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

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The Charlotte Harbor Reef Association

February 2021

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Dave Stewart from Cape Coral with one of many dandy Amber Jack caught on a Squirrel fish in 100 fow west of Boca Pass .

Earl Horeckyʼs 7.25 lb red on gold spoon in 12” of water way back in Pine Island Sound.

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James Brinkley 38-inch redfish

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Carl Posluszny. 31 inch tarpon in Port Charlotte on a blue and white plug.

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Phil caught his first triple tail on a live shrimp

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FEBRUARY 2021


FEBRUARY 2021

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Water LIFE inc. waterlife@comcast.net www.WaterlifeMagazine.com Ellen Heller Publisher Michael Heller Editor

(941) 766-8180

FishPix, text only number 941-457-1316

217 Bangsberg Rd. Port Charlotte, FL 33952

Independant - Not affiliated with any other publication! Vol XX No. 2 © 2021

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5-1/2 lb trout, sight cast to by Rich Esposito at sunset in Pineland area with Earl Horecky on push pole.

Include anglerʼs name and what kind of fish

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

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Anglers are Al Beck and Brian Shaffer, trout were caught near Burnt Store Marina

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Joe Sheaffer with a cold Placida snook

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Mr. Z catching a sheepshead off the dock in Burnt Store Isles

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Earl Horeckyʼs 8 lb redfish from Bokeelia on a gold spoon.


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To the Attention of Michael Heller, please: If you thought the re-do at Darst Park was less than clever, then please take a run out to Hathaway Park and see what they are doing to the kayak and canoe launch area for Shell Creek. A year and a half ago, the hurricane washed out the sand beach ramp that kayakers loved and used. That kept the motor boaters and canoe and kayakers separate, out of each other's way. Here is a copy of an e-mail letter I wrote a few weeks ago to several kayak clubs, and to another local publication with no response. (FYI- I am a Sierra Club Outings Leader & live on Shell Creek.) Rick Fried

I don't know who authorized the repairs and wasted $, but the area is about finished and mostly useless. They have really screwed any group use of the Hathaway Park kayak launch. Unbelievable! I was told they were "putting it back the way it was originally supposed to be". No parking within sight of the ramp. Completely blocked off for both launching and any party use of the picnic area. It won't be long until there will be a desire to have birthday parties and weddings again, but no group parking area. No real way to get near the launch with vehicles and to turn around and get back out. And right now the ramp surface is concrete blocks. Don't know what final plan there is. I was told that the kayakers "ruined the natural place to have the parking by driving on the grass there". (Why was there grass there? Should have been shell, at the least, for parking, like the boat launch.) Over at the boat launch, one can back right down to the water with a fully loaded craft, and then park nearby. No need to carry equipment. But at the kayak & canoe part where everyone has to carry their kayaks, canoes and paddles and life jackets, food, water etc., you will have to drive into the woods after the first few picnic spaces are taken and even those are not convenient to the ramp. This is very upsetting. Living on the Creek, I know how popular it is for kayakers and the visitors who want to experience nature. This is a slap in the face for tourism and locals. Kayakers will just have to keep using the boat ramp, and outdoor party schedulers will have to limit it to very small groups, even though there are many tables. P.S. Why would you force cars to go deeper into the walking trails and woods to park? Rick Fried Rick Fried conducts guided nature walks and canoe trips in the area. He can be reached at 941- 637-8805

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Sunseeker Resort

No-Progress Report COMMENTARY BY MICHAEL HELLER

A friend of a business acquaintance who is directly involved with Allegiant’s Sunseeker project told me Allegiant is in a great position to wait this pandemic out and retain ownership of Sunseeker. His story is that Allegiant paid cash for the land and almost all the construction you see today. Supposedly, the $15 million they just paid was to get out of the loan and for penalties on broken contracts. Allegiant, he said, fully

intends to find new financing and continue on with the project. And I still fully intend to win the lottery! Lets get real!! Allegiant Airline may not be in dire straights at this time. They have reigned in their expenses and they are possibly in a better position than some other airlines looking to the future while they wait for a bailout. However, there may be a new consideration now: how the airline industry as a whole fits into the Administration’s vision for its Green New Deal. Everything could change, but I’m not changing, I’m still calling ‘Flip’!

FEBRUARY 2021

Looking back at the images I have of the Sunseeker site plan, this one showed large ʻstormtank chambersʼ under the waterside buildings to contain groundwater runoff. My question is: if that runoff was important enough to incorporate into the plan then, and since the Harbor already has more polluted runoff now than it can handle, why isnʼt controling stormwater important now, when there is less ground surface for water to sink into?

SCUTTLEBUTT

Sometimes Unsubstanciated, But Often True

UNDERGONE AN OVERHAUL The National Weather Service Tampa Bay Area Weather Radar has undergone an overhaul. For the first time since the

ONE PIECE AT A TIME A Russian Navy officer is under investigation for conspiring to steal two bronze propellers weighing 26 tonnes from his own ship, according to Sergei Sharshavykh, the head of the Baltic Fleet's military investigation department.

