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Water LI FE

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

The Don Ball School of Fishing

Txt Us Ur Fish Pix!

September 2017

see page 14


from Water LIFE magazine

Bud Rector, tarpon fishing with Capt. David Stephens

Placida Boat Ramp Closed Sept 19 to Oct 13


from Water LIFE magazine


from Water LIFE magazine

Sue Berberian mahi, aboard the Calypso off Key Largo

Nick Stewart, 38-inch snook





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from Water LIFE magazine

Bob Marks, and friends, fishing out of the Osprey Harbor Club Marina on his 28-foot Whitewater boat Liquid Plumber (he's a plumber) Fishing in between 300 feet and 600 feet of water, they caught mahi, Queen snapper, Warsaw grouper, almaco jack, this frogfish and a host of others.

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Independant - Not affiliated with any other publication! Vol XVI No 9 © 2017

Myakka River 2017, one of Clyde Butcherʼs new digital series prints

Dear Michael, Clyde Butcher is recovering from a stroke he had in May, so instead of using his large format film camera, he is using a smaller digital camera and a walker with a seat to help him get around and take pictures. He has made several trips to the Myakka River and has just released his first photograph after his stroke. The first 10 sold will receive a 10% discount. To view photograph, sizes available and pricing go to this link: A beautiful article written by Eric Staats, Naples News has shown Clyde doing what he loves most; out in nature and using his camera to capture our beautiful landscapes. To read more about Clyde's adventures and health update check this link: Niki Butcher 941-486-0811

NO PART of this publication (printed or electronic) may be copied, reproduced or re-used without specific written permission from the publishers. (and thatʼs never happened!)

Contributing Editors:

Photography: Senior Editor: Capt. Ron Blago Baitshop: Fishinʼ Frank Peace River: Capt. David Stephens Punta Gorda: Capt. Chuck Eichner Venice: Glen Ballinger Estero: Capt. Joe Angius Everglades City: Capt. Charlie Phillips Kayaking: Bob Fraser Sea Grant: Capt. Betty Staugler Beach Fishing: Mallory Herzog Pier Fishing: Bobby Vitalis Diving: Adam Wilson


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Water Water Everywhere By Michael Heller Water LIFE editor A month ago the National Hurricane Center revised its predictions upward for the number of storms we will see this year and ever since, water has been in the news, first with days and days of rain here, and then more days and days of rain, and then Harvey. And while Harvey was waterboarding Houston, Invest 92 dropped anchor off our coast, flooding parts of Bonita Springs and Fort Myers for days. And as I write this on August 30, Irma just formed in the Atlantic and they are now saying another storm may soon form in the Gulf. All the rain is both a good thing and a bad thing. With a lot of rain it’s hard for a red tide to form, but with a lot of rain all the fertilizer growers put on the ground help a red tide bloom grow. And aside from the red tide, all the pesticides that people put on the ground, and all the radiator overflow and antifreeze and oil and emissions - everything on the pavement and all the septic tanks that leech into the ground, it all gets mixed with the rain-runoff and begins to flow toward the Gulf. Just think about what has to be on the ground in and around Houston. All that water around Houston, with all that stuff in it, is draining into the Gulf. This is clearly a bad things for mankind, but if you are a fish it’s even worse.

Fish are sensitive creatures, temperature changes of even a halfdegree affect fish greatly. Changes in water quality and salinity effect fish even more greatly. But the Gulf around Houston has been very hot, so right about now, Horse Creek, flooding at SR 72 last month with all these changes around the northern side of the Gulf, the fish migration patterns and even the aimless fishywandering that goes on, have to be changing. Local talk, here, for the last few years has delved into whether the good fishing and abunever seen it. SR 72 was closed further dance of bait here has been caused by down at the Myakka and the Peace bad conditions elsewhere. That’s some- River was at 13-feet at the Canoe Outthing to think about. post; flood stage is 11-feet. During a break in the rain at the end We have a lot of fresh water coming of August, I took a ride to Horse Creek into the Harbor right now and fish here where it passes under SR72. I ride out are all moving, some moving in, some that way on Sunday mornings in my moving out. It will be very interesting hot rod, so I have a good handle on the to see where things wind up when the normal water levels there. Last week flow and the salinity settle down. Until Horse Creek was higher than I have then, let’s just hang on!

My son Cody Bollinger and his stepson Nick caught this cobia on live whiting on Bayshore pier in Port Charlotte. Fishingʼs been a HUGE part of his life. I'm very thankful for that! Nick caught his first shark with Cody too!


from Water LIFE magazine

Below: Editor notes* We know Cody Bollinger from our 2004 Kids Cup Tournament. Itʼs nice to see him passing on his love of fishing!






Where Did the Time Go? By Mallory Herzog Water LIFE Fishing Summer has flown by this year. Time always flies when you’re having fun and making memories on the water. It’s been a great month with productive fishing. From inshore to nearshore, anglers were tearing it up in August. We started the last month of summer fishing families in search of BIG fish, before everyone started back to school. The Vestal family got their wish, catching a total of four goliath grouper to start off the day, the smallest being 150pounds. There were other catches too, jack crevalle, barracuda and Spanish mackerel were swarming this reef. Dad was catching mackerel and the barracuda were blowing them out of the water, talk about a show! And we had a shark bait out the back just in case. As the trip was winding down, we called 20 minutes left in the trip. Then, as I am assisting with a Goliath on the line up front, I heard a commotion behind the boat. A giant hammerhead was eating our shark

