Page 1

W a t e r LIFE


Charlotte Harbor and Lemon Bay Florida

Keeping Boaters and Fishermen Informed

KIds Cup

April 2006

Coming Next Month! page 16

Goliath Doings

ESPN Mad Fin Shark Tournament Page 9

Page 9

Flatsmasters Series

Off to a Great Start Page 25

Albino Catfish

Real Estate: This New House Page 9

and Other Fishy Reports

P age 30


Rites of Spring

Page 26




Water LIFE


April 2006

Fishing: Up Close and Personal April 2006

By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Editor Next Month is the Water LIFE Kids Cup Redfish Tournament. This event is our ‘baby’ and already we have more than half the 125 boat field signed up. The Kids Cup is a full-blown tournament, complete with a captain’s meeting dinner, sequential start and a big time weigh in. The event is a fund raiser that generates the money to run a fishing program in four of our county schools. In that program, local fishing guides teach 7th graders about fishing, boating and the environment. Next year we are talking about expanding the program into the North Port middle school and then, in the future, we would like to see it expand into some Lee County schools. I’ve always believed that the harbor is the future of Charlotte County, but if you read captain Ron Blago’s article on page 7, in this month’s edition you will see that fishing in general may be on the down swing. We will always have boats on the water here, but whether we have boats with rod racks or binocular holders is the question. To me there is no comparison between being part of the environ-

Water LIFE

ment or just observing it. Those who would say ‘keep out’ and save the environment for the future generations are missing the whole point. To me, the idea is to take off your shoes and get in the water. Be part of the environment. Don’t be afraid to touch stuff, hook a fish, cut it open, fillet it, see what’s in its guts. Blood is an essential part of life. Kids need to learn not to be afraid of blood and guts. We don’t want our kids to grow up to be axe murderers, but we don’t want them to be panseys either. Kids need to learn about the environment and learn not to kill stuff accidentally. There is nothing wrong with killing and filleting a fish to eat it (or any other animal, for that matter). We just need to make sure we don’t kill stuff indiscriminantly. That goes for bait fish as well. There is nothing wrong with loading up a well with live bait, so long as the well can keep the bait alive. Overloading a well with bait and having most of it die is just a waste and a sign of an uneducated unprepared angler. By teaching our kids to appreciate the environment and to take part in it we are fostering a generation of involved, observant new



citizens. Who better to spot a troublesome environmental trend than an adult who has grown up around the environment and the creatures in it? When I was a kid we used to dissect stuff in school. First it was worms, then dead mice and finally we had our shot at live frogs. We learned how to ‘pith’ them with a sharp needle in the brain and then cut them open to see the heart still beating. This was cool stuff to us – a live beating heart! A number of years ago on a photo assignment for the New York Times I photographed a middle-eastern ceremony of spring at an enclave in the mountains of New Mexico. The reporter and I arrived at a family picnic with lambs strolling around the yard. Later the men in the family came out of the house with sharp curved knives and calmly walked up to the lambs. One by one, they gently put their arms around the lamb’s necks and slit their throats. The lambs fell to the ground and bled quietly to death. The children in the yard went about their games of tag and volleyball, stepping over the dead lambs and pools of blood for the remainder of the afternoon without a second look. It was

Learning to handle fish properly is very important. This young snook angler already knows that fish live and swim horizontally and should always be held that way. Photo: Capt Angel Torres, Vicious Strike Charters

weird, but it was a ritual the kids had become accustomed to. I still have the photos if you doubt this story. So someplace between murdering sheep and keeping off the grass lies the middle ground of environmental protection in our society. In the Kids Cup we watch the kids and the adults who take them out for a day on the water and every year I am more sure than ever that fishing is the great equalizer for the environment and for society.

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Fishing offers a quiet, pristine past time spiced with challenge, excitement and a healthy dose of the outdoors. Our Kids Cup anglers learn to handle fish, keep them alive and release them. We work closely with the state on resusitation techniques, culling and data recording. That’s educated fishing. Life doesn’t get any better than a day on the water with a fishing rod and some good friends. You can keep the binoculars, I’d rather get


Water LIFE


Blagosʼ Kudos

Editor, I enjoyed every word of Capt. Ron's article on Save the Manatee Club. Hope they do go broke and Buffet sticks to music, which is a better career for him. Is there a "local" Pulitzer prize to give the Capt??? It was a very well written piece. Congratsʼ to Capt. Ron. Len Tatko Boca Grande Capt Ron Responds: It is an honor just to be nominated!!!

Dear Capt. Ron, Excellent articles in the last 2 issues of Water LIFE about the SMC. I hope your predictions about their demise are on target! Ed Wilson Port Charlotte

Blago Youʼre so ʻon the moneyʼ itʼs scary. The manatee club and their paid lobbyist Laura Combs in particular have been spreading un-truths and their slanted one sided perspective for too long. It only figures that the general public would wise up to them eventually and it looks like the clubʼs dwindling financial resources are a sure sign that is happening. Thank you for your insight. Leonard Berman Virginia

Boat strikes submerged manatee sign, passengers ejected S t aff R eport Compiled from various e-mails circulated between Marine Advisory Committee, County Sheriff ’s Department Congressman Mark Foley and various county Administrators, “I took Frank out to the accident location, and gave him the buoy to secure to the hazard. He advised he will try to pull it as soon as possible.” “I became aware yesterday that there had been an incident possibly involving one of the submerged pilings. After speaking with Lt. Andy Kolba of the Sheriff's Office I learned the following: Last month an out-of-state Highway Patrolman visiting his parents in Charlotte County was piloting a pontoon boat up river of the I-75 bridges in the Peace River when they hit something underwater. The crash was sufficient that 4 of the 6 people on board were ejected from the boat and suffered relatively minor injuries. The Sheriff's Office Marine Patrol did respond.” “This is the very type of incident we were concerned about... although in this case it was not the result of a "left behind" piling but rather one involving residual hurricane debris, in this case a manatee zone sign on the Peace River.” “The accident took place near the mouth of Hunter Creek, a tributary of the Peace River, just north of Harbour Heights. There's an island at the mouth of this creek with a small cut that goes around the back of the island. Water in the cut is rarely more than 10" deep and local boaters do not use the cut, knowing how shallow

it is.” “Fishin' Frank observed a FWS manatee refuge marker at the accident site. The marker was laying down horizontally and included a complete sign assembly (two pilings, cross boards, sign faces). Fishin' Frank believes that the sign was knocked down during the hurricane and that it floated into its present position. He is unsure of the origin of the sign.” “Our staff has provided the (following) information from Fishin' Frank. Please let me know if you need further information: Fishin' Frank went out with the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office's (CCSO) Lt. Andy Kolva to the accident site this morning. Per Fishin' Frank, it does not appear that the accident involved one of the pilings that was cut below the waterline by our previous contractor. When I talked to Fishin' Frank, he was on his way back to the accident site with buoy(s) to mark the sign. He will remove the sign later as part of the hurricane repair contract.”

Editor Notes: Over a year ago this publication alerted the county and the Marine Advisory Committee to the fact that a contractor hired to clean up the Peace River manatee signs was cutting the signs off below the water and leaving the submerged pilings intact as dangerous obstacles to navigation. We urged the county and the MAC to catalogue each missing sign and identify areas where a danger to navigation exists. We presented our report with photos. Subsequently, with Fishin’ Frank’s help, some pilings were removed but not all the signs were accounted for.


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Water LIFE is not affiliated with any newspaper or other publication © 2006 Vol V No. 4 Water LIFE No part of this publication may be copied or reproduced without the


WRITE US! e-mail (preferred) Regular MAIL: 217 Bangsberg Rd. Port Charlotte, FL 33952

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Contributing Editors:

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 Kayaks: David Allen Local: Capt. Andrew Medina Tournament Report: Capt Jerry Cleffi Sea Grant: Betty Staugler

on the COVER:

The start of the Flatsmasterʼs Tournament Photo by Lester Kuhn Photography

on our WEBSITE:

Tide Graphs: For local waters

Weather: Links to all of our favorite sites.

Back editions: Pages of previous editions Artificial Reefs: Lat. and Long local 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 real estate advertisers

The Week Before the Full Moon April 2006

By Aaro n Sutcl i ffe Water LIFE Offshore Staff The week before the full moon this March, I went offshore with Capt. Travis Ormond aboard the Pelagic. We were anchored up and chum fishing a hard bottom depression that we had fished several times before. We had done well there before on snapper and grouper, but we couldn’t believe our eyes when a cloud of ‘snaps’ that numbered in the thousands began feeding in our chum slick. Fifty feet down into the crystal clear water we could see monstrous mangroves and beefy yellowtails swarming our chum slick. Free-lined baits were the ticket, with small hooks, and light fluorocarbon leader. The yellowtails were feeding on the surface, their vivid tails breaking the surface and swishing back and forth as they fed. We were catching a few of them, all decent sized fish, but we couldclearly see much bigger fish that we were not catching. In the super clear water, our twenty pound spinning tackle was simply too heavy to get the bites. Travis looked at me and said, ‘We really need some lighter tackle for these fish!’ I replied, ‘The full moon is next week bro, we should come back here with some lighter gear and pummel these bad boys.’ It seemed a little early in the year for a night moon trip – conventional wisdom dictates that full moon night trips are a summer time affair – yet seeing those fish urged us to go for it. So we planned out a night trip for the full moon the next week. We hada long list of prep on the afternoon of the trip. Twelve pound gear was spooled with fresh mono. Whole blue crabs, sardines, shrimp, and pilchards were pulverized into a chunky and powerful chum sauce. Live pilchards and handpick shrimp were loaded into the well of the Pelagic. With the prep complete and the boat loaded, we departed from Stump Pass Marina. The sun was a huge, bright orange ball as it settled into the horizon while we headed west. Travis and I were pleased with how calm the gulf was as we made the run offshore. Dave and Vinny were