FLOATING LAUNCHPAD Commercial space flight operator SpaceX has purchased two oil rigs from Valaris for conversion into seagoing rocket launch pads. Orbital launch trajectories are heavily affected by location, and a sea-

radar was assembled nearly 25 years ago, the radome (white housing sometimes referred to as a “golf ball”) was removed to replace the radarʼs pedestal assembly. This project is part of a larger project to replace all Weather Service radars now reaching their end-of-life over the next 5 years. The Tampa Bay radar is one of 159 operational radars.

based launch site allows the operator to optimize the rocket's payload capacity and reduce cost for the mission. COCAINE HIPPOS Eighty to 100 hippopotamuses, all descended from four animals illegally imported into Colom-

DIRTY TRUTH A floating island of garbage is clogging a Bosnian river, putting the hydroelectric dam at risk.

bia by the cocaine smuggler Pablo Escobar in the late 1980s, are menacing Colombiaʼs marshlands and rives.

When Escobar was shot dead in 1993, the Colombian Government took control of his estate, including all the animals, most of which were later either euthanized or sent to zoos and parks. But four hippos, living in a remote pond on the edge of the wilderness, escaped the cull. Today the “cocaine hippos” roam the Magdalena River basin and are breeding voraciously in the countryʼs wet and warm climate. A hippo lives 40 to 50 years and can have one calf every two years. Their numbers could swell to over 1,500 in 20 years. SEEMS PETTY FWC was contacted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regarding a subject from Florida who had recently participated in a fishing tournament on Lake Erie. The subject had placed 13th in the large tournament. A records check indicated the subject had only purchased a three-day fishing license from the Ohio DNR. The Ohio DNR reviewed the subjectʼs social media postings and determined that the subject and his girlfriend had fished Lake Erie for more than three days. The Ohio DNR requested an FWC officer to contact the subject and conduct a field interview. Officers McDonough and Demeter conducted an interview, and the subject admitted to fishing in Ohio for four days without proper licensing. Additionally, his girlfriend admitted to fishing on the Michigan side of Lake Erie without a license. All the information was turned over to the Ohio DNR for charges. SOON TO BE FLAT Phils on 41, a favorite Punta Gorda restaurant, will not be reopening. The Auto Mall next door has purchased the property and will be leveling it soon to make room for more automobiles.


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Whatʼs That Smoke? FEBRUARY 2021

By Michael Heller Water LIFE editor Last month we were driving out to Englewood on our weekly ‘paper route’. When we turned off Flamingo onto SR 776 the air was thick with smoke. A new development on the north side of the road had piled up acres of cleared pine trees, and were burning them. Burning landscape during the clearing phase of development is just like burning sugar cane... it’s the way we do it in Florida - not a good way, but the way we have always done it. You and I can’t burn our yard waste outside, only the sugar business and developers can do that. My wife and I talked about the bad part of ‘burning’ for a while and then the conversation took a turn right into the past. ‘Do you remember....’ I started, and my wife stopped me cold: ‘I know, you and Kenny...’ she was right about the story I wanted to tell - 37 years together will do that for you, but here’s the story anyway! In the mid 70s, I was working for a builder in Palm Beach County. My job was to coordinate the land development and the ‘bottom end’ construction in Sandalfoot Cove, a new single family home development off US-441 on the edge of the Loxahatchee Wildlife Preserve. The area was first developed into an orange grove. Then it was developed into a

F OLLOW U S

mobile-home golf course community and when I came on it was evolving into a community of single family homes. We were expanding into a new section of uncleared land. In the process, the developer buldozed everything flat. Then the palmetto were sifted out and the big pine trees were piled up and burned. The trees were downed months before. Now they were pushing them together with big dozers, splitting and cracking them for two full days. The pile was probably 40 feet high and half-a-football-field around when my co-worker friend Kenny O’Leary and I were given the task of getting a fire started under it. “Take the fuel truck and saturate it with diesel’ one of the dozer operators told us... we were both in our late 20s.... it seemed like a good idea. We followed his advice. We drove the fuel truck around the pile, first pumping fuel with a hose and then later splashing buckets of diesel deep into the pile. Then the dozer guy showed back up with a pick up truck loaded with old tires. “Scatter these around and put some diesel in them before you light it,” he advised and we followed his advice again. He must know how to do this. When it was all done and ready for a match, we wrapped a rag around a stick and soaked it in some more diesel. It was hard to light, but we got it lit and tossed it into the pile .... and it went out. We tried several more times without any luck. By then it was late, so we decided to

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Heading to Englewood, on 776 near Flamingo, the smoke was thick last month.

