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C Ch ha ar rllo ot tt te e H Ha ar rb bo or r a an nd d L Le em mo on n B Ba ay y Keeping Fishermen and Boaters Informed since 1997

Gag Grouper Consequences

The Don Ball School of Fishing

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Big Fish Are Here More on the Way!

April 2013

FWC Field Report Page 10

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w ww ww. w.Wa Watte er rL Liiffe eM Ma ag ga az ziin ne e..c co om m o on nlliin ne e a an nd d o on n y yo ou ur r d de ev viic ce e e ev ve er ry y m mo on ntth h

Soft Topwater Page 18






APRIL 2013

APRIL 2013







APRIL 2013

Inshore and Offshore Headquarters


Forwarded via email Letter to Anglers For Conservation: When AFC (Anglers for Conservation) attacks the PTTS tournament then and only then will I participate again! Instead of blaming the rich of Boca Grande and swearing by jigs and having the PTTS verify the low kill rate let us look at Internet pics of fish with knife cuts to the air bladder to facilitate dumping. or maybe the four out of 10 that washed up with jigs all over which according to the brilliant jerks at PTTS is a 13% kill ratio, new math I guess. There is nothing professional about this tournament it is simply for tv and money. It is wrong. As long as it continues no conservation group is worthy of my membership. There will be another protest staged this spring during the tournament (circus). The PTTS tournament (tarpon for television) is usually held during May. Details on protest may be available from the Boca Grande Guides Association. This tournament is well organized and has had much in the way of financial support. It is about money and the prize money is substantial in this economy. Of course when pictures of dead tarpon washing up on the beach are seen on the internet ( with breakaway jigs everywhere but the mouth, and knife cuts to

the air bladder to facilitate dumping there is something wrong. Each year the fish are leaving the pass to escape the fishing pressure and staying out longer and longer. Therefore with the 13% kill rate the fishery is in trouble. (4 out of ten washed up and by new math that is 13%). It was the number one tarpon spot in the world. I will go out at night drift the pass with crabs for bait and catch and release just about as many as the PTTS. There is a proper way to do things. Last year the protestors got pictures of the tournament violations (dragging fish to scale from outside the pass) the knife cuts, the dumping to avoid cameras etc. These pictures were sent to the sponsors and 3 withdrew their support. This is what it will take. I thought congress and Florida Fish and Wildlife and the Florida Guides Assoc would help but all three have been seen participating in the PTTS tournament! This is not coming from a bunch of wealthy residents as many claim. The local guides are very knowledgeable and are definitely against the PTTS. I have resigned as a member of the Florida Guides Association and the Florida Fish Game Commission advisory board as they are more interested in prize money than conservation. Robert McColley

(941) 766-8180

email: 217 Bangsberg Rd.

Port Charlotte, FL 33952

Not affiliated with any other publication Vol XII No 4 © 2013

From K.C Compton: An underwater photographer first noticed these bizarre geometric circles off the coast of Japan. After returning to the site with co-workers and a television crew, they discovered they're being made by male puffer fish. It's thought to be a 'display' to attract females and/or a shield to protect their young. It's about six and a half feet wide, and was painstakingly created by one male puffer fish. He worked at it for several hours, sweeping his tail in the sand to carve out the structure. He didn't just shape it either - he decorated it, using small stones and shells.

They Smell The Money!

From SW Florida Marine Trades Assn. to its members: RE: BP Settlement We made presentations at the meeting, both of which were very well received by the entire group. We were the only two that offered to help not hinder the process. We in effect told them we are ready to work with the consortium to assist in getting the best deal for Florida and recreational boating along with its related infrastructure and economic issues involved. After


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the meeting adjourned the Ocean Conservancy and the National Wildlife Federation approached us. Much to our surprise they were very aggressive in wanting to work with our industry in the disbursement of settlement funds. The fact that these environmental folks, which had typically been opponents to our industry via the manatee issues, want to work with us indicates that there is a great opportunity out there and it is important that we have a seat at the table as a stakeholders going forward.

No part of this publication (printed or electronic) may be copied or reproduced without specific written permission from the publishers.

Contributing Editors:

Photography: Senior Editor: Capt. Ron Blago Charter Fishing: Capt. Bart Marx Port Charlotte: Capt. Billy Barton Punta Gorda: Capt. Chuck Eichner Sea Grant: Betty Staugler Real Estate: Dave Hofer Inshore: Fishinʼ Frank Offshore: Capt Steve Skevington Kayaking: David Allen Office Dog: Molly Brown Circulation: Bob Cohn

on the COVER:

Black drum inhabit the Punta Gorda canals in the spring time. You can hear their distinctive drumming noise if you are near their large school. This photo from a charter with Capt. Billy Barton TURN THE PAGES EVERY MONTH Back Issues to 2004 Kids Charters Fishing Classes Tides Weather Sailing Kayaking Diving