bait! Watching this ocean predator eat on top of the water was intense. Next, while Capt. Andrew sets a hook on this hammer and hands it off to Dad, a goliath and barracuda both get hooked! Craziest triple hook up to date. We cleared the lines, one by one and moved Dad up to the fight chair. Just in time too, there was about 3 wraps left on the reel before this shark would of spooled us – that’s how fast a hammer-

head swims. After about 45 minutes we were able to get this fish boat side, dehooked and it swam off. This family caught over 1000-pounds of fish in 8 hours of fishing! Now September is upon us and we are ready to get back in our usual routines and so are the fish. Hopefully the water will clear up soon from all the rain. We have some great fishing to look forward to. The water temperatures have already dropped and air temperatures should start to cool slightly by mid month. Inshore, redfish have begun to school on the flats. These fish look like a school of mullet until you get close, but in clear enough water you can see the red hue of color from a distance. When you are on the water this fall be mindful not to run through where someone is fishing. Nothing is worse than quietly making your way to a school of fish, to have them run over before you get a shot. Snook also opened in September. Slot size is 28-33 inches. While they are a delicious species, I personally prefer to tag and release. When you report your tagged snook with a picture to Gray Fishtag Research they reward you with a pair of Costa DelMar sunglasses. Even if you harvest instead of re-releasing. Pretty cool, right? Snook we've tagged range from juvenile to over slot. Nearshore, the snapper bite has been very productive. Mangrove, lane and vermillion are the most common species. Depending on water clarity you can get these fish so charged up they will come up

to the surface in your chum slick by the hundreds. I use a chum called "snapper up" for this exact reason. Chumming them to the surface increases your chances to get your fish to the boat – snapper are notorious for breaking you off in reef structure once hooked. Fish them on live bait or artificial. Other fun summer nearshore catches biting this month are Spanish mackerel and barracuda.

To book a trip with Capt Andrew Herzog




Is Something Happening Here? By Capt. David Stephens Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor Well folks, I just got back from spending some time up in the north Georgia mountains. The morning temperatures

were nice but, to be honest with ya‘ll, later in the day, when it warmed up, I felt like I was back in Florida! Maybe it was the month of the eclipse, but this year we have had an occurrence that I hope happens every year on our local flats. This summer, our flats have been covered with juvenile tarpon. I have been a full time guide on Charlotte Harbor for 19years and I have always had a couple secret flats that I could take my clients to, where they could sight cast to juvenile tarpon. There were only a few places like that, but this year it seams that all of our local flats are holding these great game fish. At first I just thought that maybe it was the area I frequently fish. Then I talked to some of the top guides that fish areas that I don’t normally fish and I’ve been getting the same

reports on juvenile tarpon - 10 to 20 pounds, on the flats. Could this possibly be from the previous years of the effort to protect our tarpon fishery? Or is it just a fluke or a rare occurrence that is taking place? I would like to believe that the conservation of our local tarpon fishery is starting to show results. As a guide who depends on putting clients on fish on a daily basis, this is the greatest thing I’ve seen in many years. Over the last couple months I have been able to guide youth anglers to their first ever Grand Slam, I’m talking youth anglers that have never fished! I have also had anglers that thought tarpon was a fish that couldn’t be stalked ... until they had the opportunity to sight cast to a tarpon on our flats. Maybe I’m hoping for too much, maybe this is a rare occurrence we will talk about later, or maybe we’ll be talking about how 2017 was the year we first had this great juvenile tarpon fishery that became a summertime staple. Fellow anglers, just imagine if this becomes a normal summer time fishery on our local flats. Then just imagine what would happen if we treated all of our wonderful game fish like the tarpon. I frequently get asked what our fishery was like when I was a kid compared to now. It hurts to be honest, but we can bring that fishery back. Maybe these little silver-kings that are flooding our local flats are trying to tell us something!


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

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10,000 Islands / Everglades City



Key. Fishing water that’s 3-foot has been the key for us lately using popping corks By Capt. Charlie Phillips and scented soft plastics in white, atomic Water LIFE / Everglades City chicken and bubble gum colors. Lots of Been a pretty good month down in the shorts, so make sure to treat em well and big swamp, if you don’t count all the rain! get them back in the water. It’s still hot, and we are still having our I am going to switch gears to finish summertime pattern of sweating as soon out this month’s as you walk out the reports and door, followed by make sure you some afternoon thunare informed to derstorms and monsome changes soon rains, but if you going on for all know the pattern you visitors to the can certainly fish it. Everglades NaInshore, the snook tional Park. fishing has been In years past, pretty strong all only visitors to Capt. Joe of charters month with some real the Flamingo trophy class fish side paid an enbeing caught. Most of the snook we catch trance fee to enter the park as they had a this time of year come from early in the ticket stand at the gate. Everglades City morning before the sun gets overhead or had nothing in place, so no fee was collate in the evening. Some of the best lected. Well that has come to an end. Very snook fisherman I know tend to be totally soon all visitors to the park will be renocturnal in their hunt for linesiders, using quired to pay to enter. Those coming to the darkness to fish bridge, dock and fish Everglades City side will have to eistreet lights which congregate the bait. ther purchase a daily permit or annual one If you choose this method, it’s a great that will go on the boat. They will also way to beat the heat and usually the have to complete an online boater safety storms, but program before make sure you the permit will have your be issued. lights all These changes working and were put in are comfortplace during able running the Everglades around in the management darkness – lot plan several of old pilings years ago and out there that are just now Kim and Donna from Labelle found a few mahi while can sneak up coming to pass. hunting lobster during mini season on you quick if Commercial you’re not users such as careful. A night spent sleeping in the man- myself are also getting hit, our annual pergroves while you wait on help is not going mit fee is going from $250 per year to to be a restful experience. $1000 per year or 5-percent of gross inStill staying inshore, the trout fishing come whichever is more. We also will has continued to be strong in the grass have to ensure that our guest have purareas from Goodland down to Pavilion chased a daily park pass as a commercial

operator will not be allowed to have an annual blanket permit. The one thing I find interesting is that from one side of their mouth they say these changes are needed so all visitors have equity in the park, but then you quickly see that all fees for paddlers have now been removed. The recreational side talks are done and in place, but the commercial discussions are still ongoing and in my work with the Florida Guides Association we are holding a meeting with the Everglades National Park this month to try and hash out some of these differences. If I can answer any questions on this or any topic, please never hesitate to give me a call.