get it lit in the morning. The next morning Kenny and I went out to the field armed with a gallon of gas. We wrapped another stick with a new rag and put a few drops of gas on it. We knew how volatile gasoline was... but just to be sure we splashed the rest of the gallon on the front side of the pile. We were back 40 or 50 feet when Kenny wound up and pitched the burning stick underhand, softball style, at the pile. Everything turned yellow. The force of the explosion knocked us both backwards onto the ground. The heat was intense we scrambled backwards on our butts to get away, but the heat was nothing compared to the smoke that followed. After the flash, the sky went dark. A huge umbrella of thick black smoke, rolling and burbling with fire-lit edges,

billowed upwards. Rubber smoke and diesel rose into the air and kept rising. It smoked heavily for at least a half hour.... before the sherriff arrived. We knew Officer Fred. He was one of the good ol’ boys from the Palm Beach County S-O. He got out of his cruiser and just shook his head. “We had a call from the airport,’ he said. “They thought a plane had gone down!” By then a group of other workers had left their job sites and come over to see the fire. Lee Hagerman, the big Honcho of the whole project, dove up in his blue Buick Skylark, chewing on his trademark cigar stub. He made eye contact with us, gave me his squinty stare, and drove off. The fire burned for a week. I think the carbon footprint for the entire state of Florida grew by one full size that day!


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FEBRUARY 2021

Cooler Temps Moving Sharks South

By Capt. John Brossard Water LIFE Sharks So far, it has been a cooler than normal winter in Southwest Florida. This tends to move our normal shark species south to warmer waters. The water temperature is also cooler than normal, going along with the air temperature. In saying all this, there are still the bonnet-head and small blacktips near shore, but the main species this month is the sandbar shark. Known for its longer dorsal and pectoral fins, sandbar sharks tend to like the cooler water. Many are caught around the passes and near shore reefs. As we had some red tide in the area last month, the fishing slowed down in January, but it should pick up this month. Fish tend to bounce back pretty fast from a light bout of red tide. In the Everglades, on my boat, we caught 3 sawfish lately, meaning they stay in the area year around. It seams they are making a pretty good comeback. For bait, the best bait to use is whatever is locally around this time of the year. Mullet work great and stingrays do too. Pick your days to go out this time of the year. Obviously there are better calmer days than others. The warmer days will yield more catches and bites. If you watch the tides, the stronger tides will also get you more bites as your bait smell will travel farther. The better tides will be around No mMoon which is February 11 and Full Moon around the 27 February.

SHARK OF THE MONTH

SANDBAR SHARK: This species can be found over smooth substrates in shallow, coastal waters in tropical and warm temperate regions worldwide. Along the east coast of the United States, the sandbar shark undergoes annual migrations, swimming south in the winter, and heading north again when warmer weather returns.

Capt John Brossard 239-777-9279 www.SharkChaserCharters.com

FISH PIX! FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Luke DOrazio, bull shark

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Jeff Brown, whiting on shrimp, Fort Myers Beach

Brady from Pa with giant redfish, fishing with Back Bay Extreme fishing charters

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from Water LIFE magazine

from Water LIFE magazine

Hans Buehler Oconomowoc Wisconsin, largemouth bass catch and release, Port Charlotte pond


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Riding the Roller Coaster Into Spring By Capt. David Stephens Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor Well so far this winter has been kind of a roller coaster ride. We have a couple days of cooler than normal weather, then we have a few days of warmer than normal weather. Sprinkle in a few days of our normal winter weather and you have this year’s winter. As a guide trying to find some consistency to keep my

clients rods bent, it’s been interesting. For the most part, every day consists of staring at water temps and playing chess with Mother Nature. During the warmer periods we have been able to catch some nice snook. The numbers have not been what we do in the spring, however for January it’s been solid. The big female snook haven’t started to feed good, but we are getting a few shots at some thick fish. When the mercury takes a dive due to a solid cold front we slow things down and chase sea trout. The cooler water schools these guys up in deep cuts and creeks. Sometimes it may take a little patience to locate a school of fish, but when you do, the rewards can be worth it. Often times these areas can hold large numbers of fish willing to bite.

This is also a good time to find redfish in potholes on the flats. Getting to these holes can be tricky. If you don’t mind a little cool water, wading can be very rewarding. You may even see some fish tailing. With the closures still in place on the big 3, (snook, reds, and trout) sheepshead are a prime target when you’re looking for table fair. This time of year these guys school up to spawn. Large structure will attract this well known bait thief. Areas such as old crusty docks, seawalls with rocks and bridge pilings. Small crustaceans are the preferred baits, fished right on the bottom. As we move along further into February hopefully our weather will start more of a consistent warming trend. The more consistent our water temps are, the better the fishing will get. When the roller coaster ride is over and temps slowly start to trend up our fish will become more active. So now, keeping a close eye on water temps, will help to keep the rods bent. Keep in mind our local fish are like the local people. The warmer, the more active. If you would like to experi-

ence 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.backbayxtremes.com

PAGE 7

FISH PIX! f r o m Wa t e r L I F E

While visiting from West Virginia, Chad Cooper landed this snook using a fly rod from the shore at Boca Grande.