Water LIFE


rigging up some light spinners for free-lining baits. Capt. Patrick Mason was along for his first night snapper mission with us. There was a high level of confidence that this was to be an exceptional excursion! We arrived at our depression well into the gathering darkness. In short order we anchored and went into action. Chum was deployed, an underwater light was hung off the transom, and we readied our sticks for the skirmish. Travis sent a pilchard to the bottom and hooked up almost instantaneously. More baits were on the way down as the blood red moon materialized to the east. The bite was on! Several nice mangrove snapper came aboard. I started to chunk up some dead pilchards and sardines, and was dumping the pre-made chum into the brightly lit water. Soon a large school of Spanish sardines emerged from the dark water and took up residence in the sphere of artificial light. I had the feeling that it was time to employ the light free-line rigs and have some fun! I baited up my Daiwa Advantage 3500 on my seven foot 12-20 class rod and let the bait fall back with my bail open. Twelve pound Ande monofilament peeled off the spool as the chunk of fresh pilchardfluttereddown into

the chum slick. The little chunk of bait threaded onto the 2/0 Mutucircle hook did not flutter long. The mono began flying off the spool. I snapped my bail closed and came tight to the fish. My stiff seven foot stick bowed deeply and drag sang a high note from my spool. The fish’s quick, sharp head shakes gave me a clue that this was a quality yellowtail. ‘Dude this is a nice yellow, the free-line bite is on!’Shortly after, a six pound‘tail’was in the box! The rest of the crew followed suit by switching up to light gear and drifting unweighted chunks. Soon there was a cacophony of squealing drags, and likewise a chorus of laughing, whooping fishermen. Patrick hauled aboard his very first flag yellowtail, and quickly followed with his second and third. The fish were feeding very aggressively. It seemed like our baits would fall thirty or forty feet back and quickly be devoured by a hungry snapper. We had the school of fish so fired up; they were literally chewing at the bottom of the boat. We scored several double and triple hookups. The snapper were all well



over the size limit, and we were throwing back fish that were under twenty inches. We were keeping the larger ones over twenty inches. The action was so hot; I had to put down my stick to get an accurate count of the fish that we had boxed. Capt. Mason was like a kidin a candy store, hooking up and laughing hysterically as beefy snapper ripped the light line off his rig. It was business as usual for Capt. Ormond, who scored the biggest mangrove of the trip, weighing over nine pounds. Vinny and Dave were racking up big numbers, as we rapidly filled the 160 quart Igloo with yellows and mangos that averaged 4 pounds. I was a tornado of activity as I chunked, chummed, netted, and fought fish almost simultaneously. We had been fishing for approximately four hours, and were ten fish away from our fifty fish limit. Vinny makes the call, ‘Only big snaps now, throw back the small ones!’ At that point we went into extreme cull mode, only keeping the largest of snappers, and releasing the ones that didn’t make the grade. At this point we were only keeping yellows over four pounds andmangroves over six. For every five to eight fish we caught, one went into the box. It took us another hour and a half to reach the fifty fish limit. The entire time it was a melee of catching and releasing fish. With each fish that went into the box the catcher would yell out the number, 45!, 46!, 47!, and so on until the number 50 was attained. With that limit achieved, we all kind of took a minute, and looked at each other in total amazement. I had no idea that we were going to catch that many big snapper. Our catch filled two large Igloo coolers. When we stopped fishing, we still had bait left. ‘Hey, I am going to fatten up these fish with our left over bait and chum!’ With that, I released the rest of our bait and chum into the water and watched it drift down out of the sphere of light under the boat. We all laughed at the idea that under the boat, in



Water LIFE


April 2006

Is Fishing Falling Out Of Fashion? Water LIFE

April 2006

By Capt Ron Bl ago Water LIFE Senior Staff It looks like the number of people who buy fishing licenses in the United States has started to shrink, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report. In 1991 there were 35.6 million licensed anglers, and in 2002 that number had shrunk to 34.1 million. So it seems like over a million people just decided to stop fishing in America. For some reason that fact bothers me. I would hate to see fishing go the way that hunting has in this country. Lets face it, hunting has become politically incorrect. Fifty years ago every kid I knew had a 22 rifle and a single barrel 20 gauge shotgun. The opening day of hunting season was an official school holiday. Now the places I hunted as a kid are mega-malls and gas stations. But fishing is different, there is no loss of habitat. There is just as much water as there ever was, maybe even more if the global warming thing is correct. I wasn't really sure if there was a problem here or just a statistical glitch so I looked up my former home state of Ohio. The number of anglers in Ohio went

from a peak of 1,082,496 in 1987 to 659,037 in 2004. That is a drop of 423,459 or 39 percent . Now that's significant, but what about Florida? After all we advertise ourselves as the Fishing Capital of the World. In 2004 the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimated that recreational fishing in the state provided 80,000 jobs and over $7.5 billion in economic impact and that did not include the boating industry which provided $15.7 billion on its own. Since 1990, when the saltwater fishing license went into effect we have kept pretty good records of how many fishing licenses we sell in Florida. Traditionally each year 40 percent of the licenses are bought by non-residents and 60 percent by residents. The best year we ever had was in 1998 when there were 1,202,501 licenses sold; in 2003 there were only 1,045,564 and some people are already speculating that the number will drop below a million in 2006. So why does fishing look like it has fallen out of fashion? It used to be that you bought a boat so you could go fishing. The old statistic was three-quar-

Boca Grande Pass Clean Up

ters of everyone on the water was fishing. Now we have gone from john boat to jet ski. A lot more people are on the water, but fishing is not their top priority. Fishing access is drastically disappearing. I'm not just talking about boat ramps and marinas being converted to condos, but also fishing piers, bridges and even access points where you can enter the water to go wading being restricted. It wasn't that long ago that you could fish from any bridge you wanted. I don't understand why they don't just attach a catwalk to every bridge so people can fish without bothering the flow of traffic. Another problem I see is that people seem to have higher expectations when they go fishing. After all, we watch the fishing shows on television and read the fishing magazines and see all the great pictures of people holding record size fish. So perhaps people feel that they should be catching those type of fish, and if they don't, they just quit fishing. The instant gratification in our society plays a part here. The reality is that if you go fishing and come home with enough fish for dinner, you are a good

By Bob Wasno Sea Grant, Lee County

On behalf of the entire staff of the Boca Grande Pass Enhancement Fund, inc....Thank you! All aspects of the 2006 event went without a hitch. Everyone had a great time and the effort was very productive. Here is the summary...By the numbers!



Total amount of debris: 3,377 lbs!!! Total number of divers: day 1- 41 Total number of divers: day 2- 29 Total number of participants: 114 Everything from tarpon jigs to anchors to a lawn chair Total number of injuries: Zero !!!!! was brought up from the bottom. (that’s always the best statistic!) Total number of government, civic and private support associations participating: 33 Total amount of debris removed from Boca Grande Pass to date over the past 5 years: 25,692 pounds !!!!! Thanks to all of you who helped to make this happen, including all the many supervisors, commanders and directors that allowed their folks to come out for a great cause. See you in 2007!

fisherman and you don't have to apologize to anyone. Let’s face it, as a people we have become fat and lazy. With the TVs, gameboys, laptops and Ipods, don't be surprised if you give a kid a fishing rod for Christmas and he asks you how to plug it in. Today, most of these people have learned about mother nature from watching the Animal Planet Channel. They don't understand that fishing is something they can actually do and enjoy. And of course let’s not forget about those never ending environmental-disaster threats from our good friends at PETA, the Ocean Conservancy and SMC. Manatees, red tide, mercury and pollution. Did you ever notice the same people who brag about eating free range chicken are the same folks who won't eat fish unless it comes

from a fish farm. In general, fish in the wild are more healthy than humans, that's why we eat them. What can we do about the shrinking number of fishermen ? Take a kid fishing and make sure they have a good time. Events like the Kids Cup, the Don Ball School of Fishing and the Kids Fishing Camp are a start, but there is nothing like taking the kids down to the pier, one-onone, and showing them how to plug in that fishing rod.

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Water LIFE

Page 8

PEACE RIVER PARADISE….Magnificent property features 3 bedrooms 2 bath 2 car garage, 6,000LB boat lift, hurricane shutters, security system, built in vacuum, corian countertops, wood cabinets, “TREX” no maintenance dock that stretches into the peace river, and much much more. MLS #615532 $1,190,000. Call Gerry 268-4249 or Heather 286-6729.


Why wait to build? This 4/2.5/2 pool home has 2127 sq ft, built in 2006 and is ready for new owners. Features wood cabinets, cathedral ceilings, separate dining room, walk-in closets, plant shelves, large lanai, master bedroom has tray ceilings, walk-in shower and roman tub. A great family home. Call today before its gone. MLS # 628711.$359,9000 Call Rieka at 456-8866

Saltwater Canal Home

3/2/2, 1621 sq. ft. built in 2003. Home shows like brand new. Nothing to do but move in. Living, dining, & fam. rm., storm shutters, storage shed, fenced yard, 20 min. to Harbor 1 bridge, MLS 600193 $399,900, call Ellen at 628-6954


PCH home on saltwater canal. PRICED RIGHT!!! 3/1.5/1.5 with 1044 sq ft. Great investment property with potential. Living and family room, new roof, paint inside and kitchen countertops tiled. This one wonʼt last long !! MLS # 606229 $ 319,900, Call Ellen at 628-6954

Looking for a nicely updated 2 bedroom 2 bath 1 car garage home on an oversized corner lot? Look no further! This REDUCED! home has been upgraded from the wood cabinets, & tiled countertops, to the custom window treatments. This home is priced to sell at $179,900. MLS # 621781 Call Ellen at 628-6954.

3/1.5/1 pool home with 1344 sq ft in a very private setting, home is on 2 lots with privacy fence around both lots, 12X12 workshop with electric, living & family room, separate dining room, large walk in pantry, metal roof, Huge lanai and pool area, great for entertaining. Call today before its gone!!! MLS # 626061 $229,900 Call Ellen at 628-6954

Beautiful 2/2/2 home in Heritage Oak Park, 1162 sq ft, built in 1999, This custom built “B” model shows like brand new, home features upgraded cabinets with pantry, built in computer desk, filing cabinet, & counter, Tile throughout with carpet in bedrooms, Extra shelving in closets & garage, 10 ceilings fans, screened garage door, and more this is a must see!!! MLS # 628701 $242,900 Call Rieka at 456-8866.

April 2006


Nice home in North Port, 3/2/2, 1479 sq ft, built in 2001, This home features living & family room, separate dining room, breakfast bar, cathedral ceilings, French doors, privacy fence, tile, carpet & more. MLS # 627853 $220,000 Call Ellen at 628-6954


Sailboat water executive home for the most discriminating. Totally renovated . 3/2/2 pool home features cherry wood cabinetry, Viking kitchen appliances, granite countertops, 2 fireplaces, 3 separate pocket sliding doors overlooking resort style pool, spa and fountain, oversized dock with 16,000 lb boat lift, master bedroom opens to a lanai with sitting area complete with fireplace. This home is a must see!! MLS # 602504 $699,900 Call Meg at 941-716-2305

Immaculate 3/2/2 built in 1995 with 2025 sq ft on freshwater canal in prestigious section 15. This home features ceramic tile, wood cabinets, walk-in closets, master bath with dual sinks & roman shower, inside laundry, oversized lanai with vinyl sliders for year around pleasure. This is a must see!! MLS#610140. $299,900 Call Rieka Gaudet 456-8866

Still under construction, Beautiful 4/3.5/3 pool/spa home that sits on an oversized corner lot, 2589 sq ft of living area, this home has all the bells & whistles, solid honey oak cabinets, solid surface counters thru-out, hurricane code windows, seamless glass window at nook, 8ft sliders, corner garden tub in master bath, 2 A/C units, plant shelves, great landscaping with curbing & gravel and the list goes on. MLS #628706 $549,900 Call Ellen at 628-6954

Paradise living at its best!! Elegant 2 story 5/4.5/2 pool home that sits on a wide Saltwater canal with only minutes to the Harbor. Home has 3734 sq ft, and features Travatine marble stone floors, solid surface counters, eat-in kitchen, crown molding, French doors, master bath w/ dual dinks,jetted tub & separate shower, 3 A/C units, waterfall in pool, new roof, and more. MLS # 630679 Call Ellen at 628-6954


WHY WAIT TO BUILD!!! JUST REDUCED. Two beautiful BRAND NEW 3br, plus den, 2 ba, 2 car garage, 1974 sq ft homes featuring porcelain tile floors throughout, except bedrooms, wood cabinets with sylestone counters in these real quality homes. MLS # 485276 & 485277, $299,900. Call Gerry at 268-4249

COME CHECK OUT SPACIOUS THIS 4/2/2 pool home in Deep Creek. Home has 2296 sq ft and was built in 1994, Huge gourmet kitchen, breakfast bar & nook, liv,din, & family rooms, Bay windows, intercom & security system, Parquet floors in master bedroom and family room, his & hers walk-in closets, new roof and pool cage and much much more!!!. Don‚t let this one pass you by. MLS # 619196 $329,900 Call Ellen at 628-6954.

