Page 1

Wa t e r L I F E


Charlotte Harbor and Lemon Bay Florida

Keeping Boaters and Fishermen Informed

December 2004

Festive Piercings

For Mackerel Page 16

Plenty of Shrimp Page 14


When the 驶R始 is missing from RV page 26

Ever Been?


Flatsmasters Winners The Morris Brothers

Page 19

page 25


驶Fish are so misunderstood始 Page 21




Water LIFE


Except Tees, Hats, Belts and Raingear





By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Editor If this keeps up I’m liable to regain my faith in humanity. Time after time, in the wake of H-4, (you know what that was) local people have been coming together to bring back little pieces of life - that once was a very good life - in Charlotte County. My absolute favorite aspect of Charlotte County has always been the county’s strong affinity for the water. Not only do we fish it and swim in it and boat on it, but we orchestrate entire events around the water, here. We have fishing tournaments almost all year round. It even looks like the 130 boat FLW Redfish Tour will be coming to Lemon Bay this year in July. There are three or four major sailing regattas in the harbor every year. We have the Fourth of July Peace River swim, raft ups, clean ups, paddle-ups, yacht trips and sunset cruises, the only thing missing is a full-blown boat race. One of my favorite times of the year on the water in Charlotte Harbor is December. This month the fishing is good in the daytime and at night there holiday lights to see. The Lighting of the Fleet on December 9 and the annual Lighted

ater LIFE

Boat Parade on December 11 at Punta Gorda take place early in the month, but the lingering benefits of the fleet laying lit in the yacht basin and the holiday lighting display on shore in the surrounding canals will last all month long. Granted, there may be fewer houses illuminated this year than in years past, but don’t underestimate your neighbors. There will be plenty of lights to see and maybe even a Santa or two. Coming upon this phenomenon out of the darkness, by boat, is akin to discovering Emerald City so cruising the Punta Gorda canals at night has become a popular holiday past time. This year for the first time, the Punta Gorda Isles Yacht Club has opened its property to non- members for December 11, to provide landlubbers a viewing space for the lighted boat parade. The boat parade route will again start in Edgewater Lake on the Port Charlotte side of the river. Several homes in this area have now been demolished and viewing space here could be wide open this year. The parade will cross the river to Punta Gorda where it will, for the first time, go into the Pompano Inlet and turn



left, traveling all the way down to the Yacht Club’s boat basin. The boats will then reverse course and head up river past Fishermen’s Village and out under the US 41 bridge where the parade will disband. The new open air upstairs patio at Smugglers restaurant in Fishermen’s Village might be an especially good vantage point for the parade night. The bridge is also good. The fleet remains lit every night until New Years Day Eve.Quiet and courteous behavior is the only price to pay and if you don’t have a boat, there are commercial sightseeing trips operating from Fishermen’s Village. Charlotte Harbor is a great place to



Lighting of the Spirit


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Isles Yacht Club Basin


Fishermenʼs Village


Water LIFE





Water LIFE

Michael and Ellen Heller Publishers

(941) 766-8180


Water LIFE is not affiliated with any newspaper or other publication

© 2004 Vol III No. 13 Water LIFE No part of this publication may be copied or reproduced without the written permission of the publishers

Contributing Editors:


Hi WaterLIFE (I have attached) some clarifications on your article, as well as some links to a couple follow-up articles printed after Hurricane Jeanne. Also attached is a document I found on the DEP website, which explains their emergency directive to treat and release process water that had accumulated due to the extreme weather conditions. Since I live and work in Charlotte County, I am very sensitive to anything printed about

Cargill/Mosaic/Phosphate and the Peace River. I want to make sure the Water LIFE readers have accurate information. Please let me know if you have any more questions, as I would be happy to review any copy regarding the phosphate industry in the future. In addition, Mike, can you give me more details on the location of the algae bloom in the associated photo? I want to try to find out more information on it. I look forward to taking you all on a fertilizer manufacturing tour!

I have a great idea for a fishingrelated story! Mosaic could host you to a fishing trip on our private reclaimed lakes. We have a little hunting lodge on the border of Polk and Hardee counties where we host customers for duck hunting trips during that season, and fishing trips during February, March or April. I know Water LIFE is more salt-water related, but it never hurts to throw in a freshwater story, right? If you are interested, we can

schedule something in January. Kaley Miller

Editor notes: The phosphate industry response to the article Bill Dixon wrote in our November issue is far longer than space permits to re-print here. To be brief, they say they are not doing anything wrong. In an effort to be fair and balanced, we will take them up on their offer to fish the phosphate ponds in January. We hear the bass are glowing there. Stay Tuned! – MH

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Fishing / Environment: Capt. Ron Blago Charlotte Harbor: Capt. Robert Moore Gasparilla: Capt. Chuck Eichner Port Charlotte: Fishinʼ Frank Offshore: Capt. Steve Skevington Technical Advisor: Mike Panetti Sailing Advisor: Bill Dixon Cartoons: Ron Mills Kayaks: Various Contributors


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Small kingfish and large Spanish Mackerel have been in the area. This is a big Spanish.

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Tide Graphs: For Punta Gorda, Shell Point, El Jobean, Pine Island, Matlacha, Redfish Pass, and Lemon Bay. Weather: Links to all of our favorite weather and radar web-sites. Back editions: Pages of previous editions

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Water LIFE


Fishing Up The Rivers

By Capt. Robert Moore Water LIFE Senior Guide Every year in the early winter I make my annual drive over to Harbor Heights Park and launch my shallow skiff and venture up the Peace River and Shell Creek area in search of anything that will bend the rod. I always start out hoping to catch some snook that I hear and read about. Fishing the Peace River beyond the I75 Bridge has always been somewhat of a challenge for me. I usually apply the same tactics as I do for fishing the flats and manage to catch a fish or two, but have never seemed to master a consistent style I can depend on. So when Jeff Calkins of Port Charlotte and I were casually talking about snook fishing and he mentioned the success he has had in the Peace River he got my attention. His confidence is what attracted me. I asked (ok, so I begged) him to share a day with me so I could experience it first hand and he graciously agreed. A week later we met at Harbor Heights Park and launched my boat. We headed over to the mouth of Shell Creek and stopped. Jeff took his rod and cast out. I turned the motor off and grabbed my rod. Jeff smiled at me and said “we are going to troll” and turned the motor back on. As I dug through my tackle box I asked Jeff which plug he recommended. “Anything that rattles,” he replied. I took out a 1⁄2 ounce Rattle Trap in the Bleeding Shad White color and tied it on. Jeff was using a 4” Yo-Zuri Mag Minnow in the Ghost Color. I estimate we were trolling at 4-5 knots. With our lines out about 75-100

Rigginʼ Right

feet behind the boat. We managed to troll about 500 yards before I felt a hard hit. I set the hook and out of the water came what I estimate to be a 20 inch snook. The fish threw the hook on its second jump. Jeff smiled at me and said “now we know where some fish are.” We turned the motor off and dropped the trolling motor and began blind casting. The first thing I noticed was that Jeff was casting into the middle of the creek and not towards the bank, not towards any structure, just out in the center. About 5 minutes later I hooked and landed another snook in the 20 inch range. The first thing I observed was how hard that little fish fought. At first I thought I hooked a 25 plus inch snook. We landed 5 more fish before we headed on. As we began trolling again I picked Jeff’s brain as to what he looked for when fishing this technique. Jeff’s experience is that as the rainy season ends and the first couple of cold fronts come through that snook begin a migration up river. His emphasis is on the salinity level. He likes to follow a higher salinity level up river and finds that the snook will not be far behind. As the salinity increases the further he will go up river. Although he finds snook well into fresh water conditions, he contends you will find more concentrations at that break between fresh and salt. We trolled for another 10 minutes or so and hooked and landed another snook. We stoped once again and began casting to the center of the creek. Once again we caught several more fish before moving on. Jeff’s pattern is pretty simple. Troll until you


Double about six inches of line and pass it through the eye

On another trip with Capt. Rob Moore Nick Georges of Punta Gorda with brother John caught this a 6-pound Snook in the Myakka Cut Off.

hook a fish and the turn around and fish that area. I tried several different plugs but had the best success with the 1⁄2 ounce Rattle Trap. We continued this pattern up Shell Creek until we reached the U.S. 17 bridge. By then it was around noon and we decided to call it a day. In all we landed several dozen snook ranging from 18-22 inches. A normal day for Jeff is 20-30 fish with a few in the 30 inch range. The day we were out was a Sunday and we saw only 4 boats all morning and a couple of kayakers, a

Tieing the Palomar Knot Tie an overhand knot



welcome scenario compared to a weekend on the flats. If you’re looking for a change of pace and scenery, try a casual trip up one of the two rivers that dump into Charlotte Harbor, the Myakka or the Peace River. Keep in mind these two rivers are now Manatee Zones with speed restrictions. You can reach Capt. Robert Moore for fishing information or to book a charter fishing trip at (941) 637-5710 or (941) 628-2650 or via e-mail at

A simple knot recommended for all but the heaviest leaders

Place the hook. lure or swivel through the loop


Tighten the knot and trim the tag end. Make sure the two lines are paralell. If they are crossed cut the knot and start over.