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from Water LIFE magazine

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from Water LIFE magazine

Brenda Heavin from Coatesville Indiana caught 107 oscars in the Everglades on January 12


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Hello my name is Brandi Williams and I would like to send you a picture of my husband Darius Williams and his Black Drum that he caught ..Also a picture of Darius with a bass. And a picture of him with a snook. All of them were caught here in Englewood.

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

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FEBRUARY 2021

Everglades and 10,000 Islands: Life is Darn Good! By Capt. Charlie Phillips that much brighter. Water LIFE 10,000 Islands Inshore, want to first say you The first month of 2021 has come and are in prime time camping for gone, the shiny has worn off and the hon- the Everglades National Park and eymoon is over. All good with me, and as 10,000 Islands area. For the next all the challenges on land we know too couple of months if you want to well continue, on the water things are get off the grid, make a plan and staying just like they have been, life is go enjoy the outdoors. There are darn good! The fish are feeding, our wamany options from inland sites ters are beautiful, and the weather is peron islands, beach sites with fect. Yep there is a reason we all call this views to die for and the ever slice of the rock our home and the past popular chickees. All have their month has shown why. pros and cons and for the novice campers Starting offshore, I fished the structure each requires some prep to ensure a great area as the wind allowed for sheepshead, experience while out. The Everglades cobia, snapper and pompano this past month, a trend that will continue into February. Simple stuff, live shrimp, knocker rigs working the edges of the structure, letting the tide take my offering towards the mark. We often catch pompano and small permit running around the edges of these areas and National Park has lots of info on their the reef type fish will come from the website and you can now reserve your structure itself. I find it a bit harder to get campsites via the web far in advance of the snapper and that style fish to rise in your actual trip, a welcome change, but the column away from their safety zones you will still have to visit the center in due to what I think is the number of goliaths around the marks. Hook a nice sheepshead and see how fast a SAWFISH We had no idea what we caught! We got it out goliath is on his way up to eat it and of the water and raced to clear you can understand their concern. the line from the sawtooth and Saw a few folks doing well on safely return it to the water. grouper, both red and gag _ this time My kids both knew what we had to do. We were on vacaof year, I don’t have very good luck tion in a rental house on for the areas I can reach as they are Xmas, fishing with crappy pushed out far. We have found a few poles and frozen shrimp. Our quality gags on the rock piles using 2nd to last cast my 12 y/o Colby Cheneski, from New both cut and live offerings. Most we Fairfield, CT, thought he catch are short in the shallow water, caught a big catfish. but nothing like hooking up with a We reported it to SWF marine. well over-size gag to make a day get

person to get your actual permit before heading out FYI. This past month we targeted trout and reds in the channels and edges on the moving tides. Really didn’t matter which, though I prefer the lower stages of both incoming and outgoing due to my targets being limited in their range. That will continue into Feb with lots of bottom fish to target on the structure. Y’all be safe and see you next month.

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


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READERʼS PHOTOS Send us ur Fish Pix! Weʼll use ʻem!! see page 3

FISH PIX! f r o m Wa t e r L I F E m a g a z i n e

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Kim Whitmore from Avon indiana 24.5-inch snook, Sanibel

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from Water LIFE magazine

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Kelly Sheehan with her PB Bass

from Water LIFE magazine

Jerry Jones, Iona Shores, 28-inch tarpon

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Kenny from Pa. with a large snook with Capt. George

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from Water LIFE magazine

Barb F with Southwest Florida Fishing Charters. Nice trout

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from Water LIFE magazine

Ken and Barbie with Capt George. Monster sheephead

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Caught 1/16/21 - St. James City. Jason Price

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Maveryck Beavers. First snook. South Gulf Cove. Originally submitted in December. Didnʼt appear in Jan. issue. Really appreciate it! Thank you. Editor notes: slipped by, sorry!

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from Water LIFE magazine

Ten year old Zavi Iqbal with his first snook, a 12-pound, 32-incher on the Peace River.

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Paul Michelsen , St James city

My daughterʼs first Florida fish! Chelsea Whiteman, snapper

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FEBRUARY 2021

READERʼS PHOTOS Send us ur fish pix! Weʼll use ʻem!! see page 3

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Mike Venema tripletail grouper

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Hello my name is Jacob and I caught this red grouper.

Robert Henzler with a nighttime snook

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Jordan Scott from Cape Coral, FL caught and released this Bonnet Head shark by Cabbage Key.

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Daniel Meyer with 39-inch snook caught in a Port Charlotte development from Water LIFE magazine

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Anna Wadecrevalle jack and Luke Wade black drum. from PGI canals. from Water LIFE magazine

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Kasie Sheaffer with a Christmas Eve PB trout

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from Water LIFE magazine

Jacob Riecks at El Jobean Pier with a snapper. Heʼs from Springfield Illinois.

