Water LIFE December 2021

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Charlotte Harbor, Lemon Bay, Venice, Estero, 10,000 Islands and the Gulf

The Charlotte Harbor Reef Association

December 2021

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Observations and Predictions DECEMBER 2021

By Michael Heller Water LIFE editor We drove back from Denver last month; me, Ellen and our dog Augustus. Traffic was mostly heavy east of the Mississippi, but out through Oklahoma and Kansas and into eastern Colorado it was wide open. We took a short cut on the way out, through the farm fields of Kansas, between I-40 and I-70, and we didn’t see a car for two hours. But what we did see, coming through Arkansas and down through Alabama on the way back were trucks carrying boats. Big semis with two level trailers with three or sometimes four boats on the top layer and the same on the lower layer. They were all shrink wrapped in white plastic. Some were Carolina Skiffs, some were deeper Vs of some brand, maybe Key Wests, some were small skiffs. There was one truck with four pontoon boats. I think we saw four trucks in all that day. The one thing they all had in common was there were no outboards on any of the boats. I could see the transoms and a couple of boats with outboard brackets, shrink wrapped under the white of the stern. Sadly outboards are still MIA in the scheme of things. Repair shops around the area are busy keeping things running with what they have. I know several guides

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looking for new motors as part of their routine upkeep. How long will this go on? Your guess is as good as mine. Along that same line of thought, a couple of other things come to mind. When the supply chain cranks back up, when all the factories get back into production, what do you think will happen to all the first stuff they produce? What happens to all the parts that aren’t exactly right just yet, the widgets made when the line is just coming up to speed? You know what happens... we get them! I think there is a good chance there will be junk around for a while, at first, if there is a ‘first’. It’s funny, but when I was growing up after WWII, a sticker saying ‘Made in Japan’ was a sign of inferior products. We wanted the stuff that had a Made in the USA sticker on the bottom. Now, today Made in Japan is often a sign of better quality than made in China... but I digress. Last year stimulus money was coming in and with covid and isolation, a lot of people convinced themselves that owning a boat was a great idea. Actually it was a great idea; and I think boating and fishing and being outdoors is why Florida is doing so well on the covid scale. Last year boat sales were through the roof. For a while, you couldn’t find a used boat. Gas was $1.75 for marine unleaded.

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Somewhere between I-40 and I-70, enroute to Denver last month. We snaked our way through the farm roads of Kansas and didnʼt see another car for hours.

Dry storage racks were full (and for the most part they still are) Life was good last year, so long as you didn’t mind the pandemic. But today it’s getting not-so-good. Prices on everything are way up and gas... the lifeblood of the boat... is expensive. The good news is the new 4-strokes are way better on gas than the old carb motors, but they take more maintenance too and that means parts that might not be available. I heard grumbling this summer

over red tide and how long a lot of boaters had to leave their boats at the dock. Patience was running short. Now gas has doubled. Storage fees and insurance bills keep coming. Some of these new boat owners must be having second thoughts. I think we might start seeing some hardlyused boats on the market in January and I think some of those boats with low time outboards might be worth a serious look.

Merry Christmas from Ellen and I and from our dog Augustus!


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Water LIFE inc. waterlife@comcast.net www.WaterlifeMagazine.com

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STILL PLENTY OF SHARKS!

DECEMBER 2021

They are hanging around late

Vol XX No. 12 © 2021

Ellen Heller Publisher Michael Heller Editor

office: (941) 766-8180

Contributors:

Photography: ASA1000.com Senior Editor: Capt. Ron Blago Baitshop: Fishinʼ Frank Upper Harbor: Cameron Parson Peace River: Capt. Dave Stephens Punta Gorda: Capt. Alan Williams Estero: Capt. Joe Angius Everglades: Capt. Charlie Phillips Sailing: Fran Burstein Pier Fishing: Bobby Vitalis Diving: Adam Wilson Office Dog: Augustus

Some of last monthʼs catches from Capt. John Brossard Shark Chaser Charters 239-777-9279 Give the Gift of Sharking!