Capt. Charlie Phillips: 863-517-1829 e-mail: Web:






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Estero Bay: Transitioning into School SEPTEMBER 2017

By Captain Joe Angius Water LIFE Estero As the final days of summer approach Southwest Florida, and we settle down after all the late August rain, there will be a couple of minor changes that will make a major impact on our fishing. Water temperatures have dropped and anglers should look forward to an abundance of big bait roaming our grass flats, bridges and beaches. That bait will be key to getting larger fish to feed. September acts as a transition month from summer to fall and provides countless opportunities for anglers to fish for every inshore species in one day. The two species that I will be targeting specifically, due to their schooling on our beaches and flats are redfish and black drum. During this month we should experience less rainfall, helping to stabilize the salinity levels in our backwaters and grass flats. Stable salinity levels will promote clean and clear water, as well as healthier and livelier grass flats that attract bait and redfish. Preschooling redfish have been caught on our flats and along our oyster bars, but it won’t be until those small weather changes occur that we will find large schools of fish. Be sure to be mindful and respectful of other anglers while fishing a single school of fish. Use a trolling motor or push pole and anchor far enough away from other boats, but don’t let distance be the determining factor of you not fishing the school. In other words, if


you are too far from the school get closer, respectfully, and get a piece of the action. The redfish, when they school up, are only thinking of what’s there to eat and how much. In my experience I found the two most productive baits are pinfish and mullet – live or cut into pieces. It’s helpful to chum an area where a stationary school will be feeding. A stationary school will move but feed in a specific area for a long period of time before the tide moves them out. A moving school is a pod of fish that you need to slowly maneuver around without forcing any pressure on them as they roam a flat. Any unfamiliar pressure on a school will result in the school breaking up and spreading out. Using pinfish and mullet for bait will allow you to cast extremely far compared to using shrimp or a pilchard. Black drum on the other hand are only looking for shrimp and crabs. Getting baits out to them successfully can be difficult, but the key is use the right amount of weights. Free lining shrimp can catch you fish, but in my opinion won’t provide enough bites. The next step up will be using a 1/8oz jig head tipped with a live shrimp or a Gulp! shrimp. This allows you to fish farther into the school and deeper, staying close to the bottom. My absolute go-to setup for black drum is a 2/0 Owner circle hook tipped with shrimp and a 1/4oz or 1/2oz ‘knocker rig.’ A ‘knocker rig’ is where you use an egg style



from Water LIFE magazine

The Schools of Redfish are running in Boca Grande, Chrissy and Andy tearing them up!

sinker that can move up and down your leader between the hook and your line to leader knot. With this setup you should be able to cast the farthest and fish all depths in the school. Hopefully our area will get black drum schools this month. Their schooling depends on weather changes as well. September will have exceptional conditions for big fish and a wide variety of species to catch. Definitely don’t forget about the schools of tarpon, trout, and snook that will be dominating our backwater areas. Be mindful and respectful of other anglers. Boat safely and properly by following all of the rules and regulations for our area. Get out on the water and fish hard. Captain Joe Angius (727)-234-3171 Speak Easy Fishing Charters






Readerʼs P

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

Captain Keith Magnussen with another tarpon with Crooked Rod Charters Ok Emory McClelland finally caught one that was not too big. Guess what is for supper. On board of PAPPY's TURN.

Zack Dyer - 31 lb permit -out of Stump Pass on a wreck

Andy Nemith with a nice 40 pound striper

Taylor Burnett , 26 inch Red Groupe fishing in the Gulf.

Tyler Degraff and Thomas Gallagher with a monster tiger shark and an east coast sailfish Jack 14 with an 8+ pounder

My very first Tarpon caught at Bayshore Pier in Charlotte Harbor. Donny Ellingsworth

Roger Sr with a cutoff snook

Nikki Armas caught this red grouper off B Grande.






Txt Us Ur Fish Pix! see

page 14


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

Mark Jackson 38-inches, Boca Grande

Brian Gauss, snook

Dave Reichart. Snook

Tianna and her father Josh with her first ever tarpon and ianna with a 30 inch red fish. Her biggest ever !! Steve caught a little tarpon on the west wall on a DOA shrimp

Chris and dad 31 inch tailing red pineland

Dr. Greg Dyer-out of Stump Pass -98' water.

Tammie caught a nice PGI snook

My Daughters first visit and a catch and release shark with Capt. John of Kingfisher Fleet




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

Ted Suba. Fished Key West last week, nice permit


Readerʼs photos Txt Us Ur Fish Pix!

see below


Drew Davidson, two bass Bud Chrifield, I'm moving to Port Charlotte. I hope to be a steady Sorry about the black drum being a video, my neighbor got

Scott Akin, Brandon Westberry and the gang, Big Pine Key about 40 miles out

Caught aboard “Don't Blink" with Capt. Billy Currie

Ryan Clark 38 inch snook

Kristi Moseanko with a nice snook caught on a hand picked shrimp. She is visiting from Davis CA with her husband Rod pictured right Benjamin Whiteaker, both are grouper (one is red)

Please Read Txt Us Ur Fish Pix

We like Fresh Fish so please donʼt send old photos.