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from Water LIFE magazine

Mackynze with a New Years Day fish

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Cheryl Dopkin, caught in Lemon Bay. Sea trout


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FISH PIX! f fr ro om m W Wa at te er r L L II F FE E m ma ag ga az z ii n ne e

24-inch gafftopsail catfish caught in Englewood Florida Intracoastal Canal behind the house! - Caught by James Guimond

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Carson Bowers, Waco, TX with catch and release canal redfish

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Tammie with her first Lake O bass on New Year's weekend

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Connor Haring, Christmas Eve catch and release sheepshead

Poppy Whitmore caught this 24.5-inch snook in Shell Point today

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from Water LIFE magazine

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from Water LIFE magazine

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from Water LIFE magazine

Amaury Perez from Punta Gorda released this nice snook on 12/15/20 Alligator Creek

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JT Shields with a 24 inch Jack fish off the dock

Leah Brown, Fort Meyers Beach , Catfish

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from Water LIFE magazine

Caught Jan 4 small drum Kevin Gassman

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Steve with a keeper grouper

10 year old Chandler Maier 28” snook Boca Grande phosphate docks

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33-inch redfish on dead mullet. John, the Snook King, Slattery. Love your Magazine and Happy New Year ! Ed notes: TY & HNY2U!

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FEBRUARY 2021

While on vacation, Charlee Wustman from Greenville South Carolina caught a nice red fish, Robbin fish and grouper.

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Caeden Roese , Catfish King

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All caught by JR Goldstein Jack crevalle- Alligator Creek, PG 17 lbs. 12-27-20 Large mouth bass-lake Okeechobee, Fl. 10 lb, 8 lb, 12-29-20

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from Water LIFE magazine

AJ (13) catching snook with Capt. Joe in Estero Bay.

FISH PIX! f r o m Wa t e r L I F E m a g a z i n e

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

40-pound drum caught on 1-4, Jeremy Gassman

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Zane Hendrickson with his PB Bass

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Seth Stewart 43 inch shook Placida Pier

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FEBRUARY 2021

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More Water equals More Fish

By Capt. Joe Angius Water LIFE Estero Deciding where to fish, inshore or offshore, is typically dictated by the weather and tides. Local fishing reports may also persuade anglers to target a specific game fish. This will limit your span of fishing area and make it difficult to change your tactics. To be successful, anglers need to have a well rounded game plan and not be afraid to make changes to it. February is known for its versatile fishing conditions. The beautiful weather and calm winds offer countless opportunities for anglers. Optimal fishing conditions will expand your span of fishing area. The inshore fishing remains strong with redfish, sheepshead, black drum, and speckled sea trout being my main targets. Live shrimp is the go-to bait, but on days where they may be stubborn it’s great to

have other options. Pilchards, pinfish, cut ladyfish, mullet, and dead jumbo shrimp are all fantastic baits to soak for slow moving fish. Creating a reaction strike

will catch fish quick, but coercing fish to bite that are less than cooperative takes extreme patience. There’s nothing more devastating than watching a school of large redfish swim past your baits without even thinking twice about eating it.

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During times like this, as a charter captain, I know that I only have a few hours to make the bite happen. So even though I know there’s fish around to be caught, I make the decision to venture out to different fishing grounds where the bite may be more productive. The saying “Don’t leave fish to find fish” is always something I hold true to, but “high risk, high reward” is what gets me to go near shore. Fort Myers has a great near shore fishery and if you have the ability to go further out into the Gulf, anglers can find even better game fish. Reef fishing not only creates an action packed bite, it gives anglers the chance to catch dinner. Mangrove snapper, sheepshead, black drum, cobia, and triple tail are only a glimpse of the fish that can be caught off of reefs. Bottom-dropping squid for grouper or trolling plugs for kingfish are surefire ways to get action when the inshore bite is slow.

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Southwest Florida offers some of the best fishing. This month I expect the weather and tides to cooperate making the perfect storm for many successful fishing trips. Experience what our area has to offer through fishing and book an adventure with a guide today! Captain Joe Angius 727-234-3171 speakeasyfishing@gmail.com www.speakeasyfishing.com


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FEBRUARY 2021

READERʼS PHOTOS Send us ur fish pix! Weʼll use ʻem!! see page 3

Hans Buehler from Oconomowoc Wisconsin Pompano caught 1/5/21 Port Charlotte Harbor. I really enjoy your Water LIFE magazine - keep up the good work! We say: Thanks!

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Jasen Wickert from Naples caught this 28-inch red at Bokeelia Fishing Pier last night

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FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

35-pound drum caught on 1/4 by Kevin Gasman

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Hans Buehler. Oconompwoc WI large mouth bass catch and release Port Charlotte pond.

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Jim Ramsey from Indiana 20inch snook at Iona shores

28in snook Placida

FISH PIX!