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Andrea Johnson, red grouper

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BackBay Xtremes Capt Dave Stephens www.backbayxtremes.com

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Sheepies Come Out in the Cold DECEMBER 2021

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By Cameron Parson Water LIFE Spillways and Ponds Cooler weather is finally upon us, which brings cooler water and pattern changes. While the trout bite has picked up quite a bit, other fish are also on the move in the canals and around some of the local piers – sheepshead and black drum, to be specific. I've said it before and I'll say it again; sheepshead fishing is the best on the coldest days of the year. They may frequent our waters year-round, but both the quality and quantity of fish seems to be best during our cold season. They're looking for most anything to get their teeth on. Barnacles, oysters, crabs, and shrimp will all be consumed if in their way. That being said, target these fish around heavy structure that is covered in barnacles and oysters. Rock piles, dock pilings, and bridge pilings will all hold fish. Some more than others. The trick is finding the right spot. If you're catching more snapper than anything, move on. Sheepshead are absolutely notorious for cleaning your hook with very minimal effort. Focus on keeping your line taut and wait for the fish to swim away, allowing just a light bend in the rod, and set the hook. Shrimp on a jighead will work just fine in the canals and under bridges. Small mangrove crabs, rock crabs, and fiddlers on a No.1 or No. 2 hook also work extremely well. Sheepshead in areas such as Placida and docks

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around Boca seem to favor crabs while the fish in our Charlotte Harbor area seems to favor shrimp. Black drum or "big uglies" aren't much different. While they may not be the prettiest fish out there, they pull hard and make for a great photo with most any an-

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gler. They can be caught in most any area a sheepshead will be. Some can even be heard making that infamous "boom" or low rumble if they're schooled up under piers and bridges. Beef up your gear and don't go undergunned. You maybe able to pull on a few with standard sized equipment, but something a little larger is sometimes necessary for combat-fishing in pilings. It's a pretty good bet you have a black drum if you set the hook and your rod bends READERʼS PHOTOS Send us ur FISH PIX! Weʼll use ʻem!! see page 4

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13 year old Max Miller. 16-inch sheepshead.

over seemingly slow...then the fish realizes it's hooked. Shrimp on a jighead is a good bet. Chunks of blue crabs will better gain their attention if you know they are in the spot. Break off the legs and use the leg slot to feed your hook through. This makes hooking your bait a little easier and it keeps your bait from being ripped off so easily. Popular places for these fish are the I-75, US-41, and El Jobean bridges. Catch some fish!

Cameron Parson can sometimes be found at Rio Villa Bait & Tackle in Punta Gorda. 941-639-7166

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Erika Russell of Punta Gorda with a 30-inch red grouper caught the last day of the season offshore of Sanibel

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Jack crevalle and a redfish caught with Capt. Joe Angius in Estero Bay

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Parker Vernon with his first snook. It was released.


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DECEMBER 2021

Happening in Local Waters On the Line By Capt. Ron Blago Water LIFE Senior Staff There has been a lot going on in our local waters the last few months so it’s time to bring you up to date on the latest developments. Some of it is good news and some of it is bad. On the good side, the Stump Pass maintenance dredging project is on schedule, all contracts have been signed and the dredging equipment is on its way. The actual dredging should start this month and will be finished in January. Most of the sand will be placed on the State Park, north of the Pass. More good news is that the Red Tide is gone from our area, at least for the last few months. That doesn’t mean it won’t return in the future; but for right now the whole state is red tide free. It’s been a crazy year for red tide. I first noticed news of an outbreak in January, down in Collier County. It slowly moved up into Lee County and then there was the Piney Point phosphate spill in March and a major outbreak of red tide in the Tampa Bay and Boca Ciega Bay area. I guess April was the worst month in the Charlotte County area with dead fish reports coming in from Lemon Bay and as far inland as Punta Gorda. I think that had not been for the Mainstream Media fanning the flames of Red Tide hysteria by reporting every dead fish someone found or reporting on any beach that posted a red tide warning sign, it wouldn't have been such a big deal. On the bad news side, we broke the record for manatee deaths in a single year. As of November 25, 1,017 dead manatees have been reported. This

breaks the previous record of 824 dead manatees set in 2018. This is significant because the 5 year average annual number of deaths is 532. So why is the death rate over 100% higher than the 5 Year average? Well, they can’t use boaters as a scapegoat this time because the 2021 numbers are below the 5 year average of 101. Can’t blame cold stress deaths; with only15 deaths this year that's way below the five year average of 42. It doesn’t look like the red tide is the culprit either. The FWC has 46 manatee deaths in the red tide category with 28 positive red tide deaths and 18 suspected of dying from red tide. It's hard for me to decipher the FWC’s numbers of red tide deaths; but I did see that there were 13 manatee deaths in July caused by red tide, all of them around Tampa Bay right after the Piney Point phosphate discharge. I wonder if they somehow are related ? So why so many dead manatees this year ? A big clue might come from Brevard County on the east coast of Florida. There, the total manatee deaths so far in 2021 are 322; the total was 173 for all of 2020. Researchers have determined that a large number of these manatees probably starved to death. It turns out that the FWC has known about this problem since 2012. It seems to me, we either have too many manatees or too little sea grass to feed them. The FWC is putting together a committee to determine if more manatees around the state are actually starving to death in the winter. Captronblago@gmail.com

This image, taken last month, came in as a FISH-PIX. It came with this caption: Itʼs not a fish, but a beautiful Manatee seen in PGI. from Water LIFE Up close and personal. Photographer: Anita Owens It seems like every year, manatees are wandering in warm waters later into the season. Are they hungry? .... yes, always... and thatʼs part of the problem!