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APRIL 2013


Everglades Restoration: Like It or Not

By Michael Heller Water LIFE editor A large part of the fishing grounds at Everglades National Park could be off limits to power boaters, and local guides are afraid the restrictions will put them out of business. I’ve read some of the restoration proposal and one thing that caught my eye were the limits on the number of people allowed into the Florida fishing backcountry. It’s not a new concept, (there are limits on campers and hunters) it’s just new to Florida-fishing. That we will be seeing ‘research monitoring’ taking priority over open back country access was also an eye opener. But why should we care about that way up here in Charlotte Harbor? Because it’s not just Charlotte Harbor any more. It’s the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve and what happens at Flamingo or Chokoloskee could easily set a precedent for what happens up here, especially if the State mirrors the Federal concept of Zones like they do with the federal offshore regulations. The Florida Guides Association campaigned against many parts of the Everglades plan saying, in the end: “Everglades National Park will fall into the now common void in which government employees and agency heads decide on what management actions are the most economical rather than what are best management practices. Gone will be advocacy for management which best serve the natural health and long term well being of our Florida.”

The restoration plan cleverly relies on a list of native and non-native species to attain its goal. An adverse effect on any of the named species would trigger special measures. And an adverse effect on the monitoring process itself could also trigger special measures. Special measures could include closures without notice or public input. There is nothing wrong with resource protection, but knowledgeable local stakeholders must have a say in the process. Boating, even airboats will be prohibited in the Everglades areas that are being ‘monitored.’ Monitoring is vital to restoration, but all the emphasis on monitoring makes the plan suspect to many since monitoring of this or that has been the mantra of the no-access/no-growth movement for years. The Federally inspired Everglades Restoration plan relies on six Zones of access control. The first two zones are focused on visitor use, the last four are (primarily) focused on water access. This is a Federal plan for the future of fishing. #1: Developed Zone, which are essen-

cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) Cuban treefrog (Hyla septentrionalis) diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) dwarf siren (Pseudobranchus striatus) Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) fire-bellied newt (Cynops orientalis) Florida cooter (Chrysemys floridana) Florida kingsnake (Lampropeltis getulus) four-toed salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum) glossy crayfish snake

(Regina rigida) green anole (Anolis carolinensis) green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) green treefrog (Hyla cinerea) green water snake (Nerodia cyclopion) greenhouse frog (Eleutherodactylus planirostris) hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) Kempʼs ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempi) leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) leopard frog (Rana sphenocephala) loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta carretta)

marbled salamander (Ambystoma opacum) Miami blackheaded snake (Tantilla oolitica) mud snake (Farancia abacura) mud turtle (Kinosternon obauri and K. subrubrum) musk turtle (Sternotherus odoratus) pig frog (R. grylio) rainbow snake (F. erytrogramma) red-bellied turtle (C. nelsoni). reef gecko (Sphaerodactylus notatus) rough green snake (Opheodrys aestivus) salt marsh snake (Nerodia fasciata clarkii)

striped crayfish snake (Regina alleni) swamp snake (Seminatrix pygaea) FISHES Bay anchovy (Anchoa mitchilli)\ black acara (Cichlasoma bimaculatum) blue tilapia (Tilapia niloticus) bluespotted sunfish (Enneacanthus gloriosus). bonefish (Albula vulpes) brown hoplosternum (Hoplosternum littorale) flagfish (Jordanella floridae) Florida gar (Lepisosteus platyrhincus) Florida pompano (Trachinotus carolinus)

golden topminnow (Fundulus chrysotus) gray snapper (L. griseus) jaguar guapote (Cichlasoma managuense) jewel cichlid (Hemichromis spp.) lane snapper (L. synagris) largemouth bass(Micropterus salmoides), least killifish (Heterandria formosa) lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris) Mayan cyclid (Cichlasoma urophthalmus) mosquitofish (Gambusia spp.) mullet (Mugil spp.) mutton snapper (Lutjanus analis) nurse shark (Gingly-

mostoma cirratum) oscar (Astronotus ocellatus) pike killifish (Belonesox belizanus) pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides) pirate perch (Aphredoderus sayanus) pygmy sunfish (Elassoma spp.) redear sunfish (Lepomis microlophus) sea trout (Salmo trutta) smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) snook (Centropomus undecimalis) Spanish sardine (Sardinella aurita) spot (Leiostomus xanthurus) spotted seatrout (Cynoscion

nebulosus) tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) walking catfish (Clarias batrachus) warmouth (Lepomis gulosus) yellow bullhead (Ameiurus natalis) yellowtail snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus) apple snail (Pomacea paludosa) atala (Eumaeus atala) blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) Florida tree snail (Ligus fasiatus) marsh crab (Sesarma spp.) Miami blue butterfly (Cyclargus


thomasi bethunebakeri) midge (the aquatic insects Chironomidae and Ceratopogonidae) planthopper (Prokelesia spp.) prawn (freshwater shrimp, Macrobrachium spp.) queen conch (Strombus gigas) Schaus swallowtail (Heraclides aristodemus ponceanus) snail (Littorina and Melampus spp.) Stock Island tree snail (Orthalicus reses reses) stone crab (Menippe mercenaria)

These are the species to be protected. Adverse effects on any could trigger action.

tially built up areas outside of designated wilderness areas. Think: Visitor Center.

