Charlotte Harbor and Lemon Bay Florida
Keeping Boaters and Fishermen Informed
Tournament Round Up Page 11
KIds Cup Update Page 18
Conquistador Regatta Page 27
REAL ESTATE TRENDS:
$1,000,000 PROPERTY Page 12
Who始s to Blame for Red Tide? Page 9
When Bigger May Not Always Be Better
By Michael Hel ler Water LIFE editor Seems to me, ever since last year’s storms, a lot of creatures in the Harbor have been big. In the beginning I thought it was just the big members of each species returning. The manatees I saw a week after Charley were big and so were the first few dolphins that came back into the Harbor. Then, this year the trout were big - some upwards of 6 pounds, and to think of it there have been a lot of big alligators sunning themselves along the banks of the river lately. The shrimp in the harbor this year were incredibly big. Some anglers theorized shrimp were eating the nutrients stirred up by the storm. This winter, the rat-reds were plump, and most of the snook we have seen at the tournament weigh ins were big - a 12.7 pound snook caught on an artificial bait last month was really big. And there have been big cobia and big sheepshead this year as well, not to mention big snapper, or the humongous porgy in the picture on page 23. I am taunted with stories of ‘big,’ so one evening last month, hoping for something big, I grabbed a rod, poured a big drink and headed down to the canal as the sun was setting. I threw a few casts and had a few sips. Mullet were moving like wolfpacks circling
and magically avoiding my bait as I retrieved it through their midst. Down the canal on the left, in an area lit by a bright back-yard light, something big broke the surface. There was a tail shake and a splash and then only ripples flattening out into the night. The food chain was suddenly a link shorter and that wasn’t no mullet! I cranked in my top-water and winged it out again, trying to get the lure below the surface, but it only did what it was supposed to do and floated up. Then another swirl broke the surface 10 yards further downstream. It was out of my reach. There was something big, maybe a few big somethings, out there tonight – snook, I guessed, so I picked up my drink, which wasn’t so big any more, and headed back into the house to change the game plan. I settled on the only other thing I had handy, a crunched-up, diving, Rattletrap. Then I topped off my drink and headed back out, winging the lure as far as I could from the top of the canal bank. It landed 50 feet beyond the light’s reflection and I began a series of cranks on my reel, pulling the bait against the outgoing water. In a little while a surface ripple appeared in the light on one cast and a head wake turned 90-degrees to hone in on the
noise. The fish took the bait coming out of a turn, first fainting away from it and then turning to snatch it up. Maybe I’ve been watching too much basketball lately, but it looked like a head fake to me, except then the snook just kept running. In the canal, downstream from me, there are overgrown pepper trees hanging into the water with a submerged carport roof and some aluminum poles all clustered up below the surface. The fish ran straight for it. My rod had braided 30 pound with 30-pound leader on it. I reached over and cranked the drag down, but it didn’t matter. I walked backwards off the dock up the steep hilly lawn slope, leaning and angling to try and turn him, but no, not this guy, like everything else this year he was big, and he wanted off in a big way. Then I stumbled for an instant and gave him the edge. That was all it took, zing, wrap, snap and it was over. So now I’m inside, with another big drink, scratching the numerous big bites which cover my arms, neck and legs. You see, there is one more species that has flourished after last summer’s storms. The mosquitoes, I am sorry to report, appear to be very big this year as well.
Itʼs a good thing this tarpon wasnʼt much bigger when it had a grip on Dalton Conradʼs arm as he hand fed (pun intended) the fish in the Keys. He was scratched but not hurt. Dalton, a 7th grader in Englewood is enrolled in the Don Ball School of Fishing – See Kids Cup reports on Page 18.
Outstanding Balance Report: Part IV Latest Developments
Water LIFE Commentary By Michael Heller In Part 1 we laid out the background: A professional fishing team (who are also friends of ours and who write for this paper), the Kids Cup Tournament (our 100-percent benefit fund raiser for the 7th graders at Port Charlotte, Murdock, Punta Gorda and Englewood middle schools) and this publication all got stiffed - to the tune of $6,000 by a local condominium project. After repeated unsuccessful attempts at collection we began to report the story here. In Part 2 we went to the state’s Corporation Commission website and researched the companies involved and the
people behind them. We figured somewhere amid those intertwined names there was a person responsible for our bill. The story hit the street and our phone began to ring. In Part 3 we reported on how various people came out of the woodwork to add fuel to the fire we had started. Now we are at the crossroads and there is good news and better this month. First the good news. Murray Becker: paid Ged Pal: paid Mark Beshears: paid Tom Smith: paid and Tom has said he will make the Kids Cup Prize good as well. Thank you for being men of your word.
They were four of the five partners in Dream Resorts a company which ultimately went belly up, but Dream Resorts USA, the internet says, is still an active corporation. So that now leaves us a few last options. The first is that Patrick O’Regan, the last shareholder and a guy who has allegedly fled back to Ireland, sends us a check. With the help of the Internet and some folks we know in the Irish press we are trying to find Patrick, or at least his hometown newspaper. The other choice is that the new Dream Resorts USA or the condominium project FourLands pays us the remaining balance of the bill.
Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup aligned with the Kids Cup
Last Yearʼs winner will be fishing at Key West on the same weekend
By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE editor. David Healy, sponsorship and advertising sales director for the Redfish Cup confirmed that the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup production company will again be involved with the Kids Cup Tournament at Punta Gorda this summer. Kids Cup tournament director and Water LIFE publisher Michael Heller responded: “We are thrilled to still have them involved. The good name of the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup organization assists us by lending support to the Don Ball School of Fishing and the Kids Cup. Only through education can we insure that science and
observation are the foundations of our future environmental programs.” The Don Ball School is a program in Charlotte County middle schools that employs local fishing guides to teach students about area fishing, techniques and conservation. The Kids Cup raised over $12,000 for the program last year and will be working to help produce a second Kids Cup Tournament at Chalmette Louisiana as part of this year’s Redfish Cup circuit. Last year’s Kids Cup winner Tommy Davis of Port Charlotte will be fishing in Key West for the IGFA Junior Angler World Championship on the same two day weekend (July 16-17) as the Kids Cup this
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year. “We hope to be able to report on Tommy’s progress during the awards ceremony at the Kids Cup and we are working on a video feed that might let us have pictures from the Keys as well.” Heller said. Since the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup will not be at Punta Gorda this year, in October the Redfish cup will transport this years Kids Cup winner to the Redfish Cup Championship. Additionally, this years winner will be eligible to fish in next year’s IGFA Junior Angler World Championship. The Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup will be back in Punta Gorda in the summer of 2006. More Kids Cup on page
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Fishing / Environment: Capt. Ron Blago Charlotte Harbor: Capt. Robert Moore Gasparilla: Capt. Chuck Eichner Port Charlotte: Fishinʼ Frank Offshore: Capt. Steve Skevington Technical Advisor: Mike Panetti Sailing Advisor: Bill Dixon Lemon Bay: Don Cessna Kayaks: David Allen Local: Capt. Andrew Medina
on the COVER:
A remora came attached to this redfish at the Flatsmasters Tournament, but was removed before the fish was weighed-in!
on our WEBSITE:
Tide Graphs: For Punta Gorda, Shell Point, El Jobean, Pine Island, Matlacha, Redfish Pass, and Lemon Bay. Weather: Links to all of our favorite weather and radar web-sites. Back editions: Pages of previous editions
Artificial Reefs: Lat. and Long. for 24 local artificial reefs
Manatee Myths: Read the original plan to create sanctuaries and refuges, as spelled out by the United Nations in 1984 Links to Realtors: Connect with our realestate advertisers
By Capt. Chuck Ei chner Water LIFE Inshore Editor As with most fisherman I have had many fishing ‘firsts’ in my life. My first redfish was in the keys where I watched it inhale a Johnson’s silver minnow as it was working a flat, and my first tarpon will stand out as perhaps the greatest thrill of all. My first introduction to Charlotte Harbor was in early spring with a local guide and friend. We fished out of the way places for snook where I would have never guessed them to be. This first Charlotte Harbor experience has led me to discover the best snook fishing is without a doubt in April. Lethargic winter snook become aggressive with the increasing daylight and warming waters of March. Warmer waters mean hungrier fish. Come April, pilchards fill the harbor and snook pour out of their wintering areas to feed heavy. The easiest method of catching snook is with the pilchard; plain and simple. In the same places you catch the pilchard you will find threadfin herring and possibly some Spanish sardines mixed in. The threadfins don’t hold up as well in your livewell, so use them to live chum an area before they die. These 3 baitfishes that we call whitebait, can be caught by mixing up an oily fish chum mix and sprinkling it in grassbeds with about 3-4 feet of water. Then, cast net a livewell full and you’re gonna catch snook! Early on this month, look for the warmest water areas to fish. Because we may have sporadic cold fronts come through the area,
Snook Spots Specified
Capt Chuck backs it up with a nice fish
I always try to figure out where the warmest water will be and usually the snook are there. Here are the type of areas to look for: CREEKS - The back end of creeks and small tributaries warm quickly. The’re protected from the wind and are shallow. Some even have dark bottoms which also heats up. I find these spots are best on high tides and are great escapes on windy days. Fish shorelines by casting your baits against the mangroves. The water clarity in these creeks is off color, so covering water until you locate hotspots is my method. CANALS - Even though most only think of canals as being really good winter spots, they are terrific in early April. The water is warm, bait is attracted by the warmth and quickly moving fronts
IMPORTANT ANGLER INFORMATION:
push snook in to the protection of this deeper water. Most fisherman ignore the canals this month, which makes it all that much better for me. Evening fishing is just unbelievable on an outgoing tide and there will be some monster trout in there and of course, an arm-breaking jack crevalle or two. What’s not to like? MANGROVE IS LANDS The sunny weather heats up the shallow backwaters of Charlotte Harbor. The east side or west side present a ‘wall’ of mangroves. Pine Island is an entity all to itself. Better be careful with navigation as an outgoing tide has left a many an angler pushing their boat from the sound when the waters around them receded, but the fishing stayed hot. The thousands of mangroves create back-
bays, ponds and sloughs which are great cover for all gamefish. It seems that the snook will move to the outside islands and work to the inside in search of food. Tide really dictates their location, but you can’t beat an afternoon flood tide as the southwest and west winds push extra water into the bushes. Fish tight and inside and hang on! OYS TER & S ANDBARS - These are spots you always here fisherman talk about. They are fish magnets but its not always so easy to figure out how to catch fish on them. What I do is locate a bar that has good features like points, deep cuts or troughs adjacent to them. Then fish them on a variety of tides as snook and redfish will eat at the ‘snack-bar’ at very specific times. Come an hour early and nobody’s home, but come at dinner time and your rod’s gonna get bent! Often both species will be there at the same time, but the trick is finding out when. I don’t think there is an oyster bar in the Harbor that doesn’t have fish on it at some point in the day! BACKBAYS -Backwater areas are just about everywhere. They all look good and very fishy to
me. However, look for ones that have a channel or some current flow between islands or perhaps meandering in the middle. Surface activity in specific areas of backbays are clues that snook might be there. Large swooshes have led me to some of my biggest snook in places you wouldn’t expect them to be. Fishing in the middle of a shallow bay with no obvious structure requires confidence, but snook do wander and this month they travel in schools. Last year I fished an open water area and spotted snook in the 23-inch class cruising aimlessly about. Each angler aboard hooked up a pilchard and we each sight fished and caught the snook we spotted. These fish were so hungry we literally caught snook on every cast as they had no fear. In fact, we spotted and cast to snook within 5 feet of the boat and watched them inhale it at rod’s length! That’s what snook fishing is all about in April. Explore, fish and be patient. If it looks really fishy then give it some time. A handful of free live baits tossed into the water will help you locate them or bring them to you. Grab a medium action 7-foot rod spooled with 10-pound test with 30-pound leader. Put a 1/0 circle hook on the business end and go fishing, cause it ain’t gonna get much better than this!