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FISH PIX!

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Mike Perkins 26.5-inch snook at Iona shores from Cape Coral

Mike Perkins 23-inch snook Iona shores


FEBRUARY 2021

IF

YOU CAN ʼ T GET OUT,

Itʼs Coming!

By Cameron Parson Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor We've had a pretty good winter this year with consistent cold fronts passing through. The cold water bite was nothing short of fantastic on most days in the back bays and open flats, often resulting in an inshore slam, plus a few sheepshead to boot. But we are about to enter a transition into early spring weather. Fish will be moving around to their normal spring haunts in preparation for their yearly migration, both inshore and offshore. And now is the time to prep. The springtime bite here can start early or late, often earlier than predicted. Pompano, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, cobia, permit, tarpon, and sharks (of most all species!) will be on the hunt. Snook will be making their way towards the beaches for their annual spawn. The options are almost limitless on what to target, and it's important to have a backup plan in place in case something doesn't work out. While most of our fishing here is in-

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PAGE 15

READERʼS PHOTOS Send us ur fish pix! Weʼll use ʻem!! see page 3

Mark Rubeo ( PopPop) with his son Mark and his son Jon

shore (snook, trout, tarpon, redfish), the offshore bite will turn on rather quickly over the next month. The AJs are showing up now, cobia and permit will be over the

wrecks and reefs. Crabs and shrimp will be the go-to baits. But a flatlined pinfish or eel imitation will take the cobia both offshore or here in the Harbor. Schools of bonita and Spanish mackerel will be plentiful. King mackerel won't be far behind most any bait pod on the surface, or over live hard bottom. Keep your trolling gear handy. Planers (#2 size) with anywhere from a 00 to a #4 Clark spoon will make quick work of any of these. Keep a twitch-bait handy for those schools that come close to the boat while

FISH PIX!

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Hunter Chaplin (left) Jason Chaplin (right). 2 snooks. Caught with Capt. Rhett Morris

you're anchored. Mirrolure Mirrodine 17MR and 27MRs work extremely well along with heavy casting spoons. Sharks of all species and sizes will be abundant anywhere from the beach side to the upper Harbor. Most will be giving birth on the flats of the harbor. They'll be hungry and often seen up shallow chasing mullet and other fish on the bars. They're a great fight on 6000 sized gear with a foot or 2 of wire and a circle hook. Pitching half of a mullet ahead of them will make for a quick bite. And please do flatten or file the barb down on your hooks, it makes for a much easier release. Their skin is incredibly tough and that barb makes it pretty much impossible to retrieve the hook without cutting it. Pompano will be running the outsides of the bars around manatees and rays. You can also see them skipping in your own or other anglers boat wakes. Find the manatees and rays, and there's a good chance at finding some good pompano. Be ready to throw at a moments notice, even if you don't quite see anything on the manatees and rays. There's always something there. Pink and chartreuse Silly Jigs are my ab-

solute favorite for them. They cast a mile with ease and get to the bottom quickly. Other species of fish will also follow manatees and rays. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish and even cobia will tag along. While most see the majority of these fish as trash fish, they put a good bend in the rod...and they are quick to do so. They're awesome fish for the family or taking some friends out. These are the fish that help contribute to getting people addicted to fishing. The spring time bite means bigger fish overall. Especially sharks and tarpon. Be sure your gear is tip-top shape to handle the load. Have your drags checked and reels lubed. Be sure your line is fresh. Double check your guides for cracks or fractures. Local shops such as Capt. Ted's Tackle, TNT and Lehrs Economy Tackle in North Fort Myers can help with most any issue you may have. We are all knowledgeable and here to help you bring more fish to the boat. And we all appreciate your business!! Catch some fish!

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


PAGE

16

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FEBRUARY 2021

Regatta Sailing

FEBRUARY

Photos and text for Water LIFE by Fran Burstein

Golden Conch

Sailboat Racing This Month

The sun did not shine for the 38th Golden Conch Regatta. The blustery winds on Saturday caused the race to be postponed until Sunday. On Sunday, the sky was grey, the air was cold, and the winds were fickle. And despite it all, bundled up crew aboard 21 different boats came out to race on two different courses. The regatta was sponsored by the Platinum Point Yacht Club. The North Course, located 5.5 nm north of the Burnt Store Marina, was the location for boats racing with PHRF scoring. Twelve boats completed three races. George Darrell on Bonnie Lass won two of the three races in the Non-Spinnaker Division. Rudy Gottschlich on Diva Gorda won two of three races in the True Cruising A Division and Art Gates on Buckeye II dominated all three races in the True Cruising B Division. The Harbor20 action took place between marker two and the bridge. Bob Knowles reports that nine Harbor 20 crews enjoyed two races under a 5 – 8 knot southerly. Jeff Scholz skippering his boat, Yellow Jacket, managed two impressive first place finishes followed in points by Bernie Coyne on Mystic Blue and Christi VanHeekʟs Flying Cloud. The Golden Conch Regatta was the second in a series of Charlotte Harbor regattas that comprises Harbor 20, Fleet 6 Boat of the Year competition