#2: Front Country Zone These are designated as accessible attraction areas that provide many opportunities for visitors to enjoy (their words). These areas also do not occur in designated wilderness. #3: Boat Zones Provide access for boats. This zone may occur over (surface) of submerged designated marine wilderness. Report says: This area may be closed by the department for resource protection.

#4: Poll and Troll Zones Protects vulnerable shallow marine areas while allowing paddles, poles or trolling motors access.

These areas may also be above submerged wilderness area. This area may also be closed for resource protection.

#5: Backcountry (Non-motor) Zone This is designated as the wildest zone accessible only to foot travelers (on land) and paddle craft on the water. There may be limits imposed on the number of visitors and the length of stay.

#6 Special Protection Zone ‘protects’ key sensitive wildlife areas or areas serving as long term benchmarks for research. ‘These areas will be managed to protect the structure of habitat. No public access will be allowed.’





APRIL 2013

Heavier Tackle Will Be Required

By Capt. Chuck Eichner Water LIFE Punta Gorda Fishing If I had to characterize April with one word it would be ‘superbowl.’ For Charlotte Harbor, April is the superbowl of fishing where the absolute best and baddest fish that swim will arrive and anglers will compete. There will be plenty of losses due to broken lines, broken hooks and even broken rods! Huge tarpon will arrive, big snook will be encountered, the biggest Spanish mackerel of the year will be hooked, monster jacks, big redfish and a mass of threadfin herring, pilchards and

Spanish sardines will lead these schools of fish all into one place- Charlotte Harbor! It sounds pretty incredible, but outsmarting these fish is another story. March is typically one of the best fishing months, however I am glad March is in the rear view mirror as our weather this past March was incredibly unstable and uncharacteristically cold and the fish were unpredictable as was catching bait. April is a sure bet to have spectacular shallow water fishing. The grassbeds will be full of bait and snook, along with redShawn Gore holding a monster snook caught by Mickey Kieferle

fish and trout will be mashing them. Be sure to head out at first light to catch your bait as too much sunlight will cause the bait to be skittish. The fishing guides are all launching before daybreak to fill their wells ahead of their charter. Tarpon will make their first true appearance in real numbers soon and there will be some big boys. How about tarpon running close to 200 pounds! It is real and they will be in our back yard. Your timing has to be right to locate these fish and your presentation must be right on. Four years ago my buddy and I landed 9 tarpon one fine spring day with one guesstimated at 175 pounds and the other 190 pounds! Three cobia, a number of sharks to 6 feet and Spanish mackerel hit the deck that day. It was a dream trip and we happened to be at the right place at the right time. There are no secrets about fishing methods - live and dead bait – threadfins, mullet, ladyfish, catfish and pinfish. Make sure you are fishing at least 50 pound test and 80 will be safer. Leader from 60 to 100 pound test fluorocarbon and a rod with 300 yards of backing. Cobia are roaming the outside bars, over Alligator Creek Reef, around bridge pilings and channel markers. What a great fighting fish they are, and often easy to catch once you spot them. A frisky pin-

fish or large shrimp or crab will get munched if you float it carefully past their nose. I expect to see cobia pushing 5 feet long surfacing in waters less than 15 feet. Maybe this will be the year. My best advice is dedication to a species on any given day. That is a hard choice to make if you have tarpon fished for 4 hours without any sign. It would be easy to say let’s go catch some whitebait and catch a few snook to pick up the spirits. That might be a good call, but if your buddy calls you at the end of the day to tell you about the hot tarpon bite in late afternoon, I promise you will never forget that phone call! Calculate your strategy for your fishing trip a few days in advance. Check tides, study locations you want to fish, prep your tackle and anticipate winds. The winner of the Charlotte Harbor Super Bowl may claim the coveted Title of Inshore Grand Slam of Fishing: Legal Tarpon, Snook, Redfish and Trout all in the same day. To accomplish this would take a very sharp game-plan, perfect execution and a little luck. This is one feat I am still working on! Capt. Chuck Eichner operates Action Flats Backcountry Charters and can be reached at: 941-628-8040 or go to his website:

APRIL 2013



Weather Predicts Whether Fish Are Feeding

By Capt David Stephens Water LIFE Inshore As a guide sometimes we make it look easy to find fish that are actively feeding. Well the truth of the matter is there is a lot of work put into it. There are a number of things that play into a successful day or make it a day that is spent talking about whether you should have been here yesterday. Yes, number one is knowing where the fish are, but we are not going to start there. We are going to start with something that is often over looked: the weather. I am not talking about a beautiful day with clear blue skies and calm winds. Yes, I know those days make for wonderful days to be on the water. I know it is tough to talk about cold fronts or frontal pressure changes here in South West Florida, but this is a major factor of whether the fish are active or not. To make it easy, fish feed

heavier on a prefrontal condition and become less active on a post front condition. Most of you anglers have heard the expression winds out of the west fish bite the best, well here in South West Florida that normally comes with a prefrontal condition. And winds out of the east fish bite the least. There is some truth to those old wise tales. Those clear blue sunny days might be great for boating, but sometimes the fish just seem to have lock jaw. With those slight changes in the pressure that we don’t notice mother nature has giving our scaly friends an extra edge. So the next time you are out on the water and the fish seem to be hitting no matter what you throw at them, take a little time to see what kind of weather pattern is happening. If I had to pick the second thing that I have paid close attention to over the years I have been guiding, it is the water temperatures. When I leave the house at six in the morning I could not tell you if it was 65 or 70 degrees. But I promise the fish know the difference between 68 and 69 degrees. Water temperatures can play a big differ-

At the Dome Market for Over 30 Years!

ence on where to locate fish. The cooler the waters, the deeper and slower you should fish. As the waters get above the mid 70s the shallower and more aggressive the bite will be. I know we have had a crazy March, but I predict this month better weather patterns and more aggressive bites!