Beautiful home in PC. 3/2/2 built in 1991 with 2109 sq ft. Completely remodeled, New roof, garage door, drywall, insulation, interior doors, plumbing fixtures, paint, ceiling fans, carpet and more. 4 walk in closets, updated kitchen, updated baths and all new appliances. This is a must see!!! MLS # 607699 $279,900 Call Ellen at 628-6954


3/2/2 pool home, 1908 sq. ft. built 1994, very quiet street w/few homes for privacy, home features living, dining, & family room, kitchen has breakfast bar & nook, plant shelves throughout, pool bath, sliders from living rm., master BR & breakfast area, screened entry & garage, cathedral ceilings, skylight, oversized laundry room, MLS # 600194 $276,900, Call Ellen at 628-6954

April 2006

Water LIFE


Sign of the times

Goliath Grouper hanging out at the old phosphate dock, reports of numerous sharks all around the area and tarpon fishermen cleaning their equipment for the influx of Silver Kings. It始s springtime in Charlotte Harbor. Does life get any better than this?

Photo: Capt Angel Torres

Page 9

Water LIFE

C a t c h i n g F i s h i n Yo u r O w n B a c k Ya r d Page 10

By Capt. Chuck Eichner Water LIFE Inshore Editor Have you ever noticed the grass is always greener on the other side when it comes to fishing. If you launch your boat in Port Charlotte surely you must run to Pine Island Sound or Bull Bay to find a hotspot, right? Why does it seem that fishing is going to be better ‘over there’. Many of us run past miles and miles of water only to fish in a hotspot that was hot yesterday and not today. What if I told you that you have smokin’ hot fishing within 5 miles of the Peace River bridge. How about within a 1/2 mile of the bridge. The same goes for the Myakka, Lemon Bay and any saltwater estuary in the area. Trust me there are plenty of snook, redfish, trout and tarpon near home. Even the tournament guys have to run great distances to catch fish ... or do they? To understand where the hotspots are you have to spend a lot of time in an area to know when the fish are there. There are a lot of common features to look for in a good fishing spot that will produce fish. The key is that fish are driven by their appetites. As a fisherman you have lots of information available to you before you get on the water. There are tide tables, solunar tables, weather predictions, topographical charts and fishing reports. Without a doubt the tide charts are your most valuable tool with the weather forecast a close second. But both are really predictions and tides don’t necessarily follow the tide charts depending on wind direction. I, for one, am not a believer in solunar tables. My experience is that fish react to specific daily weather and tides and any correlation with solunar tables is mostly a coincidence. Topo charts are of minimal use for identifying shallow water hotspots simply because they don’t provide high resolution to water depths in a given area. Bottom depths vary greatly and often this is the key to where the fish are. Topo maps do identify major creeks and tributaries, but many creeks and ditches are not identified. Fishing reports are usually yesterday’s information. April is a super prime month for snook and

redfish in the shallows of Charlotte Harbor. They will be feeding heavily on minnows and the migratory baitfish such as pilchards and threadfin herring. Crustaceans will also make up part of their diet. The warmth of spring in these areas stimulates aquatic growth making the perfect habitat for all aquatic species to thrive. Gamefish follow their appetites. The primary features to analyze when learning a new area are current flow, fishing structure, water depth and bottom make-up. The most complicated part is understanding how fish incorporate the vertical rise of water (tidal influence) into their feeding habits. Current Flow- With tides comes current. The flow of water into an area brings with it food- minnows, crabs, shrimp, etc. Gamefish position themselves strategically to watch this flow and attack their food source. Water flowing in and out of a creek is easy to understand and they are always great places to fish. As water flows across a flat, fish will position themselves near deeper spots. Changing bottom conditions create current changes and they can funnel currents or create sloughs. Either way gamefish position themselves to take advantage of this. Fi shing S tructure – For the most part this is a hump or depression in the bottom, oyster or sandbar, point of land, island or perhaps a seawall, rock on the bottom, tree or other obstruction that provides fish with something to hide behind and ambush bait. Hard structure such as an oyster bar, island or rock create a change in current. Over time this current break usually creates shallow spots around the structure where silt builds up but also there may be a depression. Typically, the depression will be the focal point for ambush. Position your casts above this feature and drag or drift your bait into the deeper spot for action. Water Depth – The biggest key to shallow water fishing is knowing where the depth changes are. Structure creates depth changes and flats by design will have various bottom changes- potholes, mounds, troughs and basins. Higher tides in the spring bring fish

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4271 Pine Island Rd.


April 2006


to the mangrove bushes. Find a mangrove with extra features such as a deep spot, oyster bar or noticeable point and you have a good place to target. The simple rule is the deeper the water near a mangrove or some form of structure the better the spot. Bottom Make-Up –- Basically we’re talking about sand, mud, grass, rocks or a combination thereof. Fish have their preference but generally areas where two or more bottom types comes together mark a change and fish relate to bottom changes. Firm bottoms with sparse grass often hold crabs and crabs attract reds. Large expansive grassbeds attract trout and the trout will focus on edges or holes. A varied bottom, next to a mangrove, with a little extra depth and next to a channel are the kind of spots that keep me awake at night. The toughest part of deciphering where to fish is equally related to when to fish. Fish in Southwest Florida are hugely influenced by the Jeff Calkins calls the Peace River his backyard and tide changes. Our tides don’t change has this nice snook to show for it. much more than 2.5 feet from high to low, so incremental changes of 1/2 to You will eventually be rewarded. These kind 1 foot make a big difference in how much of rewards have lead me to have "milkruns" in water is covering the back of a fish. They an area of perhaps a 1/2 mile in distance where need certain amounts of water depth before I can fish maybe 12-15 spots within an 8 hour they go to feed at a hotspot and they will day. I won’t burn 5 gallons of gas in the depart as soon as their instincts tell them to. process and likely will find 2-5 spots on any I have a number of hotspots that are only good given day that hold fish. Patience, persistence for the second and third hour of incoming. and the love of fishing will lead you to honeyEarlier and the reds haven’t arrived, later and holes that everyone is passing. Wave to the they have come and gone. So as a result, you boats as they go by but dip your bent rod in have to devote yourself to focusing on a small the water when that fish is ripping drag. general area. Fishing it frequently on different There is nothing like “bent rod sonar” to give tides in order to uncover the mysteries of the away your spot. fishes feeding habits. Capt. Chuck Eichner is a local charter capThere is no need to run 10 or 20 miles to tain. For information or to book a guided go fishing. Pick an area near home, fish on fishing trip call 941-505-0003 or go to his sunny days so that you can see bottom feawebsite: www.back country tures and look for current variations and structure. If a spot looks fishy and doesn’t produce try it on other tide phases.

Mike Panetti


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(on the east side of US 41 just north of Harborview)

April 2006

Water LIFE

Windows and Doors ... T h i s N e w H o u s e P a r t 11

By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE editor Our insurance company Tower Hill, and our local agent Brown and Brown have notified us they are cancelling our policy. Last I heard they can’t do that while our new house is still under construction ... ‘a special law signed by the Governor,’ another insurance agent told me. Obviously we’re going to have to research this and probably get back with our private adjuster and his lawyer. ‘Your insurance company is trying to limit their exposure,’ the other agent explained. They suck, I said. We’ve gotten our plumbing and AC inspections passed and now we have some projects delegated to sub-contractors, the biggest of which was the installation of the windows. We had planned to install the windows ourselves, but with my mom having medical problems, we called back our framing carpenter friend Wayne Kerry (Construction Professionals Inc.) and paid his guys to install the windows and French doors. In the real world installing windows is calculated at 25% of the window’s cost. The best windows don’t come cheap. We’ve got over 15large in PGT ‘hurricane proof’ Winguard products. Luckily, we had Wayne’s help and luckier yet, he cut us a ‘deal’. We were extra careful when

laying the cement block and setting the openings for the windows, but when it came time to install them the fit was simply too tight. "I've found that with PGT windows you have to go 3/8 of an inch bigger than the measurements they give you," Wayne told me. That sentiment would later be echoed by several other tradesman who are used to installing the PGT products. Too bad we didn’t hear that earlier. "Think about it," my friend Josh Smith, another contractor said. "If you had contracted with me to build your house and you had these tight fitting windows that took extra time to install you’d be all over my ass to fix them and I'd be wanting to charge you for the extra time to make them right. That's the kind of stuff that ruins a relationship between a contractor and a homeowner. And that's happening all over ... and not just with windows. Shoddy work; laborers and manufacturers who are doing the least possible trying to spend as little time on each project as they can. Who gets burned? the consumer, the guy at the end of the line,” Josh said. Dave Olmsted of PGT disagreed. “We design our windows for a very tight fit, that’s part of the hurricane impact testing,” he said. You want the tightest fit. Still, we wound up having to grind down or resize numerous wooden framing 'bucks'. But now the windows are in and they are rock solid and air-tight. And our PGT French doors, with their 7/16 tempered and laminated glass, feel like they are bulletproof. All in all we are happy with the PGT products. Back at our house, Wayne’s carpenters built the staircase to the second floor and hung the 'tray ceiling' in the kitchen. Then, with Wayne's permission, we hired a couple of his guys to work Saturdays and do some of the stuff

P a g e 11


and the fear of the ʻShower Policeʼ

we'd otherwise have done ourselves. First up was the plywood. We had bought 40 or 50 sheets of 3/4 inch plywood some of which we used to edge-form the slab back when we poured it months ago, and the rest of which we used to form the tie-beams around the house. I've kept the wood flat and dry since then and last month it was time to 'recycle' it. We had Wayne’s guys (Robert and Jim) cover one side of almost all the interior walls with the 3/4 inch plywood. This gives us a much 'sturdier' house, better sound-deadening acoustics and when the wood is covered with drywall it will make a wall you can drive a nail into and hang a picture on anywhere. We ‘blocked’ (braced) the trusses in the ceilings to tighten everything up even further and 'scabbed’ the trusses where necessary so when we hang the drywall ceiling we will have a flat smooth surface. Finally our three steel exterior doors arrived: the front, poolside and kitchen doors. The front went in OK – my friend Andy Medina and I set that one late one Thursday afternoon, then Robert set the poolside door that weekend while we were in Miami. The kitchen door arrived dented with a split jamb so we'll install that temporarily to get our framing inspection and then remove it and replace it when the new one comes in. But all this stuff doesn't get my goat as much as one almost unnoticeable detail in this month’s construction process. One day I was looking over the plumbing and noticed two adjusting screws on the valve that controls the water to the shower. I found a booklet on the floor that came in the box with the valve and read through it. "Pressure balancing valve" it said. So when the county plumbing inspector came to check our job I asked him what that meant. He told me it was required by code. That shower valves are now of the pressure balancing design so you can't scald yourself by turning on only the hot water. “The valve adds cold to the hot so you won't get burnt,” he told me. But what if I want just hot water? I like to get in the shower, close the door, adjust the shower head away from my body and put on only the hot to steam it up. I am even planning on putting a seat in the shower to sit on

The house looks deceptively small from the street, (above) but shows its size from the backyard view. Weʼve kept the openings small on the street side, which is the west side that gets full hot sun in the afternoon.

when I take a steam shower. "You can’t do that," the inspector told me. How about a second ‘hot only’ water outlet? “Nope, not allowed,” the inspector said. So it looks like I will be breaking the law whenever I take a shower, because I'll be dammed if the government is going to tell me what temperature the water in my shower has to be. What if I just call it a sauna? Maybe that’s the answer, I don’t know. I’m thinking someplace down the line that valve may disappear, and I'll have to take my chances of ‘getting in hot water with the ‘shower police’. So if you see me running down the street one day, clad in only a towel, at least you’ll know who will be chasing me. Next month, it could be stucco on the exterior and wiring inside. Stay Tuned!