Capt. Chuck Eichner is a local charter captain. For information or to book a guided fishing trip call 941-505-0003 or go to: www.back country -charters.com
Beckyʼs Back! Rio Villa Bait & Tackle in Punta Gorda is open again. Your Ribs Are Ready! The SMOKEHOUSE BAR-B-QUE on Cooper St is smokinʼ.
Manatee Mortality A Florida Fish and Wildlife truck transports a trailer load of dead manatees north on I-75, presumably to the manatee necropsy lab at Florida Marine Research Institute. Recent outbreaks of red tide have been lethal to manatees who are now beginning to move out of the rivers and up from the south. In March, 44 manatees died in southwest Florida because of red tide.
We caught up with this work boat brigade just off Ponce Point headed south in the Harbor. The men identified themselves as Charlotte County workers and said they had been picking debris out of area canals to the north and were now headed south to work in Alligator Creek. Seven months after the storm, the countyʼs hurricane clean up program still has a yearʼs work ahead of it.
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Be on the Lookout for Tarpon April
By Capt. Robert Moore Water LIFE Staff All I can say is ‘it’s about time’. When the first cold front came through, in October of last year, I was excited. Like everyone else, I was busy doing hurricane repairs and was looking forward to the relief the cooler weather would bring. Now, six months later I and feeling the warm breeze in my face again and I know, not only is warmer weather ahead of us, but so is some hot tarpon action. April is considered by some to be too early to start targeting tarpon. Ask several of the local popular guides in our area and they will disagree. Tarpon begin to migrate into our area as early as March, it all depends on the water temperature. Usually, when the water temperature holds above 70 degrees, you will start to see tarpon but since April is traditionally the windiest month of the year it makes it very difficult to find tarpon.
If you are determined to catch Tarpon this month, below are five dependable areas In which I would start my search. Between Ft. Myers Beach and Sanibel
This area is well known for its tarpon action in April. I have seen at times school after school of tarpon running through this area. Usually in about 25 feet and 1-2 miles offshore look for fish either rolling or exploding on bait. Bait if choice is large threadfin herring.
Pine Island Sound
Inside Captiva and Redfish Pass you will find Tarpon along both sides of the Intracoastal Waterway. For you fly fisherman this would be your best bet. Try to pick calmer days for they will be very hard to find in rough water. Bait of choice would be dead bait soaked on the bottom, preferably large threadfin herring.
From the Northeast tip of Bokeelia to Burnt Store Marina along the sand bar you can find small scattered schools. Look for fish rolling or exploding on bait. Usually the bite will only last until late morning. Bait of choice is either dead bait on the bottom or live bait under a cork (about three feet), preferably large Threadfin Herring.
Tarpon Fishing was good last year in the Pine Island Sound. Thatʼs ESPNʼs sports host Tommy Sanders with Capt. Rhet Morris and the fish.
Usually at the mouth of the rivers near Marker No. 1. The tarpon you find here are usually fish that are migrating out of the Myakka and Peace River. The U.S. 41 bridge that crosses over the Peace River and the El Jobean Bridge that crosses over the Myakka River will also hold tarpon. Bait of choice is smaller live sardines (whitebait).
Cayo Costa Beaches
The beaches along Caya Costa will hold good numbers of tarpon, especially in the second half of April. Early morning is your best time to target this area. Bait of choice is small crab or large live threadfin herring under a cork. This is another great area to fly fish on calm mornings. Success in all these areas will depend on the tide, so pick your fishing time in accordance with moving water. Good luck and tight lines.
You can reach Capt. Robert Moore for fishing information or to book a charter fishing trip at (941) 637-5710 or (941) 6282650 or contact him v ia e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Who is Responsible for Red Tide? April
The Next Great Environmental Scam By Capt Ron Bl ago Water LIFE Senior Guide Something fishy is going on, and I’m not talking about the smell of rotting carcases left over from the lingering red tide outbreak we have had in the area. I’m talking about a nasty little feud that seems to have broken out in the environmental community. On one side you have Mote Marine Laboratories in Sarasota, a pilar in the marine research field and joining them is the Florida Marine Research Institute, run by the state. On the other side you have the Sierra Club, one of the nations largest Environmental-Political organizations. The root of the conflict is; what effect human activities have on red tide. Mote and state researchers seem to be sticking with the traditional belief that red tide is a natural phenomenon not caused by human activities. The Sierra Club seems to be holding President Bush’s administration responsible by “ignoring the pollution problems facing our coastal waters.” The Sierra Club has now launched a campaign to combat red tide. The first outbreak of hostilities occurred recently when a local Southwest Florida chapter of the Sierra Club let it be known that they weren’t too happy with Mote’s web site on red tide which stated that red tide was not caused by human beings. The Sierra Club even intimated that legal action might be in the works. Mote Marine in an effort to make everyone happy, revised their web site which now says that red tide is a
complex subject that only additional research will clarify. After all, job security is still job one. The FMRI has dug in its heels a bit more, and is saying that if there is any evidence that human activity has any effect on red tide they haven’t seen any evidence of it. After all, they would know, since so far in 2005 they have spent over $4 million on red tide research. Normally it doesn’t bother me when non-profits slug it out among themselves: it’s their money and if they want to waste it on lawyers that’s between their leaders and their membership; and after all with over 40 manatees going belly up in this years red tide bloom, it does tend to take the heat off us boaters. Here in Florida we have been studying red tide for over 50 years. The first recorded red tide was around 1530 when a Spanish vessel recorded seeing dead fish and discolored water in the Gulf of Mexico. It was not until a large fish kill in 1947 when scientists first figured the event was caused by a small single cell microorganism now called Karenia brevis. Some folks back then thought red tide was the result of underwater volcanos in the Gulf. In 1956 Time Magazine published an article that scientists had discovered the cause of red tide. They felt that red tide seemed to occur soon after heavy rains , near the mouth of rivers where salinity was reduced along with high concentrations of vitamin B12 and phosphorus from phos-
Space imagery reveals shallow, easily warmed water, a breeding ground for red tide on Floridaʼs west coast. The white areas are clouds.
phate rock. That opinion turned out to be dead wrong. The next great breakthrough was in the 90’s when scientists discovered that red tide actually started off shore and that fresh water kills red tide. A new wrinkle was that dust, rich with iron was being blown over from Africa and that may be the triggering mechanism for a red tide bloom. – The jury is still out on that one. Florida is not the only state plagued by red tide. Texas gets more than they would like. A red tide bloom in 1986 is estimated to have killed over 22 million fish in Texas. The folks in Texas have a pretty sensible spin on the problem. Here is a quote from the Texas Parks and Wildlife website: "Red tide is a natural phenomenon not caused by human beings. When tempera-
ture, salinity, and nutrients reach certain levels, a massive increase in Karenia brevis algae occurs. No one knows the exact combination of factors that causes red tide, but some experts believe high temperatures combined with a lack of wind and rainfall are usually at the root of red tide blooms. There are no known ways that humans can control it, but many scientist around the world are studying red tide at present. It’s important to remember that red tide has happened before and the Texas (and Florida) marine environment has always recovered." That makes a lot of sense to me and I bet they didn’t have to spend $4 million dollars to figure it out.
Scheduled to be unveiled nationally this month, the new line of Old Bayside
Paradise Poppers will be a favorite among fishermen in Charlotte Harbor and Lemon Bay. Old Bayside Baits are available at Fishinʼ Franks & Laishley Marine
Port Charlotte April 18 thru 28
Naples April 11 thru 21
Weʼre In The Big Time
Cape Coral April 4 thru 14
These top 15 teams in the Eastern Q series are now eligible to fish in the Redfish Cup. Local teams include: Capt. Andrew Medina & Trent Cheatham, Jarett Lombart & Leland Symonds, Capt. Michael Manis & Capt Jay Withers and Josh Smith & Dave Stephens. Good Luck to all!
Pool Sharks of Lemon Bay Inc 3285 Placida Rd, Pelican Plaza Englewood Jeffrey Gilcher with a nice largemouth caught at Myakka State Park Stop In and look through our Fishing Scrap Book!