We like the First Catch so donʼt send us fish if you are also sending the same fish to another publication, like for instance ... the Charlotte Sun ;-( One or two photos is all weʼll probably

have room for.

Bigger is Better, higher resolution is best. Please donʼt adjust, crop or sharpen pictures. FISH HANDLING: If you are harvesting your catch do what you want, but If you are RELEASING YOUR CATCH: Use

txt to:

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wet hands on a fish you will be releasing. No Dry Towels, it wipes off vital fish slime. Hold big fish horizontally so as not to damage their ʻinnerds,ʼ donʼt hold big fish from the jaw, it could tear or break and donʼt put your hands in the gills. No Fishy Fish if you are not in the picture it may not get into print.

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Txt to 941-457-1316 include (at least) your name and type of fish (txt only, voice calls cannot be answered) You may also eMail pictures to:


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


Readerʼs photos Txt Us Ur Fish Pix! see facing page


BIG Bob Deyling of Englewood landed this red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico out of Stump Pass

Angela Madison and Rocket Man offshore with Capt. Mike Strand

Ron Erhart horsed up this Goliath Grouper on the Pelagic with Capt. Travis Ormond

Joey Keene and his 11lb 11oz Arcadia largemouth.

Jerry Pirillo from Port Charlotte and Rich Doyle caught a nice bunch of porgy's and sea bass out of Port Jefferson on the Osprey V in Long Island Sound

Cousins Miller and Jakob Clark looking at the nice Jack being held by Capt. Matt of GetHooked Charters.

Capt Rhett Morris, Beyond Borders, with Raven Ali and a tarpon





KAYAKING: Love Is In The Air, or Should I Say, In The Water?

By Bob Fraser Water LIFE Paddlesports While fishing for seatrout in Gasparilla Sound, we saw several manatees splashing and surfacing in the water. We think they were mating. When I got home later, I read online that this is their mating season. Being in a kayak, you can get very close to them, and it’s a different perspective being at water level versus being in a boat. Observing marine life out on a kayak is a bonus when on a fishing trip. We usually see dolphins playing and chasing baitfish in Gasparilla Sound. It’s too bad I can’t post a video in this article, but you can visit my website for videos and photos. Besides being entertained by the Sea Cows we caught some nice trout for dinner. I didn’t have a charter that day, so my wife and son went fishing with me. My wife is “The Trout Queen,” a nickname I gave her because she usually catches the most trout. And today was no exception; she caught a nice 19 ½ inch trout on an artificial bait. We ran out of live shrimp, so she used a 3-inch

Zman soft plastic under a Cajun Thunder popping cork. We released several smaller trout, which looked very healthy. I was a little surprised we had any luck at all because the water was muddy looking from all the rain we had been having. Several weeks ago the water was very clear, and I caught about 25 trout. It’s been my experience that after a lot of rain the water clarity is poor and the trout don’t bite very well. Yesterday, we tried a new spot that we haven’t fished before. We launched at Oscar Scherer State Park and fished under the docks in the residential boat channel as we were heading out to the main channel. That channel flows south to Blackburn Bay and north to Little Sarasota Bay. When you get to the main channel, head north about 100 yards and there’s a grass flat on the west side of the channel called Dryman Bay. This is where we caught a nice trout. We didn’t stay very long because the thunder storms were rolling in. If you go kayak fishing this time of the year, get out early and come back in by 12 or 1 pm. After 1 pm it gets very hot, and you can’t paddle fast enough to get a breeze like you can in a motor boat.

“Didnʼt see the first shark for about a half-hour...” Water LIFE report

Last month, 72 years after a Japanese submarine sank the cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA35), the ship’s wreckage was found resting on the seafloor – more than 18,000 feet below the Pacific Ocean’s surface.

After the sinking in June of 1945, the crew was in the water for five days before being rescued. The following is one crewman’s account of the sharks during those five days:

“Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into her side, Chief. We was comin’ back from the island of Tinian to Leyte. We’d just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn’t see the first shark for about a half-hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that in the water, Chief? You can tell by lookin’ from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn’t know, was that our

bomb mission was so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn’t even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin’ by, so we formed ourselves into tight groups. It was sorta like you see in the calendars, you know the infantry squares in the old calendars like the Battle of Waterloo and the idea was the shark come to the nearest man, that man he starts poundin’ and hollerin’ and sometimes that shark he go away… but sometimes he wouldn’t go away. Sometimes that shark looks right at ya. Right into your eyes. And the thing about a shark is he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, he doesn’t even seem to be livin’… ’til he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then… ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin’. The ocean turns red, and despite all your

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poundin’ and your hollerin’ those sharks come in and… they rip you to pieces. You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don’t know how many sharks there were, maybe a thousand. I do know how many men, they averaged six an hour. Thursday mornin’, Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player. Boson’s mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up. He bobbed up, down in the water, he was like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he’d


Bob Fraser 941-916-8303

been bitten in half below the waist. At noon on the fifth day, a Lockheed Ventura swung in low and he spotted us, a young pilot, lot younger than Mr. Hooper here, anyway he spotted us and a few hours later a big ol’ fat PBY come down and started to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened. Waitin’ for my turn. I’ll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went into the water. 316 men come out, the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb.”