The pesky temperature regulated valve (above left), the shower area in the upstairs master bath (above) and the PGT French doors in the master bedroom (below)

Water LIFE

Page 12



April 2006

Sometimes Unsubstanciated ... but often true!

Fl orida Bui lding Code Changes had eight hurricanes to gain experience from in the last two years,’ Dave Olmstead, the code-compliance guy for PGT Industries noted. In May there are a proposed 645 changes coming to the Florida building code. Tile roofs will need to be screwed down, there are issues with roof flashing and shingle roofs could see changes in the nailing pattern which might include 6 nails per shingle. Alot of the changes are small, but there are a ton of them. Our thought is that long about the time Florida has mandated totally hurricane proof houses for every area we start seeing a rash of big brush fires sweeping through the state. No matter where you are or what you live in, you just can’t be safe from everything mother nature dishes out.

S ea Tow Barney Barnowsky, former owner of the Charlotte Harbor Sea Tow franchise is now working for the new owner, Michael DeGenaro and back on the water again, which is where Barney always wanted to be in the first place.

Boat Ramp Bl ues-Several trucks and trailers have been stolen from the Edgewater boat ramp. Trucks have been broken into as well. One victim asked why with all the parking money the county is collecting they don’t install some form of video monitoring. Good question.

S ti l l Not Fi xed Snapped off Light Poles along Edgewater Drive, in the area hardest hit by Hurricane Charley two years ago have still not been replaced. The county has now ‘capped’ the broken bases but sections of the busy street are still dark. We ask: What’s up with that?


Li ve Bai t-Spring has sprung and there is plenty of bait in the harbor right now. Shrimpers on the other hand predict slim pickings for the coming summer. Due to last year’s red tide and a lack of stuff for the shrimp to feed on, they say.

Take your items to Charlotte Countyʼs Recycling Centers. (For Charlotte County Residents Only)

Do your marine excursions leave you with used engine fluids,waste fuel, expired safety flares, or dead batteries? How about bilge switches that contain mercury? Electronic waste? Oily rags or absorbents? You can safely dispose of those items and more! Protect yourself and our environment!

Englewood-7070 Environmental Way (off Gulfstream Blvd.) Port Charlotte-19675 Kenilworth Blvd. Open every Tues-Sat, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (No business or commercial waste is accepted)

A public service message from Water LIFe Magazine and Sea Grant

Charlotte Countyʼs Complete Swimming Pool Supplys Pool Repair and Maintenance Store


Specializing in Heaters and Pumps

Located in the Punta Gorda Crossing Shopping Center Next to Publix

Mon-Fri 9AM-5:30PM Sat 9AM-3PM

“Green Pool” Clean Up & Maintenance

Cape Coral April 3 thru April 13

Naples April 17 thru April 27

Cape Coral May 1 thru May 11

Water LIFE

April 2006





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Water LIFE


April 2006

Ever had a ʻhole in oneʼ? April 2006

By. Capt Dan Cambern Water LIFE Offshore Staff I have friends who think that golfing is a great sport. When I try to tell them how much I enjoy fishing and how challenging it can be because of the ‘unknown’ they just look at me funny and try to convince me that golfing is more of a challenge than fishing is. I have converted a few hard core golfers to the joys of fishing and they wonder now what the attraction was to whacking a little white ball all over a field trying to get it in the hole eighteen times. Others enjoy both sports but somehow never get really good at either one. Fishing is the most adverse sport I can think of. Some days it can be very relaxing, just kicking back on a river bank waiting for a nibble on the end of your line, while other times, when you hit it just right on a school of dolphin or tuna far offshore, it can be like a Chinese fire drill with three or four reels screaming as line is being ripped off each one. The real cool thing about it is that no matter which end of the spectrum you’re on there is nothing else in the world that even comes close to the experience of fishing. Think about it. When you go fishing for a day or even just a couple of hours you never know exactly what’s going to happen or what you’re going to catch. The only thing that even comes close to it is hunting. Both sports offer challenges and rewards like nothing else. Fishing is the only sport I can think of that lets you feel your opponent fight for its freedom while being tied together by something as thin as the hair on your head. The battle continues until either the

Hereʼs a new product about to hit the market. Earthfire, a fire ant eradicator that is said to ʻneutralizeʼ the colony instantly. The inventor told me you shoot this stuff into the anthill and you can reach in with your bare hands immediately. We asked for a demonstration but have not as yet received a sample

Water LIFE

angler wins by skillfully reeling all of the line back on to the reel or the fish pulls harder than the line can take and breaks off. Man against beast. It’s a battle of the wills. Nothing more rewarding even if the fish wins. It just means there’s another day to try to catch him again ... and no two days are ever the same. I look forward to that challenge. As I said before, this pursuit can take place either off of a bridge, pier, or river bank or you can jump in a boat and go almost anywhere you want to. Both approaches have their own advantages and challenges and both can be dangerous as well. Fishing in general can be hazardous to your health because of the accessories involved in catching and landing your fish. Hooks, knives, and gaffs are designed to penetrate and cut into fish or bait but will do the same thing to your hand if it gets in the way. Now, after you get your fish in the boat or on land you have to deal with the possibility of being whacked, bitten, poked by a spine, or sliced by a sharp gill plate. Add to that a rocking boat and a wet deck and now you’re ready for some real fun. Some people like to mix in some alcohol or other intoxicants to make things interesting. Not me, I want to be able to see that hook before it penetrates my skin. All kidding aside, you get the point, (pun intended) fishing can be dangerous. Most mishaps can be treated with a good first aid kit and a bottle of peroxide, although a short trip to the emergency room may be necessary for the inexperienced or weak at heart. In addition to a real good first aid kit it’s a good idea to know


Page 15

basic first aid and if you are going out on a boat as it may take some time before emergency help can arrive. If you are planning to go far to get your fishing-itch scratched there are a few more things you may need to consider. Remember this: the further you go – the more you need to tow. If you run offshore thirty, forty, sixty or a hundred miles, you are going to need more than the basic equipment required by the coast guard. To You never know what can happen when you go fishing begin with, I would upgrade all personal flotation devices (life vests) to class 1(commercial) for without a three to four days supply of food any trips beyond the coastline. Although it and fresh drinking water. You can freeze isn’t required for recreational boats an water in plastic bottles to keep in your EPIRB with a built in GPS should be on coolers and also have an extra five gallons board. Most of the newer VHF radios are or so stored somewhere on board. Be preequipped with an emergency DSC button pared to take your food and fresh water that will transmit your position to the with you if you have to abandon ship and coast guard if it is wired to your boats climb into your life raft. GPS, but if your boat sinks or you have Fishing can be as laid back and relaxing no battery power, the EPIRB is the only as you want it to be or it can be the ultilink you may have to be rescued. mate extreme sport. Knowing what the I used to think that an offshore life raft challenges and the risks involved are is was a luxury item that only big yachts part of the adventure, but if you’re premight have, but now I realize that they pared and plan properly you’ll be able to really are a necessity if you are going to make the most of any situation and live to make long runs offshore. A six man life tell about it. raft can be packed aboard any boat with If all of this sounds too extreme or minimal extra space and weight. A good complicated you can always take up golf. I EPIRB and life raft may cost anywhere hear it’s a pretty safe sport. from three to five thousand dollars and you may never need them, but it’s a small Capt Dan fishes from the dock s at the price to pay should the unexpected happen. Placida Fishery and can be reached for charSome items that you should have on ters or information at (941) 625-6226 board that won’t cost much, but can save your life if you are stranded are extra food and fresh water. I don’t leave the dock


3335 Trinidad Ct. - Florida living at its very finest. Gorgeous PGI home with newly re-modeled kitchen is perfect for people who love to cook and entertain. With two sinks, a cook top range, dual dishwashers, double oven, and tons of cabinet space, this kitchen has everything you are looking for. Call me today for all the details. $849,000 MLS 609944

21035 Randall Ave - This beautiful well kept Port Charlotte 3/2/2 home is priced to sell quickly. This home is a perfect family starter home. Located in a safe, quiet neighborhood with tons of room inside, and a fabulous yard. This deal will not last long, call me today for more details. $199.900. MLS#619072

Bayridge PlaceThis prime river front property is now on the market and will not last long. With over 10,550 square feet this cul-desac, oversized lot is just waiting to be built on. Stunning view of the Peace River, with a breathtaking view of our one of a kind west coast Florida sunsets. Call me today for more details. $999,000. MLS#628570

4418 North Shore Dr.- This completely remodeled 2/2 pool home is located directly on Charlotte Harbor. The breathtaking view of Charlotte Harbor is unsurpassable. Enjoy a Florida sunset every evening. A new dock will be installed, at this price. Call me today for more details on this one of a kind deal. $1,250,000 MLS#622782

Riverside Drive - This SPECTACULAR Riverfront estate site is just waiting for your new estate. With 100 ft. dock and breath taking view of the Peace River, this deal will not last long. Call me today for more details on this one of a kind property. $1,650,000. MLS#626972

2900 Palm Dr. - 1997 Custom Built Home on oversized ! corner lot in UCED! D E R Charlotte Park area. Some of this 3/2/2 pool homes fabulous features include: a newly redone pebble teck pool with an automatic cleaner, new roof with warranty, new heat pump with warranty, garden tub in the master bath, porcelain tile, and newer carpet. Call me today for more details. $299,500 MLS#616642

Page 18

Water LIFE

April 2006


Holding Fish Horizontally Water LIFE Staff Report Fish are horizontal creatures. This is not a scientific breakthrough. Fish spend their lives swimming around horizontally and, more importantly, they they do it in a zero buoyancy condition. Zero buoyancy like zero gravity is when things neither rise nor fall. Scuba divers maintain zero buoyancy with a buoyancy compensator (BC) vest. A diver starts out ‘heavy’ with lead weights on his belt to counterbalance today’s lightweight aluminum scuba tanks and uses the air in his ‘BC’ to arrive at zero buoyancy. You don’t feel the extra lead weight in the water because you have extra air, extra buoyancy, in your BC to keep you in balance. When the diver wants to descend he lets air out, when he wants to ascend he puts air in. It’s like an elevator. Buoyancy is critical stuff under the water. Unfortunately, when the diver climbs back onto the

boat he is now climbing aboard with 10 or 15 pounds of lead in his pockets. Out of the water in positive gravity that’s weight he can feel. Today, we are being asked to think about fish in this same perspective – as a creature of perfect zero buoyancy able to regulate their own steady state in order to rise or fall in the water column. The difference between a fish and a scuba diver with a BC vest is that fish live their entire life in zero buoyancy and scuba divers achieve zero buoyancy only for short periods of time. Divers are accustomed to positive gravity on land, fish are used to zero gravity in the water. When you take a fish out of the water, suddenly there are different forces acting upon it. Fish biologists are now saying gravity can actually harm a fish’s internal organs, or if it struggles on a Boga Grip the force can break its jaw. A fish’s organs are not ‘designed’ to be stretched apart

(lengthwise) which is what fish biologists say happens if the fish is hung vertically for very long. Like the diver who comes out of the water with a pocket full of lead, the fish’s organs are stressed by positive gravity in a way that is unnatural. With bigger fish the internal organs can tear. Biologists suggest, if you hang a fish vertically, like on a Boga Grip, weigh it quickly and return the fish to the water. Vertical time is critical. There is a school of thought that says even though these fish are released, they may still die from injuries afterwards but that needs more research. Ideally, a fish should be unhooked while still in the water. The question may no longer be: ‘Are the fish being handled in such a way as to promote their chances of living?’ The question could now be: ‘Are we doing anything that might unintentionally kill them?’