Maintenance • Repairs Heaters • Pumps • Chemicals Covers • Cleaners
By Capt. Andrew Medi na Wat er LIFE Inshore Gui de The final leg of the Redfish Nation, Mercury Eastern Q Series is behind us. The final tournament was held in Jacksonville late last month. Now the top 15 teams in the eastern division and the top 15 teams from the western division along with the 100 already qualified teams are all ready to invade Mobile Alabama and begin the points chase for the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup. Congratulations to all the teams who went to Jacksonville and weighed in fish. The pre fishing was brutal, it was raining, 40 degrees and simply miserable. Water temperatures were low enough to make most of the redfish have lock jaw. The fish were literally laying up in the finger creeks, buried in mud – not only one fish, but dozens. The water temperature never warmed up enough to turn the bite on. Still, some area local anglers did manage to weigh in a few larger fish, call it the home field advantage. My partner and I managed to bring one redfish to the scales and secure the overall top seat in the points race. We made it to the big show, as did 4 other Charlotte Harbor teams. So five out of 15 places in the race for the cup were taken by Charlotte Harbor teams. That tells me some of the best anglers from around the state are right here in Charlotte County. I’m very proud to be from southwest Florida and I would like to thank tournament director Bob Sealy, producer David Healy and everyone else at the Redfish Nation for the opportunity and the experience of fishing the Q Series.
Oh, by the way, when I spoke with David Healy from JM Outdoors, he said “They will do everything they can to make the Kids Cup a big success this year.” Remember, the kids that fish the Water LIFE Kids Cup are the future of the sport and they are the ones who will be rewarded as anglers by all the hard work the pros and family do. At last year’s ‘Cup’, Charlotte County had some of the largest crowds I’ve seen at any weigh-in, and that says a lot for not only the anglers, but for the community. To all those who fished Jacksonville, Congratulations, and to all others in the Cup, Good Luck in Mobile. We will see you there on May 12. As far as the fishing goes, redfish are becoming more cooperative and they are willing to eat shrimp. Try the east side shore lines on the incoming and high tide. For you artificial anglers, try Culprit’s new 5-inch jerk shad in a chili pepper color. I’ve been using that color and doing very well. With all the rain, snook have been in the spill ways and creeks leading to the Harbor, and are becoming more aggressive with their eating habits and some fish are up around the 30-pound mark. The water temperature is rising steadily and white bait is again plentiful. Keep watching the passes and beaches, tarpon will soon be upon us, there are already reports of tarpon being caught south of Sanibel so it’s only a mater of time before our tarpon season kicks off here. Remember, be safe on the water and just have fun.
Capt Andrew Medi na can be reached fo r fi s hi ng and charter i nfo
KIDS CUP July 16
Flatsmasters The Boys are back in Town
S t aff R eport As far as events go, the Flatsmasters, Grand Slam Plug tournament was over before it began. “I really miss-called this one,” weighmester Jerry Cleffi said, referring to his prediction made the night before at the Captain's meeting, that snook would be hard to catch and there would only be five ‘slams’. It took Jeff Moding's team “One Out of the Money,” weighing in at noon in the first boat to the scales, to set the tone for the day. A three fish slam, totaling a whopping 21.7 pounds, and highlited by a 12.7 pound snook. But that wasn't a quirk, it was a harbinger of things to come, and by the end of the day, Cleffi would quip: “How did all these people learn to plug fish!!?” There was a time when only a handfull of anglers would weigh-in fish during the first big Charlotte Harbor tournament of the season, but that time has clearly expired. Helped by realistic artificial baits like the Old Bayside shadlyn's and the Berkley super stinky Gulp's, anglers now have an array of topwaters, diving plugs, soft plastics and venerable gold and silver spoons to entice fish with. In all, 87 boats weighed in 67 trout, 43 redfish and 17 snook. There were 7 teams with combined
three-fish weights of over 14 pounds. “Fishing was good” was the general consensus among anglers. But it was more than fishing that made
P a g e 11
this a great event. First, it was the opening local tournament of the year, and the first local tournament back on the new dock at Harpoon Harrys - first since Charley. There was a coming together of anglers from the local area, from Orlando, Miami, Tampa, Lakeland. There was a new leaderboard and spectacular new graphics all over the dock. For the first time this season there were anglers out wading and walking bare foot on the decks. There were a lot of long pants (it was really cold and windy in the morning) but by weigh in at 3:30 there were plenty of anglers in shorts. And even though you pretty much knew from the start that with 21 pounds weighed in early everyone else was competing for second,
Snook, redfish and trout were the target species at the Flastmasters Grand Slam Plug tournament.
New Gulf Front Condos on Manasota Key
the competition was still tough since anglers are primarily concerned with compiling points over the length of the four tournament season. New to the Flatsmaster series this year was the addition of the SUN TV network and their planned series of broadcasts. Camera men mixed in with the anglers, went out on boats and even waded behind some teams with waterproof cameras gathering footage for upcoming broadcasts. And beer, once banned from this event, was back on the boats again. If there was a downside to this whole deal it had to be the guys from team ‘Warden's Worry’ who weighed in a beautiful 5.2 pound trout, which was by far the biggest trout of the day. Trout was selected as the ‘calcutta fish’ and their fish clearly would have won the calcutta, had the ‘Warden's Worry’ boys chosen to enter...which they did not. So the trout was measured and and then released. “That's what $1,500 looks like swimming away,” Cleffi quipped. The next round of the Flatsmaster series is on May 7. Left: Anglers waited in line last month to weigh in their fish at Sarasota in the Eastern Division of the WalMart FLW Redfish Series. This was the first big inshore tournament of the year for Southwest Florida anglers.
Right: Capt Goeff Paige was a happy camper after landing the tournamentʼs biggest fish. Paige and partner Ed Zyak finished 5th overall in the two day event with 26 pounds 3 ounces of fish and $4,500. The winning team was the team of Jeff Hagaman and James Goodwin who weighed in 29 pounds, 3 ounces of fish and went home with $37,500. The next local FLW event is July 22-23 at Stump Pass Marina.
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Area Real Estate
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Factual Information compiled by Water LIFE from the Charlotte County Association of Realtors database.
Owning your very own private BEACH AND HOUSE, whether 600 sqft or 6,000 sqft doesn't come cheap. These are just a random sampling of homes in Boca Grande and the Englewood area currently on the market with an asking price
MLS 455493 A beach cottage on Manasota Key with a private beach on the Gulf in Englewood. 1 bedroom, 1 bath and countless sunsets with this 600 sq ft home and secluded beach. Currently listed for $1,370,000. MLS 454937 Also on Manasota Key in Englewood but 5 times the size of the cottage above. White sand beach and balconies for sunsets from 5 bedrooms and 5 baths. Only four years old it was built in 2001 with 3,468 sq ft of space. Currently listed for $3,325,000
MLS 56894 Large home set back from the beach in exclusive Boca Grande. Spectacular big water views from this 3 bedroom. 3,647 sq ft home built in 1988. Currently listed for $2,150,000 MLS 4112 Built in 1982 on an over sized lot (100 x 450) on Little Gasparilla Island. This home comes with a private dock and beach and a moderate 1025 square feet of space.Currently listed for $1,200,000 MLS 463170 A comparatively older home built in 1960 it has mature oaks covering the property and shading the home. It was built on a rise on Manasota Key with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1,987 square feet and a very private beach. Currently listed for $2,499,000
MLS 425469 Huge home and guest house with existing plans for a third home along 114 feet of Gulf front in Boca Grande. Home now has 7 bedrooms, 51/2 baths and 5,260 square feet. It was built in 1970. Currently listed for $2,975,000 MLS 440598 Every room has a Gulf view from this 2 bedroom 2 bath home in Englewood. Built in 1979 with 85 feet of frontage on the Gulf and 1,613 square feet of space. Two adjacent lots are currently for sale also. Currently listed for $1,949,000
Changes May Come to So. Fla Building Code
S t aff R eport The most significant hurricane damage experienced by homeowners comes when there is a breach in the house's exterior and the wind gets inside. Typically the breach occurs at the garage door or through a window opening. In the wake of Hurricane Andrew (1992) the single most important discovery was that the way builders were installing windows in their houses was inadequate. Previously, in a typical south Florida concrete block home, the block was set to the rough dimensions of the window and then the window opening was framed with 3/4-inch wood 'bucks'. The bucks were nailed to the concrete and the window was screwed into the bucks. Andrew taught us that was the weak link. After Andrew, testing showed us that windows have a better chance of staying in place when the window is attached with longer screws that go through the 'buck' and drive directly into a concrete block wall. Testing also showed more screws were needed. Soon after Andrew, the south Florida building code was amended in an emergency rule making process to require the new window installation technique. Today, after Hurricane Charley, we find ourselves in a similar situation. Industry experts and the experts from FEMA have been evaluating Charlotte County and their findings will influence how building codes are written, or re-written in the future. One of the industry experts who sifts through the data and meets with the south Florida building council is Dave Olmstead, public affairs and code compliance officer at PGT Industries. PGT is one of two manufacturers in the country who make impact resistant hurricane compliant windows. Since the PGT manufacturing plant is just up the road in Venice (actually it's in Nokomis), we sat down with Dave for an update. “Andrew blew out 2.5 million windows,” Olmstead said, “we fixed that, but Charley showed us new problems. In Orlando Charley showed us we had issues
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Windowmaking in progress at PGT
with leaks. Charley and Jean were wet storms in Orlando, and home owners found although their hurricane windows held up as expected, there was some water incursion coming in around the frames. We are now looking at that issue very carefully,” Olmstead said. “Charley was what is called a ‘design level’ wind event, with sustained wind that exceeded 130 mph. so we gained a lot of insight from Charley's effects. The way we build soffits (the area under the overhang of a roof) may be changed in the April meeting of the building council and it looks like blocking (filling the horizontal spaces between the roof trusses above the tie-beam) and intermediate venting may be required,” Olmstead added. “Roof tiles will also be addressed. All roof tiles have two holes in them. Those are screw holes and I imagine that we will require roofers to begin screwing down clay roof tiles very soon. Charley has shown us that mortar or foam alone are clearly not enough,” Olmstead said. In order to build a product that can withstand flying objects in a 130 mph wind, PGT has gone to testing extremes. We have found that a six-foot 2x4 weighs 9 -pounds and in a 130 mph wind it will be travelling at 35 mph. A 2x4 packs significantly more force than a roof tile which only weighs in at 4.5 pounds,” Olmstead said. For a window to be classified as impact resistant it has to endure two strikes by the 2x4, but impacts alone are not what breaks continued on facing page
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of the 130 mph wind that blows conventional windows out of the wall or at least blows the glass out of the frame. Hurricane compliant testing requires that a window withstand 4,500 'cycles' of pulsing wind load, a number correlated to the time it takes for a storm to pass. One thing PGT found was that as the window gets bigger the larger glass sections are able to flex and take the pressure and impact much better. The key to glass withstanding these loads is a laminated inner layer. “We looked at the automotive technology used in windshields, they were using a 10-thousands-of-an-inch layer of plastic between their glass. We upped that to 90-thousands and then had Dow Chemical come up with a new glazing compound to better keep the glass sandwich in the frame. There was not one PGT Winguard window in the state that failed during any of last summer’s hurricanes,” Olmstead said. “We also learned that pressure changes depending on the surrounding areas.”