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from Video taken by Josh Trott

Not Tesla, but electric. A Reindl electric Bat Boat was on fire off Gulf-to-Bay Beach after the 2021 Englewood Waterfest last month. There was a social media post saying it was a Tesla boat, but Tesla isnʼt into race boats... yet!.

from facebook by Tommy Brock


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Everglades & 10,000 Islands The Eating-Fish Months Begin By Capt. Charlie Phillips Water LIFE 10,000 Islands

November was a month that lived up to its holiday, one we were thankful for down here in the Everglades and 10,000 Islands. We are cooling down now and the transition to winter fishing has started to get in full swing. Changes of methods, locations and species has been important to ensure busy days on the water for our guest – all part of the game and something we expect each year – the big thing is we just never know exactly when it will be. Some years its late, maybe not happening until the middle of January, other years like this one, it starts early. Such is life and you adjust with the fronts as they come. I have always looked at the cooler months as the eating-fish months, and the warmer months as the sport-fish months. In years past, this was the time of year when many of the species we targeted had large limits and were plentiful and full fish boxes were typical as we called it a day. But like all things, times have a changed and nowadays, many of the limits are smaller and regardless I can say I am personally more conservation minded encouraging harvest of a few meals and not trying to fill the freezer anymore, to try and do my part. Inshore, the biggest change I would recommend would be looking in the back for your snook, many of your redfish and even your trout. I have been seeing some of the backcountry guides catching yellowmouth trout as I call them, the very brightly and deep colored speckled trout that have been in the shallow water for a while now. Many of the back bays are full of bars with good flowing water, look there and in the areas between the big named bays, the connectors if you will, typically narrow

down and get the water flowing fast. These areas have some hard bars, small islands and points that make awesome places to fish this time of year. For trout use soft plastics on jigheads or a popping cork. Snook and reds will take those same offerings as well as hardbaits. Topwaters work too, but on the lee side, where the water calms a bit ....fyi. Out front and heading offshore, snapper fishing will be good using live shrimp, which by the way are much bigger than the summer ones, now that we are cooling down.

I’m starting to see some good sheepshead in there too, so keep your fingers crossed that this upcoming year is a good one for herding sheep.

Keep an eye out for the bait pods just offshore and even more for birds diving on em. When you see the birds, often there will be a good chance to do some

run-and-gun fishing in our waters as the big jacks, Spanish mackerel, sharks and more are working the forage fish. It’s fun fishing, active and fast. A bucktail jig is all it takes and reel fast!

Capt. Charlie Phillips, President, Florida Guides Assn. Owner/Captain at Hope Fishing Adventures Everglades City, Florida 863-517-1829 hopefishing.com


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By Bobby Vitalis Water LIFE Pier Fishing One of the most popular fish to catch in salt water is the snook. This snook was caught at Tom Adams Bridge pier in Englewood. It was caught from low to high tide. When catching snook here, you can try fishing under the Pier, under the bridge, or cast out to the pilings at the end of the pier. The snook can get pretty big at this pier. I have caught snook over 30inches in length. When catching snook, I like using artificial lures. The lure I am using is made by D.O.A lures. It is the D.O.A C.A.L 4-inch or the 5.5-inch jerk bait model number 406, in the color ARKANSAS GLOW. The jig head I am using for the jerk bait is the D.O.A C.A.L short shank in size, half-ounce weight, color natural (grey). The way to use this jerk bait is make

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sure you get to the bottom before you give your rod a twitch every so often when you are reeling your line in. For those people who just use bait, one of the baits I suggest you use is live or dead shrimp. Shrimp can be used to catch many different species of fish. When putting the shrimp on the hook, I suggest you use hook size 2/0 to 3/0, non-offset, non-stainless steel, circle hooks. When casting with the shrimp, try using the lightest egg sinker weight you can. If you are fishing at the end of the Pier, and you want to cast out to the pilings, you do need more weight to cast out to get close. The snook are right next to the pilings. When fishing with lures, for my main line, I am

DECEMBER 2021

leader. This leader line is nearly invisible in the water. So, if you use lures or bait, give Tom Adams Pier a try. Have a fun time fishing!