Water LIFE



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Oversized 15,480 sq. ft. saltwater canal lot with home damaged by Charley. 3/1 home sold as is. Carport blown away. Price based on lot only. New dock 10 x 20, just minutes to the harbor by way of the Elkcam waterway. For the buyer wanting a project to work on and build a new home. PRICED RIGHT. $179,900.



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Water LIFE


This is a new addition to Water LIFE. Sponsored by Realtor Lori Moore (wife of our senior guide Capt. Robert Moore) We encourage readers to send or e-mail ( a photo of their recent catch. Photos selected for publication will receive a $25 gift certificate courtesy of Lori, to Laishley Marine or Fishinʼ Franks. Photos will not be returned and may not have been previously published elsewhere. Remember to include photo info.

This 30lb redfish was caught by Terry Urban of Kent, Ohio while fishing with Capt Jim Adam aboard the Bay View in 56 feet of water trolling a Clark spoon. The fish was caught and released.

Lori Moore Aztec & Associates 4456 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte (941) 629-3188 (941) 628-3174


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On The Water at Royal Palm Marina 779 West Wentworth Englewood (941) 474-0140






Water LIFE





Water LIFE


Above Rhett Morrisʼ redfish.

Below: This 55 gallon baitwell made from a poly-drum was innovative and it worked.

Right: In Saturdayʼs quallifying Mitch Williamson brought in this beautiful 11 pound snook.

Flatsmasters 2004 Finale

S t aff R eport Fishermen are a superstitious breed. Gotta' have the right hat, the right rod, lucky shirt and yes please no bananas. And no coins. We have fished with more than one team who emptied their pockets of loose change, right into the water, as soon as they leave the ramp. Not so the money doesn’t jingle and make noise, but instead to appease the gods of fishing. Casting off your coins is an offering to the fishing gods that is big medicine. Just ask Rhett Morris, who along with his brothers Bruce and Chace ‘lucked’ into the $12,000 grand champion’s payout at the end of the 2004 Flatsmasters Championship Tournament series in Punta Gorda last month. “We had our red early,” (a 6.8 pound fish)Rhett explained. “It was a good day. We had caught maybe 50 snook, but we were still waiting for the right one. Chace had two pennies and a dime in his pocket. He rubbed the two pennies together and said, make a wish. Then he threw the two pennies into the water and right afterwards we caught an 8.5 pound snook.” “Then things slowed down. At the end of the day, in our last spot, and just before my last cast, Chase took out the dime and rubbed it. ‘Make a wish,’ he said and he flipped it out. ‘This is going to get us a 10-pounder,’ Chace said and it did, 10.6 pounds to be exact.”

“It’s great that we could all fish together, Chace is here on leave from the Middle East and goes back to Kuwait in January,” Rhet said. But if the Morris brothers were lucky others were not and in spite of an arsenal of live bait that included shrimp big enough to put on a Boga grip, pinfish, sardines, sugar trout, whitebait and ladyfish chunks, fishing was tough. “The big problem was the no beer regulation,” one angler not wanting to be identified, complained. “This tournament will be televised next season and I thought we might as well get with the alcohol-free program,” tournament director Jerry Cleffi explained. Every team weighed in a redfish, but most had trouble finding snook on the final day. Only two of the top ten finalist teams came back with a snook. “I’m convinced snook have a hard time eating on Saturday and Sunday,” Capt. Andrew Medina observed. “ The tide wasn’t moving we were seeing the fish, (snook) but they just weren’t eating. These weren’t red-mouthed fish (fish that have been caught and released with a sore jaw) so they weren’t pressured,” he said. “They just wouldn’t eat.”


Page 9

Water LIFE

Page 10

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Fuel Problems Persist Something is disolving the rubber parts

S t aff R eport For those of you who are not familiar with the FloScan instrument it is a fuel totalizer which uses a small sensor in the fuel line to measure the exact amount of fuel that passes. A gauge on the panel then displays the real-time fuel flow in gallons-per-hour as the motor is operating. A small window at the bottom of the instrument displays the total fuel burned in tenths of a gallon. Once initially calibrated this device is so accurate that in four year of operation we are seldom off more than about 1/10 of a gallon when it comes time to re-fuel. If the FloScan showed 55.8 gallons burned since the last fill-up that’s what it will take. The in-tank fuel gauge on our boat has become a flimsy backup for this invaluable piece of equipment ... until last month, when the FloScan began reading erroneously. One day we ran down the harbor at 5800 rpms with all six barrels wide open on our carbureted 200 Merc and the FloScan showed we were burning about 8 gallons per hour. If only that was true! It should have been closer to 20 gallons per hour. Something was wrong. We removed the FloScan sensor and disassembled it and found the rubber diaphragm was eaten away, a chemical reaction to something in the fuel. Previously we reported on problems with Shell gas. We now suspect that either a new Shell additive introduced in July and then discontinued sometime afterwards might have eaten out our diaphragm or the reaction to Shell gas mixed with one container of marine drygas was the cause. There are no other variables.



Flatsmasters Tournament Championship Final Results, Final Day

Top Ten First Place

Team Rushmor 10.60 snook 6.85 redfish total – 17.45lbs Rhett Morris Bruce Morris Chace Morris

Second Place

Team New South 6.95 snook 6.20 redfish total – 13.15lbs. JB Bradshaw Joel Beyerle Josh Reager

Third Place

Team Lake & Bay 5.45 snook 6.30 redfish total – 11.75lbs. John Ochs Sylvester Dixon Mark Becton

Fourth Place

Team Bent Rods 0.00 snook 6.20 redfish total – 6.20lbs. Paul Lambert Gene Weidemoyer Dwayne Gibbs

Fifth Place

Team Nasty Hookers 0.00 snook 5.70 redfish total – 5.70lbs. Andrew Medina Trent Cheatam Alex Gutowski

Sixth Place

Team Screenprint Plus 0.00 snook 5.25 redfish total – 5.25lbs. Matt Hamilton

Seventh Place

Patricia Scott Oral Surgery 0.00 snook 5.00 redfish total – 5.00lbs. Brian Hindman Ray Hindman Brad Opsahl

Eighth Place

Team Addiction 0.00 snook 4.75 redfish total – 4.75lbs. Dave Stephens Josh Smith Dave Wallin

Ninth Place

Team Famouscraft 0.00 snook 4.20 redfish total – 4.20lbs. Derrick Jacobsen Bob Jones Andy Nusbaum

Tenth Place

Dream Chaser 0.00 snook 0.00 redfish total –0.00lbs. Bill Gage John Rossetto Janet Rossetto



Water LIFE

Tidal Currents Could Fulfill Energy Needs

By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Editor According to a public notice posted in a Miami newspaper on November 17, an English company, Marine Current Turbines Ltd. (MCT) has made application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to obtain a preliminary permit to construct and operate a power plant containing 20 to 40 submerged undersea generators. The generators would be a twin rotor design and placed in a 25 to 30 mile long transmission facility located in the gulfstream current off Dade county Florida. The energy farm would have a submerged 33 KV line running to shore. The farm could theoretically produce 168 to 336 gigawatt/hours of electricity annually, which would then be sold to a local utility. The generators might be within sight of land. Marine Current Turbines Ltd was set up to pioneer the technical and commercial development of tidal stream turbines. The company is working in partnership with a major industrial consortium which is receiving significant financial support from both the UK government through the DTI, and the European Commission. The basic requirements for cost-effective power generation from tidal streams using MCT's technology are: a mean spring peak velocity exceeding about 2.25 to 2.5m/s (4.5 to 5 knots) with a depth of

water of 20 to 30 meters according to the company:“Although the relentless energy of marine currents has been obvious from the earliest days of seafaring, it is only now that the development of modern offshore engineering capabilities coinciding with the need to find large new renewable energy resources makes this a technically feasible and economically viable possibility.” Marine Current Turbines Ltd. has no intention of manufacturing the technology. The company has said that function will be achieved by its partners and "third parties." The technology proposed by MCT consists of twin axial flow rotors of 15m to 20m in diameter, each driving a generator via a gearbox much like a hydro-electric turbine or a wind generator. The twin power units of each system would be mounted on wing-like extensions at either side of a tubular steel monopile 3-meters in diameter. The monopile would be set into a hole drilled in the seabed from a jack-up barge. Last month the company closed a 3million pound stock offering which included investors from the Danish venture capital firm, BankInvest. London Power Company is already on board. The fund raising followed initial test results and subsequent performance of the turbine over the winter period. Those results had shown rotor Coefficient of

P a g e 11


This artistʼs impression of a row of turbines shows one raised for maintenance from a small workboat. The design of the turbine units enables them to be installed and maintained entirely from the surface. Right a prototype turbine in the North Sea.

Performance consistently between 40%45% and energy capture up to 27% better than expected performance. According to the company’s website: “The scope for meeting future energy requirements solely from land-based resources will be constrained by conflicts over land-use; so large renewable energy projects will need to move away from crowded land areas - it is significant that the wind industry is also moving offshore, yet many potentially energetic marine current sites are not far from large electricity markets.” But there could be one problem here in

Florida. MCT has said that an environmental impact analysis completed by consultants “has confirmed that the technology does not offer any serious threat to fish or marine mammals.” They have said “The rotors will turn slowly (10 to 20 rpm) and the risk for sea life of impact from rotor blades is extremely small.” “Nature has adapted marine creatures so they do not collide with obstructions,” their findings conclude. It will be interesting to see how the Manatee Club reacts to this idea.