Olmstead said that a house in a development is protected from the wind to some level by its surroundings but in some ways it can also be more exposed. “The wind speeds up as it travels through narrow spaces and around corners. The end zones (the corners of houses) have shown to be the most vulnerable. We have found that in the end zones, the wind pressure actually sucks the windows out.” Olmstead said. PGT employs over 2,000 people at it's Venice plant and ships out 20,000 windows a month. All windows made at PGT are custom built. According to Olmstead, PGT has seen a 20-percent increase in window orders since the storms, but is still shipping in three to four weeks. The plant runs 24 hours a day. As far as the coming hurricane season goes Olmstead sums it up this way: “It's not if, it’s when. We are currently in a 10 year cycle.”
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Next month Water LIFE will begin a series of stories about building a new house (our house) on a hurricane ravaged lot in the old waterfront community of
Get Outaʼ the Road
This angler got out of the way when the sailing fleet approached, but some anglers donʼt show other fellow anglers nearly as much courtesy or respect.
By Capt. Ri ck Kel l ey, Ki ngfi sher Fl eet Special to Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor has many good areas and some great areas to fish. However, as the boat traffic has increased, many of the ‘good fishing spots’ have become impossible to fish. If you fish regularly, I am sure you have noticed the marked increase in the number of flats boats with towers flying up and down the harbor. Most obey the rules, are courteous and respect those fishing, but like anything else, we have a few who are aggressive with little concern for anything in their path. I offer the following incidents as examples of what I am referring to: One spot that falls in the great category are the flats between Key Point and Hobbs Creek on the outside. I learned about this spot about 20 years ago and have fished it many times over the years. Recently I was fishing this particular spot, just outside of Key Point about 50 feet from shore, casting towards shore. We had been successful in catching fish and had been there for a short time. Unexpectedly, a tower flats boat raced by us coming within 30 feet of us. I raised the palms of my hands, with a desperate look, wondering what necessitated his decision to run so fast and so close to me, when he could have been in the bay which was
only about 50 yards away. As he flew by me, he yelled, ‘Get outa’ the road.’ Obviously, he had no idea what he was doing. Another area well traveled and very popular with boaters and fishermen alike is Alligator Creek. During the winter months trout fishing is very good, but fishing for reds, snook and sometimes sheepshead, flounder and snapper can also be found during the year. Because of all the people living along the creek, naturally the boat traffic is heavy. Not only do you find many boats fishing along the creek, you also find boats (some good size), transiting the creek on their way to the harbor. I fish with a small boat so anything over 25-feet falls into a large boat category. Sometimes there can be a dozen or more small boats fishing from the mouth of the creek up to the Rivera Marina. While many boats pass by slowly, some blow by, at full speed creating a giant wake. Once again, it is obvious the operators of these boats haven't a clue. Even though this area of the creek is not designated as a No Wake Zone, boaters are still responsible for their own wake. Some day someone will be hurt by one of these ‘fast boats’ as they barrel past those fishing, when it would only take a few minutes to make a slow pass. They might even learn something ... or maybe not. There are more of them than me, so I guess I will have
Tarpon Feeding Session The fish of the Month photo award for April goes to Dalton Conradʼs mom, Judy, who snapped the photo of her son shown on page 3.
Sponsored by Realtor Lori Moore
(wife of our senior guide Capt. Robert Moore)
Send or e-mail (email@example.com) a photo of your recent catch or a newsworthy fish photo. Photos selected for publication will receive a $25 gift certificate to Laishley Marine or Fishinʼ Franks. Photos will not be returned and may not have been previously published elsewhere. Remember to include caption information and a phone number.
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WaterLIFE cartoonist Ron Mills shows us what might be the fashionable look for anglers jig fishing this year.
On the Line Fishing with Capt. Ron Blago
Red Tide is more of an Annoyance than a Problem now. By Capt Ron Bl ago Water LIFE Executive Staff Spring is busting out all over. The next 90 days will probably be the best fishing of the year. There is so much good fishing going on now, that I don’t want to put down the fishing rod and grab a pen to tell you about it. Red tide is more of an annoyance than a problem now. There are still a few patches out there, but mostly offshore. The majority of it has moved south of Fort Myers. Despite all the publicity, I would have to rate this year’s bloom as kind of mild here in the Charlotte Harbor and Lemon Bay areas as compared to past years. Anyway, the fish are back and they’re hungry. Most of my guide friends are spending their time fishing the back portions of Bull and Turtle Bay which is pretty traditionl for this time of year. Large snook, redfish and trout are available there; especially for those who have whitebait – the bigger the better – and whitebait is already at Devilfish Key. Cobia are being caught in the deeper waters of the Cape Haze Reef and the Danger Reef outside of Turtle Bay. I’ve been doing most of my fishing in Lemon Bay which traditionally heats up a little later than Charlotte Harbor. The price of gas has made fishing in my own back yard a lot more appealing and of course with four public boat ramps and a deep water pass to the Gulf all within 5 miles of my house, I would be a fool not to take advantage of my own neighborhood. Snook are showing up all over the bay. I’ve found good numbers of them on the
sandy shoreline near Blind Pass. The new inshore park that Sarasota County has opened is turning out to be a waders paradise. The new park is on the inshore portion of Lemon Bay on Manasota Key. There is a new aerial map of Lemon Bay I just picked up at Fisherman Edge Bait and Tackle in Englewood that shows the area nicely. Trout and redfish are going strong. Redfish are back at my favorite docks. Trout are all over the grassflats with the area south of the Tom Adams Bridge coming on strong. My neighbor, one of my Fishing College honor graduates, got a 26inch trout the other day. That is definitely bragging size for Lemon Bay. A few people have told me that they are netting white bait just north of marker 19A. I also had a report of a few resident tarpon rolling inside Lemon Bay near Stump Pass. Offshore, fishing is also hot. Kingfish are already passing through the area. Pods of bait are being found off Englewood Beach in the 40 to 60 foot depths. Amberjack and cobia and a few grouper and snapper are being caught. From a business point of view, this has been one of the slowest spring breaks I can remember. I don’t know if it’s the red tide or the last hurricane season but people are just not spending much money. So if you are fortunate enough to be able to get on the water you will have all those fish to yourself. Take advantage of it. Capt. Ron Blago can be reached for fishing information or to book a charter fishing
Boat Buying Tips WHICH TYPE BOAT TO BUY?
Some examples of various boat types and what they are best for:
CENTER CONSOLE Offshore Gulf fishing Fishing in shallow water Good for Charlotte Harbor FLATS BOAT DECK/PONTOON BOAT Day trips for groups / limited water sports SPORTFISH Serious offshore fishing and overnights Water sports, fun day trips BOWRIDER CUDDY CABIN Water sports, overnight trip. Better in the rain. Water sports in shallow water areas JET BOAT EXPRESS CRUISER Weekend trips, entertaining Long distance cruising, live aboard TRAWLER
Let me help choose the right boat for you
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8108 Riverside Dr - Rare historic saltwater front homes (2) under one roof. Large gulf access waterfront lot may subdivide. Income or investment opportunity. Pool - new dock & seawall - 2 story, 4 BR/2 BA - 3,000 sq. ft. hardwood floors - original crystal chandeliers - Punta Gorda Millionaire's Row - stunning views. SOLD 'AS IS' MLS# 452813 $799,000
3932 Crooked Island Dr. - Embrace the Florida lifestyle with 143' on the canal and super water views. Wide open floor plan with oversized pool & lanai take full advantage of lot. Oversized garage. Hurricane shutters, 10' ceilings and spacious rooms are just a few of the amenities. MLS# 463158 $1,160,000
21350 Harborside Blvd - Executive courtyard home in prestigious Grassy Point w/3 BR/3-1/2 BA & 3-car garage - workshop - library - 3 AC units - 3 water heaters, entertainment center, Jacuzzi, dock in marina w/10,000 lb. lift. Marble floors. Custom built cabinetry, new roof, gutter & soffits. Palm garden MLS# 462483 $990,000
735 Macedonia - Why not buy at today's prices and have it to enjoy next February? Beautiful waterfront home with all of the goodies. Lots of built-ins throughout. Very Well appointed kitchen w/center island. Tile except in bedrooms. upgraded master bath, etc. Waterfront lot w/lots of privacy. No homes behind & culde-sac location in front. Close access to harbor. Worth waiting for! MLS # 463053 $759,000
3640 Bal Harbor - Sail away from this spacious 3rd flr. condo at Windjammer Point in PGI - unit has some hurricane damage & is being repaired; new paint & carpeting in neutral colors being installed. Cathedral ceilings, large open great room design, large kitchen, covered parking, elevator, DEEDED DOCK & gorgeous view of wide turning basin. MLS #462196 $350,000
12155 EISENHOWER DRIVE - Key West style, 2-story, 3/3 , built in 2003. Great salt waterfront location, quick Myakka River access via Cheshire Waterway. Garage parking for 3 vehicles, large game room and shop. Wrap-around r deck for excellent water and wooded views. Light and lovely! $650,000 4900 RIVERSIDE DRIVE - Beautifully renovated and expanded 2-story historic home, nearly 2 acres on the Peace River with delightful caretaker cottage or motherin-law home. Family room and master suite overlook the River, 7 original fireplaces, lots of decking for entertaining and enjoying the water views. $1,950,000 25188 MARION AVENUE, UNIT 23 – The Peace River laps at your back door in this Emerald Point villa. Spectacular view of the harbor from this 2/2 unit with large rooms, your own pool and lots of open decks for enjoying the outdoors. Deeded dock included with this unit. $699,000
8663 SW SUNNYBREEZE ROAD – Custom designed 2/2 home located on 17 waterfront acres on Thornton Creek with access to the Peace River. Unique decor accented by the fabulous setting of wrap around porches and atriums make this a spectacular estate home. $975,000 413 VALLETTA Court – 3/2/2 sailboat home on a quiet cul-de-sac with an extra wide canal view in Burnt Store Isles. With tile throughout and almost all new appliances, roof, and kitchen countertop, this home is like new and ready to move in! $675,000 8416 RIVERSIDE DRIVE – 2 BR creekfront home, over 200ʼ of seawall, easy access to Shell Creek. Oversized garage, workshop that could accommodate 3 or 4 vehicles. Possible mother-in-law set-up for bonus room in rear of garage. Room for a pool or RV. $298,000
Don Ball School of Fishing
Don Ball was a local CCA member committed to kids and the community. Created in his memory, the Don Ball School of fishing is an extra curricular program offered to seventh grade students in the Charlotte County middle schools at Port Charlotte, Murdock, Englewood and Punta Gorda. The program is in its fourth year. Local fishing guides, commercial captains and other knowledgeable ʻwatermenʼ meet with students to teach and explain about fishing, tactics, techniques, places to fish, tides, hooks, the use of cast nets and other localspecific subjects. The classes of 25 students meet in each of the school cafeterias after hours. Upon completion of the course a certificate is presented. There are various tackle and equipment samples given to the students during the course of the three month program. The Kids Cup is the sole fundraiser for the Don Ball School of Fishing program.