Shark Attacks Happen Every Day By Capt. Chuck Eichner Water LIFE Inshore September in Charlotte Harbor is a time of calm water, hot temperatures, lots of baitfish and very few fishermen. It is also the best time of year for shark fishing only minutes from any boat ramp! In waters less than 5 feet and as deep as 20, large sharks including bull, black tip, nurse, sharp nose and a few others will be here in large numbers, unless the salinity is too low, because of all the rain we had late in August. Sharks must retain salt inside their bodies. Without it, their cells rupture which causes bloating and death. Given this requirement, most sharks cannot enter fresh water, because their internal salt levels would become diluted. But bull sharks have special physiological adaptations that enable them to live in fresh water. Their kidneys recycle the salt within their FISH PIX! bodies and special glands, located near their tails, also aid in salt retention. Anyone with a boat big enough to float can hook up! Imagine being in a 14-foot Jon boat and being dragged by a 250pound bull shark. Yep, September is no month for jets skis or water skiing! What attracts the sharks is simply a large food source. Fish and aquatic creatures of all types have been breeding in the aquatic grasses all summer. Throw a cast net anywhere in the Harbor and you

from Water LIFE magazine

will have something alive in your net. In open water, it will be anything from jellyfish to baitfish and in the shallows, seahorses to pilchards. Sharks are also following schools of ladyfish and jacks. Most times when focusing on sharks I ride the harbor looking for bird activity and not necessarily set up on holes. Sheets of baitfish are a good place to drift through, any serious blasting by mackerel will have sharks under them as well. On a recent fishing trip with my grand-

Tyler Degraff and Thomas Gallagher Tiger Shark at Englewood

son Gavin we saw diving birds in 8-feet of water around green daymarker 77 in the Matlacha direction. We had live ladyfish for bait. I generally like to fish two rods with steel leader and one with mono in case a tarpon passes by. Two live baits and one cut ladyfish out and we sat at anchor for an hour. A dead bait with steel got whomped and missed and shortly later the mono rod with an 18-inch live ladyfish buckled and the drag started burning! Gavin reached for the rod but couldn’t

pull it out of the rod holder, meanwhile the shark is dumping the spool! I grab the rod, hand to Gavin, start the motor, run to the bow and pull the anchor. As we chase the fish down, Gavin gains some line and the 9-year-old puts serious heat on the fish. While coaching my grandson to not let go of the rod the shark

takes a sudden lunge, pulls Gavin to the gunnel and I grab his pants as he was headed into the drink! Normally, he has a PFD on, but we were at anchor on a calm day and it was 93 degrees! The next words out of Gavin’s mouth was “grandpa I think I better put on my life preserver”. These words I will never forget. With another sudden pull the line snapped! We were fishing 8-feet of 80-pound line with no steel on this rod and over 6 feet of line was scrapped up. Without seeing the shark we knew it was at least 6


feet and it definitely had the fight of a bull shark that I guesstimate at 150 pounds! For baits, live ladyfish are great and live mullet can’t be beat. These are big baits that attract the big predators. Frozen sardines work, but will attract smaller sharks and plenty of catfish. Chumming will attract more sharks near your boat for sure. Six feet of water on the outside of the flats is a great place to set up on an outgoing tide as well. Sharks will patrol our flats under the cover of dark water on high tide and with receding water drop back to the outer edges on their way into deeper water; a perfect place to intercept your bait. On a different trip, a live mullet got munched in the middle of a school of ladyfish that were splashing on the surface. As it often happens, the shark bit the mono line but luck allowed us to get it just close enough for a photo before bite off. My guess was 250 pounds! And that was in 10 feet of water! Shark attacks are common on Charlotte Harbor, but most are sub-surface and none are on humans, thank goodness for that! photo: Capt. Chuck Eichner

Capt. Chuck Eichner operates Action Flats Backcountry Charters He can be reached at 941-628-8040

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Things That Make Fishery Biologists Cringe PAGE

By Capt. Betty Staugler Water Life / Sea Grant Catch and release is an important conservation tool. It helps to sustain native fish populations by allowing more fish to remain and reproduce in the ecosystem. This practice provides an opportunity for more people to enjoy fishing and to successfully catch fish. But catch and release is not perfect. Some fish still die; even after they swim away. In fact catch and release mortality studies have shown that mortality after release for three of our favorite fish (snook, redfish, and spotted seatrout) is between 2.17% (snook) and 15% (spotted seatrout), with higher mortality associated with higher water temperature. These percentages can add up to a lot of fish, which is why it is imperative that anglers always do what they can to ensure release fish survive. Over the last decade or so, anglers have adopted many good angling practices such as holding the fish horizontally and supporting the belly, and using wet hands to protect the slime coat. But there’s so much more. What follows is a list of “oh my gosh that makes me cringe” practices. I list these along with why they are not good and suggestions for better

practices. The vertical hold – I mentioned it earlier so let’s go there. What’s the problem? There are two big issues. First, fish are designed to be in the water where they are neutrally buoyant. Once they are pulled from the water, gravity takes effect on internal organs causing them to bunch up at the lowest point. The second issue is with the fleshy throat region of a fish, called the isthmus, which is easily damaged when fish are held vertically by their lip. A released fish may appear normal and swim away, but if the isthmus is damaged, it may not be able to feed normally or at all, and will either starve to death or become so weak it’s easily predated. Hands in gills – What’s the problem? Well, gills are the lifeline of fish. Fish gills are highly vascularized. When water passes over the gills, oxygen from the water binds with hemoglobin in the veins where it is then transported to all the vital organs. These gill structures are extremely delicate. If they become damaged, or if they collapse due to air exposure, there’s less surface area, which means less vascularized surface, so less oxygen getting transported. A fish with limited oxygen is akin to a human with COPD. They are less fit. Sometimes they don’t feed, and