April 2006

Placida Deep Sea Fishing

Water LIFE

Page 19


Roomy, Comfortable and Dry

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Dick Erdman,with his crew of Sam, Todd, Fred, and Brian with a fulllimit of lane, yellowtail, and grey snapper.

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Old Bay Side's Heavy Hooks are the perfect alternate to a jig head for soft plastics. The result is the weight is centered and hidden inside the soft bait for a more finesse and subtle presentation. The ribbed Cone-Keeper lead collar holds plastic baits better than glue. Heavy Hooks come in 4 sizes - 1/16, 1/8, 3/16 and 1/4 ounce and the finishes are available in black nickel or bleeding bait.

May 6

Water LIFE Kids Cup Mark your Calendar

the top 5 kids fish in the ESPN REdfish Cup the following week end

Area Real Estate News

Page 20

PROVIDED BY: Dav e & Marl ene Ho fer RE/ MAX Harbo r Real ty (9 4 1 ) 5 7 5 -3 7 7 7 dho fer@remax . net mho fer@remax . net

1 . Publ i x has inked an offer to purchase the controversial 88 acre site from the Charlotte County Airport Authority. They are now offering $87K per acre, well below the Authority's appraised value of $150K but well above their original deal at $36K. Some infighting is taking place between the Authority and Charlotte County over the number of curb cuts to be permitted along the new road that will connect Rt17 with Jones Loop Road.

2 . Lennar Ho mes and Zuckerman Pro perti es have both been eliminated from consideration for the Murdoch Village development. Lennar's plans called for too much commercial/industrial development to suit the County's review committee. Zuckerman's too sketchy. Stock Development appears to have the inside track. Their proposall includes 2869 residences (10% of them targeted to be priced at less than $190K) and 1.7 mil sq feet of commercial space with 366 acres of park land.

3 . Charl o tte Co unty Co urtho us e renovations are now slated to begin in December. It appears that the County and City will find a way to ignore the petition to put the redevelopment decision to voters through referendum.

4 . The No rth Po rt/ Saras o ta Co unty lot auction is nearly complete. All but 5 lots were purchased via the internet auction. Prices ranged from $20K to more than $50K with an average price of about $40K. The real estate market will be holding its breath hoping that these 2,000 lots won't find their way back to the open market again.

5 . After s ucces s ful l y o ut maneuv eri ng HMA to build a new hospital in North Port, United Health Systems has thrown in the towel in its fight to overturn the court ordered denial of a Certificate of Need. City council is wiping the egg off its face after endorsing UHS as the contractor rather than just seeking approval


Water LIFE

to locate a new facility at Price and Toledo Blade as HMA had pleaded. 6 . Centex will be developing Cypress falls, a 230 residence development just east of Toledo Blade and South of I-75.

7 . Gul f Co v e will get a new Home Depot and Target on Rt 776. Paradise Development is trying to get existing streets at Kewitt & Wilmington vacated.

8 . Charl o tte Hi g h was demolished this month.

9 . Smug g l er's Res taurants (Harpoon Harry's & Captain's Table at Fisherman's Village) have offered to build an upscale seafood restaurant and add a fountain and other cosmetic improvements as part of the Laishley Park Marina development. Although the City is trying to minimize the budget for this project by eliminating superfluous stuff like landscaping, they are reluctant to get into a public/private partnership citing potential delays in the Corps of Engineers permitting process.

1 0 . Punta Go rda voted to permit variations to the 50ft height limitation for City Marketplace. The 7 story hotel will be 79ft at the rooftop, the 110 unit condominium buildings will reach a height of 55 ft. Construction must be started within 2 years. Maybe their dispute with Beall's can be resolved by then so that this development can move forward. 11 . Is l es o f Athena passed through the SW Florida Regional Planning Council. The former Kelse Ranch will be replaced with 15,000 new homes over a 12 years construction plan beginning in 2008. TLH Boss Corp of W Palm will likely fund most of the cost of the construction of a new interchange on I-75 between Toledo Blade and Kings Highway. Sal es Stati s ti cs :

Inventories continue to climb but prices are giving up ground grudgingly. Lots available now total 9,302 vs 4,047 last year and just 1,010 in February 2004. Home inventory has rocketed to 4,019 vs. 920 last year and 555 just two years ago! Median prices are only slightly below where they were 6 months ago and up substantially from 12 months ago. Some


April 2006

Capt Tom McGill continues to raise questioins about Manatee Zones Dear FWC Commissioners: After reviewing the available manatee mortality data of over more than a quarter of a century for the 13 manatee counties, I have noted that the use of slow speed zones has not systematically reduced watercraft-related manatee mortality in most areas with murky waters, which is virtually all of Florida except at a few spring areas. The FWC staff has not demonstrated the effectiveness of such zones in any scientific manner! They have simply assumed such zones are effective, and I can show statistically that their assumption is in error as well as provide the scientific basis for why such zones are ineffective in murky waters. I have attempted on several occasions to have the FWC staff review my analysis, but they have simply stated they disagree without reviewing my analysis or providing any specific rationale. They have essentially stonewalled on the issues. After a presentation (earlier version of the attached) I gave at the University of Florida last April, the FWC representative was asked at the meeting how he would respond to my stated data and position regarding the apparent ineffectiveness of slow speed zones to which he replied, "We are in contact with Captain McGill."

Since the use of such zones has significant impact on those who use the waterways, it is only reasonable that the FWC staff be required to demonstrate with empirical data that such zones are effective-otherwise such zones should be eliminated or at least higher speed corridors provided in the channels of such zones to mitigate the impact on the waterway user. Opinions and unsubstantiated claims should have no place in this discussion since the science and data are available to definitively assess the effectiveness of such zones. I request that the FWC Commission require the agency staff to provide the available data that scientifically justifies such zones and to publicize that data after which they should conduct an open public review of the data. Those who desire

to participate should not be constrained by a 3 minute allotted time for comment. I would like to present the data I have derived from the FWC's own manatee mortality database which questions the effectiveness of such zones, and in fact, may identify a higher risk to the manatee as a result of such slow speed zones in murky waters, which finding is consistent with a noted scientist's research. I believe that ~ 1 1/2 hours would be sufficient to demonstrate to you that such zones have no scientific basis or justification. As an alternate, the Commission could require the FWC Executive Director and his staff to conduct an open work shop facilitated by an independent organization such as the National Academy of Science (NAS). It's important that the facilitator be totally independent and scientifically competent which is why I suggest the NAS. The Marine Mammal Commission (MMC) is not an acceptable alternate facilitator for several important reasons. If the data reviewed at the workshop justifies the use of such zones in murky waters then it would be to the advantage of FWC to reach such a conclusion. However, if the data does not support the use of such zones in murky waters, then the zones should be eliminated or at a minimum have higher speed corridors provided. I have attached a power point show that addresses several important issues. I have since re-analyzed the data that is involved which has lead me to some important conclusions. If my position is correct, the FWS and FWC have based their primary manatee protection efforts on bad assumptions and a flawed understanding of the causative factors involved in vessel-manatee collisions. I would be pleased to review the data, observations and conclusions with the Commission at a meeting that is dedicated to the review of this matter at any mutually acceptable time. I look forward to the Commission's response. Respectfully, Capt. Tom McGill

The Peace River is Next

April 2006

Crab Trap Cleanup Scheduled

By Capt. Betty S taugler Water LIFE / Sea Grant March 20th and 21st marked the fifth annual Boca Grande Pass Cleanup event. 114 participants participated this year, resulting in 3,377 lbs. of debris being removed from the pass bottom. The pass cleanup is organized by the Boca Grande Pass Enhancement Fund, which is comprised of a group of concerned individuals whose objective is to restore and enhance the quality of Boca Grande Pass and its surrounding waters. The annual two day pass cleanup enlists volunteer divers, boat captains and support crews. This year, 33 government, civic and private associations participated, making it the largest event yet. In the Enhancement Fund’s five years of existence, 25,692 lbs. of marine debris have been removed from the pass, so I think it's safe to say, the group is achieving its objective! So what's next in the world of marine cleanup efforts? On April 10th, a much smaller pilot cleanup effort of derelict crab traps will occur in the Peace River. Sponsored by Florida Sea Grant Extension and the Manatee Entanglement Working Group, this cleanup will be the first of its kind in the Peace.

According to a 2004 Bay Soundings article, approximately 30-50% of the 350,000 crab traps fished in Florida waters become ghost traps every year, abandoned at the end of the season or lost when lines break or floats are lost. Ghost traps don't stop working just because no one is servicing them. Crabs that enter the trap for the original bait die and become bait themselves, attracting a wide variety of marine critters, including diamondback terrapins, spotted seatrout, mullet, snook, stone crabs and spider crabs. Derelict crab traps also pose a hazard to boaters as I'm sure many readers are already aware. Once the float is lost, crab traps are difficult to see from the waters surface. Once lost, a blue crab trap can remain in the environment for well over a decade, as a result of the vinyl

Recently some local area crabbers have taken to using sections of styrofoam swim ʻnoodlesʼ on PVC pipe to mark their traps. These markers are even harder to see than the old style crab trap buoys.

coated metal material used in trap construction, and the fouling that often occurs. Until recently, it was illegal to remove crab traps, even those without floats, without the owner's permission. New legislation now allows for cleanup efforts with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved cleanup plans. Cleanup plans and on the ground efforts must comply with Florida Administrative Codes 68B-55.004 for cleanups, and 68B-55.001 which defines a derelict trap as any trap (during any closed season for the species), or any fishable trap (with six intact sides) during the open season that lacks three or more of the following elements: buoy, line, current trap identification, or current license.

Cleanup personnel must be authorized by the Commission and identified within the plan along with any vessel being used in the cleanup. These measures are in place to ensure full protection of our commercial crabbers and their active traps. In addition to removing derelict traps, cleanup personnel will also be collecting bycatch information. This information is important as scientists for the last several years have been working with commercial crabbers to design and retrofit traps to minimize the amount and types of bycatch species found in active and derelict crab traps. It is our hope that this pilot effort will lead the way to future derelict crab trap cleanup efforts around the harbor.

Betty Staugler, the Charlotte Sea Grant Agent, can be reached at 941-764-4346.