ITʼS ALL ABOUT THE KIDS Don Ball students get started in fishing with equipment and local knowledge that they can build on for a lifetime.
The International Game Fish Association is the record keeper for sportfishing statistics worldwide. Located just outside of Fort Lauderdale, the IGFA has a Junior Angler division which keeps track of accomplishments for all anglers through age 16. Every year different tournaments around the country become qualifying events for the IGFAʼs Mercury Junior Angler World Championship, held in Key West. The winning angler from the Punta Gorda Kids Cup will be eligible to fish in the 2006 IGFA Junior Angler World Championship event.
the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup on ESPN2 is still sponsoring the Kids Cup In Punta Gorda, that in spite of the fact that the ESPN Redfish Cup wonʼt be stopping here this year. They will help promote the Kids Cup on their website and in their magazine. Their logos will again be on our tournament shirts and (this is the best part) they will pay to bring the Kids Cup winner (and a guardian or chaperon) to the Redfish Cup finals in October. There, the Kids Cup winner will become a part of the Redfish Cup festivities and might even be on the ESPN2 broadcast.
The popularity of the Redfish Cup spawned a second series of redfish tournaments called Redfish Nation. Designed to be local competitions, winners at the Redfish Nation events will be eligible to move up to the Redfish Cup tournament series. In baseball terms, think of it as a farm club. In redfishing terms think of it as a future opportunity for more kids fishing. The Redfish Nation Magazine will be sent to all Kids Cup anglers this year.
Kids Cup Fair
The Kids Cup will be a two day event this year with open tournament fishing on the first day and the Kids Cup Top 5 Shootout on the second. Both days fishing will take place from the dock at Harpoon Harrys and on Sunday July 17 there will be a KIds Fair with numerous kids events on shore at Fishermenʼs Village sponsored and produced by the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce.
The Kids Cup and the Kids Cup Shootout are non-profit events with proceeds from the Kids Cup and the Kids Cup Shootout going to support the Don Ball School of Fishing. They teach kids to fish. Itʼs a natural. Last year we raised over $12,000 for this program. In order to raise money for this worthy cause and to defray entry costs for junior anglers who may not be able to meet entry fee requirements, we will be soliciting local Kids Cup Sponsors. If you were a sponsor last year you will get a letter from us soon. Local merchants who are sponsors will receive a sign to place in their store window to show they support the Kids Cup and the Don Ball School of Fishing. We need YOUR help to make this a successful event again this year. Call 766-8180 for information. New this year will be a sponsorʼs dinner at the Redfish Chop House in Punta Gorda. The date has not yet been set.
Kids Cup Information By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Publisher Last year’s Ki ds Cup in Punta Gorda drew a capacity crowd and played to an audience of half-a-million people on ESPN2. This year when the Kids Cup comes to Punta Gorda, July 16-17, there won’t be national TV coverage, but there will be local TV coverage and coverage in the Redfish Nation Magazine and on the Redfish Cup website. The winner will get a trip to the Redfish Cup Finals in October and also gets to fish in the IGFA’s Junior Angler World Championship. There will be great competitor’s bags with shirts and hats and lures for all anglers and competitor’s trophies as well. There are two days of kid’s fishing this year; July 16 when everyone fishes in the Ki ds Cup , and July 17 is when the top 5 kids from the Ki ds Cup fish in the Ki ds Cup Sho o t o ut . The Ki ds Cup Sho o t o ut will decide the winner of the Kids Cup. All the anglers in the shootout get trophies and a variety of fishing tackle and equipment. The shootout weigh in will be held in conjunction with a Kids Fair being put on by the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce. Entries for the Ki ds Cup are limited to 125 junior anglers age 10-16. You must be at least 10 but not yet 17 years of age on July
16 of this year. We made the age break a year older this year to coincide with the IGFA’s rules. Each junior angler will be responsible for securing his or her own captain and boat. The captain must be over 18. The captain will assume full responsibility for the junior angler’s safety and must sign the tournament application and release. Water LIFE will handle the officiating, and once again our good friend Gene Kingery will be our master of ceremonies. Capt. Ralph Allen, owner of the Kingfisher Fleet, will again run the weigh-in and Robert Lugeowitz from Fishin’ Franks will again be the fishhandler. The weigh- in will be on the dock at Harpoon Harry's and the public will be encouraged to come out and support the kids. We’ll have the action on the big screen TV monitors as well. There will be a full Ki ds Cup Captain’s Meeting and dinner on July 15 at Palm Chevrolet in Punta Gorda. We will have some local pros there to talk with our junior anglers and give them last minute advice. There will also be a free Kids Cup seminar at Laishley Marine, shortly before the event. The tournament entry fee will again be $100. The proceeds again go to support the Don Ball School of Fishing (see above). The Ki ds Cup will be a fun event, but competi-
KIds Cup Rules Summary April
n Limited to the first 125 junior anglers. n Entry Forms and full rules Available April 15. Entry fee $100/angler n Manditory Competitors Meeting Dinner on Friday July 15 n Tournament Day is Saturday July 16. Finals on Sunday July 17 n Anglers must be between 10 -16 years of age. n Each Junior angler must secure his own boat and an adult driver to fish in the Kids Cup. n There must be one adult over age18 aboard each boat. Only adults and competitors are allowed aboard. No boat may have more than two adults and two competitors aboard. Adults may not cast or fish. n No wade fishing. n Boats will be signed out at 6:30 a.m. on tournament day in the order their tournament application is received and posted by mail. n Boats must be back at the weigh-in dock by 2:30 p.m. n Anglers will use artificial bait and/or shrimp only. No whitebait, pinfish, threadfins etc. allowed. n Fish must be caught on hook and line and released alive. n In the event of a tie, the earliest weigh-in time wins.
] More Questions? (941) 766-8180
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Sailboat waterfront overlooking large basin and Charlotte Harbor. Modern Key West style home in Adjacent lot with this home Pirate Harbor with available, mls # 456908 $699,000 3557sq. ft. of living Approximately 333 feet of waterfront space and panoramcombined ic views of the waterfront from all sides. Boat house with lift and dock, ramp area & swimming pool. Great Room floorplan with 18-foot ceiling, huge master bedroom, oversized 2 car garage and 3rd story widow始s watch. Only minutes to Gulf waters from this incredible location! 24201 Captain Kidd Blvd, Pirate Harbor. Priced at $990,000
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Perhaps the best location available in Punta Gorda Isles with view of nature preserve and short boat ride to harbor. New seawall, dock and room for a large luxury home with plans available on this sailboat lot with deep water. $729,000 mls# 460574
4261 GARDNER DR - Best buy on excellent saltwater front lot , oversized with Scenic waterview, very close access to Charlotte Harbor, only one bridge out. Has seawall, completely cleared. City water & sewer and side walks. $260,000 mls # 452883
Under Contract! 4282 LIBRARY ST. - Beautiful Saltwaterfront pool home. This home offers cathedral ceilings, a gorgeous open floor plan and barrel tile roof.Tastefully decorated . Seawall, Dock, 6,000 lb. boat lift. New pool cage scheduled for 3/15 New Central heat and air. Spectacular view down the canal overlooking wooded area. $449,000 MLS#445100
Under Contract! 8003 HILLMAN AVE. PUNTA GORDA Two charming vintage cottages. Main house plus guest house. Ideal as mother-in-law setup. Boat ramp in walking distance. Access: Shell Creek & Peace River. Connects with Gulf of Mexico $159,900 BOTH TOGETHER!
ScuttleButt Sometimes Unsubstanciated ... but often true!
Illegal Snook Weʼve had a number of calls about anglers taking oversize snook from the Port Charlotte Beach Complex and El Jobean Piers and we imagine it is going on other places as well. The big fish are now on the move, but it would be nice if the Marine Patrol stopped by every now and then at night.
Power Pole A new air cylinder kit is said to double the penetrating power of the popular Power Pole anchoring system. Used primarily on shallow water fishing boats, the Power Pole drives a long anchoring pin into the sandy bottom at the push of a button.
At Burnt Store, the road leading from the bar parking lot to the street comes face to face with this small lake at Burnt Store. Someone asked us: Is this a receipe for disaster? Or is it not a problem at all?
Catfish coming back Missing (and happily so) from the local fishing scene for a while, catfish have now been spotted in large spawning balls around the harbor. Ug!