Page 12

Water LIFE


B-rrrrrr Itʼs Getting Cold



Uncommon Baits

By Don Cessna Water Life Englewood This past month of fishing has been really good for the near shore gulf fishermen. Most now have plenty of king and Spanish mackerel in the freezer. As usual, trolling bally hoo with skirts was the best bait going. The mackerel were plentiful from Englewood beach to Boca Grande. Most of the fish were between 30 inches and 40 inches. I hadn’t heard of many smokers being caught, but some people did have encounters that ran off a bunch of line and ended with a large fish getting away. There were plenty of 30-inch-size fish caught. The Spanish mackerel were

Two unusual Flys: A fourinch squid imitation and a three-inch ʻfly plugʼ

generally about 24-inch fish. Some of the charter boats out of the Venice area have also found fishing better down our way as of late. The mackerel run is about at its end with the cooling temperature of the Gulf, but it was a very good and plenty of fish were caught. Soon, during December, the grouper fishing will be picking up and the fish will be in closer. Some nice red grouper are being caught as are a few gags. There are also plenty of mangrove snapper over the wrecks and reefs and at the same time there are small black tip sharks in these same areas. Pin fish have been working good for the grouper and small mullet

(live or chunks) for the sharks. Cobia have been caught on live shrimp around the reefs. The cobia have been large ones and are difficult to bring all the way to the boat. I’ve seen some straightened hooks left after a battle with large cobia. They should continue to be plentiful thru December and triple tail fish are just beginning to pick up now. It is not unusual that while fishing the crab trap lines for triple tail to see a pod of cruising cobia so it is a good idea to keep a rod ready. I would suggest a spoon or cuda-tube lure on the ready rod. December normally brings storms in the Gulf and rough surf conditions in the morning, but the water normally settles down during the late morning hours. It seems that when there are storms in the Gulf many fish from the Gulf come into the passes and some come as far back in as Lemon Bay. Large mangrove snapper, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel are among the invaders of the Bay. While back here they are feeding heavily. There have been just bunches of bait in the Harbor and Bay. The large schools of fat mullet are everywhere right now and have been a good choice of bait in the back water areas. With trout out of season the snook and red fish are being targeted now. Snook on mullet and reds on pin fish or even better are green backs. Jigs and lime green tails with sparkles have been hot as far as artificials go. Don’t be surprised though to tangle with a Gulf species in the Bay during December. Remember snook season ends Dec. 15th and remains closed until Jan.31st. The best thing is that as we get cold fronts and the water cools the fishing picks up later in the day. (Good for those who need their beauty rest.) Later in the morning the sun warmed shore lines and flats are the place for some good feeding activity to be found. There have been groups of tailing redfish located late into the day. Don’t forget this would be a good opportunity to chum

the redfish closer if you know they are present. Being quiet on the boat and chumming the reds when you find tailing fish is a good tactic to increase the length of time they remain and shorten the distance which will then increase the chances of getting more hook ups. There are lots of large sheepshead hanging around docks and pilings now with the cooling water. Live or frozen shrimp will work for them and the mangrove snapper that are also in the same spots. These fish will not normally eat anything artificial and both these fish are notorious bait stealers so smaller portions of bait on the smaller hooks will work best to get them. Sheepshead and snapper are both very good for the table. I have also had a lot of crab and mullet fans as of late. The crabs are nice big ones and it seems to be a great year as far as numbers and size. Crabs are plentiful this year. If you enjoy mullet I would suggest getting them as soon as possible before the commercial boats work them over. December brings a different aspect to Gulf fishing, it seems to be the best of times for the locals, and our winter guests as many of them are avid grouper fishermen. The wrecks and reefs of our area will be loading up with fish that were out a long run all summer long. Whiting will be moving to populate the beaches soon and make for hours of fun for those who don’t have a boat. Whiting are also good bait fish for sharks and chunks of whiting are good for grouper fishing. Watch the weather and be safe on the Gulf and take advantage of the effects of a storm in the Gulf. A storm can leave some good fishing conditions in its wake. Happy Holidays! Don@Ray ’s Bait & Tack le

480 W. Dearborn St. Englewood, (941) 473-1591 Two blocks north of the Indian MoundBoat Ramp

Water LIFE

Wo r l d s B i g g e s t E n g i n e December


S taff R eport Container ship owners apparently like a single engine/single propeller design and the new generation of larger container ships needed a bigger engine to propel them. Enter the Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C turbocharged two-stroke diesel engine, the most powerful and most efficient powerplant for container ships in the world today. The first of these engines was built at Diesel United, Ltd. by Aioi Works of Japan. The RTA96-C is available in 6 through 14 cylinder versions, all are inline style. The cylinder bore is 38-inches and the stroke just over 98-inches. That makes total displacement right around 1,556,002 cubic inches. Each cylinder displaces 111,143 cubic inches and produces 7780 horsepower in the fourteen cylinder version. The total engine weighs 2300 tons

PHOTOS Clockwise from the top right: Overall engine, crankshaft, cylinders, bearings. There are men in each photo The 72 degree water doesnʼt bother Molly Brown as she takes her afternoon swim. With shorter days and cooler temperatures this is the time of year to save money and cut the hours on the pump timer.

(The crankshaft alone weighs 300 tons.)it is 89 feet long, 44 feet high and the maximum horsepower is a staggering 108,920 at 102 rpm. It produces over 5.5 million pounds of torque. Even at its most efficient power setting, the ‘Big 14’ consumes 1,660 gallons of heavy fuel oil every hour. The internals of this engine are a bit different than most automotive engines. The top of the connecting rod is not attached directly to the piston. The top of the connecting rod attaches to a ‘crosshead’ which rides in guide channels. A long piston rod then connects the crosshead to the piston. This is done so the the side-

Page 13


ways forces produced by the connecting rod are absorbed by the crosshead and not by the piston. Sideways forces are what makes the cylinders in an automobile engine take on an ovalshape over time.

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Page 14

Bumper Crop for Shrimpers

S t aff R eport Shrimp, big shrimp, have moved into Charlotte Harbor. Shrimpers – some locals, some from Fort Myers – have been draging the harbor for the last month. “I’ve been here for thirty years and I have never seen anything like this,” Richard Lolly said from the deck of his shrimp boat as he sorted through a catch. “The shrimp are getting red-legged now, so soon they’ll go offshore to spawn. Then the regular run will start in late December or January,” Lolly said. “Guys were getting 1000 pounds in 4-5 hours at first,” he added. The life cycle of a shrimp is about 18 months. It is thought the shrimp will be here until the first good frost. Shrimp nets with special doors let turtles and rays pass through. A net is routinely dragged for about 20 minutes before it is pulled up and the contents are spilled out onto a sorting table. Anything that’s not shrimp is uncerimoniously shoveled back into the water. It is catch and release of a sort, and the

Water LIFE

birds prey on the disopriented or dead bycatch. “We are getting $1 a pound,” Lolly told us. We are limited only by our boat on how many shrimp we can take. It only stays good for so long without ice. Shrimpers without ice use salt to preserve their




Above: After 20-minutes the ball shaped bulge in the net is shrimp and by-catch. Below: This is an average sized shrimp. There are many bigger ones. Bottom: The ʻfreezer boatsʼ can catch and keep large hauls of shrimp.

catch. “The bigger boats, freezer boats, they are called, can stay out as long as they want,” Lolly said. Shrimping is a practice which has for the most part gone on at night in Charlotte Harbor but there are so many shrimp here now that shrimpers are working both day

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and night. “Most of what we get goes to WinnDixie,” Lolly told us. “They bread it and make it up for frozen fried shrimp.” Lolly also owns a restaurant, Miss Judy’s Cafe, in Bokeelia. “We serve a lot of fresh shrimp,” he said.