Water LIFE

Page 21



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Water LIFE

Page 22

Mad Fin

Shark Experience

By Capt. Robert Moore Water LIFE Senior Staff Last year I was invited down to Key West, Florida to compete in a new shark tournament being produced for ESPN. The difference in this tournament is that it was going to be an all catch and release style shark tournament. Thanks to Hurricane Wilma the tournament was cancelled and rescheduled for March, 2006. For the rescheduled event my partner was Capt. Mike Mahan, from Port Charlotte, Florida. His vast knowledge of the Florida Keys and shark fishing, plus the fact we have been fishing side by side for years in the Redfish Tournament trails made him the perfect fit for this made for TV shark tournament. The tournament format was pretty simple. Two man teams down in Key West catching sharks. The twist was they had to be caught and then released alive. Depending on the species of shark, points were awarded. Bonus points were rewarded for hook removal, first fish caught, most fish caught and the largest fish caught. The tournament was for three days with an elimination process after each day. Day one started with 7 teams, day two with six teams and day three with 4 teams. Mike and I went into this tournament thinking we were at a huge disadvantage and

needed every moment on the water we could get. We were the only team that didn’t live and guide in the Keys. We treated it just like any other tournament. Researching on the internet, reviewing charts, doing whatever we could do to gain knowledge about the area. We arrived in Big Pine Key 5 days prior to the tournament only to be greeted with a strong cold front. For the first 4 days the wind blew at a minimum of 20 knots and turned every flat and the surrounding waters to chocolate milk. We didn’t even see a shark in those first 4 days. To say the least the confidence factor going into our last day of prefishing was not high. On our last day of pre-fishing we put in at Key West and decided to make the twentyfive mile hike west to the Marquesas. As we drifted up to the northwest shoreline we immediately observed the water was much cleaner. As we drifted over a few sand holes mixed in with the grass we saw numerous barracuda. Out came the light tackle rigged with top water plugs. For the next three hours we had the time of our life catching barracuda from 15-40 inches. Every barracuda was kept and put on ice for bait for the tournament. As we drifted over one sand hole in about 5 foot of water a nice size lemon shark came by the boat. Mike quickly grabbed a bigger rig and tossed a chunk of


barracuda at him. The shark instantly grabbed the bait and fish on! Over the next several hours we saw numerous sharks cruising the flats on the northwest side of the Marquesas Keys. The water was crystal clear and it wasn’t hard to see 6-9 ft sharks swimming 200-300 yards away. Our frowns that had seemed to be permanently painted on our faces from the first 4 days of pre-fishing were quickly washed away with all the life we had seen on this flat. Day 1 After the usual shotgun start from Oceanside Marina we headed west through the Lakes Passage and over to the northwest corner of the Marquesas Keys. The tide was ripping out as we anchored up on a sand hole in about 4-5 feet of water. We started our chum slick with several butterflied barracuda and a tube of Double Strike Chum. Mike got the shark rigs ready to go and I continued to chum by chopping up filets of barracuda into small pieces and scattering them behind the boat. I honestly thought it would take at least 15-30 minutes before we saw any action. But five minutes after we had anchored up I saw what looked like a mini submarine pushing a wall of water several hundred feet behind the boat. Mike and I quickly grabbed our rods and tossed out chunks of barracuda. The mini submarine had now taken a more defined shape and looked like a 7-8 bull shark. The one thing I can remember about that moment is that it felt like my heart was going to beat right out of my chest. You want to talk about the ultimate adrenaline rush, this was it. The shark swam around our baits for a few minutes and finally grabbed my bait. The clicker on my Quantum Cabo 30 levelwind started a slow click at first and then started to scream. Our hook of choice was the Daiichi 7/0 Circle Chuck Light hook, so setting the hook was as simple as closing the bail and putting heavy pressure on the fish. The circle hook did all the work and did it’s job very well. Part of our game plan was to throw our anchor line that was connected to a buoy overboard and chase down the fish. Thirty minutes later we landed our first shark and

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April 2006

quickly headed back to our buoy and started our chum slick once again. Within 10 minutes we counted 4 sharks behind the boat once again. After another hook up and another 30 minute fight we returned to our buoy once again only to find the tide had turned and was now coming in. Mike mentioned that the day before we had seen more sharks up closer to the shoreline in about 4 foot of water on the incoming tide. So we reanchored on a nice sandy bottom about 300 yards offshore in about 3 foot of water. Well what happened for the next 4 hours is simply explained like this - we chummed, lots of sharks came to the back of the boat, a shark would eat our bait, the shark was caught. At one time we counted 9 sharks in the 6-9 foot range competing to find our chunks of barracuda on the bottom. By the end of the day we landed 5 large lemon sharks. Days 2 & 3 Days 2 & 3 were pretty much the same scenario. Day two there was no wind and the sharks seemed to be really aggressive, more so than day 1. The only problem was that the sharks were not only more aggressive, they were all consistently much bigger. Each fight turned into 45-60 minute fights. With only 10-15 minutes of rest in between each fight, your arms become like Jello rather quickly. After day 2 was over we had landed 6 lemon sharks, one well over the 9 ft mark. We also got bonus points for the most sharks landed. On day three the wind really picked up making it impossible to chum. The wind and tide were opposing each other and our slick was going no where. Mike and I decided to run to out to deeper water and drift with the wind up onto the flat. We simply put our baits 2 feet under a balloon about 100 feet behind the boat. That seemed to be the ticket for we instantly started hooking up on fish. The second fish we hooked was a little over 9 ft giving us the biggest fish of the day. We only landed three sharks on day three. I honestly lost count on how many fish we conti nued on faci ng page

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April 2006

Choosing the right Kayak; Size Matters

By Davi d Al l en Water LIFE Kayaking The Next S tep i n Choosi ng a Kayak

Kayaking is rapidly becoming one of the most popular outdoor activities in southwest Florida. And the reasons are clear; kayaking is a healthy way to get out into the sun and onto the water. You can enjoy the abundant wildlife, get some good exercise, and socialize with friends and acquaintances. How can you beat that combination! Plus the simple fact that southwest Florida has some of the best kayaking venues in the U.S. Many and varied creeks and rivers, with the Gulf always waiting for the more adventuresome. We have the Everglades to our south, and beautiful bays from Charlotte Harbor to Tampa Bay just waiting to be explored. So where is all this leading? To the fact that there are a lot of newcomers to kayaking, and most don't presently own a kayak. And, they want to know what kind of kayak to buy. Last month, I briefly discussed the pros and cons of selecting either a sit-in or siton-top kayak. In this article, I'll try to point out some of the things you may want to consider before you buy your first kayak, whether a sit-in or sit-on-top. Let's start by stating that there is no perfect kayak for all boaters. All kayaks have certain design characteristics and abilities, and they compromise on other characteristics. For example, everyone would like a light, fast kayak that stays straight on course, yet is quick to turn, handles waves well, and has lots of storage space for gear. Such an ideal kayak doesn't exist, regardless of what the manufacturers try to tell you. To correctly select from the range of kayak characteristics that are best for you, it helps to look first at the basics. It may sound trite, but your kayak should fit you well, and should be one you can comfortably paddle for at least several hours. By fit I mean your body size and weight, your flexibility to get in and out of the cockpit, and your strength in handling the kayak both in the water and getting the boat on and off the top of your car. The cockpit should fit you snugly but not uncomfortably. A good fit is essential to your control of the kayak, whether you are turning the boat or taking it over

Water LIFE

waves or wakes. Plan on spending a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes in a candidate boat to see if you are still comfortable at the end of that period. Most kayakers want a stable boat, especially those new to the sport. Hull shape has some effect on stability, but the beam of the boat and the height of the seat above the bottom are the key factors. The beam of most commercial kayaks varies between 21 and 25 inches. While this seems to be a small difference, the change in stability is very large. Also a wider boat will be slower and take more energy to paddle. There is also some sacrifice in the handling characteristics. A narrow kayak is more efficient because of the longer waterline and because the paddle stroke is closer to the centerline of the kayak. The length of the kayak is the dimension most often used to describe a kayak, and with good reason. A longer kayak will always be faster than a shorter kayak given equal width. The longer kayak will track better, be more stable, easier to paddle and will carry a greater load. On the other hand, shorter kayaks are lighter, easier to load and unload form a car, and less expensive. They are more easily handled in the twists and turns of narrow creeks and rivers. Again, the length of the kayak that's best for you depends upon what kind of kayaking you plan to do. You would not take a short kayak on a weekend camping trip or for a longer offshore trip down the coast. But a short kayak would be very satisfactory for day trips and a tour of the local bays and creeks. Having said that, longer kayaks are regularly used in all the streams in this area. Another question that often arises when buying a kayak concerns the inclusion of a rudder, or a skeg. The rudder is attached to the stern of the kayak and can change the direction of movement by foot pedals inside the cockpit. Rudders make the kayak easier to turn and can be a valuable addition to your boat. A skeg is mounted about 2 ft. from the stern of the kayak and can only move down into the water or up into the kayak. A skeg improves tracking, but cannot be use to turn the kayak as with a rudder. But the skeg is particularly valuable in holding the kayak straight when there is a strong wind from the stern quarter or a crosswind. There are many more kayak design features that have an influence on the per-

Page 23


formance and the paddler's enjoyment of the boat. Some of these additional considerations are, hull shape, rocker, chines (hard, soft), volume, and bow shape. But these are usually secondary to those factors mentioned above. Again, if you hope to find a kayak that is comfortable and performs as you expect, there is no substitute for trying out as many different types of boat as possible. Plan on spending at least 20-30 minutes in each boat, and if possible try the boat out under different conditions. Paddling in waves or wakes will be very different from flatwater paddling. A strong wind can also make a huge difference in how a kayak handles. Kayak demos are an event held by local kayak stores that provide buyers a chance to try out many different kayaks. At these demos, a kayak store will bring 15-25 different kayaks and a range of paddles to a beach for your evaluation. Take advantage of this opportunity and try out all the kayaks that may interest you. Even experiment a little. Try out a kayak that is very different from your pre-conceived notions. You may be surprised to find just the kayak you were looking for.

The Port Charlotte Kay ak ers meet each Wednesday ev ening at 5:30, at Port Charlotte Beach Park . All newcomers are welcome. Contact Dav e Allen at 941-235-2588 or for more information.


hooked and lost. Several tail whips and a lobster trap had broken our lines along with several pulled hooks during the initial run. Overall in three days we landed 14 lemon sharks, the smallest being 7 ft. The Mad Fin Shark experience was by far my best yet. As for where we placed overall in the tournament you will have to watch the entire Mad Fin Shark Series on ESPN2 at 10am April 9th, 16th and 23rd to find out for yourself. Capt Robert Moore can be reached for charter or fishing information at (941) 637-5710 or on the internet at

Mad Fin TV Schedule

April 9 at 10am April 16 at 10am April 23 at 10am ESPN2

Lots of Changes

Water LIFE

Page 24

By Fi s hi n’ Frank Water LIFE Senior Guide Lots of changes are taking place around Charlotte Harbor and the Peace River. The Federal Fish and Wildlife Service has given the go-ahead to remove the cut off pilling stubs from the Peace River and reinstall the manatee signs, however a few changes are being made. The area between the U.S. 41 bridges will now be a ‘Run Zone’ or resume normal safe operation. The shorelines will still be ‘slow speed minimum wake’ with a new 1000-foot sign boundary saying slow speed to shore. The beginning of Hunter Creek from Harbor Heights to almost the power lines is now a 25 m.p.h. zone. It was previously slow speed. This change will direct the boat traffic away from the other fork of Hunter Creek creating a quiet zone in the pristine part of the river. Slow speed in this area will be strictly enforced – expect a ticket not a warning here. The mouth of Shell Creek will remain slow speed, however the main body of the creek from the turn to the island by the trestle is now a 25 m.p.h. zone. These changes in Federal regulations mirror the state’s Boaters Guide and make it easier to understand the rules since the state and federal regulations are now the same. The places that have increased speed zones have been checked with sonar and also from the Charlotte County Sheriff's helicopter in an effort to ensure safety for the boating public. Hats off to the Sheriff's department for helping to make these changes and to their concern for the people of this county and our visitors. When help was asked for they did not hesitate. And special thanks to Andy Kobel of the Sheriff's office, Jim Valade, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Betty Staugler from Sea Grant. If you know of any manatee signs down or underwater that are still creating a problem please call 941-625-3888, leave a message for me and I will personally see that it is fixed or removed. Every thing that can be done will be done to make sure the waterways in these zones are as safe as possible. The old signs and pillings were removed last month and now the new signs have been put up. These are good changes providing a quiet space for the animals and a more reasonable waterway for the boaters. NOW ON TO THE FISHING. Fishing in Charlotte Harbor has been great or lousy depending on who you talk to. The reds have been out on the flats in the holes. Remember, a hole in Charlotte Harbor may only mean a difference of 3 inches, but when the water is 12 inches deep that is quite a difference. Look for dark colored spots with