they often become magnets for predators. Better than hands in gills is a hand under the jaw or holding the bottom lip with either your hand or a lip grip…but remember horizontal hold, always. Dragging fish up onto the beach – There’s a couple varieties of this that are problematic. One is dragging fish, in particular sharks up onto the beach for the photo and the other is landing a fish by walking backwards and dragging it thru the sand. So what’s the problem? Well for starters there’s a huge temperature difference between the water where fish are hooked and the water temperature FISH PIX! right at the shoreline, especially beach shorelines. Sand absorbs a lot of heat and when fish are dragged into these warm environments it is a huge shock to the system. Many mortality studies have demonstrated that heat stress greatly increases post release mortality. Dragging a fish through the sand is even worse because the fish is in direct contact with hot sand. This also reduces the fish’s slime coat as the sand binds with it and then is washed off the fish after release. The slime coat protects fish from bacteria and parasites so once removed, this protection is compromised. Rapid back and forth revival – So this is not as deadly as the previously mentioned practices. But it’s not at all the best way to revive a fish. Think about it…when was the last time you saw a fish moving back and forth in the water? Fish that are stressed, that need extra water flowing over their gills, naturally face into the current, and this, or moving them forward in a figure eight is the best way to revive a fish prior to release. Cutting the saw off a sawfish – Although this practice has markedly decreased, sadly it does still happen occasionally. What’s the problem? Historically anglers thought the saw served no

from Water LIFE magazine


Avery Grossman First snook caught and released off the beach in Boca Grande.

purpose for the fish so it was cut off as a trophy. But today we know that sawfish use their saw to feed by thrashing it back and forth to stun prey. Without the saw, these endangered fish are unable to hunt and starve to death. If anglers catch a sawfish they should keep it in the water and release it unharmed. They should also report it to FWC’s Sawfish Hotline so scientists can get information about the animal. To report your catch: E-mail: or Call: 941-255-7403.

BAY SCALLOP UPDATE – Normally by now, The Great Bay Scallop Search, our annual citizen science wildstock assessment, would have been conducted. But this year scheduling issues prevented that from taking place. Fear not, so we don’t lose an entire year’s worth of data, as many sites as possible are being surveyed during the week with multiple partners. Next year all should be back to normal.

Capt. Betty Staugler, Florida Sea Grant Agent. UF/IFAS Extension, Charlotte County (941) 764-4346


The Nav-A-Gator Grill & Marina 9700 SW Riverview Cir Lake Suzy, announces its Christmas Lights Canal Cruises starting December 2. 2017. This custom cruise is designed for individuals and groups such as churches, clubs and organizations with an affordable price. Passengers will enjoy Christmas music, beautiful holiday decorations and caroling. The tour boat can seat 30 people comfortably, and you may bring your own beverages for the ride. The boat departs at 5:30 and 7:30 nightly, from the public boat ramp at Laishley Marina in Punta Gorda and travels through many of the decorated canals of Punta Gorda Isles, returning at approximately 7pm and 9pm. Advanced reservations are required. For more information or reservations call 941-627-3474.

Brackish Water and Dinosaurs SEPTEMBER 2017



My son Trevor Lawler caught the sawfish. Trevor and I are from East Bridgewater Massachusetts I also helped reel in the sawfish. Joe and Bryce Kralik also helped out on the boat with the safe release of the sawfish. The Captain was Mark Miller, who did a tremendous job untangling the line from the teeth of the saw. It was caught by the Myakka River.

fish stunning them or to sweep By Fishin’ Frank Water LIFE Baitshop through the grass like a rake to make Brackish water is salt water diluted with rain water or pin fish or shrimp jump up so they river run-off. You cannot really have brackish water in the can be eaten. Gulf, it would take too much fresh water, but in an estuYou are not allowed to keep these ary like Charlotte Harbor it is easy to get to the brackish sawfish, but they are fun to fight and point. Charwill eat chunks of lotte Harbor fish or shrimp, they is topped by have even been two rivers, the caught on pieces of Peace and the crab. Mayaka. Funny thing is, These two you catch them berivers feed the tween the 41 bridge top of Charand I-75 or between lotte Harbor, the Myakka and Hog then add in Island, and then they the Caloosaare kind of MIA in hatchee at the the mid section of the southern end Harbor until you get of the Harbor down in front of Turand lots of tle Bay or Bull Bay. fresh water Sawfish are most moves around often caught while every sumbottom fishing for mer. Only when the other sharks. rains slow When we think of and the rivers brackish Charlotte drop does the Harbor fishing we Harbor bethink snook, redfish comes saltwaand things like that, but there are other ter again. fish, new fish, like the Mayan cichlid and Right now, tilapia. These are invasive fish, which I with all the think have made a great contribution to rain, there are the area. at least 50 Like oscars This approximately 6-foot long Sawfish types/species in the EverFISH PIX! was caught and safely released by Jerry of fish and glades, the Page on 8/3/2017 in the Peace River next sharks and to the 41 bridge in Port Charlotte. cichlids are rays, (there great eating could be and live well in brackish or closer to 100 types, I really don’t know) but they all can fresh waters. We are finding be caught here. Snook, redfish, tarpon, they all like a little the snook and tarpon are freshwater in their world. Heck you can even catch a dieating them as a food source nosaur, a sawfish, in brackish water in Charlotte Harbor. as well. I don't care what they say, the sawfish could not have Fishing here in the Harchanged much since the days of the dinosaurs. When I bor has been at its slowest look at that nose sticking out in front lined on both side ebb during July and August, with teeth, I think of an attack weapon. I am sure they September is the month might use the saw for offense or defense with other fish, when it all should start but it is more of a tool to slash through a school of bait again, unless the weather


from Water LIFE magazine

comes into play some more. Snook season is open and the water has started to cool off. There are plenty of tarpon to play with ... and did I mention we have dinosaurs? Port Charlotte 941- 625-3888