For a great day fishing on Charlotte Harbor send me an email or give me a call. All charters are customized to best fit you and your parties needs. Capt. Dave Stephens 941-916-5769

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Superboat Charlotte ? Water LIFE Report

We’re waiting to see how the manatee folks react to this and we are sure if we have another warm winter this will never ever fly; but organizers say they are one step closer to bringing a 150 MPH Super Boat race to Charlotte Harbor. Some people say it’s happening because Sarasota balked at funding them. NBC-2 reported the Charlotte County commission agreed to spend $10,000 to have Super Boat International do a study to pick a location. Then, if they approve the site, the County will be on the hook for anywhere between $70,000 to $250,000 to make it happen. Organizers predict the event would bring in up to $12 million to the local economy. They hope to have the race scheduled for next April. We’d like to see it, but we doubt it will ever happen. And we’d like to know where the County got that extra, unbudgeted 10 grand?

Baddest Fish

The species was so ferocious, scientists deemed it to be a “hyper-carnivorous apex predator,” or quite simply the baddest fish in the sea. 350 - 416- million years ago, when Lake Erie was part of the great saltwater ocean, the armored Dunkleosteus, with jaws that created as much as 1,100 pounds of pressure per square inch, feasted on sharks. These monsterous looking fish grew to 33 feet in length and could weigh 8,000 pounds. Scientists believe that this creature was a suction feeder that took in prey through the intense incoming pressure caused by opening its mouth. Its thickly armored head made it a swimming tank.



APRIL 2013

Manatees got a snoot-full of red tide


By Capt. Ron Blago Water LIFE Senior Staff Well its happened again. Another massive die off of manatees in Southwest Florida due to red tide. So far this year there have been 193 dead manatees recovered that they think died from red tide. This already is higher than the previous record of 151 in 1996. Red tide is an algae that gives off a toxin that will concentrate in the first few feet above the water. The manatee comes to the surface and breaths in a snoot full of toxic gas and that fries their lungs causing death. Since 1996, scientist have discovered that red tide toxins will settle down the water column and attach themselves to sea grass. The manatee eats the sea grass which affects the manatees nervous system which causes the manatee to become paralyzed, roll over, and drown. This is just another of those natural occurrences that happen from time to time. Remember the winter of 2010 that resulted 244 cold-stress related manatee deaths? How this latest red tide outbreak will affect the total manatee population is unknown because for the second year in a row the FWC has decided not to do an aerial survey because the water is just too warm this year. This lack of data hasn't stopped some of the manatee protection people from blaming humans for their contribution to manatee mortality. It amazes me what gets passed off as science in

the new-media these days. One guy said that global warming was causing an increase in red tide outbreaks; another person who was a spokesperson for a stopred-tide group, said that red tide is caused by high nutrient runoff into our waterways. I thought that was ironic because I had just finished reading a new study that suggests that red tide releases more toxins when they do not have enough nutrients to keep growing. My favorite quote was from a manatee biologist who said that they knew what the causes were, but they have a lack of evidence to prove it. I guess that is what passes as the scientific method for these folks. What do we really know about red tide? According to Mote Marine Laboratory, “There is no direct link between nutrient pollution and the frequency or severity of red tide caused by K.brevis.” This pretty much has been their position for the last 30 years and no scientific evidence has changed their mind yet. What really bothered me was an article on the NBC web site about the recent manatee deaths which I felt was an attempt to

shift the focus off of red tide and onto boaters. The article stated “ The most common cause of death (of manatees) is not red tide but collisions with boats, according to the FWC, watercraft killed almost 800 manatees from 1995 to 2005.” That is what I call a perversion of data and shame on the FWC if they had anything to do with it. First off, why was there no mention of increasing manatee population during that time period? In 1995 the estimated manatee population was 1,823 in 2005 it was 3113 ; but let’s go further in 2010 it was 5077. These figures are available. That is a 178% population increase since 1995. Isn't that worth a mention in the national news media? The other thing that bothered me was why did NBC not mention that in 1996, 2002 and 2003 there were major manatee die offs due to red tide and in 2009 and 2010 there were major cold stress die offs. These increased natural causes of manatee deaths make the watercraft death numbers pretty small in comparison.