April 2006





Cow nosed ray

grass. The dark back of a redfish makes these a great hiding place. Watch for ripples on the water that do not match the wave pattern in shallows. When fish move they often create wakes similar to a boat. Cast in front of the wake and let your bait sit still. The fish will move up to it. This is one of the best ways of catching reds in the shallow flats. Learning what the wake of a school of red fish looks like can be tricky, but I would rather cast at the wrong thing than miss a bite. Watching and casting at moving wakes for a while will soon teach you the difference between a school of mullet, a school of reds or just rouge wind-pattern waves. Most of the guides look for their fish. They do not just blindly cast into the water. Sight fishing is like learning to read a foreign language. It just takes time and the ‘want’ to do it. One of the best places to learn this is Mangrove Point just south of Ponce De Leon park. There are plenty of reds on this flat along with grassy bottom, pot holes and almost no water to cover them. Drifting your boat or wading the flats is the best way to see this. If you decide to wade watch for stingrays they are here and increasing in number everyday. Cow nose rays are everywhere in the harbor right now and are a tremendous fight when hooked up. Unlike the stingray which goes down and tries to hug the bottom the cow nose gives a long run similar to a bonefish then settles in for a fight. There are also plenty of silver trout which looks just like a spotted trout, but have no spots and has a purple mouth. They are very good eating and there is no size or bag limits. Silver trout can be found in good numbers all along the I75 bridge. Sugar trout are in thick right now at El JoBean and make great snook and cobia bait. Sugar trout are more like a perch and taste just as good as you would expect perch to taste. Yes you have to clean a bunch to get a meal, but what a meal it is. Thanks for putting up with our mess and construction at Fishin’ Franks. We are having to expand into another room since Robert keeps complaining I am putting 12 pounds of stuff in a five


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April 2006

Flatsm as ters Grand Sla m P lug Water LIFE

Page 25


Team Waterproof Charts Sweeps Field In Record Setting Flatsmasters! March 4, 2006 Harpoon Harry's, Punta Gorda, Florida

Flatsmasters begins airing on the SunSports TV Network (Comcast Channel 38) on April 7th at 6:30pm.

First Round

Results and Standings

First Place: Team Waterproof Charts Trout: 1.85 / Red 6.85 / Snook:9.35 Capt. Miles Meredith, Anglers: Eric Carstensen, Mike Carstensen

Total: 18.05 Lbs.

Points: 150

Third Place: Bad Fish Trout: 2.6 / Red: 7.15 / Snook: 6.25 Capt. Mike Hurst, Anglers: Chris Magnano, Brandon Buckner

Total:16 Lbs.

Points: 148

Second Place: Team Renegade Trout: 2 / Red: 6.65 / Snook: 8.2 Capt. Brian Harris, Anglers: Troy Gale, Ozzie Lessinger Fourth Place: Team G-Loomis Capt. Eric Davis, Angler: Matt Persons

Fifth Place: Team Maverick/Pathfinder Capt. Jay Withers, Angler: Mike Manis

Trout: 2.65 / Red: 6.05 / Snook: 6.75 Trout: 1.95 / Red: 5.3 / Snook: 7.85

Sixth Place: Team Whitney/Murphy/Objartel Trout: 3.3 / Red: 4.75 / Snook: 6.45 Capt. Brian Whitney, Anglers: Travis Murphy, John Objartel Seventh Place: Team Latham/Latham/Haag Trout: 3.1 / Red: 5.75 / Snook: 5.2 Capt. Dan Latham, Anglers: Homer Latham, Matt Haag Eighth Place: Parcell Express Trout: 3.2 / Red: 5.2 / Snook: 5.6 Capt. Patrick Mason, Anglers: Aaron Sutcliffe, Mick Hahn

Ninth Place: Team King Enterprises Trout: 2.5 / Red: 2.55 / Snook: 8.55 Capt. Ryan Rowan, Anglers: Bucky Dennis, Jimmy Willis Tenth Place: Team Bent Rods Trout: 3 / Red: 5.1 / Snook: 4.8 Capt. Paul Lambert, Anglers: Donald Lambert, Gene Weidemoyer

Total: 16.85 Lbs

Total: 15.45 Lbs. Total: 15.1 Lbs.

Points: 149

Points: 147

Points 146

Total: 14.5 Lbs.

Points: 145

Total: 14 Lbs.

Points: 143

Total: 14.05 Lbs.

Total: 13.6 Lbs. Total: 12.9

Points: 144

Points: 142

Points: 141

Water LIFE S taff Report By Capt. Jerry Cl effi Tournament Director Everything about the beginning of the 2006 Flatsmasters season was exciting. With the field set for the season at 122 teams and over 350 anglers, The Maverick Boats Flatsmasters Series can boast as being the largest backwater tournament series in Florida. The captain's meeting was moved to the Charlotte County Tentatorium to accommodate close to 400 anglers, guests, and friends of the Flatsmasters series. But were those teams ready for the challenge at hand? With 40 new teams in the field, many had never fished this type of event before now. The challenge at hand was the Grand Slam Plug tournament, the first leg of the Maverick Boats Flatsmasters series. This is an event that is gaining a reputation as the most challenging inshore tournament in Florida. Teams are required to catch a legal snook, redfish, and trout in one day using only artificial lures, a task that is challenging enough without the added twist of fishing head-to-head against some of Florida's top anglers. Tournament day brought slightly cooler weather and a prediction of possibly a slower bite, but when the scales opened at 1:30 p.m., team after team showed promise as many weighed at least 2 of the species required. Usually the missing species is the snook, hard enough to catch on a relaxing day, even more so on a tournament day using only lures, but today the snook were cooperating, a total of 27 snook were caught and released – a Flatsmasters Plug tournament record. Even more impressive was that 22 teams captured the trio for a Grand Slam – 22 ‘slams’ shatters the Flatsmasters record. For example, in 2005, out of 85 teams, there were only 7 ‘slams’ total for the field. As the field weighed in, many teams were posting 10, to 12 lbs.

S ome teams had a great red or a f a t snook, but just co u l dn ' t put a qu a l i t y triple together.

All photos by Lester Kuhn Photography

Miles Meredith and his long time partners Mike and Eric Carstensen have been fishing for years as Team Waterproof Charts and have put together an impressive list of tournament accomplishments including the "2005 Flatsmasters Team of the Year" Pressure doesn't bother these guys, they just quietly get the job done. On a day when the field was in a snook frenzy, they dropped a 9.35-pound linesider on the scales, then followed up with a 6.85-pound redfish and a 1.85-pound trout. Team Waterproof Charts plowed their way to first place with a total of 18.05-pounds. In a distant second was Team Renegade with Brian Harris, Troy Gale, and Ozzie Lessenger who amassed a total of 16.85-pounds. On this day, 90 of 122 teams weighed in fish, it was evident that everyone wanted a jump on the points to start the year off right. Teams gather points in a race where the top 40 will be invited to the prestigious Flatsmasters Championship in October. The Flatsmasters Grand Slam Plug Tournament is only Florida based Backcountry Tournament series filmed and televised on the SunSports TV Network. It also is the only major tournament series to allow wade-fishing which adds a different competitive twist for the anglers. The Flatsmasters is a 4 tournament Series and unlike other series the Flatsmasters requires teams to catch a different combination of species using artificials or live bait in each event. The end result is the Flatsmasters champions can boast as being truly the best in their sport.

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Water LIFE

Page 26

April 2006


The Stink of Spring?

The barefoot season begins with Burning of the Socks ceremony.

Capt. Medina sent us this March photo of the newly fenced in Laishley Park boat ramp area. Boaters now have to leave their trailers at the other end of the park while new powerlines are strung across the river.

Screaming Reels

By Capt. Andrew Medi na Water LIFE Staff In late March we were once again blessed with another cold front, which gave us cooler temperatures, high winds, and choppy inland waters. Late March also gave us white bait, tons and tons of white bait. Some days we were taking 3 throws with a 12-foot net and the wells were blacked out with bait. Snook are also on the move. All I can say is that the snook are exactly where they were this time last year ... everywhere! I’ve been fishing mostly points and structures on a moving tide. It didn’t matter incoming or outgoing. As long as there was water movement there were fish. With a few chummers swimming freely, the snook soon showed themselves and it wasn’t long before they were boated. We’ve been doing the best with white bait under a float, with about 12 to 18 inches of fluorocarbon leader and a number 2 or 3 circle hook. The circle hook is important this time of year, because of

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the number of ‘shorts’ you will encounter. It’s not uncommon to catch 20 or so little guys, that don’t measure up. With the circle hook it’s less likely to deep-throat hook the fish. Trout are still around mostly in the potholes. Larger fish have been coming from the deeper holes on the Pine Island flats. Just about any shrimp imitation will produce ‘specs.’ Now on to my favorite: redfish. They’re showing up, but are very scattered. I’m not seeing pods of upper slot-fish, just mostly singles and a lot of rats running around. There have been some good keepers on the north side of Turtle Bay, and up the West Wall near Cape Haze point, but these fish are spooky. Long casts are your best bet, with smaller baits. Hopefully as the water warms, the redfish will become more cooperative. Until then, all I can say is expect long slow days. You will probably have to work for your fish. Be safe on the water, take a kid fishing, and just have fun. Capt. Andy Medina can be reached at (941) 456-1540 or on the web at:

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S t aff R eport : We came across this story by by Kristen Wyatt in the Ft lauderdale Sun–Sentinel: In sailing-crazy Annapolis, boaters celebrate the first day of spring with a ceremonial Burning of the Socks, signifying it will soon be warm enough to wear boat shoes without socks. The tradition began in the mid 1980s, when an employee at Annapolis Yacht Yard tired of his winter days doing engine maintenance on yachts and power boats. He stripped off his stinky socks, put them in a paint can with some lighter fluid and drank a beer while looking forward to warmer days ahead. "There's a whole industry of people who work all winter long on people's boats so that they'll be in shape for their owners to go out and play all summer,"said Jeff Holland, director of Annapolis Maritime Museum. But the sock-burning ritual, which attracted more than 130 people Monday evening, now draws more than boatyard workers. Even wealthy sailboat owners delight in throwing tube socks and panty hose on the flames in this town, whose residents have a special disdain for socks. On Monday, celebrants speculated how long until they could go barefoot without

their toes reddening from the cold. The most hard core sock haters refuse to wear them from the spring equinox until the first day of winter. "The uniform is deck shoes and khaki pants in winter. The uniform is deck shoes and khaki shorts in summer." The sock bonfire is a way of remembering Annapolis' bygone days of workingclass watermen who brought in crabs in the summer and scraped the paint off wooden vessels in the winter. These days, waterfront lots go for millions, and the bonfire revelers retire for crab cakes and oysters after burning their