Fishin Frank Ft Myers 239-634-1043

from Water LIFE magazine

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Sometimes Unsubstanciated, But Often True

CRIMINALS BREAKING THE LAW The Norwegian Coast Guard removed Greenpeace protesters from the safety zone around drilling operations in the Barents Sea where they had

with a drone decided to fly it inside a house he was listing. The pilot apparently lost contact with the drone which resulted in an alleged $10,000 in damages. The investigation revealed the drone was unregistered and the realtor was unlicensed.

he was driving around when he decided to shoot a deer. He shot the deer, brought it home and was still deciding what to do with it.

I LOVE KEY WEST While on patrol in Key West, Officer Martino received a call about a subject on Duval Street taking pictures with a FATAL FWC Dispatch received a call that a sea turtle. When he arrived, the officer encounvessel was heading to a local Marina in Cudjoe tered an intoxicated male in possession of a Key with a 13 year old female occupant who hatchling sea turtle. The subject said he had had been struck by the propeller of the vessel. found the turtle on a nearby beach. The subject The FWC, EMS and the Monroe County Sher- was charged accordingly and the sea turtle iffʼs Office responded to meet the vessel. The was returned to the ocean. victim arrived at the marina and was transported to the Medical Center where she was LOOK OUT! Officers responded to the delayed pronounced dead. report of a boating accident that had occurred attached a giant globe to the rig that carried four days earlier on a lake in Tampa. The inveswritten statements from people from all over CURE This small, deep-water Alaska sponge tigation revealed the operator of one vessel the world calling on the Norwegian government has molecules that selectively target and kill struck an anchored vessel cutting it in half to stop the drilling operation. pancreatic tumor cells while two people were on board fishing. There were no reported injuries as the two people on NEW RECORD FWC in collaboration with the board the anchored vessel abandoned the vesInternational Game Fish Association has added sel before it was struck and swam to safety. new category to Florida Saltwater Fishing Records program. The new category is for FWC responded to two alligator bite incidents kingfish (whiting), which includes species in the on the Peace River last month. The bites ocMenticirrhus family. curred days apart from each other but at the same location. An alligator trapper was called WEAPONIZED DRONES Once the domain of and he caught and removed a seven-foot allionly a handful of states, weaponized drones gator at the location. Both bite victims received are now part of the military arsenal of no less puncture wounds on their foot and are exthan a dozen countries. That number is set to pected to make full recoveries. expand after China announced it would begin to sell and export its most powerful drone, the BAD DECISIONS A wildlife officer responded POST GATOR SYNDROME Last month the CH-5 Rainbow, which is modelled on the US to a report of an individual that had a dead deer FWC received an anonymous tip of a person MQ 9 Reaper. on his front porch. The resident first claimed on Facebook posing with a dead alligator. The someone put it there to set him up, but then ad- subject was identified, located and charges are DESTROYER DRONE A Punta Gorda realtor mitted to killing it the evening before. He stated now pending.

Berthing 2, lounge area of the Fitzgerald

PART OF THE NAVYʼS INITIAL REPORT At 0130 on June 17, the Crystal's bulbous bow punched a hole in the USS Fitzgerald's hull measuring about 13 by 17 feet, spanning two decks and two compartments. Water quickly flooded Auxiliary Machinery Room 1 and the Berthing 2 starboard access trunk. The trunk was not separated from Berthing 2 which had 35 sleeping sailors inside. The compartment was fully flooded within 30-60 seconds. Abovedecks, the bow of the Crystal had torn the outer bulkhead off the commanding officer's cabin and crushed the interior. The C/O was injured and could not get out of his quarters. He called the bridge for help, it took five sailors to break down his door and get through the debris to reach him. The commanding Officer was found hanging from the outside of the ship and the rescue team “tied themselves together with a belt in order to cre-




from Water LIFE magazine

A 30 inch channel catfish caught in July in Woodstown New Jersey and a largemouth bass that weighed 7 pound also caught in July in Woodstown. My name is Nate Bayous, and Iʼm 12


from Water LIFE magazine

Sam Delmont, snook and bass


Big Development Coming By Michael Heller Water LIFE editor For six months, maybe more, Allegiant Travel Company, owner of Allegiant Airlines, has been behind the quiet acquisition of a number of properties along Bayshore Drive, off the northwest side of the US 41 bridges in Port Charlotte. The old marina, the mini golf course, Banana Bay Motel, the apartments next to it, Bayshore Marine and the Sunset Grille Restaurant have all been bought, one by one. Ditto for the properties across Bayshore Dr, the bakery, the vacant lots, the old car lot and the Harbor Chevron station... the whole thing has been bought, piece by piece, on the Q-T. Spread across more than 20 waterfront acres and boasting a resort hotel, nine condo towers and a marina, Sunseeker Resorts plans what they are promoting as Florida’s largest master planned hotel-condo resort on the Gulf Coast. Sunseeker already has properties in Sanford Florida, St Pete, and Fort Lauderdale and Allegiant Travel already offers packages of air-fare on their airline combined with stays at their resorts.