APRIL 2013



with Captain Steve Skevington

Gag Closure May Have Consequences

By Capt. Steve Skevington Water LIFE Offshore This is just my opinion, but it seems to me, and I’m out there every single day, the gags are in closer and thicker now, since no one is taking them and it’s having a bad effect on everything else out there. It’s as if fishery management didn’t look far enough in advance to think about what would happen. What I am seeing is the gags are taking over like the Goliath grouper took over when they closed them to harvest. The Goliaths just hung out and ate everything they could. Goliath live on big structure: like the phosphate dock and the big shipwrecks. Everyone that fishes those spots complains there is nothing there but goliaths. And now its the same for the gags – in places where we normally would fish for mangrove snapper, gags are coming up. There is nothing there but gags on the inshore reefs. The funny thing is, when July comes around and they open gag grouper up again, the gags will be in the middle of their annual offshore migration and you’ll have to go 50 - to 60- miles offshore to find them. And then, when


When you target porgys and grunts there are lots of little fillets to be cleaned

they come back in, the season will be closed again. At some point the cost of fuel and the tight economy figure into this as well. Anglers want their money’s worth. What we are seeing now are clients who want to fill their coolers, and with all the grouper having been closed, we are keeping (and cleaning!) tons of scamps and grunts - little fish by the cooler full. If we were allowed to keep one grouper per person I am sure my clients wouldnt keep that many grunts and porgys. Effectively, the regulations are saving one fish and 20 others die to make up for it. Capt Steve Skevington Paradise Fishing Charters 941-575-3528

$2 off any haircut!

Left: There alr lots of big beautiful, tasty gag grouper being caught, but all must be released. The closure remains in effect until July




Report from the Field

Water LIFE Conversation Dr Phil Stevens, FWC Out in the Harbor we are seeing the same things we always do and that’s a good thing. Bull sharks and sawfish ‘pup’ in April and we expect we’ll start catching some of those babies in our sampling nets this month. Baby sawfish are 2.5 feet long when born and the mom delivers about 12 each time. Right now we are trying to find out how big the sawfish population is by looking at genetics, so we are sampling the babies with sampling we are able to tell how often a mother returns to the same area. If we get a fish now and 2 or 3 years later we pick up a half sibling, we know they shared the same parent and that is an indication the mom returned to the Harbor to birth. We think large fish don’t reproduce every year, sometimes it’s every other year or some other frequency. So obviously that effects how we model the (fish) population. Knowing reproductive frequency is important if you want to forecast recovery. Redfish seem to be doing really well this year. We weren’t getting many babies in 06 - 08 because of the 2005 red tide event. It takes some years for them to grow, so from 2007 to 2010 the small redfish were not around in good numbers. Now recruitment is back up and this is the first good year we are seeing for red drum since 2004-05. We are also looking at whether the Tampa offshore redfish aggregations are the same as ours. The red tide events seem to show that is the case. We are now looking at snook numbers for 2012. There are more snook now, in the Harbor, than after the freeze, but re-opening snook to harvest



will depend on the snook population in each estuary around the state. Tampa Bay will be one place we want to watch carefully. We will be looking at Tampa Bay and we will be looking at our data to see if the recent red tide effected the recruitment of juvenile fish into the bay or kept them out. The sea trout and drum number have been down. We havent seen any major fish kills to adult fish here in Charlotte Harbor like they saw in Tampa in 2005. How red tide effects juvenile fish is important because fish are spawned offshore and they have to come into the Bay to grow. The FWC Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute’s Fisheries-Independent Monitoring (FIM) is a long-term program designed to monitor abundance and health of fisheries. In and around Charlotte Harbor we currently use three sampling gears. A 600’ haul seine samples an area the size of a football field. This largemesh net is deployed on shorelines and shoals, and samples for large gamefish. A 70’ seine is a small mesh net deployed on shorelines, shallow sand or grass flats, and typically samples fish less than three inches in length. A 20’ otter trawl is used in deeper areas, and primarily collects fish and crustaceans living on or near the bottom.

APRIL 2013

ABOVE: Snook were stacked like the proverbial cord-wood as Chrystal Murray from the FWC Murdock lab pulled in the sampling net last month. RIGHT A tagged juvenile sawfish is set for release.

Fisheries Regulations Q&A

By Betty Staugler Water LIFE Sea Grant In March, Florida Sea Grant and NOAA partnered to conduct a series of workshops aimed at clarifying existing fisheries regulations for offshore recreational and commercial fishermen. Five workshops took place in Florida. During the workshops NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service personnel went over specific regulations that they get a lot of questions about. They also addressed rules that can be very costly when an angler is found out of compliance. The remainder of the workshop was devoted to a Q & A with participants. Below I highlight some of the questions or topics that popped up at multiple workshops in Florida. What permits are required to fish in Federal waters? All owners of vessels used to fish recreationally for Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) which includes Atlantic tunas (other than blackfin), billfish, sharks and swordfish must have a HMS recreational angling permit