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Water LIFE

Your Tax Dollars at Work December


Page 15


By Bi l l Di xon Water LIFE Sailing Commentator My all time favorite boating story occurred when we were headed south to the Miami boat show. The east coast ICW is a terrible place for a sailboat with a 60 foot mast and a small diesel so we went outside from Ft. Lauderdale to Government cut in Miami. The ‘cut’ is a 3 mile long really deep and narrow channel used by cruise ships and seaplanes. We were on high alert for A hurricane dismasted sailboat serves as the committe boat for a November Sailing Club race serious traffic as we entered. ing with red eyes. He said to the dockie, ‘I’m allergic to A Coast Guard boat pulled up and said for us to follow dogs.’ I wonder what he thought the two creatures on the them to the dock. I said OK. We both sat there drifting in this busy channel for a while. Finally, I said to the Coastie, foredeck were? Three or four new black t shirts came aboard and went below. Said I should come down and ‘show them you have to put your boat in gear and lead if you want me the guns. ‘I can’t,’ I said. ‘The lady black t shirt said I hve to follow. He eventually did and led us to the Coast Guard to stay in the cockpit.’ Long delay, while I shout directions Station Dock. down the companionway and they search out guns. It was The dock was mobbed, two guys in suits, some coast difficult communicating with t shirts that didn’t know forguard uniforms, and dozens of muscular young men and ward from aft. women in fatigues and unmarked black t shirts with black As they unearthed a gun, they shouted the serial number holsters and black guns. No badges, no name tags, no rank up to the female black t shirt who mumbled into her radio. insignia or alphabet labels on their shirts, just plain black. Longer delay while we wait for radio to announce that guns The only thing missing were black ski masks. were clean. Meanwhile lots One of the ‘t shirts’ said where are you coming from? of noise below as they root When I said Ft Lauderdale all of their faces fell. Clearly through every drawer, locker they were hoping for a more exotic point of departure. and cabinet on the boat. Another t shirt said that this was a multi jurisdictional task Finally near dusk, they are force, from Treasury, Immigration, Dade County Sheriff, finished. They thank us DEA, DOT, ATF, and FDLE. They said they knew we had to let the Coast Guard board us, and that the two suits were profusely and say that this was a valuable training Judges who would do Judge stuff to us if we didn’t allow exercise and that this was the alphabet-soup-group aboard. the first time they have OK, I said, come aboard. Not so fast, t shirt said, have done anything like this. I your wife take the dogs up on the foredeck. They look had already guessed that. vicious. OK, I said. When the male dog got to the fore‘What about my flares, deck, he lifted his leg and squirted the dock, causing the my head, my holding tank’, judges to retreat in haste. A female black t shirt came I say. ‘Oh we don’t care aboard and asked about guns. ‘Yes’, I said. ‘Loaded?’ ‘Of about any of that stuff’ course,’ I say. What good is an empty gun? She says ‘you female black t shirt says. WALLin DECOR ¥ SCULPTURES GLASS ART ¥ PRINTS¥ stay the cockpit’. ‘OK’, I ¥say. Male black t shirt GIFTS came Good bye! aboard and went below. He came back sneezing and cough-

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Use It ʻTil You Lose It and Donʼt Throw Anything Away By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Editor Seems like the best fishing lately has come when we’re not really trying. This is a report about two outings on the water during one week in late November. The first trip was on a Saturday. It was supposed to be a leisurely boat ride with my wife and dog. I make it a point never to go out on the water without a rod, and if I am going to take just one lure it will be a gold Hobo spoon - usually one with yellow feathers. I buy them by the box, a dozen at a time for a little over twenty bucks (don’t ask, I won’t tell you!). I’ve been using these same spoons for the last five or six years and have caught everything from grouper to tarpon on them, with plenty of snook, trout, redfish and who knows what else in between. But the last box must have been made with slightly different hooks since at least six of them have broken off recently. I hadn’t figured that out yet, on the Saturday we went for our boat ride.

The water was remarkably clear with the healthy characteristic tannic brown stain of Charlotte Harbor. Any day on this estuary beats any other day on land. Somewhere between Marker No. 5 and Cape Haze we shut down and began a slow drift south on the outgoing tide. It was a mindless moment, just sitting with a cold drink and soaking up the sun. Our dog Molly was slurping water out of her collapsible bowl, drooling and dribbling all over the deck like she wishes she was

allowed to do at home when suddenly we were visited by a rather large mackerel which propelled itself up from beneath the surface to a height of six or seven feet in the air, almost directly alongside the boat. We looked up. Like I said, this wasn’t going to be a fishing trip. My tackle box was still at home, but I had my trusty spoon, or so I thought. I cast it out and began to retrieve, but something was wrong. If you use a particular lure a lot you get to know the feel and something felt different. I reeled it in and had a look. The hook was gone. So here we were, sitting off Cape Haze, with mackerel falling from the sky, me with one rod and a broken lure. I looked around and found a single rusty short shanked live bait hook under the seat. It was a start. Next I searched for a McDonald’s yellow striped straw, they make fine mackerel lures when simply slipped over the shank of a hook, but I couldn’t find one. Mackerel will hit about anything when they are feeding. Once we teased a mackerel into striking at a hook with two pop-

tops from a beer can tied and threaded to it, but the boat had been cleaned up and there were no old or even unused pop tops around. We hadn't seen another fish, but I was sure there would be some. I needed a lure. Then in the corner of the console something gold caught my eye. It was a Mepps Aglia style bait, a tiny hook with a dime sized gold disc and a fat golden weight about the size of a big pea. This will work, I said. I tied the rig onto the remaining 20 pound leader hooked to my 10pound line and made a cast that went nowhere. The lure wasn’t very heavy. Nothing, then again – still nothing. By now we had drifted 100 yards from where we saw the fish so we motored back and I cast again. Next cast, Bingo! The drag sang, the fish ran, and in a while we had him aboard. I cast again and again after that without any luck. Could it be that was the same fish we saw flying like a football through the air? Was it a coincidence, did we catch the only fish around? Or was it a

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Barefoot Fishing

Bluefish like this one were plentiful, mixed in with the mackerel and ladyfish. This fish glove is here for the photo only, more suited for use on a bigger more ʻhostileʼ fish.

fluke? That’s fishing, but either way, I’ll take it. We released the fish. It had a solid lateral line so it wasn’t a king mackerel, but there have been a few small kingfish caught

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The new “Charley Pass” that cuts North Captiva in half runs in and out at even the lowest tide. While we have talked to a number of anglers who reported running through the new pass, we were sucking mud in our 21-foot Paramount at dead low one day last month and didnʼt make it through.

right in the Harbor at Cape Haze. Fast Forward to Friday. My regular barefoot fishing buddy Capt. Ralph Allen and I were offshore at Captiva checking out the new “Charley Pass” cut through the island. The water now flows through the full range of the tide. We tried to get my 21-foot Paramount through the pass at low tide but we couldn’t, so we headed south to Redfish Pass to have a look at South Seas Plantation. By the time we headed back towards the intracoastal the tide was ripping in and there were fish boils everywhere.

Again, this wasn’t going to be a fishing trip. Ralph didn’t even bring a rod, but we were in the right place at the right time and this time I had two rods aboard and my tackle box as well. Ralph took the rod with Zippin Ziggy on it, a nice little topwater plug on 20 pound leader and I threw another used Hobo spoon. Wham, Bam, thank you mam, we were hooked up in an instant, but Ralph had a hard time getting the fish to hang on to the tiny trebles of the topwater plug. Then the fish bit through the leader and as the lure lay motionless in the

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incoming tide another mackerel continued to hit it and then another struck at the motionless lure. “Ain't never seen that before,” we noted, laughing at their stupidity. Then, bang, my spoon came zinging back, I thought the fish simply shook it off, but it was another broken hook. Hmm, I have seen that before, I thought, and I tried to pass the defective Hobo off to Ralph who was himself looking for another lure. But, Ralph wouldn’t fall for it. “Take what you want,” I said to Ralph laying my tackle box open, and he picked up a

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Page 17


Above: Houses on the shore just north of Redfish Pass took the big hit, but they remain standing. Right: The fuel dock at South Seas is open for business but the rest of the resort is closed and is predicted to remain closed for one year.

Johnson’s spoon. Bingo! Fish on, first a ladyfish, then a mackerel, then that lure was gone, chopped off, next lure... and so was mine in about the same time. Re- rig. Gone again. We fished two other spoons, and lost them in no time, switching then to a DOA terror eyes, and finally an artificial

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shrimp. Mackerel, ladyfish and bluefish swarmed on whatever we threw and in the end all the rusty old spoons and nasty old plastics in my tackle box got offered up and taken. Ten pound test, twenty pound leader ... gone! I knew I was saving all that old junk for something.

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On the Line MAGAZINE


Fishing with Capt Ron Blago

Cape Coral Dec 6 thru 16


Naples Dec 11 thru 19

Port Charlotte Dec 11 thru 21

I love this time of year. The precious few weeks between hurricane season and forest fire season.

By Capt Ron Bl ago Water LIFE Executive Staff A number people were nice enough to point out the mistakes I had in last months column concerning closed seasons. Let me set the record straight. In Charlotte Harbor, snook season closes Dec. 15 and will open again Feb. 1. Trout is closed now and will open again Jan. 1. Redfish season is open, it’s always open - there is no closed season on redfish. Sorry if I caused any fist fights among my fishing buddies. Remember, if you want the most accurate fishing regulations in Florida go right to the source at

Editor notes: It was I, not Capt. Ron, who screwed up the redfish dates– MH I love this time of year. The precious few weeks between hurricane season and Custom 14? 21? and 29? Open forest fire season. The temperature is perFiberglass Repair & Supplies ¥ Bottom Painting ¥ Detailing & fect: cool mornings, warm afternoons and Family Owned and good sleeping weather. The fishing presOperated with over 941.628.2588 50 sure is still on the low side, but it will Years Experience Whidden Industrial steadily increase as more of the snow birds Your local SW Florida Licensed 100-Ton Captain arrive. Still plenty of room at the boat ramps. There has been very little rain so the water is crystal clear making the fish easy to spot. I've had good luck finding large pompano in Lemon Bay. They seem to be stacked up in the bigger potholes around low tide. Most were caught on grub tail jigs either gold metal flake or pink metal flake. I never was a big pompano eater, but recently I've developed a taste for fried pompano. Cut out the dark meat and fry it like grouper. I've found good numbers of snook in the shallow grass flats feeding on glass minnows. The splashes they make when they charge the bait are unmistakable. Top water plugs work, but I've had better luck with the gold spoon than anything else.