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Dave with a 30-inch jack on always tight fishing! from Water LIFE magazine

from Water LIFE magazine

using 20-pound test POWER PRO braided line, color MOSS GREEN. For my leader line, I am using 3- feet of 25-pound test Sufix Invisline, 100- percent fluorocarbon

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Repeat customer Richard Gilbert caught a big black drum with Capt Fred Gowdy in Estero bay

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Barb F with a stud of a snook with Capt. Evan

Angler name Logan Earwood first triple tail, nice 23 incher.

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Stan Fenton, Red Grouper

Ken Luciani Mayan cichlid

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Kaden Gregory with his pb bass

Ryan Lemont Rotonda West, Fl


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Tasty Gifts for Christmas By Capt. David Stephens Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor Well fellow anglers, it looks like we might actually have us a winter here in South West Florida. For the past couple years we have had some winters that are warmer than normal. I'm not saying it’s time to get your snowmobile suits out, all I am saying is that this might be a cooler winter than we are used to. Some of the signs that I have noticed is we already have fronts that are making there way south. Normally these fronts

don't push down on us until around Christmas. We also have had our water temperatures drop down below 70-degrees. This does not mean the sky is falling, it just means that we might have to change up our approach to our fishery. One of the biggest fishery that thrives off of a cooler winter is sheepshead. This fishery is over looked more than any fishery in our estuary. They are often confused with a drum fish that is caught in freshwater up north, but our local sheepshead are nothing like those fish, they are actually part of the porgy family. Sheepshead are a family of fish that feed mostly on crustaceans, such as small crabs, barnacles and shrimp. As our waters begin to cool these guys start to gather in schools to spawn. Areas that have old crusty docks, seawalls with old rocks along them will be great places to locate fish. This is their spawning season, so don't be afraid to move around if your not getting any bites. Normally when fish are schooling to spawn they will be located in large schools in small areas and when you find these areas you will find a large number of fish. Crustaceans will be the baits

of choice to get these bait thieves biting. When I say bait thieves, I mean bait thieves. These fish got their black and white stripes honestly. Without a doubt these guys will steal your bait and you will never know you had a bite. I recommend using a small circle hook with just enough weight to make contact with the bottom. Shrimp is probably the best all around bait, but if you can get some fiddler crabs those will be very hard for a big ol' sheepshead to pass up. Another fish that we can count on if we have a cooler winter is sea trout. When a front passes through and drops our water temperatures below the mid 60-degree mark, these guys will still bite. Locating feeding trout can be a little

tricky. Like most of our fish that spend most of there time on the flats, they go deep. Areas that have deep water access are the best areas to look. Areas like deep creek mouths, and our local endless miles of residential canals. If we do have a cooler than normal winter it doesn't mean our fishery will shut down. It just means we have to change up our approach to our fishery, and slow down and fish a little different.

If you would like to experience some of Charlotte Harbor’s finest fishing, call or send me an email. All of our charters are private and customized to fit your needs. Capt. Dave Stephens 941-916-5769 www.backbaytremes.com


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DECEMBER 2021

9 yr old Kaiya Miller. 25" snook

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Jerryʼs snook on a popping cork.

Karen an Scottie with snook fishing with Captain Evan

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Ken Luciani. peacock bass, largemouth bass, red grouper, tilapia and Mayan cichlid. Fort Myers and Naples.

Preston Vernon with first snook. Released.


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Estero Bay: December Basics - Poppin Corks Work! By Capt. Joe Angius Water LIFE Estero Over the years I’ve learned that every angler has a specific style or preference in the way they fish. Some anglers strictly like to fish with artificial baits and others with bait-casters. My style of fishing usually gets scoffed at by light tackle anglers, but I know what works and what doesn’t in Estero Bay. Becoming a better angler means trying new techniques and fishing with a diverse range of anglers doesnt hurt either. It’s easy getting stuck in your comfort zone, using the same knots, tackle, leader, hooks, or lures. This December remember going back to the basics will bring you success and the fishing is easier than you think. The technique that I use all of the time that always gets laughed at is my use of popping corks. I either hear that “popping corks are for kids” or “I know how to fish, I don’t need a floating bobber” or, my personal favorite, “You’re going to scare all of the fish, that thing will never work”. Then, after using them, people start to real-