(the permit stays with the vessel). A HMS charter/headboat permit is required for all charter or headboats that fish for or possess HMS. Charter vessels and headboats require a reef fish permit when fishing for snappers, groupers, amberjack, tilefish, hogfish and gray triggerfish. Also, charter vessels and headboats fishing for mackerels, cobia, little tunny, cero, dolphin and bluefish require a coastal pelagics permit. Applications for permits other than HMS permits may be obtained by calling 877376-4877. HMS permits can be purchased online at or by calling 888-872-8862. Where do the Federal regulations apply? Federal recreational fishing regulations apply in federal waters (beyond 9 nautical miles from the nearest point of land in the Gulf), and may also apply to recreational fishing in state waters. Fishermen possessing a federal permit who are fishing in state waters should note that the federal regulations apply, unless the state regulations are more restrictive. Can a permitted angler land a Tiger Shark caught in Federal waters? The answer is YES. According to FWC Division of Marine Fisheries (Tallahassee), as continued on facing page

APRIL 2013



Matlacha Bridge Reef

26 48.485 x 82 19.602

The deployment is within easy sight of land


From Sea Grant A couple of recent artificial reef deployments in Charlotte County received little fanfare and as a result may be under the radar of many anglers. These reefs are new additions to existing reef sites, designed to increase angling opportunities and reduce crowding within the overall reef footprint (typically a quarter mile square). However, these deployments have not yet been added to the Stateʼs artificial reef database, so you may want to take note of the coordinates. At the Palm Island Ferry Reef site, the Fantasea Reef was deployed in the fall of 2011. This deployment utilized materials of opportunity, such as concrete culverts, limestone, seawalls and junction boxes. The coordinates are 26 49.338 and 82 31.980. At the Novak Reef site, Matlacha Bridge material was deployed in December 2012. The coordinates for this deployment long as an angler immediately lands the shark and does not stop to fish in State waters, this is allowed. Can you target Goliath Grouper for catch and release? – In Federal waters the answer is NO. 50 CFR 622.7 states that “It is unlawful for any person to (k) Fish for, harvest, or possess a prohibited species, or a limited-harvest species in excess of its limitation. In State waters however the answer is YES. Although the state does not prohibit targeting of Goliath groupers they do stress best angler practices. These include not removing a large Goliath from the water as it can cause damage due to the weight of the fish on the skeletal structure. Technically, any handling that results in unnecessary injury to the fish would be classified as “Harvesting” which is not allowed. FWC advises anglers to photograph large goliath grouper while the fish is in the water to prevent unnecessary injury. More information on best angling practices can be found online. What about circle hooks? Kale hooks, also known as Circle C hooks MAY NOT be used when fishing for reef fish using live or natural bait. Kale hooks do not meet the definition of a circle hook, which is “A hook originally designed and manufactured so that the point of the hook is turned perpendicularly back toward the

are 26 48.485 and 82 19.602. Reef users may also want to check out the County Natural Resources Departmentʼs new artificial reef site where you can zoom in to individual reefs and get information for each reef deployment. Just click on a pile after you zoom in. This site as well as the artificial reef brochure list all deployments up through the Fantasea Reef. The Matlacha Bridge addition will be added to the next revisions. The new interactive website and reef brocuhure may be accessed here with the QR codes or can be linked from

shank of the hook to form a generally circular or oval shape”.

A note on Venting tools… The federal reef fish gear rule is slated for revision as a result of Gulf Council action in February to remove the venting tool requirement. But anglers don’t throw away your venting tools yet! This action is currently in rule development and then must receive final approval. The state anticipates a change in its rule to remain consistent with federal regulations. The change in the rule will not only allow anglers to still use venting tools but will also open the door for anglers to use other tools such as descending gear or recompression tools which rapidly descend fish back down to depth where swim bladder gasses are recompressed. For more information on venting or descending gear/recompression tools including some great video, visit Special thanks to Charles Bergmann, NOAA and Alan Peirce, FWC for their thoughtful reviews. Betty Staugler, Florida Sea Grant Agent UF/IFAS Charlotte County Extension (941) 764-4346 25550 Harborview Rd., Suite 3 Port Charlotte, FL 33980 -

reef brochure

reef website





APRIL 2013

3 ʻBig Game-Speciesʼ to Target Now

By Capt. Billy Barton Water LIFE / Charlotte Harbor Wow! Weather wise it's really been a strange winter. It's just a little odd when your February is significantly warmer than your March, but with a little bit of luck we should start seeing some positive changes here this month. This is the time of year when the big spinning tackle gets taken out of the corner in the garage, dusted off, greased, spooled up, and made ready for some serious action! Wintertime inshore fishing here in Southwest Florida is more of a light tackle type of fishing than it is a big game hunt. In general, as far as saltwater fishing is concerned, in the winter, we are targeting fish anywhere from two to 20 or 30 pounds on light tackle in our waters. I'm not saying that you don't have all the potential in the world to hook a fish over 100 pounds here, inshore, in the winter, it's just not as likely. In springtime things change and all we need for the ‘bigger fish’ to migrate here is a consistent water temperature in, at least, the low to mid 70s. There are 3 species of Big Game fish that we target inshore. Sharks, tarpon, and cobia are where it's at! First off, sharks, which everybody knows are scavengers, actually do prefer