When I see the splashes I throw the spoon right at it and crank it in fast. The snook almost rip the rod out of my hand. It's a good time to fish the docks for redfish and sheepshead with live shrimp. If you have friends and relatives visiting for the holidays, this is the easiest and most productive fishing they can do. Remember they need to buy a fishing license unless they are under 16 years of age. A lot of my fishing friends have been going back to the recently re-opened Venice Fishing Pier. I've heard nothing but rave reviews about what a great job they did rebuilding the "T" portion at the end of the pier. The regulars are catching kingfish off the end of the pier just like the old days. Because you pay a buck or so to use the pier, you do not have to have a fishing license. I sure wish we had a pier like that in Englewood. So far it’s been a record year for off shore grouper. It seems that all those hurricanes have really made these fish hungry. Still plenty of kingfish out there and if we are lucky they should be around ‘til Christmas. This year's most unusual gift for Charlotte County boaters is a yearly parking permit to park at the public boat ramps. I want to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season. Last chance to sign up for the "College of Fishing Knowledge" at the Englewood Sports Complex. Classes start Jan. 4 and meet for two hours each Tuesday for 6 weeks. Cost is $30 for the course. We cover everything from Hooking to Cooking. For more information call the ESC at 861-1980 . Capt. Ron Blago can be reached for fishing information or to book a charter fishing trip at (941) 474-3474

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The Birth of Rappel Fishing By Fi shi n Frank Water LIFE Staff Where is the problem? Fishing upriver in the cold weather seemed like the best idea. I remembered a bridge a short drive up river and it had places to fish. Not wanting to spend all day lost, I called my Dad. He knows every creek, lake, pond, mudhole, and riverbank where you can walk up and fish in three county’s. Explaining to him where I wanted to try, he knew where it was immediately, however he warned me the water was very low and that it may not be good fishin’. Life’s a risk and I had not been out that way for quite a few years so we took a ride. We left Fishin’ Franks and headed out Kings Highway. Turning right on S.R. 760, down a little ways, on the right hand side just before the bridge, there is a boat ramp and parking. A very nice place. We parked off to the side and got out to check out the area by the bridge. As we walked up we could hear what sounded like fish smacking the surface. We walked a little faster, strained our necks a little higher and sure enough right at the side of the bridge in the shadow line, the fish were really jumping out of the water, chasing bait. It made our hearts pound. Pow, pop, smack. For one or two seconds we stood there letting it sink in ... the "yea" there are really fish here feeling. Then we turned and sprinted for the truck. Dad took his rod with a Johnson Sprite already tied on, his tried and true favorite. I took a borrowed rod because Charley played a little rough with my own stuff. I rigged up the rod with a blue back, silver sided, floater, diver lure about 4" inches long. Frank Sr. was already casting by the time I got there. Looks like bass schooling dad said, but it is early for that. Just then bam ! His ‘sprite-jig,’ as he calls it gets nailed and out of the water come a snook? Yep it looks like a bunch of young buck snook decided to spend the winter up river. Dad lands his fish. Getting it up the bank was not too bad, however the release was a bit hard because of the banks height. The fish

got in a one and a half triple gainer on his way down. Excited by the fish I make my first cast working the lure back with small pulls and slow cranks. One fish boiled on it, but missed. When my lure got to the shore I thought I could just lift and it would drag up the concrete. That was when I realized the sides of the banks are concrete, wrapped in burlap, laid in pattern from the water up the bank. It’s great for stopping erosion. looks really cool from a landscape viewpoint, but the damn burlap grabbed my lure like a catchers mitt. Now what do I do? Dad’s got that grin on his face. He can’t wait to see me try that steep slope and most likely take a swim for my trouble. Then the little cartoon light bulb over my head flashed on. Laying my rod down I walked back to my truck. I needed a rope or something I could hold onto it, since it is too cold for a swim this morning. I wanted my lure back and this delay was screwing up my fishin’ time. In the bed I found a ratchet strap, and under the seat a canvas tow strap. I tied the two together and attached one end to the bridge. Then, with my rod in my teeth, over the side I went. Getting to my lure was easy, but how to hold the strap, hold the rod, and unhook the lure? So I tied a loop in the strap and put it around my waist. Then, just as I was getting my lure unstuck, Dad gets his second snook and to save the fish from the high release it was easy for me to release it at water level for him. Finally I got time to fish. I almost started back up the bank but then I found myself in a great spot. With the strap around my waist it was easy to stand and fish. Rappel fishing is born. From this spot I could cast right in front of the pilings. The fish had slowed down a little by now, maybe laughing too hard at

Page 19


We trace it back to its roots and itʼs a short trip

the jerk tied to the bridge to eat. The snook had been popping like crazy just upstream from the bridge. I cast out. I tried slow ret ri eves, fast retrieves, short pulls, fast jerks, longer slower pulls. They would hit at it but not bite. Even Dad with his sprite jig could not get a hit. Pulling myself up higher I was determined that this was a good plan. I had a smoke while talking to Dad who is still laughing at my fishing techniques. I asked him if he wanted to try, he passed on the idea so back down I went. This time I tossed the lure across the current letting it float only giving it a short pull under then letting it rise back to the top. That did it and pop goes the snook. Fish on I had to work him back slowly. When we came out, I thought we were going fresh water fishing so I did not bring any leader. I had straight 4 pound test tied to the lure. If I was going to save that $8.00 lure I was going to need a lot of skill and ability, or in other words, be real darn

lucky. I got lucky, set the hook right and landed my first S.R. 760 bridge snook in 15 years. Later I caught one more using the lure as a top water bait. Dad mean while tried a jig down and dirty, no luck but he did have a couple of swirls working the jig slowly near the surface. We had been fishing and rappelling for almost an hour but as much fun as this spot was there was work to be done back at the bait shop. It’s a tough way to make a living .... Awww, who am I kidding it’s great. See ya at the bait shop. Stop in and say hello! We’re Fishin’ you a Happy Holiday.

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Water LIFE

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ScuttleButt Sometimes Unsubstanciated ... but often true

complaints that a ʻCitizenʼs Patrolʼ with absolutely no authority to do anything is harassing boaters on Lemon Bay. They are even coming up to boats who are fishing and asking them to display safety equipment.

The trash pile at the Zemil road landfill continues to grow since Charlotte County is not burning its trash.

FLW TOUR COMING TO LEMON BAY The word is out that the Ranger Boats FLW Redfish Tour with a 130 boat field will fish for two days from Stump Pass Marina at Lemon Bay this coming July.

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Empire Building at Rocky Creek The countyʼs Parks and Rec. boondoggle idea of buying the Rocky Creek Marina in Englewood may not yet be dead. According to sources close to the marina there are two new buyers looking at the property and the owner now perceives that the property value has gone up. If Parks and Rec. is still interested in the property it looks like the county will wind up paying more.

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Cape Haze Marina A Columbian developer is reportedly paying $50,000 a month for the option to buy the Cape Haze Marina. The proposal is for a 300 unit hotel and 100 condominium units with a large convention hall and meeting center. There is a growing consensus that this could be a good idea. Englewood likes it because it will bring them business, Punta Gorda likes it because it is far enough away and Boca Grande likes it because they will raise the toll to the island and make more money.

Citizenʼs Watch We have heard several

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Ft Myers Boat Show Reports are excellent from the Nov 1114 Ft Myers Boat Show. Vendors reported strong sales for the first three days and in spite of rain on the final day attendance was up, sales were up and the show was packed with new models everywhere.

Cleansing Habitat People we spoke to are working on a submersible habitat for filter feeding organisms which when ʻoccupiedʼ will help clean dirty water in areas under docks and at marinas.

FishVille News The pumpout station is once again open at Fishermenʼs Village. A new harbormaster has been named. The upstairs at the Captainʼs Table has its new open deck almost completed. Holidaze Boat Rentals will be moving into a village based out-building and all the fish cleaning tables around the marina have been moved so cleaning debris doesnʼt fall into the water.

ForeLands, the upscale condo project in Port Charlotte located on the Peace River where the old Peppinʼs restaurant used to be is apparently having trouble paying its bills. Blame is being placed on a management company and project officials say the project itself is allegedly not in any financial trouble.

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Water LIFE


This is NOT an Ad

Factual Information compiled from the Charlotte County Association of Realtors. Real estate value in waterfront property is enhanced by various factors. Sailboat water, areaʼs where waterway depth can accommodate a sailboatʼs keel and no bridges to the open water, are considered prime.

Charlotte Harbor and the surrounding areas arel beautiful areas in which to live. Real Estate prices continue to rise both in single family dwellings and condominiumsas more people discover SW Florida


By DAVID CRARY Associated Press NEW YORK - Touting tofu chowder and vegetarian sushi as alternatives, animal-rights activists have launched a novel campaign arguing that fish -- contrary to stereotype -- are intelligent, sensitive animals no more deserving of being eaten than a pet dog or cat. Called the Fish Empathy Project, the campaign reflects a strategy shift by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as it challenges a diet component widely viewed as nutritious and uncontroversial. ''No one would ever put a hook through a dog's or cat's mouth,'' said Bruce Friedrich, PETA's director of vegan outreach. ``Once people start to understand that fish, although they come in different packaging, are just as intelligent, they'll stop eating them.'' The campaign is in its infancy and will face broad skepticism. Groups such as the


Page 21

Harbour Village PH 1- These condos sit on the bank of the Myakka River with no bridge to the Gulf of Mexico. Small with only 750 sq ft, 1BR, 1BA but community dockage & fishing pier. In January 2002 a unit sold for $74,000 and this past Novemer 2004 for $140,000.