SeaTow Sold After almost ten years of assisting and towing vessels in Charlotte Harbor, Barney and Judy Barnowski of Sea Tow have decided to retire and "get a life," as Judy put it. Sea Tow Charlotte Harbor has been purchased by 34 year old Michael Degenero, a commercial fisherman since 1989 Degenero has also been involved in commercial towing and salvage in New York. Existing captains and office staff will remain unchanged but the business location is moving to the Punta Gorda Marina.
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Contrary to a Vicious Rumor, Capt. Bob Gaines, the Captain of the Placida Queen, was not reprimanded by the Coast Guard. The fact of the matter is, Gains was commended for the good job he did keeping the passengers and crew safe when a failed fitting allowed the Queen to take on water earlier this year.
TDB Info Shawn Doherty has been (or will soon be) named as Sports Marketing Director for the Charlotte Tourist Development Bureau. Doherty is from Louisiana and reportedly has a wide ʻcontact baseʼ to draw from. Weʼre not sure yet if heʼs a fisherman.
Passing Tom Mann designer of the first fishfinder that could spot fish while the boat was running at speed has died. Mann, the creator of the Humminbird discovered that a fine copper wire mesh incorporated into the transducer produced the results he was after. Guests at the funeral were asked to wear fishing attire.
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More TDB - The Charlotte County Tourist Development Bureau received awards for their 2004 Visitorʼs Guide, (right) Their 2004 promotion of the ESPN Redfish Cup, and their unique Travel Writer journal. This year their new ʻtag lineʼ will be: “Take Advantage of Our Good Nature.”
Bed Tax Numbers - Now that Easter is over and the visitors are beginning to depart it will be interesting to see what the ʻbed taxʼ numbers are, as reported by the hospitality industry. They could be significantly less than a year ago.
Gotta-Go The weather was miserable, visibility was near zero and a number of divers reportedly didnʼt even make it to the bottom, but over 1,400 pounds of trash were retrieved from the bottom of Boca Grande Pass during the Spring Clean Up this year.
New Boat, Nav-A-Gator on the Peace River has added a new USCG 44-passenger certified tour boat to their livery.
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And Theyʼre Off!
Seniors Win Gold at Kayak Races It wasnʼt exactly Kayak Weather, but the Senior Games kayakers were still game.
By Dave Al l en Water LIFE Kayak Contributor As the racers began to unload their kayaks and gear, the wind was blowing about 15 to 20 knots out of the southwest; coming right over the first course marker off Muddy Bay. It was not the kind of Florida day that we have all come to expect in midMarch. It was cold and blustery, but the racers were signing up, getting their race numbers, and having a bit of fruit and drink before the race. This is the first year
that the Charlotte County Senior Games have included kayak races. This year’s races, held on Wednesday, March 16, were the result of a joint program between Todd Heidenreich, Charlotte County Supervisor of Recreational Programs, and the local kayak club, the Port Charlotte Kayakers. Bob and Carol Guyer, members of the Zoomers running Club, provided accurate times for all racers. Thirteen racers competed in a three-mile race that would take them from the beach to Muddy Bay, then
to Grassy Point, and back to the beach complex. The wind was blowing about 15-20 mph at race time. White caps covered the bay, even in the slightly protected areas. A sixmile race had been scheduled, but was cancelled due to the high winds. A safety boat, manned by Jim McKenzie and Hank Cusick from the Port Charlotte Kayakers, followed the racers along the shortened course. Many thanks to all who helped organize and run the kayak races. Todd Heidenreich and his assis-
tant, Joan Hawkins, Bob and Carol Geyer for timing the races, and to all the Port Charlotte Kayakers who worked for and supported the races. And of course, Congratulations to all racers, whether or not you won a medal.
The Port Charlotte Kay ak ers schedule at least two paddles each week . We meet ev ery Wednesday ev ening at Port Charlotte Beach Complex at 5:30 PM. Join us when y ou can. Dav e Allen can be reached at (941) 235-2588 or v ia e-mail at:
In the Women’s 50-54 age group Judy Canfield took the Gold at 1:04:45 In the Women’s 55-59 age group Dana Burns took the Gold with a time of 1:16:37 In the Women’s 60-64 age group Hermine Horowitz took the Gold with a time of 1:16:11
In the Men’s 60-64 age group David Ross took the Gold with the fastest time of the meet at 52:41 minutes, Dale Mason took the Silver with a time of 55:48 and Roger Reinnagel took the Bronze with a time of 1:01:03. In the Mens 65-70 age group John Galvin took the Gold with a time of 53:17, Phil Brown took the Silver with a
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By Capt. S teve S kevi ngton Water LIFE Offshore Contributor The fishing is really starting to heat up with the warm breezes of spring. Just a week ago the water temperature in the Gulf was 69-degrees and then it just shot right up to 75 in the last few days. This has sent our annual spring migration of king & Spanish mack's into full swing. Monster mangrove snapper are still piled up on the wrecks and ledges offshore, chumming and free lining small live bait is the trick on these fish. If you get the chance to fish one of the deeper wrecks this month expect big yellowtail snapper in the mix with the mang's. We had several over five pounds this week. The grouper bite is still on, and in fact the big red grouper have already started to make an appearance. Some very big sharks have started moving up the coast, my co-worker, Capt. Jim, had his hands full yesterday with a ten foot plus hammerhead. The barracuda are back, trolling live baits almost always works on these guys, ‘cuda tubes’ also work very well when bait is scarce. Big cobia should start to make a showing any day now and stay in our area until mid June, after that they move up the panhandle, there really is no ‘great cobia bait’ When you find one just offer something up and then you’ll see what they are in the mood for.
Hide and Go Fish
Half or Full
Capt. Andrew Medina
A Total Backwater Adventure
Above: Hereʼs a monster Porgy from a March trip with Capt. Steve. Left, The sun had already set when after a late trip the cleaning table was filled with baracudas and snapper, last month.
In April, anywhere out of the wind will do.
By Fi shi n’ Frank Water LIFE Senior Guide Finding where to put your boat in and a safe place to fish can get tricky, when it is blowing 20 plus m.p.h. So here is a place to hide and go fish. From our shop, go east on Harborview Road to Harbor Heights. Follow the signs to the civic center. The boat ramp is right behind it. After you launch go across the river heading south east. You will see an opening in the trees. That is Shell Creek. Just to the right of the mouth of Shell Creek, when the tide is outgoing, the reds stack up. If you have one (we sell bait at Fishin Franks) a select shrimp tossed close to the trees, with just a #7 split shot to hold the shrimp in place, should produce the wham-bam red fish action you are seeking. Going into the creek, the left side is the deeper side. Casting spoons along this shore is a good way to find where the fish are holding. The first opening to the right side is Shell Creek proper. Stay to the right side and just before the high line wires there is a 20 foot hole – another good place to try. On this bend in the creek, the right side is better for reds. Just a little way further there is an island on the right. Both ends of the Island are good for snookin.
The railroad bridge is called the Sansouci Tressle, the left side has usually produced the biggest snook, however the right side, or west side, is also good fishing. Be careful on the west side – between the island and the tressle there is a submerged piling about 10 feet out. Jacks, mangrove snapper, and catfish are other species to try for here. The passageway through the tressel is 8 feet high on an average tide. If the tide is going out, go through and anchor on the other side. Then drift your bait up to the pilings. The easiest way is with a bobber. The bait should be about 4 feet down from the bobber, with enough weight to keep it from rising up when you stop the bobber. Keep the bobber just inside the pilings and hang on. No way to play a fish here, you pull, he pulls and who ever pulls the hardest wins. Many other spots along Shell Creek are good fishing. You might even try the dam, it is only a 25 minute run (idle) up creek. Any opening there can hold fish. This is the month to try it as the snook are moving out to start their spawning frenzy party and this is one of their staging areas Fishin’ Frank can be reached for information or to schedule a guided fishing trip at 625-3888
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Welcomes Scott Jacobs To Their
Personality is what makes boats different
By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE editor I once had a sailboat, a Catalina 22. When the wind was howling it was fun as all get out, but the rest of the time, most of the time, it was hot and slow. The boat came with a 7.5 hp motor and I traded that for a 15 early on. It helped – but not enough – and I realized I liked powerboating better with its on demand 50-plus mph breeze at my fingertips. Today, 30 years later, I still have a fondness for sailboats, especially those with ‘personality.’ In a way, all boats are like dogs and a beautiful species abused by an ignorant owner is a hard thing to watch. A fellow who lived up the canal from me had a Catalina 42. A spectacular sailboat which he brought with him from Miami. Over the course of time, there were stories and more stories about how he ran aground here and there, and how on a particularly unprepared trip to the Keys he missed the Cape and sailed up into Florida Bay at night where he went aground hard. Whenever I saw his boat I felt sorry for it, like a dog dragged around by its collar. A older fellow on my canal had an Irwin. An impeccable boat with the sweetest sounding diesel I have ever heard. It was a 30-something foot boat that this man in his late 70's sailed effortlessly by himself. When he passed, you could sense the confidence and experience going by. There was a soft beauty in his handling of that boat, not unlike the master of a show dog on a leash at Westminster. I’d confidently sail around the world with that guy. He knew his stuff. Also on my block, there was a C&C design 33 that had been the play toy of a retired snowbird, but which in her later life sat for years without moving. She made for good fishing, but as a boat she was an old warrior who had given her all in battle, and was now left alone to die – unceremoniously, unattended and on a rotting rope. Finally that boat was sold and they hauled her away.
And then there was Lulu, a 34-foot sloop (I still don't know what design she was) but Lulu had double spreaders and a towering black mast that went down to her keel. Her deck was all business with three hatches no windows and a great non-skid surface. Lulu was bread for racing in the ocean, but in the last few years Lulu too had sat. First she was waiting for a transmission part from Sweden, then it was work on her tiller steering. The boat's owner lived somewhere else and the man who took care of here was tied up with other things. When Hurricane Charley came to town Lulu lay tied to her dock and while three other boats on our canal were dismasted, a catamaran destroyed and an old S2 7.9 blown away with its lift, Lulu weathered the storm just fine, with only one halyard snapped by some force unknown. The dock she was tied to faired much worse. Lulu's owner passed away not long after Charley and she again sat for months, until last weekend when a couple of kids in their 20s appeared on Lulu's deck. A tall wispy blonde girl and a muscular boy with long hair. I watched while I was putting my own boat in the water. They had the hatches open and were moving in and out of the cabin. He came out with a bowswain's chair and with the girl on the starboard winch, he made his way to the top of the mast and replaced the broken halyard. They looked like they knew what they were doing. As it turns out, they bought Lulu and were readying her for a trip to Miami. “We've been living on a smaller boat at Coconut Grove Marina,” the boy said, “We're going to take Lulu to the Bahamas,” the girl chimed in. Lulu was a dog brought home from the pound, an older pedigreed breed adopted by a young family, groomed and happy again. I cranked up the big black Merc. on the back of my own boat, idled out to the end of the canal, leaned hard on the throttle and smiled. So long, pal.