CAN-AM REGATTA The first day (Jan 28), racing didn't start until 2 in the afternoon - before that there wasn't enough water in the basin for the boats to get out into the harbor and the signal boat coming from Punta Gorda couldn't get out of Punta Gorda either. Finally, the wind subsided under 10 but there were still gusts 15 to 20. Eight boats were entered when usually there are 20. The only Canadian in the fleet was Bruce Millar. He and his wife own a house in the area and are here for six months making them eligible to be in the US. In the end Bruce Millar finished third. Second place went to USA Jeff Linton of the Davis Island Yacht club. First place finish was USA Dee Smith Charlotte Harbor Yacht Club.

Because of issues surrounding COVID-19, The Charlotte Harbor Regatta has been cancelled for 2021.

H20 Racing: February 6, 13,20,21,28. For more info: Islesyc.com/On_T he_Water/IYC_Sai l_Club Punta Gorda Sailing Club Racing: February 21 and 28. For more info: PGSCweb.com/ra cing.htm Platinum Point Yacht Club: February 1,8,15,22. For more info: 941-639-0733

FISH PIX!

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Snapper time 20 nice snappers at the Sanibel bridge, Mike and Jen Perkins

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from Water LIFE magazine

Mark Del Cason caught this 27-inch redfish inside Iona Shores

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from Water LIFE magazine

Off Boca Matt Armstrong

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from Water LIFE magazine

Off Boca Matt Armstrong and Jodee Armstrong


IF

YOU CAN ʼ T GET OUT,

Red Tide: Misinformation and Half-Truths FEBRUARY 2021

F OLLOW U S

ONLINE

@

WWW.WATERLIFE M AGAZINE . COM

old so you are basically seeing where the Red Tide was, not where it is now

There is a lot of mis-information out there about Red Tide, so to shed some light on the situation a State of the Science of Harmful Algal Blooms in Florida was held in St. Pete August 2019. Seventy five leading scientists meet to discuss what we know about HABs. Here are three conclusions from the meeting that people should realize:

On the Line Opinion By Capt. Ron Blago Water LIFE Senior Staff

Recently, I read a column about the terrible Red Tide outbreak south of Ft. Myers. The article showed the same old picture of dead fish on the beach; of course the picture had no information on when or where it was taken, they just left it to the reader to assume that it was a recent picture.

The article went on to list the many hazards that may accompany an outbreak. Dangers to humans with pre-existing health problems; dangers to manatees, sea turtles, shorebirds and even the family pet. The author of the article herself was a victim of Red Tide “she felt a tingle in the back of her throat.” Later in the article she pointed out that there were no dead fish, but there was in the past and probably will be in the future. These types of mistruths and half truths really just creates a more confusing situation. If you want accurate information go to the my fwc.com website and find daily red tide test results. That

PAGE 17

Red Tide blooms mostly occur in the fall of the year (but not always). Red Tide comes from offshore.

The exact mechanism underlying each bloom stage and the transition from one stage (beginning-middle-end) is largely UNKNOWN.

Fort Myers Beach, January 21. We observed no Red Tide problem

will take you to a map of Florida with a bunch of dots, each representing a place that has been tested for Red Tide; click on a dot and you will see where and when the sample was taken as well as the severity of Red Tide found. With this information you can find out where the Red Tide is and how strong it is and where it’s going. Unfortunately; the test results are usually a week or more

For now, this Red Tide outburst is just about over; so go fishing or take the family to the beach and enjoy yourselves. For those people who thrive on gloom and doom remember that “Red Tide is Always Out There” Captronb@juno.com and that’s a fact.

FISH PIX!

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FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Wanda Daugherty off Boca

Morgan Casey with Sheepshead

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Bill Wickum red grouper and tuna

Mary Ruth Casey with her first Tripletail

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Ron Smits and James Marco with two of 25 AJʼs, caught in 90 FOW.

Rick Linthicum 33-inch snook

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Drew Nemecek of Syracuse, NY caught his first snook while visiting Punta Gorda

7-1/2-pound black drum by Earl Horecky Pineland area.


Sheepshead Convention Time PAGE

18

Capt. Alan Williams Water LIFE Upper Harbor Wintertime is in full swing in Southwest Florida. Terms such as polar vortex and jet stream dip come up in conversations and weather reports on a regular basis. Cold fronts start marching through like hurricanes in the summer.