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ON THE LINE April 2006

Water LIFE

Fishing with Capt. Ron Blago

Fishing is great. People always ask me when is the best time to go fishing. The answer is right now. This is the best time of year to go fishing. The weather is fine; the rainy season hasn't started so the water is crystal clear and most importantly, the fish are here and they are hungry. If you don't go fishing in the next month you better have a good excuse. I'm not the only one that knows how good the fishing is now. Judging by the number of trailers at the boat ramps, even on the week days, everyone else has figured it out too. Whitebait is already showing up in the Harbor and in Lemon Bay. I'm sure that when we get a little rain the snook will leave the creeks for the open water in order to put some weight on before they spawn. This is when they are the most active. This is a good time of year to use top water plugs in shallow water. I've been doing really well jigging the flats in Lemon Bay with my old standby gold metal flake Cotee jig grub tail. A pleasant surprise is the number of pompano that have been showing up, both inshore and on the beach. Some friends have been limiting out on pompano near Englewood Beach using sand fleas. Last year because of all the red tide you couldn't find a sand flea. This year they are back and so are the pompano. Another thing I've noticed is the large number of big ladyfish that are on the flats. If you just want to catch fish for

fun, these are the ones to go for. An hour of catching ladyfish on light tackle and your arm will fall off. It’s also a good way to learn how to use artificial lures. They will bite anything. Here is a tip, keep a few of those ladyfish in the freezer. Ladyfish cut into chunks is killer bait for snook when fishing at night off a pier or bridge. I've been able to put my customers on to some good redfish around some of the local docks, especially on an incoming tide. Remember to only take one or two fish from a dock then move on to another place. If you take too many at one time the other fish figure out what's going on and they all leave that dock and won't come back for weeks. Trout is pretty good with a lot of undersized fish showing up now. If you run into small trout, you are better off moving to a new location or at least drifting over the flat instead of anchoring. Kingfish are here offshore now. Look for schools of bait from 30 to 70 feet deep. The number of fish should be increasing during the next month. Some of my friends have been doing well free lin-

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April 2006


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April 2006

Water LIFE


Big Fish Still Make the News

By Adam Wi l son S pecial to Water LIFE I stopped into Fishin’ Franks on Sunday to show him a picture of a nice amberjack I shot the day before. My buddy and I were diving the Bayronto wreck Saturday morning and half way through our dive a school of about thirty (amber) jacks swam by us with the four or five fish at the front of the pack looking to be easily in the 100 pound range! By the time the shock wore off a slightly smaller, but still good sized, fish presented the opportunity for an excellent shot placement. I took my chance and fired, only to miss the "sweet spot" by mere millimeters. The wounded, but still lively fish pulled off my line shaft but, was injured enough to allow me time to reload and fire again. This time it was over and within a few minutes he was on my stringer and on the way to the boat. I have been diving this wreck consistently for years and have never seen fish close to this size. It would be interesting to know why such usually deep water large jacks were in 100 ft.. I guess it was just a rare occurance where I was in the right place at the right time and very lucky. On the bathroom scale the fish weighed in at just under 85 pounds. Of interest was the fact that during the cleaning of the fish I observed he had a completely empty stomach. Maybe that’s a clue as to why those fish were so close inshore. Lately we have done a few dives in as shallow as 40 feet, and have actually seen some decent fish. I shot two ten pound gags about one month ago straight out of Boca Grande pass. We also hit the pocket-ledges a few weeks ago and found the usual suspects, large sheepheads to 6 pounds, mangrove snappers to 3 pounds and lots of short red and gag grouper. We haven't been in as close as the Trembly or Novak Reefs in quite a while. Last time we dove those reefs (in

the fall) they appeared devoid of life, and I haven't heard of any nice fish coming off of either of those reefs lately. That’s surprising because the Trembly Reef holds my personal record for most different species harvested in a single dive ever! On July 17, 2004 I shot: hogfish, mackeral, flounder, sheepshead, mangrove snapper, barracuda & even a gag grouper. Eight species in one 61 minute dive. That was a sign of a healthy reef if I've ever seen one. We will probably check out the Novak reef before the end of stone crab season on May 15th. I hope it's doing better, it really is a great dive spot with all the structure there. My first time diving there was a couple of years ago. It reminded me of an underwater playground and made for some very relaxing and fun dives. We can all thank the late Rich Novak for that wonderful reef. Just a few weeks ago we had a weekend with zero wind. We snuck out Friday night and fished a 30 mile reef all night. We wound up limiting out on yellowtail snapper. That isn't all that unusual, but here’s the kicker, the smallest fish was around 2 1/2 or 3 pounds, with the biggest weighing in at a whopping 6 pounds! I've read stories in this magazine about the fellas out of Stump Pass Marina catching monster yellowtails, but I just never thought it would happen to us. All of the larger fish we caught were on 10 or 12 pound test. My one buddy was using 25-pound power pro and mostly caught smaller mangrove snappers.

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Adam Wilson with an 85 pound amberjack speared last month (above) and a pair of yellowtail the biggest of which was over 6 pounds.

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Water LIFE

Aprilʼs Fishing Forecast

Charlotte Harbor

Ro bert at Fi s hi n' Franks Po rt Charl o tte: 6 2 5 -3 8 8 8 April co nti nued o n the fo l l o wi ng pag e


April 2006

Capt. Mike Mahan caught this ʻalbinoʼ catfish on the east side of Charlotte Harbor last month. Conversations around the boat varied on whether the fish was truly an albino or ʻsickʼ but it looked healthy enough and when released swam away.

April 2006

Fishing Report Continued from facing page

Water LIFE



Aprilʼs Aprilʼs Target Target Species Species

For the guys who go out in a boat, there is no reason to get started too early. The fish will still be lethargic and need a chance to SHARKS are all over the area KINGFISH are offshore and TARPON are in the upper SNOOK are eating like there and they are hungry moving through the area Pine Island Sound is no tomorrow warm up from the cold night. The canals in PGI and Port Charlotte – around the boat docks – are the We’ve had pretty good reports of everything for making a living, but these guys getting aggresplace for snook. Trolling for snook is starting to lately. The biggest thing is the weather. It’s been sive with fishermen out for fun just isn’t right. make a comeback. Quite a few guys are finding it hot and cold and windy. There are a lot of big Redfi sh with any size to them are hard to find productive with a YoZuri or a Bomber. this time of year. If you are going to target redfish I trout around and plenty of big snook. There are Since February is generally a low water month snook being caught (and released) way above the definitely suggest using a circle hook. It’s not the fishing on alot of the articficial reefs is starting unusual to catch 50 to 100 redfish this time of year, slot size and quite a few in the slot as well. Bait to pick up a little. Alligator Creek Reef, Cape has been sketchy. The cold snap moved the but most of them are undersize so the circle hook Haze, the Placida Trestle and the old phosphate dock will make a live release that much more possible. whitebait around, but we’ve had good reports of are all great this time of year for catching guys catching fish. There are still a lot of Shrimp is again the best bait to use, but for a bigsheepshead, mangrove snapper and the possisheepshead around, and whiting too. Guys are ger redfish try using cut mullet or cut ladyfish. bility of getting into a legal size grouper there is catching some pompano and Ki ngfi sh out in Some of the bigger reds have been coming from very good too. front of little Gasparilla, The Kings should make Whidden Creek and Catfish Creek and from the Sitting on those spots the chance of picking up for a good Kingfish tournament this month. The south, down around Pine Island. a cobi a or a small shark is equally good. Shrimp are keeper grouper between 18 and 20 miles Trout of the smaller size are real prevalent in is the best bet for sheepshead, peeled is the way to out. It’s nice not having to go too far. There has the upper harbor around the Myakka River and the go, or try a fiddler crab. Hook the crab through the been quite a bit of snapper lane and reds. US 41 bridges. To find bigger trout you have to be bottom of the shell and come out through the top. S hri mp: Last year we never had a peewee prepared to move a lot. Trout tend to school in the There are a lot of really big sheepshead that shrimp season so being they are an annual crop, same size range so if you’re into the smaller fish don’t get fished very hard out at the Novak Reef just pack up and move to find the bigger ones. Drift the shrimpers I see all the time are saying right now. If it’s calm enough, that trip 5 miles off- fish for trout inside Alligator Creek and Turtle Bay. shrimp may be a problem this year. We had big shore can be very worthwhile. shrimp in the harbor all year long last year. I Try casting top-dog pups by Mirrolure or Johnny On the east side of the Harbor on the outside don’t know how that plays out with the gulf Rattler top water lures to find the 16 to 25 inch edge of the sandbar there are a lot of cobia. Drift fish. The little fish might pop at the big plugs, but shrimp, but bait shrimp may be a problem soon. fish for them and watch for the single fish or douWe have already had days when the shrimpers those baits are just too big for the smaller trout. bles of cobia. The cobia are hanging on the outside can’t get us our full order. Maybe it has to do Shore fishermen looking for trout would do best at of the bar because the mullet fishermen are all over with last year’s red tide and the dead zone. You El Jobean. the inside – wrecking it pretty good for the recrenever know. Offshore, the grouper fishing is good, but a lot ational anglers. The mullet fishermen are horrible Oh, and I almost forgot, there are tarpon of guys are finding that sharks are numerous now this year, charging around, doing doughnuts around around now too! The old silver king is making and are chomping off the grouper before it gets to fishermen and charging right at some boats. It’s himself heard early. Guys have caught tarpon the boat. A lot of the sharks that are out there right best to steer clear of them if you see them netting this week in Boca Grande and at Captiva now are dusky and sandbar sharks. until there is some enforcement action. I have heard Pass. Tarpon are already laying up in the the game and fish department doesn’t have any Lemon Bay Pine Island Sound area. And there are boats that can get into the skinny water to deter Ji m at Fi shermen’s Edge amberjack on the wrecks along with them so they are just going a little crazy. I’m all Engl ewood: 697-7595 gol i ath grouper and cobi a. Right now,

CALENDAR The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 98, Port Charlotte,

Presents; ABC, America's Boating Class (A Condensed version of Boating Skills and Seamanship). Tuesday and Thursdays 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. beginning April 4th and ending April 18th at the new PGI Civic Center, 2001 Shreve St., Punta Gorda, FL. For registration and information contact Fred Counter (941) 505-1290.

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n April 6: Understanding Your Fishfinder. A seminar with Capt. Dave Doyle of Bluewater Marine Electronics. Capt. Doyle will explain arches, bottom texture, and the wealth of information that fishfinders provide to anglers who know how to interpret them. Seating is limited at West Marine in Venice, call 408-8288.

n April 20: The Scented Bait Advantage, a seminar with Capt. Jay Withers. Learn where, when, and how to use these baits. Seating is limited,sign up early in Venice at West Marine or call 408-8288.



n May 6: Water LIFE Kids Cup Tournament at Punta Gorda, in conjunction with the ESPN Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup and a benefit for the Don Ball School of Fishing. Applications online at phone 766-8180 for information

n May 11-13: Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup Tournament at Punta Gorda, Big Air Dogs and all the festivities.

n June 1: Hurricane-proofing Your Boat Michael Carpenter of Full Circle Marine will provide tips and techniques to save Southwest Florida boats from storm damage. West Marine in Venice. call 408-8288.

Send us your event calendar information via e-mail:

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Page 32

April 2006

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Water LIFE April 2006  

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