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Conquistador Cup Regatta Page
A Big Thanks from the Commodore
The Conquistador Cup Regatta was born 12 years ago when E. David Johnson, now deceased, asked me if I would help run the event. At the time I was Fleet Captain of the Punta Gorda Sailing Club and I said yes, why not. The vision we had was, "Wouldn't it be a beautiful sight to drive over the Peace River bridge and see 100 sailboats sailing in the Harbor." Have a regatta that was tons of fun and cheap to enter. Ron Evans of Harpoon Harry's had just opened that year and wanted to help the event. Ron and now his son Chris have been there every year since the birth of this wonderful event. THANK YOU! The first 4 years the regatta was on one day with the 8.48 mile reverse handicap start. On the 5th year we went to a three race 2 day format. For all 12 years, Harpoon Harry's, Greg Knighton of Quantum Sail Design Group, West Marine of Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte, Rick & Anne Pantall of the Rigging & Canvas Company, the Punta Gorda Sailing Club, Capt. Bill's Barber Shop, Jay Montero of Spray Crete, Florida Abstract & Security Title, John Lewis of C & R Graphics and The Royal Order of Ponce de Leon Conquistadors have been sponsors of this event. I thank you all for your many years of support. In the past 7 to 9 years, Coldwell Banker, Morris Realty, Water Life Magazine, Sue Marcoline, Century 21 Award, the International Sailing School, Charlotte Sailing, Starboard Yacht Brokerage. Thank you very much. In the past 6 years, Peace River Distributing Inc., Rick Gress, Sr. V.P. of Smith Barney in Sarasota, Rich Hulet of Fellstate Allstars, Boat U.S. have been there. Thank you. My 2 newest sponsors were Griff Collins of Gulf Coast Woodworks Inc., who I presently work with, and Dave Flechsig of Flechsig Insurance Agency. Dave paid for most of the beverages for this years event. Thank you. Over the years many other people have helped: Susan Vielhauer, Gary Trimmer, Mary Knowles, Dwight Edstrom, Helen, Liz Knighton and many more. I thank you all. Last year Bob Knowles helped me a lot with the setting up of this Regatta which starts in early January. This year Bob did 90% of the work to get this event to happen. I am burned out and it is time for me to turn this event over to the Punta Gorda Sailing Club. THANK YOU Bob Knowles, “You’re the man” and thanks to all of you who let me run this show! Dave Hansen
Regatta Results Fleet
BLACK FLEET 1 2 3 4
YELLOW FLEET 1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5 6
ORANGE FLEET 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 WHITE FLEET 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
PINK FLEET 1 2 3
HOT TODDY FROLIC BY-A-NOSE FLYING CLOUD WILD HARE JR
Todd, Steve Vielhauer, Skip Reagan, Richard Wilkinson, Bill Secord, Steve
Colgate 26 Tartan 3000 SR Max 21 Colgate 26 Peterson 25
23 93 621 223 20171
2 3 0.75 4 5
2 0.75 5 4 3
0.75 2 5 3 4
LITTLE MAC NEPTUNE MOTHER OCEAN MIDNIGHT RIDER
BAMA SLAMMER ROOSTER TAIL ITCH CRIME SCENE BLASTED OUTTA HERE
RUBADUB FANCY FREE LEARNING TO FLY II ESSENCE DESPERADO CRAZY HORSE JAMMIN DREAM CATCHER AMERITTO ADAGIO LEA KRACKERS
SHARON L DESERT FOX II DIVA GORDA MIZ LIZ ORION SERENDIPITY IRONIC BREEZE II PARADISE EUPHORIA CHAMBREY CAPRICE
BAHAMA HUNTER MAGIC CARPET ANHINGA
Cleall, Dean Pfalz, Chip Gress, Rick Banks, Forrest
Knowles, Bob Flechsig, David Latour, Paul New, Pete Blankenship, Butch Curtis, Bill White, Wally Buckingham, G. McDill, Paul Hazen, Cecil Horsley, Carl Haller, Jerry Millan, Tony Van Dyke, Sally Atkinson, Dave Crowley, Gerald Schmidt, Skip
Lee, Bob Rommel, Roger Gottschlich, Rudy Wolbers, Paul Reutlinger, Jim Busher, Mike Taylor, Chuck Marcoline, Susan Deeble, Jim Leavy, John Savino, Michael
Bragaw, Thomas Marcus, Marv Libbey, Robert
Elliott 25 Nightwind 35 Oday 40 SD Tartan 4100
S2 S2 S2 S2 S2
7.9 7.9 7.9 7.9 7.9
San Juan 21 Soveral 39 Mod J 32 Pearson 35 O'Day 26 Beneteau 38 Tartan 37-2 Hunter 25.5 Merit 25 Catalina 27 Herreshoff 41 Morgan 22
Ranger 32 Hunter 34 Jenneau 36 Hunter 410 Paceship 26 Hunter Psg 420 Hunter 31 Hunter 27 Hunter 30 Beneteau 381 Catalina 36
Farrier F 33 Corsair F 27 Corsair F 27
5 3003 164 46
508 496 231 461 376
2152 40719 7 126 206 67377 226 499 200 8 33744 364
3024 1 30883 900 260 899 H 717 989 914 7 1050
4 4 327
0.75 2 3 4
3 0.75 2 4 5
3 4 5 0.75 2 6 9 10 12 7 8 11
0.75 2 7 3 9 6 5 10 4 8 11
0.75 2 3
2 3 0.75 4
0.75 3 2 4 5
0.75 2 3 4 6 7 5 8 9 11 10 12
0.75 3 2 5 6 4 11 7 10 9 8 2 0.75 3
0.75 2 4 3
3.5 7 7.75 11
0.75 2 3 4 5
4.5 5.75 7 12 15
3 2 0.75 4 7 8 9 6 5 14 14 14
6.75 8 8.75 8.75 15 21 23 24 26 32 32 37
0.75 3 5 7 2 8 4 6 14 14 14 0.75 2 3
4.75 5.75 10.75 11 12
2.25 8 14 15 17 18 20 23 28 31 33 3.5 4.75 9
Approaching Marker No. 2 many boats were under spinnakers
Mkr. No. 2
Bill Curtis brought Rub-A-Dub within a fishin始 poles reach at Mkr. No. 2
Mkr. No. 4
Conquistador Cup Approaching Marker No. 1 the wind briefly died and boats atthe mark were clusterd up in slow motion
Mkr. No. 1
It was Little MAC across the line first
In the non spinnaker classes it was Nightwind (right) across the line first, shown here ahead of Bama Slammer.
Dim Sun is not Chinese Food
Daily paper blasts boaters again over manatee issue By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE editor
On March 30 the daily papers in Charlotte and Venice (owned by the same company) published an editorial pleading: “Don’t Downgrade State Protection of Manatees.”
We won’t waste time with all their ultra-liberal, one-sided, Save the Manatee Club perspectives, but we do want to share some of the problems we feel exist with their position. The first clear and present problem is that the newspaper gives it’s readers the impression that their editors know what’s best. That’s a dangerous perspective. When we worked there three years ago the modus-operendi was that the papers’
reporters didn’t have to know about an issue to report on it. They only needed to report on what people said. That was clearly a different perspective than we worked under at the New York Times. Reporters need to be educated to ask the right questions and get honest answers. Maybe the boater’s position needs to be simplified. Try this:
Boaters want science and facts to determine the future, not some liberal editorial writer or people in the manatee club.
The newspaper’s perspective: “Until those groups (Save the Manatee Club and the CCA) bury the hatchet and realize their goals are similar...” is akin to saying goals of America and the Taliban are similar. This is simply not true. Save the Manatee Club and the CCA are fundamentally different. The Manatee Club (and the newspaper) advocate a climate of no growth and no access. The CCA wants growth, access and conservation based on facts. We lead this charge seven years ago, the CCA and Senator Lindsay Harrington followed the issues we raised back then. In case you don’t know, my wife and I
founded that newspaper’s weekly boating and fishing section. It was our concept and in the beginning it was a vehicle for local boaters and the CCA to speak out. But the paper couldn’t handle a dissenting voice on staff, or fair and balanced manatee reporting, so as things heated up, the paper forbid us to write about the manatee issue at all. Then they ran us off. Here’s another example of a dim Sun shining, from the same editorial: “To reverse the rules -- eliminating lower speed zones, for example -- would place the manatee in greater danger and set back by a decade any progress made by its (the manatee club’s) legions of supporters.”
Legions of supporters? I suppose there are legions of school kids who are in the manatee club, but I seriously doubt there are legions of informed, educated, impartial and unbiased people in that club. The CCA will release its membership roles, why won’t the Manatee Club? It’s a shame the newspaper portrays the manatee club to be so important. The club has been discredited and proven wrong time
after time. Their goals are self serving and political, like the paper’s.
And how about this: “The manatee has been able to survive -- and, according to some surveys, even increase its population -- thanks to these rules and better awareness by boaters.” Bull! The manatee population is stable at 4,000 animals. Always was, always has been and I defy anyone to prove otherwise. Better awareness by boaters has little to do with the manatees plight since boaters cause only a fraction of the manatee mortality. But here is the editorial’s kicker : “The group (CCA) is unhappy because the state and federal governments put in no-wake zones in popular fishing areas and, at one time, even curtailed the building of docks in an attempt to slow down the rapid growth in boats that use our waterways.”
“Slow Down ... Growth,” there it is again. So now all we want to know is who gets to set the speed limit for growth? Not the newspaper I hope!