With these fronts comes a common pattern: winds start clocking from West to North-west to full blown North. After the front passes high pressure pours in like water into a bowl. Air temperatures drop rapidly as well as the water temperatures. Blue-bird skies and

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cold water can make fishing extremely tough. Throw in a full moon and you have your work cut out for you. It's not that they won't bite, it'll just be a slower bite. During these times it's important to do the same with your baits. Slow down, down size and slow down some more. The better fishing usually comes after a warm up period that brings the water temps up and then stabilizes. Winter time also brings out patterns for different species. One of our favorites this time of year is the affliction of sheepshead-itis. Sheepshead are a favorite fish for the table and a good challenge on light tackle. It seems that the sheepshead population isn't quite in full swing yet. The peak time is usually in February and March. There are some good numbers being caught but not in the same numbers as years past. I'm not sure why this is occurring but one thought comes to mind which may be a factor: if they open the season on trout too soon, without opening redfish and snook, the

FEBRUARY 2021

added pressure on these fish being harvested may put sheepshead numbers at risk once again. The entire army of fishermen who want to have fish on the table will put them in the crosshairs. I know this is not a popular subject for people who like to catch and eat... I could be wrong, I'm not a scientist, but we have to balance out our right to harvest fish with the common sense approach of not taking more than you need for a meal, and never taking enough for a fish-fry for the condo association! Enjoy the hunt and challenge of finding the fish. If you think it's a keeper but you’re not sure ...throw it back. The ones you want are the ones where the thought of if it is a keeper doesn't even enter your mind.

On another note, the snook are moving into their winter haunts of the creeks and rivers. Tarpon have been showing up in the same areas above the 1-75 bridge. The trout bite has been good with some nice gators mixed in the bunch. They are usually solitary fish and not in the schools of trout. Get out and enjoy what we are so lucky to be blessed with. Take care of

our waters and our fish for future generations. Take a kid fishing whenever you can and pass it on. Stay lucky and see you on the water.

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

FISH PIX!

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Morgan Howe vacationing here from New York caught and released this grouper in the Gulf. She jumped in the water to show the size

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Justin H & Matt M (both from Fort Myers) doubled up on Crevalle Jack in the Ten Thousand Islands area

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

At the Cemex plant in Miami with Michael Hart

FISH PIX!

from Water LIFE magazine

Brady from Pa with a great snook.


FEBRUARY 2021

Explore!

Fish with one of our Guides

IF

YOU CAN ʼ T GET OUT,

F OLLOW U S

The BIG-4

SHEEPSHEAD Here now on dock pilings and jettiesim

BackBay Xtremes Capt Dave Stephens www.backbayxtremes.com

941-916-5769

ONLINE

@

Fish you can expect in

MANGROVE SNAPPER most everywhere in the Gulf

WWW.WATERLIFE M AGAZINE . COM

February

AMBERJACK still hanging around and still eating

TROUT on the bars and in the flats potholes

February – Predictions and Suggestions

Charlotte Harbor, Lemon Bay, and fiddler crabs have been the ticket Placida, Gasparilla Sound for them. Capt. Kaelin Olayer Out in the Gulf, we are still seeFlyin’ Hawaiian Fishing Charters ing a stellar mangrove snapper bite. With all these cold fronts in January, We have been seeing them on just about I’m hoping for a slightly calmer and every type of bottom and they’re eating warmer February! But fishing between everything! cold fronts has been great, both inshore Catch and release gag and black and out in the Gulf. grouper have been abundant as well. Our back Porgies and country fishing lane snaphas been great per have on the lower been consistides. tent along Trout fishing with a slower has been phered grouper nomenal in the bite. Grunts potholes and and bars around sheepshead Charlotte Harhave been bor. Shrimp and starting to a popping cork show up on or shrimp on a the near jig head will be shore wrecks the ticket for and ledges. trout in the Some big cooler water. amberjacks Redfish and and cobia are the occasional still lingering snook will suraround the prise you while wrecks of my best friend trout fishing this mixed in FISH PIX! In memory John Keck, time of year. with some (shown in the background). Largemouth Bass, Lake Okeechobee Redfish have sharks. been quite prevaShrimp, lent this winter. Oyster bars, potholes Pinfish and cut sardines have been the on low tides and grass flats on the ticket offshore. Capt. Kaelin Olayer medium tides have been their stomping Flyinʼ Hawaiian Fishing Charters grounds. Captkaefishing.com Cell: 941-716-1425 Sheepshead remain consistent on FH Offshore Charters the deeper docks and bridges, shrimp Fhoffshorecharters.com

PAGE 19

The water is cold. Nearshore water temps are now upper 60s slow down your retrieve!

95˚ 90˚ 85˚ 80˚

75˚ 72˚ 70˚ 68˚ 50˚

from Water LIFE magazine

Englewood Bait House

Head-Boat Offshore Fishing 941- 475-4511

45˚

FISHING RIGHT NOW:

GREAT!


PAGE

20

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FEBRUARY 2021

Profile for Water LIFE magazine

Water LIFE February 2021  

Boating, Fishing (lots of Fishing) and living on the Water in the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve

Water LIFE February 2021  

Boating, Fishing (lots of Fishing) and living on the Water in the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve

Profile for waterlife