The area on Bayshore is in a Punta Gorda zip code, even though it’s on the Port Charlotte side. The development will have 10 restaurants and bars, a world-class fitness center and Florida's largest private resort pool. I heard the

nine condos would be nine stories tall each. I also heard that Bayshore Drive will be realigned for where it meets US 41. Condo prices will range from $650,000 to upwards of $1.1 million. The hard part will be getting a permit for the marina from the Army Corps of Engineers. The Army has been stedfast opposed to new marinas in the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve, in the past. I imagine the existing hotels, marinas and restaurants across the bridge, those in Punta Gorda proper, will be watching this project very carefully as it happens. The competition will be good.






September – Predictions and Suggestions Charlotte Harbor Frank at Fishin’ Franks 941-625-3888

BackBay Xtremes Capt Dave Stephens



Fish With A Guide!


from Water LIFE magazine

Chuck Tronolone caught this trout near Turtle Bay

Andrew Thomson caught this nice trout near Bull Bay. Guide was Capt Bill Brickel.

Youʼll catch more fish and youʼll learn something new, every time!


from Water LIFE magazine

Speak Easy Fishing Charters Captain Joe Angius USCG licensed & Insured Phone: (727)


Drew Davidson, permit

The Peace river is at flood stage, fishing up on the river will be nothing for a while. Moving down towards the Harbor, we have redfish showing up on the north end of the 41-bridges, at the Myakka Cut-off and at Tippicanoe Bay. And there seem to be more reds moving around on the west side of the Harbor too. At Bayshore Pier, bull sharks don’t care fresh or salt, so there are still bulls around the Pier. The cloud cover we have had has dropped the water temperature 10 degrees already. That’s what we need to get the fishing back. Looking into September, I see a lot more reds and snook. Snook is going to go crazy because all the water is pushing bait into the canal systems. Myan cichlids, tilapia, bluegills, freshwater minnows, shiners, they are all being dumped into the Port Charlotte canal system the mineral content in the freshwater is key and river water has a lot of minerals in it If we don’t see much more rain, and if we have milder temperatures, we will see mackerel coming in. But the big question is red tide. If the rain is light through the month we’ll have no red tide, but if the rain just quits and it gets hot then we could have another horrific red tide October. We need minimal rainfall across the river systems to keep the red tide out. My biggest concern is for a red tide in the redfish spawning period, which is usually

October. That could really be disasterous. In-the-Gulf is the place to be. King mackerel, bonita, black fin tuna, cobia, red and gag grouper. They are (were) all closer than they have been in months, like in 40-feet of water. And watch for permit on the reefs. They have been in close, from Englewood down to Naples. If you are looking for an oversize snook, just about every nearshore reef has big 40 -inch-and-up snook. A decent sized pinfish, up to about the size of your hand, put the hook in one side and out the other back toward the dorsal fin or the anal opening. The key is through the back of the fish, then use a little split-shot (#-3) to help them get down. Don’t cast out from the boat, let him go next to the boat with the bale open at the surface, make short pulls, hand over hand, to get him down close to the bottom. The pinfish will fight to get to the bottom so don’t allow him to get hung up. With the big size snook you are going for, this is done with a grouper rod not a snook rod.

Lemon Bay - Placida Gasparilla Sound Jim at Fishermen’s Edge 941-697-7595

The rain at the end of August has cooled the water off and moved a lot of fish around. There is so much freshwater in the back country a lot of the fish have pushed out. Guys are reporting seeing pockets of redfish from their tower boats in Lemon Bay and at Catfish and Whidden creeks. The reds have been dropping into the Harbor and

Fishing Guide Card


$40/mo 941-766-8180




The BIG-4 TARPON Juvenile fish on the Charlotte Harbor flats

going back out or hanging on the flats, where there is a lot of moving water. Snook and trout are on the southern edge of Turtle Bay and there are a lot of baby tarpon on the flats. Right now, the spillways are bringing the minnows in. When the weather is inclement, go fishing at the spillways, bass, snook and sometimes tarpon get in there, it’s crazy! Snapper are still good in and around the Bay and trestles going to Boca Grande. Should still be a lot of pompano around too, the guys have been telling me they are in Lemon Bay and out towards the beach down to the Pass - they’re normally not here this time. They come up in the spring and go south in the fall, maybe they did a U-turn, I don’t know the migration that well, but the guys are catching them. Big trout still around too. One guy told me he was catching trout on every cast in Lemon Bay. Been some bluefish and ladyfish around the passes too. Offshore is good, grouper and snapper, mangs and lane and yellowtail; still grunts and red grouper, been some cobia around too, just not that many.

Fish you can expect in

GROUPER Good on the reefs Deeper water means bigger

SNOOK At the piers and trestles, early and late

REDFISH Boca Grande and the Lemon Bay area


Nearshore water temps are now mid 80s fish slow

95˚ 90˚ 85˚

D Larson Snook Punta Gorda


from Water LIFE magazine


from Water LIFE magazine

Mike O. 33 inch redfish released


75˚ 72˚ 70˚ 68˚ 50˚ 45˚


from Water LIFE magazine


from Water LIFE magazine

Bob Marks, with a Queen snapper


from Water LIFE magazine

Jack Willis, 35-inch cobia, Pirate Harbor

Caught in action in my backyard. Now I know who has been catching the Snook. This is one of three Osprey's that had been born in the local park a couple of months ago. Never had been a bird watcher till this year. That's what happens when ya get over,... Dan Larsen


from Water LIFE magazine

Fishinʼ the beaches with Barbara Brock, catch and release snook all day long!





We save this space every month for the last Fish-Pix that comes in before we go to print. This month itʼs: Larry from Eldreds with a snook from Water LIFE magazine






Water LIFE Sept 2017  

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

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