ize that this is one of many techniques that gets overlooked. The funny thing is that, if they own a boat, I’ll see them on the water another day with a rod holder full of rods rigged with popping corks. It’s a simple, yet successful, way to fish that I learned from fishing alongside wise anglers. Another important part of fishing is to, obviously, have bait to “match the hatch”. Matching the hatch just means to use bait that’s naturally around the fish you want to catch during that season. One of these baits used in December is live shrimp. At one time my pride in netting bait or using select artificial lures blurred my vision in how successful you can be on the water if you use live shrimp. It may sound rudimentary, but in regards to going back to basics, live shrimp is at the top of the list. It’s not that it’s easier than netting bait or live shrimp is for “lazy” anglers, but it’s the fact that it works. Other than the popping cork technique and utilizing live shrimp to match the hatch, the last tip I can give about going back to the basics is knot tying. Even something that’s fishing-101 can become an angler’s frustration. There are a plethora of knots for every situation, line diameter, bait type, and hook style. For my style of fishing I have three go-to

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knots for inshore fishing. I’m always tying a uni or uni-to-uni knot, the loop knot (typically a canoe man’s), and a simple clinch knot. You’d be surprised at how changing your knots can effect your bite/catch ratio. At times, anglers can over-complicate their approach to fishing. This December don’t over think your fishing decisions and remember to go back to the basics. Enjoy what Southwest Florida has to offer through fishing. Take the opportunity to fish with other anglers to learn from each other and grow as a community. Fish hard and don’t take the little things for granted. Have a safe and happy New Year! Captain Joe Angius 727-234-3171 www.Speakeasyfishing.com Speakeasyfishing@gmail.com


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John, Seth and Jake lobster fishing in the Florida Keys.

John Baines with a Charlotte Harbor goliath offshore of Boca Grande

Iʼm down here in Englewood on vacation. I caught all three of these fish with live shrimp on 10# test with a 6” steel leader. Wednesday, 10th- 27" Redfish in my kayak in Lemon Bay Thursday, 11th - 30" Snook on shore from Stump Pass Friday, 12th - 26" Sheepshead from shore also at Stump Pass. They were all fighters! Fun times! BTW, we enjoyed your magazine. Ginny Whipple, Freedom, PA I need to make a correction. The third picture is a Black Drum, not a Sheepshead. We northerners are still learning!

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Kim (Poppy) Whitmore caught his personal best 26.5-inch snook today at Iona Shores

Above and 2 below: Marcy and Dane Hilston had a great day on Lemon Bay. Reds were caught on ZMan Finesse TRD's and the snook on a Mirrodine. Four redfish, one snook and two trout this trip. Dane got the slam!

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Merry Fishmas to All !! By Capt. Alan Williams Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor Well here we are. We've survived a long and deadly year. On a good note, we've come a long way since this time last year. We survived a pandemic, political upheaval and the loss of our favorite fishing store, Fish'n Franks. But in one year we've shaken off the ash's and emerged into the sunlight. Frank's is back, we have vaccines and the world is rebounding. The Harbor is even feeling frisky since last year. The fishing is good and the grass is coming back. Let's keep our fingers crossed that it continues. This time of year brings the first serious cold front and with it comes negative

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tides and strong north winds which blows even more water out of the Harbor. This means it's a good time to break out the wading boots and search for some tailing

redfish or laid up snook. The snook are making their way into the back country and rivers and canals. Sheephead are showing up in ever increasing numbers as the water temperatures drop. Trout love this time of year and respond with some good action and numbers. A live shrimp or a Gulp shrimp under

a popping cork will get the job done. As the water temps drop, more and more fish will be making their move into the deep-water canals such as PGI. The deep water will keep them safe if the temperatures drop or gets out of hand. If canal fishing is not your thing, then drifting the flats and throwing soft plastics will help locate these hungry fish. But this time of year sheepshead are the star of the show. Docks, seawalls and oyster bars will hold these foraging query. Alligator Reef will become ground zero for a lot of these fish and many others. Cobia have and will be showing up in greater numbers too. This time of year the focus of our fishing times will shift from early morning trips to later in the day after the water has a chance to warm up. Look for some darker bottom close to some deeper water if possible. The darker bottom holds the heat a little bit longer. The farther we get from our rainy season the higher the content of salt in the upper Harbor and rivers. Schools of hungry jacks have been showing up to annhi-

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late the bait fish that have been showing up. Jacks are one of my favorite fish to target. I firmly believe if they jumped they would be our number one gamefish... well close anyway! Redfish are still around in decent numbers. The closures have had a positive impact on their numbers. There are a lot of puppy-drum out there which is a good sign for future slots coming up in a few years ... so long as we don't have any bouts with red tide that could knock out the progress we've made with their numbers. Let’s keep our fingers crossed. Time will tell. Enjoy Christmas with your family and friends. Get a kid some fishing gear if you can and take them fishing. Pass it on. Merry Fishmas! See you on the water..

