reds are more back in the islands where it is shallow and hard to get to, like behind Bokeelia down to the south. There are still some Spanish mackerel in the Harbor on the east side, outside of

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Big

May

pon and cobia on the same stuff, all you have to do is Fish to expect in vary your technique. Mix and match, experiment with bobbers on top and sinkers on the bottom. The Gulf is still loaded with amberjack and unbeTARPON In and inside the COBIA Cruising the bars. Sight SHARKS Everywhere, Bulls, SNOOK Moving to the salt. lievably nice king mackpasses, Harbor holes & Sound fish them on calm water days hammers, tigers, ʻtips & noses Fish the beach for them now erels 25- to 30-pounds. They are 15 miles out, now! Northport and Port Charlotte canals... I right along with some beautiful red grouper. You still have to travel, you gotta be out past 60 don’t know a bad place for bluegills right now. feet for permit, but then there are a lot of permit all over there. The best bait is crab or shrimp for Jim, at Fishermen’s Edge, Enthe permit. 697-7595 glewood: Bluegill, red-eared sunfish are on fire. Fishing has been decent. Baitfish are starting to We’re selling out of worms every week. The show (Apr. 29) over the last few days. It’s been freshwater bite is on for panfish. Bass is doing easier to get bait in the morning. There have been fair, but the eating fish are kicking butt right pilchards in grass flats and out front in the Gulf, cigar minnows and threadfins. Larry Grindle with a lemon shark The inshore reefs, 4 miles, 2.5 miles, Trembly, I haven’t heard that many redfish reports. A lot Novak, all the close ones, are seeing pods of baitof the guides have switched over to tarpon or to fish, threadfins, and some migratory fish, like king snook before it closed. mackerel, cobia, - quite a few cobia and lots of There has been quite a bit of pompano at Gassharks. Jeez, a lot of sharks! The tarpon are parilla and Stump Pass, nice fish, 4 to 5 pounders, around now. Guys have been jumping them quite pretty good ones... they swore they were pompano, a bit at Captiva and in Boca Grande Pass. None on but I don’t know if they know the difference! the beach though, they are moving around in the Grouper are good, red grouper pretty good, pass and up in the Harbor. The water keeps getting fire truck (above 33 inches) along with some amwarmer that’s what we need. The back country has berjack they are all in pretty good now. been good, a lot of snook around. Fish above the 40 As long as you can get out, it’s been pretty good. inch range caught on pinfish as big as your hand.

Lemon Bay:

Offshore: Capt. Jim OʼBrien

Nice snook from the Pier

SHARKS - are all over the place in the passes on the inshore reefs and the offshore wrecks and reefs, best bait chunks of bonita and mullet BARRACUDA - are on the wrecks offshore, best bait artificial cuda tubes pink and green. These guys hit hard cast out let it fall for 3

or 4 seconds and rip it back to you as fast as possible the strike will be close to the surface. If you haven't caught one you need to, it's a ball AMBERJACK - are on most of the offshore wrecks from 28 miles out. I have talked with some guys that are still vertical jigging for these reef donkeys and their hook up ratio has been very good, live bait is still a big blue runner. RED GROUPER - the BIG -

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UNS are hitting from 100ft on out. Stink bait is still working the best chunks of mullet, squid, sardines, live bait, pinfish and squirrelfish. We got more gag grouper on the live bait PORGIES - reef porgies and jolt head porgies on most coral reefs. Offshore best bait live shrimp and pieces of squid. SNAPPER - the bigger mangs, yellow tail and lanes can be found

in 90ft of water. On out we have been getting some nice mangs in the 20 to 22 inch size. Best bait live shrimp and pieces of squid SPANISH MACKEREL AND BONITA - we saw these guys working out 18 to 22 miles on the surface. Best bait on a spinning out fit is a 1 to 1/12 oz diamond jig or a small spoon. Cast it out and rip it back to you on light to medium light tackle, it's a blast

PAGE 23

Gulf Temps are 78

and warming up. Big Fish are moving around

95˚ 90˚ 85˚ 80˚ 72˚ 70˚ 68˚ 50˚ 45˚

FISHING RIGHT NOW:

Hang On!


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MAY 2014

Water LIFE May 2014  

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

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