Near the Myakka River but on a small fresh water canal in El Jobean these villas are also small with only 868sq ft. They are within walking distance to the river and fishing pier and include a community swimming pool. In April 2003 one sold for just $38,500 and a year and a half later in October for $80,000.

This condominium in Clipper Cove Punta Gorda is on the first floor, on the water with a southern facing lanai. 3BR/2BA, garage and deeded dock are part of the package. In 2002 it sold for $190,700 and again this past November, 2004 for $285,000. Another Clipper Cove condominium in Punta Gorda but on the second floor and slightly larger, also sold previously in 2002 but for $179,900. This past October 2004 it sold again for its full asking price of $309,000.


This turn key condominium near Fisherman's Village, in Punta Gorda, includes 2BR/2BA, 1160 sq ft of living space and a deeded dock to Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf. It sold in April 2003 for $130,000 and again this past September for $234,900.

Pho to no t av ai l abl e: Beeney - 3 bedrooms 2 baths and 1287 sq feet. This home sits on one of the best canals in Pt Charlotte, with direct and immediate access to the harbor. It was also one of the hardest hit by Charley. It was purchased in June of 2004 for $359,500 and now PROPERTY IS OFFERED FOR SALE IN ‘AS IS’ CONDITION, SUBJECT TO EXISTING HURRICANE DAMAGE, new price after Charley $599,000.

Fish don't deserve being killed to feed humans.

American Heart Association recommend fish as part of a healthy diet; some academics say it is wrong to portray the intelligence and pain sensitivity of fish as comparable to mammals. ''Fish are very complex organisms that do all sorts of fascinating things,'' said University of Wyoming neuroscientist James Rose. ``But to suggest they know what's happening to them and worry about it, that's just not the case.'' PETA, headquartered in Norfolk, Va., has campaigned for years against sport fishing, challenging claims by Rose and others that fish caught by anglers do not feel pain. PETA also has joined other critics in decrying the levels of mercury or other toxins in many fish and the pollution discharged by fish farms. The Empathy Project is a departure in two respects -- attempting to depict the standard practices of commercial fishing as cruel and seeking to convince consumers that there are ethical reasons for not eating



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nonhuman primates.'' PETA activists plan demonstrations starting next month at selected seafood restaurants nationwide. PETA also will urge changes in commercial fishing practices, for example proposing that trawler crews stun fish before cutting them up. Friedrich questioned why there is popular support for sparing marine mammals -dolphins and porpoises -- yet minimal concern for species like tuna, ``whose suffering would warrant felony animal cruelty charges if they were mammals.'' Fish-welfare rules would be a new realm for U.S. commercial fishermen. The National Fisheries Institute has pledged to help sustain fish stocks but members have not faced cruelty accusations. ''It's irresponsible to discourage people from eating fish at a time when doctors and dietitians advise eating it twice a week,'' said institute president John Connelly.

fish. ''Fish are so misunderstood because they're so far removed from our daily lives,'' said Karin Robertson, 24, the Empathy Project manager and daughter of a fisheries biologist. ``They're such interesting, fascinating individuals, yet they're so incredibly abused.'' The project was inspired by several recent scientific studies detailing facets of fish intelligence. Oxford University researcher Theresa Burt de Perera, for example, reported that the blind Mexican cave fish is able to interpret water pressure changes to construct a detailed mental map of its surroundings. ''Most people dismiss fish as dimwitted pea-brains. . . . Yet this is a great fallacy,'' wrote University of Edinburgh biologist Culum Brown in the June edition of New Scientist. “'In many areas, such as memory, their cognitive powers match or exceed those of `higher' vertebrates, including

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Page 22


By C apt . A ndrew Medi na Water LIFE Gui de Being on the water for the last eight days pre- fishing for the Flats Master Championship (that I am glad to say we took fifth place in for the year) I learned one thing. Our harbor and its surrounding waters are piled up right now with just about every winter species we usually have here in sunny Florida. Inshore anglers have a shot at what we call ‘the slam’: a snook, redfish and a trout in one day

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of fishing. We added a few to that list catching grouper, snapper, flounder, jacks, ladyfish, a few mackerel and even a nasty barracuda. Fishing is fantastic right now and even novice anglers can go out Above :Trout wearing a gold spoon. and have a lot of Right: Capt. Andrew Medina with a fun in a day of fish- nice redfish. ing. The most welcome of the fish here right now is the flounder. It was like going to the grocery store without ever getting off the water and just about anyone can catch them. All you need is shrimp or whitebait on a weighted hook and a sandy area to fish in and you should have a pretty good shot at catching a ‘flatty.’ I would like to share what we saw while we were netting bait on a grass flat in the Pine Island Sound. An older couple in a tri-hull bow rider were in front of us a little ways and hopefully they are reading this now. They were catching trout, but she must have been scared of the fish because she was grabbing them with a towel and shaking them off the hook. OK, here is this months fishing lesson: Spotted sea trout are not a hardy species and grabbing them with a towel removes all their slime. That slime is what protects the fish’s skin. Trout do not have


scales, and by doing this there’s a good chance a lot of the fish that were caught by that couple ended up as floaters. If you have to handle trout, wet your hands and don’t touch the body. Don’t forget, they are out of season. So don’t purposely fish for them, try going to the docks and fishing for mangrove snapper instead, that can be just as fun! Capt. Andrew Medina can be reached at (941) 456-1540

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By Capt Ron Bl ago Water LIFE Senior Staff Just when you thought we had run out of things to worry about along comes the Florida Department of Health with new advisories concerning mercury levels in fish. This makes Florida the 43rd state to issue warnings about eating fish that may contain mercury. Florida now has 59 saltwater fish species that carry mercury warnings no matter where they are caught in Florida. For some species such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tile fish; it is recommended you don’t eat them at all. For others, such as pompano, snook, trout, redfish and grouper, it is recommended that you limit your weekly intake to no more than 7oz per week with special concern for small children and women of child bearing age. The good news is that shrimp, clams, oysters and crabs are not on the warning list. If you want to see the new fish advisories go to or Are we killing the oceans, the fish and ourselves with mercury poisoning or is this just the latest environmental crisis-du-jour? Lets look at what we know. Mercury is a natural element and by itself is pretty inert. I’m sure most of us broke open the old thermometers and played with the slippery gobs of quicksilver that rolled around. This stuff is pretty harmless until it is heated or vaporized or reacts with other chemical to form new compounds. The organic mercury gets washed into our waterways and is acted on by bacteria and converted into ‘the bad guy’ – methyl mercury. Small fish digest the methyl mercury, the big fish eat the little fish and

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Mercury Raising

we, at top of the food chain, eat them both. Since methyl mercury accumulates in the flesh, the bigger the fish the higher the concentration and therefore the more fish you eat, the higher the level of methyl mercury in your body. Of all the mercury in our environment, 66 percent of it comes from natural sources such as out gassing of minerals or the natural decomposition of organic materials (leaves and grasses). This is a fact people tend to forget; there has always been (and there will always be) some methyl mercury in fish, it is natural. Most of the discussion these days focuses on the remaining 33 percent , the mercury that enters our environment from human activities. Back in the 50s and 60s most mercury pollution came from the production of chlorine, where waste mercury compounds were commonly dumped into the nearest waterway. One of the worst cases of mercury poisoning occurred in Minimata Japan

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around 1960 where 111 people died because chemical plants dumped tons of mercury compounds directly into Minimata Bay. Some of the fish that were caught in the bay had methyl mercury level up to 40 parts per million(ppm) some of the highest levels ever recorded. Fortunately, that type of pollution has been stopped and mercury pollution has decreased 80 percent since then. Today, the leading source of human activity caused mercury pollution is thought to be from the burning of coal in electric utilities, from medical incinerators and to a lesser extent from cement factories. The Federal Government has required that coal powered utilities cut mercury emissions 70 percent by 2018. They can do this by using low mercury coal, mostly found in the western states, or by installing high tech pollution scrubbers. Will the decrease in mercury pollution and the new regulations

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“about 630,000 children are born each year at risk for lowered intelligence and learning problems caused by exposure to high levels of mercury in the womb.” The only long term study done on humans is an FDA supported study by the University of Rochester of the people of Seychelles Islands off the coast of East Africa. The people there eat approximately 12 times more fish per person than the average American. Over 10 years they have studied the island’s pregnant women and their fetuses and have yet to find any detrimental effect from eating fish. On the local level we are pretty lucky. Most mercury hot spots are within 50 miles of the source of incineration. Most of our power plants are now burning natural gas and the closest coal burning power plant is in Tampa, outside of the 50 mile range. Closing down pollution sites can have an immediate effect on mercury levels. Three years ago they closed down a medical waste incinerator on the edge of the Everglades and the next year there was a 30 percent decrease in the level of mercury in bass from the Everglades. Whether you want to cut down or eliminate fish from you menu is a personal choice. Remember, the American Heart Association still recommends that you eat two meals of fish a week. If you are worried about mercury remember that you probably are getting a bigger dose from the old fillings in your teeth and you stand a greater chance of dying from eating raw oysters. More things to worry about. Personally, I’m just going to go fishing and not worry about it. Have a safe and happy holiday!