Capt. Alan Williams 954 -347-5275 awilli9412@aol.com


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Fredʼs first tarpon Englewood

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Barb with nice snook with Capt. Evan

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Jamie with nice snook from Charlotte Harbor

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Benjamin Kaye, cobia out of Stump Pass


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Karen caught an alligator at the Navagator **Editorʼs note to the FWC: Karen caught a pet, not a wild alligator... please donʼt arrest her!

Karen w nice snook w captain Evan

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Dena Jordan Age 11 El Jo bean 40 lbs 38 inches black drum

Zach Washington catching his first saltwater redfish in Estero Bay with Capt. Dan Camp

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Jen Perkins with a 28 inch snook from Iona Shores

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SCUTTLEBUTT

DECEMBER 2021

Sometimes Unsubstanciated, But Often True BAD LUCK, I KNEW IT! A reefer cargo ship departing the southern Japanese port of Hakata near Fukuoka made a navigation error, causing it to strike the seawall at the entrance to the port. The bow of the vessel became stuck on the breakwater with reports of a small oil leak. Japan Coast Guard says that the 10,600 dwt reefer

Lady Rosemary departed the pier at 11:30 p.m. on November 28, and approximately 15 minutes later struck the breakwater. The reports indicated that it was a clear night and calm seas. The 22 crew members aboard the vessel were reported uninjured. The Lady Rosemary, is a 13-year-old vessel registered in Panama, operated by Japanʼs Doun Kisen. The vessel was bound for Kobe, Japan at the time of the accident. The vessel was carrying a cargo of bananas. UNPRINTABLE COMMENTS FWC Officers were on water patrol when they received a call for assistance from the sheriffʼs department about a family with a four-year-old child that had been stranded for several hours in a very remote location. Recent tide conditions had been extremely low, and many vessels had been running aground. It was now after dark, and the family apparently had no way to rescue themselves. The officers responded to the area and got as close as they could, but their 29-foot Contender wasnʼt able to navigate the shallows to get anywhere close to the family. Local fire and rescue arrived in a shallow water skiff and one officer boarded their vessel to see how close they could get. They were able to get within about a quarter mile of the familyʼs location. The FWC officer and one of the fire fighters jumped overboard and waded through the ankle-deep water and rescued the family. They walked the family out to the skiff and made their way to board the fire boat with the family leaving their vessel behind to be recovered later. What the wife said to the husband is, at this time, unprintable. FOX NEWS While on patrol FWC Officer Armstrong received a call from dispatch in

reference to a woman who was attacked and bitten on her leg by an aggressive fox. Officer Armstrong responded to Cleveland Clinic and documented her injuries. While at the hospital Officer Armstrong learned of a second victim being attacked in the same neighborhood and being transported to Cleveland Clinic. Officers Tarr and Nall responded to the neighborhood to attempt to locate the fox. Officer Armstrong responded from the hospital to the neighborhood and the three officers were able to capture the fox. The fox died shortly after being put into a cage. Both victims were given treatment for possible rabies infection. JUST NOT RIGHT FWC received an anonymous complaint of a subject in possession of a manatee skeleton. Investigators went to the noted address and, from the sidewalk, could see a manatee skeleton laid out on top of a trampoline in the yard. Officers met with the homeowner at the residence. The subject stated that he started collecting the bones about a year ago near Robinson Preserve. He explained that as the water shifted the beach sand, he would gradually find more bones. After speaking with a FWRI biologist, the officers determined that the manatee skeleton the subject was in possession of, was from a manatee the biologists performed a field necropsy on in that area. That connection would explain how the subject was in possession of such a large percentage of the skeleton. The subject was cited for the illegal possession of a manatee or parts thereof. The skeleton was photographed and seized for evidence.

5 UNDERSIZE MANGS Officer Specialist Miller was on land-based water patrol at the South Skyway Relief Bridge when he observed a red pickup truck traveling northbound in the southbound lane. He attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle, but it failed to stop until the driver reached the pay station for the South Skyway Fishing Pier. Officer Miller contacted the driver and instructed him to pull over to a parking space on the pier. While conducting the traffic stop, he observed a cooler, a few buckets, and several fishing poles in the truck bed. Officer Miller asked the occupants of the vehicle if they had any fish in the cooler or buckets and they stated they did. Inside the cooler was a plastic bag with fish inside. Further inspection revealed five undersized mangrove snapper and three undersized lane snapper.

Officer Miller explained the traffic and resource violations to the driver and the undersized fish were measured, photographed for evidentiary purposes, and returned to the water. The subject was cited for possession of undersized mangrove snapper and issued warnings for the other resource and traffic violations.