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Springing into Springtime By Don Cessna Water LIFE Englewood
Editor’s Note* Ray 's Bait and Tack le located at 480 Dearborn St. in Englewood will close this month and not reopen, howev er proprietor Don Cessna will continue to write for Water LIFE. The building, which had been a bait shop for 12 y ears, will become a trink et shop.
We are heading into the best fishing of the year. If the weather cooperates and the warming begins as usual then migratory fish will be able to move north through our area. That brings spectacular fishing and spectacular fish like tarpon and the high speed smoker, king-mackerel. Could it be any better? Tarpon near shore and inshore and kings in the gulf. The local level of excitement builds when folks catch nice large fish and around here everyone has a chance to catch a fish large enough and game enough to provide the stuff from which fish stories evolve. Late last month, some Spanish mackerel were caught on silver spoons in the passes and that immediate area. This means there should be some pompano around too but I have only heard of a few being caught. One can certainly fish these two types from the shore with good success, but since the Spanish mackerel like to make a quick slashing attack, a length of wire leader is advisable to defeat the mouth full of teeth they pack. Some fishermen use a popping cork and bait such as shrimp, while silver
spoons or spinners also work well. I prefer buck tail jigs, myself, which have a little shiny material mixed in the tail. Mackerel like flash, and a jig can be retrieved at a higher rate of speed than a spoon or spinner without twisting the line or twirling the lure. For the pompano, little jigs can be rigged in tandem or single; an appetizer of a small piece of shrimp will help. Lately, some customers have asked for rigs similar to a rig for freshwater perch fishing one which has two hooks tied one above the other on light monofilament or fluorocarbon leader, a swivel on one end and a snap swivel at the other so a sinker can be attached. Sand fleas or small pieces of shrimp are used for bait on this set up. Sand fleas are free for the taking on the beaches and you can even freeze a bunch for future fishing. Commercial sand fleas are ‘blanched’ (pour boiling water over them) which helps to preserve them and the fish seem to like them in this fashion. The king mackerel should show up toward the end of the month. Last falls migration produced more great days than in recent memory. Mackerel were thick and even those less experienced did catch nice fish. Trolling is the best and most dependable technique since you can cover more water. Frozen ballyhoo was the hottest bait last spring. Live blue runners were not bad either. Those who use plugs or spoons can catch their share, but the ‘hoos’ were really good. A nice and relaxing way to fish for
The prognosis doesnʼt look good for this little gut-hooked mackerel. Mackerel are a delicate species and donʼt do well when hooked or handled hard.
mackerel is to drift. Start near a local reef or wreck, where there are a bunch of bait fish, and put out some chum to keep them feeding around the boat – this will often bring the macks looking to feed. The migrations should continue for a couple months if the weather cooperates. Beach fishing for tarpon is the best and it is beginning. Start with a rod and reel to handle 20-30 pound test line the lighter the better for casting. Add 30 or 40 pound monofilament or fluorocarbon leader with
about a 3/0 super sharp hook when fishing bait. Be certain the reel has a large enough spool to hold over 200 yards of the chosen line as you may need all of it. The bait of choice would be white bait or pin fish. Fly fishing is also a great and sporty way to fish for tarpon. Jigs and tails or plugs work very well also, but do pay attention in case the fish throws the lure or pulls it loose since it can come flying back at you. I think the fish caught in shallow water provide a much better fight as they normally do a lot more jumping and will wear themselves out quickly. This way you get a great visual encounter and can turn the fish loose and get back to work catching another one. Remember; in the local waters when the tarpon are here, there are normally sharks in the same area. If you are wading, I would try to stay close enough to shore to retreat if required. A friend was telling a story about wading up to his chest in water when he noticed a shadow making a wake and headed right for him. Guess what? It was a large hammerhead, chasing a pod of tarpon and it could have mistaken him for food. The shark must have realized the error and stopped, but at least this points out you can always fish for sharks at the same time you fish for a tarpon! Nice tarpon are caught every season in Lemon Bay and Charlotte Harbor. The folks in the Keys call small tarpon ‘Johnnies’ They are a fish that can surprise the average ‘Joe’– a fellow just out fishing for dinner from the shore, wetting a line in the water and relaxing when a tarpon hits and suddenly he’s got a real ‘tarpon tangle’ on his hands.
March Fishing Forecast
R o bert at F i s hi n' F ranks P o rt C harl o tte: 6 2 5 -3 8 8 8 April is one of my favorite months. It tends to be windy, but the water is getting warmer and the fish are getting bigger. They start feeding a lot more and cooperating this month. The fish to look for would be snook. They are already starting to move out of the rivers and canals and migrating out toward the beaches and the passes.
The snook-bait of choice is about anything. Shrimp are good now, while white bait will be more prevelent at the end of the month ... and artificials are good too. Itâ€™s just an all around good month to fish. The fish I have been catching have been heavily bodied with nice shoulders. The 20 inchers have been in the two to three pound range which is not bad for snook. I had a 29 incher which weighed a solid six pounds late last month. Continued on facing page
A spotted eagle ray skims through the grass in the shallow water at Flamingo.
Fishing Report Continued from facing page
Redfi sh will start to pick up now. Size-wise, they will get better, the bull reds should be near shore in the gulf and as usual the guys out trolling for kings will start picking up the occasional bull red first. The reds will start schooling up in the harbor. The little 12 to 16 inchers will start disappearing (to where, we have no idea), but the bigger fish will come in and start moving out onto the flats and be at the edge of the bushes rather than up in the creeks and canals. Use the same bait as for snook, shrimp early in the month, whitebait later. The early morning bite will be good for top-water action. The Mirro-lure Top Pup and the Zara Puppy should be good in the morning. Later on in the day, I’d stick with the sub surface lures or one of the soft plastics. Trout will start to take a slow back seat as the water temperatures rise, but we have a little time before that happens. S pani sh mackerel and ki ng mackerel are just now starting to show a little presence offshore. The red tide kept them away for a while, but we are now hearing good reports from Naples so that could mean they will be here early this month. The next big thing is to dust off the tarpon gear because they are leaving the keys and anglers are catching them in Marco and down around Everglades City. These are not resident fish, these are migratory fish
B BIIG G-4 4 REDFISH are hanging out under the bushes.
A Ap pr riillʼs ʼs Ta Tar rg ge et t S Sp pe ec ciie es s
SNOOK are coming out and feeding well
they are catching right now, so that means about three weeks before they start showing here. There may be a few sooner, but by the end of the month it will be time to do it. Cobi a will start showing up soon. It’s time to start looking along the beaches and inside right now. This is the time when all the nice fish start to show up. Jerk baits, topwaters and shrimp will work. Cobia are not too picky – sometimes I think a bottle cap with a hook in it will work on cobia. The 76 degree water temperature is what to look for. S hark and tarpon really turn on as it nears 76 degrees so it is time to get out the 4-0 and get some new line. The bonnetheads are starting to show up on the flats and that means the spi nners and bl ackti ps won’t be far behind. Bonnetheads are crusteacan feeders, while the other sharks are known more for feeding on sardines, whitebait and mullet. Permi t and po mpano are already along the smaller wrecks offshore. S napper, bl ack drum, si l ver trout and whi ti ng are already hanging out at the US 41 Bridge, and there have been a lot of two-to four-
Sailingʼs National Fundraiser the Lukemia Cup on April 9-10 at Punta Gorda
n March 30-April 1: Edison Big Snook Tournament, Ft Myers
n April 9-10: Leukemia Cup Regatta, Charlotte Harbor
n April 9: Bobby Holloway Memorial Tournament, Pine Island
n April 24: Matlacha Fly Fishing Tournament, Viking Marina, fly fishing only, separate kayak division, 239-980-5803
SPANISH MACKEREL will be showing up in the passes
pound l adyfi sh around for the last month and a half. We have some really big lady fish this year. Freshwater, Crappi e has already shut down but the bl uegi l l are going to explode any day now. Six or eight inch bluegills are not unheard of around here. Bass will start to pick up a little, try a topwater in the early morning. Spawning is over for bass and the frye have started swimming off now.
Ji m at Fi shermen’s Edge Engl ewood: 697-7595 Fishing is pretty good through out the whole region. S nook fishing is starting to kick, Placida, Gasparilla, around the boat docks, I haven't heard anything out on the beach ye, but the fish are coming out of the backcountry... a lot of fish. The guys getting into the back country are getting some really nice redfi sh. Guides have said the flats fishing is great. White bait is around and that doesn't seem to be a problem. Assorted pelagic fish like cobi a are at the trestles and we are starting to run into tarpon now. Guys are seeing them in the same spots. First
TARPON could show up all at once later this month.
they start showing up around the clam lease at Devilfish key. There have also been some pompano this past week. Offshore, snapper and grouper are being caught. It’s kind of a mixed bag for gags and red grouper. This week a friend went 40 miles and caught some nice grouper. Some guys were saying they got some boni ta too. The water temperature really jumped up and the ki ngs should really turn on. There are S pani sh mackerel inside the bay and inside the passes at Boca Grande and Gasparilla. Guys have been coming in to buy wire and spoons. There is quite a bit of freshwater activity, 8 pound bass this morning, tal i pi a, catfi sh crappi es, a lot of people have been trying the freshwater since the red tide.
Stump Pass & The Gulf
Travi s at S tump Pass Mari na Lemon Bay 697-2206 S pani sh Mackerel are all over, Cobi a are right on the beach, grouper are good in 80 plus feet, and some bl ackfi n tuna are around. S harks are right behind
n April 28-30: OʼBannon Tournament, Cabbage Key
n June 9-12: Caloosa Catch and Release, Captiva
n July 16-17: IGFA Junior Angler World Championship, Key West. 766-8180
n May 7: Flatsmasters Summer Redfish Tournament, Punta Gorda
n June 11: Old Mossey Redfish Tournament, Punta Gorda n June 18: Couples Tournament Burnt
n July 10: Charlotte High Redfish Roundup, Punta Gorda n July 16-17: Water LIFE Kids Cup, Fishing Tournament Punta Gorda 766-8180
n Aug 19-20: Summer Slam, South Seas
Please send us your event calendar information via e-mail to: Waterlife@comcast.net
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