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on coal burning take care of the mercury problem in fish? Unfortunately, probably not. This is where science and politics interact, bringing out the worst in both. The new theory is that low levels of methyl mercury may be much more dangerous than previously thought. The scientific research on the heath effects of low level mercury exposure is sketchy at best. In 1969 the FDA set the level for total mercury in fish at 0.5 ppm. In 1979 they raised the level to 1.0 ppm. In 1990 the World Health Organization issued a report that concluded, “the general population does not face a significant health risk from methyl mercury.” In 1998 the FDA actually stopped widely testing for mercury in fish. Everything was going fine until Feb. 2004 (an election year) when the Environmental Protection Agency issued a computer analysis that predicted

Page 23

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Page 24



Not for KIDS


Last month NASCAR announced it would allow hard liquor companies to sponsor race car teams.

This month a Lord Calvert promotion uses a lure called FRENZY to sell its Canadian Whiskey. Next month PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) will announce that fishing is cruel.

What can be new for the New Year??

This display was in an ABC liquor store near Kissimmee, FL.

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FWC Files

After an extensive two-week investigation, FWC officer Arthur Mattson issued three citations to three Lee County residents for failure to transfer vessel title. The violations were discovered as a result of a request for a homemade vessel inspection from a Naples resident. Officer Mattson’s inspection revealed the vessel was not a homemade vessel and with the help of numerous SEA dispatchers discovered the vessel had last been registered in 2000. Eventually, the rightful owner was located. The rightful owner told the officer that he had gone through a bitter divorce and he didn’t know what happened to his boat. Apparently, the exwife gave the boat to someone in exchange for a haircut. The new owner then traded the boat in exchange for a pontoon boat. The second individual then sold the boat to the Naples man for $1,800. Since purchasing the boat, the Naples man invested $2,000 in costs to transport the vessel and perform repairs. Officer Mattson issued a written warning to the Naples man and explained the matter would have to be resolved through a civil process since the vessel title was still issued to the rightful owner.

Water LIFE

Crab Lovers Gift Commercial crabbers harvesting both blue crabs and stone crabs are reporting an excellent season this fall with especially large examples being caught. Locally, the Peace River Sea Food Company at 5337 Hwy 17 east of the Interstate in P.G. is the place to go for crabs.If you havenʼt been there yet you are missing the best local connection for crabs and shrimp that we know of. Open Tuesday through Saturday they serve lunch ʻtill 6 and are open ʻtill 8 on Friday and Saturday night.They will also steam crabs and have them hot and ready for you to pick up. Kelly Beal runs theseafood market & restaurant.


Her husband Jimmy is a commercial crabber. Check it out, you wonʼt be sorry.




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Top: The lifestyle of trailer camping is already getting old at Harbor Heights. Center: Coolers for storage and bathroom inconveniences at the Snee ʻcamp.ʼ Left: White picket fence along Edgewater Dr. Bottom: This trailer city has been established by FEMA off Airport Road

S t aff R eport “Our trailer is showing the wear already. The furniture is all coming apart, there are electrical problems and the doorway is sagging badly at the threshold. I'm living back in the house,” a friend said when we came to visit. For the last three months he and his significant other had been living in a 34 foot travel trailer in back of his house in Harbour Heights. In the house where workers hammered and sawed, the drywall dust lay thick in the air like a heavy winter cloud. Most of the interior walls had been stripped and the rooms were now defined only by bare studs still strung with wiring. Back in the master bedroom, covered with plastic, a king size bed complete with pillows and sheets stood protected. “I’m not going back in the trailer”, my friend said to me explaining that his partner had decided to quit smoking and things were a little tense in such close quarters. Other people are waking up in similar close quarters, trailers dot every block in the hardest hit parts of Port Charlotte. It’s a shared experience. If you wore the blue tarp of courage then trailer dwelling is another merit badge you don’t want to collect. No one seems happy. “It’s not like camping,” one trailer dweller said when I walked up to his ‘camp’ on Harbor Blvd and asked him about living conditions. “When you are camping it’s fun to make do and rough it, but this is day to day living and there are more and more necessities that creep into the small living space you have.” Computers, microwaves, video games, fax machines they all become indispensible and once inside they never leave.

“When camping we make do with a very few cooking utensils. Here we have a deep fryer, an iron skillet, a copper clad skillet, a small microwave and who knows what else, now,” he said, adding that life outside has become a bramble of barbeques, shovels and brooms. “Living like this you find out which broom is the best one in a hurry,” another ‘camper’ said. Back on our own street, a neighbor is in the process of having his house torn down. He too has begun to live in a trailer, with his wife and two big dogs. When the movers came this week to empty out his house they didn’t take everything, they ran out of boxes so he now has some of his belongings stored in the garage of an empty house next door. When it rains it all gets wet. The ‘blackwater tank’ on his trailer is filling up quickly. He can’t get a pump out scheduled and until the house is torn down he can’t hook up to the sewer. He is using the bathrooms in another empty house. This man is not some down and out drifter, this is a man who will have a half million dollar home when it’s all over. “I’m going to stay right here on the water, until then,” he said. “It looked good at first,” another man commented, “but every time the wind blows the canopy comes off and it’s really stuffy inside, even with the windows and door open.” “The mattresses are the pits,” his wife chimed in “... and where are we going to put the tree?”

Water LIFE

Kids Cup and Redfish Cup Update



Ki ds Cup Update According to Jerry Jensen, director of the Charlotte Harbor Reef Association, this year’s Don Ball School of fishing will go on. “Absolutely,” Jensen said, explaining that the start of the program was delayed because of this season’s storms. “With Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte sharing a campus on split sessions we had to wait, but as of January students in the area’s four middle schools (Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, Murdock and Englewood) will begin signing up. The Don Ball School of fishing uses local fishing guides to teach 7th graders about fishing, rigging bait, casting and the environment in Charlotte Harbor and Lemon Bay. One hundred children, twenty five from each school sign up for the program every year. “This year there will be eight sessions, two in February, two in March and four in April,” Jensen said. So far to date the Don Ball School has graduated over 400 students. “Interested children should check with their home room teacher to obtain details for enrollment,” Jensen said. Don Ball was a local conservationist and fisherman, this year’s Don Ball School of Fishing is funded with community support raised last year through the Water LIFE Kid’s Cup Redfish Tournament.

The Oberto Redfi sh Cup producers have begun talking about scheduling for the future and although no one will admit it on the record, they are giving Punta Gorda a pass for 2005, but are planning to return here for 2006. Although reasoning points to a lack of accommodations as the main factor keeping the Cup away there was significant chatter on the Redfish Cup website which pointed to the difficulty anglers had in catching redfish here, compared to other venues. Two years of weigh-ins with some empty fish bags on the final day may have been an influencing factor in the decision. On the brighter side, the Kids Cup isn’t tied to the Redfish Cup so we are looking at several tournaments as potentials for another Kids Cup this year.

This time of year I love fishing sand and oyster bars using the Old Bay Side Shrimp and Shrimp Jig Head. Using a 1/8oz red head jig I will slowly bounce the jig along the bottom. Old Bay Side's Shrimp Jigs are designed to land with the hook up rather than down like most jig heads, minimizing snags. My choice of colors in the Shrimp this time of year are pumpkin with the chartreuse tail or glow with a chartreuse tail.

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Offshore Report




By Capt. Stev e Skev i ng to n Water LIFE Offshore Contributor WOW, this November has been one of the best months in recent memory when it comes to king mackerel fishing here in SW Florida. November, of course has always been a great month on both kings and Spanish macs. But for some reason, and I don't know if it's just excitement about everything getting back to normal after Charley or what, but it just seems like these fish are jumping in the boat. As I write, I still have fresh images of the limit of kings we bagged today. They're just everywhere! Every wreck, every artificial reef out there has kings just piled up and hungry. But enough about the kings. We've been limited out on them everyday by about noon and that of course leaves plenty of bottom time for the few big gag grouper that are already making a show on shore near ledges and artificial reefs. Next month should really have Capt. Steve Skevington of the Kingfisher Fleet with a late October catch of cudas, kings, snapper, gag grouper and big mangrove grunts and one lone AJ at the rear. snapper on the menu and dropping down your favorite live bait should do it and for a few days there we pushed one hundred and twenty fish. every time. With a few keeper sized grouper- trigger Looking back on this month, lane snapper have been really good to us with fifty to fish, cobia, white grunts, mangrove snapseventy five fish every day going in the box per, hogfish, porgys's been a

LEFT: pumpkin with the chartreuse tail Right: glow with a chartreuse tail.


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By Capt. Chuck Ei chner Water LIFE Gasparilla Editor Make no doubt about it winter is on its way and the patterns have changed. Gamefish react to lowering water temperatures and shorter daylight hours which are subtle clues to nature that cold weather is on the horizon. Shrimp become an even bigger source of prey to redfish and trout as the migratory baitfish move out of the harbor. Snook will become lethargic and increasingly more difficult to catch. The good news is there are lots of other species to catch in a day including sheepshead, black drum, ladyfish and jacks.