PWC DWI at FMB Officers Stapleton, Midolo, and Lieutenant Barrett responded to the scene of a boating accident at Fort Myers Beach involving a personal watercraft (PWC) which had struck a channel marker, ejecting two people into the water. When the officers arrived on scene, they found one man standing in knee deep water with a grounded PWC. A second man had been transported to shore by a Good Samaritan. Both men were extremely intoxicated and accused each other of being the driver. Fortunately, the list of witnesses to the accident included a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain and an off-duty Lee County Sheriffʼs Deputy. The operator was identified and transported ... first to the hospital for treatment of his wounds and then arrested for Boating Under the Influence and transported elsewhere. DOLLARS BLOWING IN THE WIND The emerging opportunities in the offshore energy market continue to draw the attention of new entrants into the market including news that J.P. Morgan has decided to invest in wind turbine installation vessels (WTIV). In-

stitutional investors advised by J.P. Morgan Global Alternatives and the investment bankʼs Global Transportation Group are joining with Norwegian offshore operator Havfram to develop a series of next-generation WTIVs. TOO STUPID TO BARE Officers responded to a tip about a bear

being shot. After arriving at the location, they discovered fresh blood and bear tracks on a county-maintained dirt road. They tracked foot signs to a residence nearby and spoke with the owner. Upon seeing the officers at his neighborʼs house the suspect tried to burn the remaining carcass to destroy it. Upon seeing the officers approach, the suspect removed the burning carcass from the fire and threw it in a pond to conceal it from the officers but they saw it all. The carcass and firearm used to harvest the bear were collected from the lake and seized as evidence. Charges have been filed with the State Attorneyʼs Office.

DONʼT MESS WITH THE CHEF Police in Mauritius are detaining a ship while they investigate the murder of the captain of the vessel. According to newspaper reports in Port Louis, the shipʼs chef confessed to murdering the captain last week while the vessel was sailing in the Indian Ocean. According to information, the captain of the vessel, Rolly Baquillos Solante, age 44, had an ongoing dispute with the chef. On November 21, Calopez Alfred Kenneth Bonghanoy, a 33-year-old Filipino working as the chef confessed to his messman that he had murdered the captain. The officers broke down the door to the captainʼs cabin and found him lying in a pool of blood. They attempted to revive him but determined that he had already bled to death. During the interrogation, the chef admitted to stabbing the captain multiple times He reportedly told the police that the captain had frequently insulted him, often in front of other crew members. The chef said he could no longer stand the insults and an argument led to him stabbing the captain. BUSY WEEK Officer Dodd conducted multiple late-night patrols of the Guana State Park/WMA Dam area to address any fisheries violations and violations for people remaining in the park after closed hours (sunset). Over the course of a week, Officer Dodd issued multiple warnings and citations to individuals for remaining in the park after hours. In addition, she issued citations to several anglers and made a physical arrest for the following violations: Harvesting undersized sheepshead, harvesting undersized redfish, harvesting over the daily bag limit of redfish, harvesting three or more redfish over the daily bag limit (major violation), cast netting within 50 feet of the dam structure, harvesting redfish by illegal method (cast net) from Guana Lake (hook and line only), and a citation for attempted bribery of a law enforcement officer--offering of cash after she confronted an angler with multiple redfish violations.


DECEMBER 2021

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READERʼS PHOTOS Send us ur FISH PIX! Weʼll use ʻem!! see page 4

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Capt. Bill Brickell on a day off fishing. Bonnet shark off Alligator Creek Reef

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Barb F, with a redfish caught with Capt. Evan

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from Water LIFE magazine

Cobia caught November 13 off of Sanibel Island using squid, Fred Bainbridge

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from Water LIFE magazine

FISH PIX!

Jason Beam, landed this 34-inch redfish

FISH PIX!

Lowell Schoenfeld, Zoe and Bill Hopkins while fishing with Capt. David Hoke. All caught and released simultaneously!!

from Water LIFE magazine

from Water LIFE magazine

Amelia with a slot red on always tight fishing!

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Brittni Brown, top picture a nice bass caught at our condo in Sarasota. Right: a Bonita caught off shore in Venice, then a Spanish mackerel, caught offshore in Venice Thanks!