live bait. You always want to use a piece of strong steel leader when fishing for sharks. Being as they're toothy critters, and have sandpaper like skin, you should always use a length of steel 1/2 to 3/4 of the length of the fish you are targeting. A common mistake I see so often is people going overboard with the gear they're using for sharks. If you go lighter, and use live bait, you'll see far more action. Especially if you are in a boat, this is a good idea because you can always chase the fish down. Just please handle them with caution or they'll hurt ya!! Next, and my favorite, of our big game species, are tarpon. These fish migrate up and down the coast of Florida and can be found all the way down to South America. They first are known to show up in the passes, before they make their way up around the grass flats, holes, and bridges in the Harbor. They are by far the most aerial fish you could ever hook here. There's nothing like sticking a fish bigger than yourself, having him take a hundred yards of line off your spool in a minute and then seeing him fly 10 feet in the air!! They get my blood flowing! At times tarpon can be a very finicky fish. At times they eat so hard and your arms are so tired that you just give up and

don't even wanna’ fish ‘em anymore. They will eat a dead bait at times - catfish tails have actually been known to work well, for tarpon at night. However live bait is gonna’ be your best bet. Crabs, a good size shrimp, or a pin-fish, mullet, threadfin herring, or lady-fish are all great choices for a tarpon bait. Last Big Game, but not least, are cobia, also known as a ling, or lemon fish, due to the natural flavor of lemon in their meat. These guys are so much fun to fight and boy are they great to put on the grill! To be legal, cobia must be 33 inches to the fork of the tail. They've been caught here in the Harbor up into the 80 pound

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range and are a structure oriented fish. Cobia are found on all of our artificial reefs, bridges, and channel markers. They are known to follow manatees, large stingrays, and schools of bat (or cow-nose) rays, traveling outside the sandbars in the Harbor. Being as they're found everywhere, they're very common as a by-catch. When it’s calm, you can see them in the clear water and sight fish them. Usually


we stumble into them on the grass flats when we are least expecting it. Boy are they a nice surprise! Hardly ever will a cobia resist a good size live shrimp. They've also been known to gobble up a live pin-fish, or a piece of whitebait, or a finger mullet. Even a piece of dead cut bait can work. As long as they aren't spooked, they'll eat it. (It's pretty hard to spook them too, by the way) Sometimes they'll come up to the boat like it's a piece of floating wood and just hang out! While I'm on the cobia topic, I had a gentlemen land one that was just barely legal on the east side bar in the Harbor last week, while we were trout fishing. He was using a medium size shrimp underneath a popping cork in about 3 feet of water. I knew what it was as soon as I heard that drag! The cobia was mixed right in with a school of cow-nose rays. He caught that fish on light tackle which made the battle much more fun. For gear, you can pick a pretty well rounded spinning tackle outfit and target all 3 of these species on the same rod and reel. I like the Penn 560 Slammers, and I have them spooled up with 50 pound

braided line. I'm fishing with a 15-30 pound class, 7-and-a-half foot medium fast action rod. This is just an example so by all means use what gear you're comfortable with. I like the longer rod and braided line for a distant cast and increased sensitivity while I'm fishing a live bait-fish. For leader, as far as tarpon and cobia, 60- to 80-pound fluorocarbon is perfect. Remember though, if you're fishing for sharks, put on that piece of steel. That's enough for me this month, it's getting late and here in 6 hours the fish will be calling my name!! I hope I gave some of y'all some insight of what's to come in the next month and I wish everyone the best. If you're in search of your first Big Fish inshore here in Southwest Florida or if you're doing it on your own and having trouble, give me a call, and I'll do everything I can to teach you and make it a fishing trip you'll never forget! We are in paradise people. Fish on!!! Capt. Billy Barton operates Scales N Tails Charters. Phone 979-6140 or email him at :


Incredible Journey through Placida



By David Allen Water LIFE Kayaking This story begins on Earth Day, April 22, 2010, when Dave and Amy Freeman launched their kayaks in Lake Washington, near Seattle, and began the first leg of their remarkable 11,647 mile journey to Key West. But this is much more than just a story about a couple who braved the elements and dangers of such a trip. It is also about how Dave turned his desire to engage elementary and middle school students in developing an appreciation for wildlife and the out-of-doors while stressing the importance of protecting the environment. After graduating from the University of Colorado, Dave worked as a guide in the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota, but his main interest was in finding a way to bring the wilderness into the classroom. Before one trip on Lake Superior, Dave's mother suggested he take a satellite phone for safety and that was the answer to his search for a practical teach-



ing tool. Amy, after graduating from the Chicago Institute of Art with a Masters Degree, was also guiding tours in the Boundary Waters, met Dave and they joined forces to bring the wilderness to the classroom. Since their first expedition, to hike, bicycle, and canoe from Peru to the Atlantic Ocean, Dave and Amy have run the "Wilderness Classroom." This non-profit organization has enlisted almost 2,000 teachers in 2,700 classrooms to connect 80,000 students to the great out-doors. With pre-arranged lesson plans and outlines Dave and Amy provide daily web updates on their progress which are used is classrooms and live student assemblies. To repeat, this journey began in April of 2010 in Seattle. On the first leg, the couple kayaked 1400 miles north in coastal waters to Skagway, then cannoed 1747 miles to Inuvik on the Artic Ocean, arriving there in October, 2010. Then they dog-sledded

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Dave and Amy Freeman launched near Seattle and on a 11,647 mile journey to Key West. Last month they were in Placida.