So Letʼs Go Fishing!

To me, December fishing is as simple as it gets. Take a handful of jigs and a bucket of shrimp and that’s it. For equipment I like a 6-7’ medium spinning rod with 10 pound test and 10-inches of 30 pound shock leader. I prefer to use medium shrimp and break them in half just behind the hard collar. Hook the head piece from the underside through the top in the front. For the tail piece, hook through the underside of the shrimp tail then out the top just behind where you broke it off. These hooking methods present the jig without too much water resistance which keeps the bait from tearing off as frequently. The “winter species” have a tendency to school up in areas of deeper water. Canals, basins, creeks and potholes in the grass will harbor lots of fish. I like to treat fishing this time of year like the bass pro’s on TV. I cover a lot of water by casting continuously, working the bait from the shore all the way back to the boat. The key is to stay in contact with the bottom. I prefer to let my jig fall on a slack line then tighten up and use very

Water LIFE

In December ... Dance The Jig



short snaps of the rod tip to impart a darting shrimp action. Definitely, drop your rod after each snap to allow the bait to settle back to the bottom. Most of your hits will come as the jig is falling. Any little “tick” you feel is the


fish actually inhaling the bait. Trout, redfish and others don’t really bite it, they inhale water as they chase it down and the tick you feel is the weight of the jig bouncing around in the fishes mouth- so, set the hook!

Size and Color Matters

To stay in contact with the bottom you need weight. I prefer a 1/4oz jig for most situations. In grassy areas a 1/8oz jig may be in order however you will get a lot less bites with an 1/8oz jig in waters deeper than 5 feet. If you don’t believe it, go to a 5-8 foot spot and put a light jig on your buddies line (same color) and you go with a 1/4oz. He may not realize the difference in jigs, but he will definitely know you have the “hot rod”. Color does make a difference and I have narrowed it down to red, orange, pink and chartreuse. Experiment on each fishing day and the fish will let you know what they like. Water temperature and sunlight penetration seem to affect their color preference. Jigs come in lots of shapes but I find a bullet head or flat head works best. Pick a brand that has a short shank hook so your overall bait is compact. Long shank jig hooks generally have a wider gap which makes it even more difficult for tricky biters like the sheepshead to get hooked. When heading out on the waters this winter I suggest you take 20-30 jigs along and at least 100 shrimp for the day (200 baits). Yes, it would be nice to catch 200 fish, but with all of the deadfall branches and submerged debris below you’re going to lose some tackle. But, then again, you’re gonna catch a bunch of fish.

Capt. Chuck Eichner operates Action Flats Backcountry Charters. He can be found online at:



Water LIFE




December Fishing Forecast Charlotte Harbor

R o bert at F i s hi n' F ranks P o rt C harl o tte: 6 2 5 -3 8 8 8 You have the first half of December to catch your last s no o k, so if you want snook for Christmas dinner, better catch it before the 15th when the season closes. Snook fishing at El Jobean has been picking up at night and fishing for snook – even the 41 bridge is doing fair at night – in spite of the fact that the lights are still out on the bridge. Laishley pier is stacking

up the snook pretty good too, because the past few cold fronts have really made the fish move towards the river. This is also a good time to start looking for snook at the spill dams along U.S. 41. Presentation has to be slowed down with the colder weather, no matter if it’s a jig or a stick-bait. F l o under fishing has been incredible for the last month and a half. I think it’s because a number of the shrimp boats were wrecked in the hurricanes and the pressure is off. Flounder are a popular by-catch for the local shrimpers.

Nice cobia are in the area as witnessed by this by-catch at the local Flatsmasters Redfish&Snook Tournament last month.



Fishing Report Continued from facing page

B BIIG G-4 4

Water LIFE


D De ec ce em mb be er r ʼs ʼs B Be es st t B Be et ts s

S hri mp di ppi ng is hot right now. Guys are getting two buckets full out at the pier at Placida at night. It’s quite a bit better then normal right now. FLOUNDER are still all SNOOK are heading to the SMALL REDFISH will be SHEEPSHEAD are moving over the Harbor canals and rivers showing up big time in from offshore S heepshead are startingto move out along the beaches. Look for them around Placida and there are a bunch of S pani sh mackerel . Offshore, we have prime time for at the docks at Boca Grande. Fiddler crabs work best on them, but you can Ki ng and Spanish mackerel. It depends on the water temperature, once it gets peel the shell off a shrimp and that also makes a good bait for them. We below 67 or 66 degrees the kings will end. There are a load of sharks out still haven’t heard whether the sand fleas are back this year. Remember, last there too, mixed right in with the mackerel. As the temperatures drop the season? ... there weren’t any sand fleas around. grouper and snapper will be coming in closer to shore. Right now, they are Grouper and mangrove snapper are starting to really turn on in some still in 60 feet of water or more. Way offshore (30 plus miles) in 100-plusof the passes and offshore. On Novak Reef and at Mary’s Reef there are nice legal fish now. We have even had reports of nice legal grouper down at Pine feet of water, bl ackfi n tuna, amberjack and even some wahoos are being caught. Cigar minnows, blue runners and pilchards are the best baits for offIsland with some legal fish coming out from under the bushes. On the real calm days look for the amberjack and the barracuda. Check shore. out the boxcars or any of the other reefs in 50-or-more feet of water. Lemon Bay In the early morning and late afternoons look for cobia cruising the outside Ji m at Fi shermen’s Edge of the bars or along the crab traps offshore. There have been a lot of nice Engl ewood: 697-7595 cobi a this season and there are usually some tri pl e tai l mixed in with them. Fishing has been decent this past week. It hasn’t gotten that cold, so Another nice fish in December is whi ti ng. There are plenty of them out along the beaches and in the smaller passes. They are a fun fish to catch and snook fishing has still been good. Redfi sh are scattered throughout Lemon Bay and into Gasparilla and Pine Island Sound. The fish aren’t herded up, but are under rated, but still a great fish to smoke and eat. Redfi sh are always around, but this is the time of year when the rat reds there are plenty of tailing fish and sight-cast-fishing is the way to go. That are starting to show up. Be conservative and learn to use circle hooks to help long flat down by the Gasparilla Inn golf course... that has been holding redthe little guys grow up. Up in the canals, close to the mangroves in Port fish and guys were catching them like crazy this week. S heepshead are startCharlotte and PGI, is a good place to look for them. Any redfish caught in the ing to show up. There have already been a couple of good days for them around 25 inch range or bigger would be an exceptional fish for this time of year. the Placida trestle. The frozen sand fleas this year aren’t oversized like they Trout are readily available, but the season is closed and the fish are very were last year so they are more popular. Guys have been buying sand scoops fragile right now so handle them carefully. so I guess the live fleas are back. Big fl ounder – 16 or 17 inch fish – are There are a lot of little bl uefi sh from 12- to 16-inches out around Placida being taken close to the Big Pass and some are coming from around the rock and in the passes on the incoming tide. There should be little pods of them rubble on the beach front. Offshore, mackerel and ki ng mackerel fishing mixed in with the S pani sh mackerel right now. This is a good time to start has been good. There are a lot of fish close in, in the 25-30 foot range. practicing with artificials because this is the time of year the fish will chew Trolling spoons and plugs or drifting live bait on the days you can get out in on them readily. front works well. Grouper fishing offshore, according to the charter boat Stump Pass guys, has been pretty good on many days. There has been quite a bit of Travis at Stump Pass Marina cobi a around down on the beach and up in the Harbor, the fish must be Englewood: 697-2206 moving down the coast now. Assorted pompano, bl uefi sh, and a variInshore, there are a ton of trout in the bay and quite a few redfish are comety of visitor fish are all coming and going. Out on the beach front, tri pl e in' in too, plus there are a few snook around. In the passes and off the beach

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Christmas Lights

Crui se A Punta Gorda Tradition For Over 20 years See the Christmas Lights and Decorations From the Water Three Cruises Nightly 6 p.m. 7:30 p.m. 9 p.m. $9.50 adults, Kids under 12 2 and under FREE


Trip length approximately one hour


n December 9: Lighting of the Fleet, holiday festivities at Isles Yacht Club, Punta Gorda, at sundown.

n December 11: Lighted Boat Parade, starts in Edgewater Lake and proceeds past the Isles yacht Club, Fishermenʼs Village and under the U.S. 41 Bridges. Begins at sundown. 639-3720

n December 12: Change of Watch installation of new officials for the Punta Gorda Sailing Club, Victoria estates, 5 p.m.


n December 22: Fishing Seminar, West Marine, Charlotte Harbor, Capt. Dan Cambern, Offshore Winter Fishing, 5 p.m. 625-2700

n January 5: Fishing Seminar, West Marine, Capt. Andy Medina, Redfishing, 5 p.m. 625-2700

n Jan 8-9: Golden Conch Regatta, Platinum Point Yacht Club, Burnt Store. 639-3868

n March 5-6: Conquistador Cup Charlotte Harborʼs largest Regatta. Please send us your event calendar information:



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WaterLIFE Dec04  

FlatsmastersWinners FlatsmastersWinners Festive Festive Piercings Piercings Charlotte Harbor and Lemon Bay Florida Charlotte Harbor and Lemo...