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DECEMBER 2021

Now only closed on Wednesday ... until we find more help

FISH PIX! f fr ro om m W Wa at te er r L LI IF FE E m zi in ne e ma ag ga az

READERʼS PHOTOS Send us ur FISH PIX! Weʼll use ʻem!! see page 4

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Cole Blake. 8.5-pound large mouth bass, Englewood

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Anthony Racines. Redfish caught in Redfish Pass. and a 37-inch snook also caught in Redfish Pass

Englewood Rob with a fatmouth Bass

Aston Jiang, 1st fish ever caught - blue catfish at Gasparilla Pass. We visited my Aunt in Placida, in August. They took the family to Gasparilla Pass on their boat. My 9 year old son Astonʼs first fishing trip. Imagine the excitement when he caught his very first fish!

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Shark day - caught by resident Greg at Nokomis Beach Nov. 13, 2021. Safely released.

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from Water LIFE magazine

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Seven year old Lily with a 21-inch ladyfish, caught in Jug Creek.

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Cobia caught November 13 off of Sanibel Island using squid, Fred Bainbridge


DECEMBER 2021

Best Bets

SHEEPSHEAD Coming in from the Gulf spawn

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Fish you can expect in Local Waters in

SNOOK Moving into the creeks and canals

COBIA Near shore reefs, Cape Haze, Alligator Reef

REDFISH Still a few giants around the Harbor

Charlotte Harbor, Lemon Bay, Placida, Gasparilla Sound

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Lucky Rob from Jersey, with an Englewood Bass

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Tyler, 13, of Englewood, fishing with Papa in Charlotte Harbor. Snook

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Mike Bowers with a nice triple tail outside of Boca Grande

December TROUT In the deeper holes in the Sounds

ing a lot of them, but they are a nice accidental catch. Fish a jig like the Rockport Rattler, let it settle and then give a hard Frank @ Fishin’ Franks pull up, but don’t reel... you want the 4200 Tamiami Trail 941-625-3888 shrimp to come up off the bottom and go Only closed Wednesday ... for now back down for cobia. Just a big lift of sevFlounder reopened this month with a eral feet and then let it go back down. Fish 14-inch minimum small to and a bag of five. medium We are at a really shrimp, not good time, the air is the big ones. cool and water is Still some not cold yet - it ballast stragglers ances out in the 70s. of giant redThe Gulf is cooling fish in the down which is also Harbor. It’s good news because slowly windthat brings the fish ing down up into the Harbor where the big where the brown ones are leavwater is a little ing. Look warmer. We also around Bohave hungry fish in keelia, Turtle the ICW and in the Bay or the Sounds - now is the Burnt Store time you can work Bar. Look out your lures fast. You front of Turtle don’t have to slow not in Turtle down, you can reel Bay. at a moderate speed Snook are now because fish back up in the are in the beautiful canals, comtemperature zone ing up for the and by 9- or 10 in warmer water. the morning the fish Look for are active. FISH PIX! Sherry Riley with a gag deeper spots on Always Tight fishing There are at night and in sheepshead starting the day the to move in with the snook will be cooler weather spawn. Most are on nearon the side of the canal with the sun on it. shore reefs. Placida has a bite and it’s getYou want the sun at your back when fishting better every day. El Jo is OK, but ing for snook right now. there are no sheepies at the 41- bridges The same thing applies to the bays and yet. There are some smaller ones by Alliunder the mangs, you want the sun at your gator Creek Reef, and some in the Passes back since the fish are laying in the sun. and in the Pine Island Sound holes. In Bull Weirdness is we are still getting sandand Turtle, look for them in deeper water bar sharks and small black tip type under the mangroves and under the mansharks there are still a few schools of groves on the east side, where sheepshead them around and we’re not sure why. Out are searching for little crabs to eat. in 10 feet off Bokeelia and slightly shalTrout fishing is what most people want lower off Bull and Turtle Bay those sharks to hear about because there is no other fish are still good and you still have a 7 out of you can eat! Look for trout in the Pine Is10 shot at tarpon in Boca Grande Pass. land Sound, inside Captiva and around In the freshwater, Crappie fishing is Cayo Palau. In general, trout is good up to great in the Port Charlotte area. Find a Bokeelia and into Gasparilla Sound where canal with a big pepper tree and you will they go up against the Island under docks. get some nice crappie there. Still getting decent cobia reports from Merry Christmas from Robert, Terry near shore reefs to Alligator Reef - Cape and I, and the rest of the Pirate Crew! Haze is another good cobia spot. They from Water LIFE magazine

seem to be running deeper, we’re not see-

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The water nearshore is in the low 70s and falling Fall patterns are setting in

95˚ 90˚ 85˚ 80˚

75˚ 72˚ 70˚ 68˚ 50˚ 45˚

FISHING RIGHT NOW:

STILL VERY GOOD!


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DECEMBER 2021