900 miles and canoed 2,700 miles to Grand Portage(Lake Superior), Minnesota, crossing the Northwest Territory in the process. The next leg took them across the Great Lakes, past Montreal to the Atlantic Ocean. Then down the Atlantic Coast to the St Mary's River near Jacksonville. They had planned on kayaking to the Suwannee River and then on to the Gulf, but low water in the Okefenokee Swamp made a river paddle impossible. They acquired portable wheels and in two day, portaged their two kayaks 40 miles overland. Dave's only comment was" It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be." Kurt Lundeen, a member of our kayak club, discussed the Freeman's trip at a club meeting in late February, when Dave and Amy were in Cedar Key. They expected to be in the Placida area on March 13, and we planned to have a welcoming cook-out for them at Grande Tours. Of course, Captain Marian Schneider was, as always, in the lead supporting any kayak venture. There was some windy, cold weather in early March, but it didn't slow the couple down a bit. They paddled down the coast, in sections of the Intracoastal Waterway and arrived at 4PM on the 13th. All of our club agreed, it was a opportunity to meet this warm and friendly couple that we had heard so much about. They must have been a little tired after kayaking about 30 miles that day, but you

wouldn't now it from their demeanor. They were relaxed, smiling, and answered all our questions although they must have heard the same questions a dozen times. After the cook-out, we all sat around the campfire and talked. A truly great couple. They did say that they were looking forward to reaching Key West and completing the trip. "But we'll miss being on the water." Are they planning another long trip sometime soon? "We agreed not to talk about that until we finish this one," Amy said, " After we've been off the water for a few weeks, I'll be ready to do another trip." After Key West, the couple will do videoconferencing with classrooms and may spend some time speaking at the school that sponsored them. They are always looking for new ways to teach students about the wonders of the outdoors. After leaving Placida, Dave and Amy reached Lulu Camp Kay on March 21, with the next major stop at Flamingo. Then across the Bay and down to the Keys. You can follow their progress by visiting their website at The Port Charlotte Kayakers meet each Wednesday evening at 5:00 pm at Franz Ross Park next to the YMCA on Quesada Ave. All are welcome to attend. For more information call Dave Allen at 941-235-2588 or email to:

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Thatʼs What They Come For

By Fishin’ Frank Water LIFE Baitshop My friend and fishin buddy came to town, so you know what that means. Cold, windy, rainy, nasty weather. Why??? Do the fish gods dislike me? It is no different for me than it is for you. He arrived in town and we headed out for a cold, windy, rainy, chilly day of fishin. Blake has been a good friend for years. Years back we fished as a team, I was doing a lot of charter's and so was he, if I was on fish I called him, if he was on fish he called me. Blake moved up north almost 5 years ago, but he finally got some vacation and we were going fishin, weather be damned. But 28 m.p.h. wind, rainy and 48 degrees, Really? I would go, but I was staying in the River. I have long tried to tell people to learn close spots, just because you have 100 + horse power on your boat does not mean you have to use it. Start fishin at the ramp or at your house and work the area 100 yards on each side, learn when the fish are there, what types of fish are there, because, like me, one day your buddy is going to come to town and the weather is going anyway. On days like that you are just not going to get very far. For bait, I got us 5 dozen choice and select size shrimp, I was still confident even with the weather I could find fish. We started out and headed down to I-75, getting out of the wind behind the wooden bumpers, Within 10 minutes Blake had tricked a snook into biting his jig, a 4-inch paddle tail with a 1/4 ounce red jig head and a white and chartreuse body. He was casting the jig right next to the wooden bumpers letting it fall to the bottom and working it along and out from the frame. It only took 7 casts to find a snook ready to eat. But it did seem he was the only one there in the mood to eat. After 20 minutes Blake’s son got a couple sea trout and we decided to move on. The mangrove "Keys" or islands right there next to the I-75 bridge hold smaller redfish, So we anchored up where we could fish the face of one of the islands and cast between two of them. Using shrimp on a slip-sinker rig we found a few rat size reds about 16 to 17 inches. This was fun, but short lived. Blake did manage to entice a 17 inch

trout into biting a shrimp under a cork, but after 3 smaller reds it was over. So we thought maybe they would be under the docks and many of the docks there in the Heights have deep water under or right next to them. Switching to shrimp on a jig head we started casting up under the docks, I did get a break as the wind and tide were fighting each other and that put us on a drift right along the front of the docks. Six docks into our mission Blake set back on his rod, Got one! Droppped the anchor, but it was a little premature as it turned out to be a black drum 15 inches long. We fished that dock for another 20 minutes but no luck. Well, the mangroves had been the best so I pointed the boat at the mouth of Shell Creek, with the tide coming in the fish seem to hang out right at the mouth where the water swings around the corner and runs around the manatee sign. So we rigged our shrimp free-line and cast them just outside the mouth letting the current take the shrimp into the mouth of the creek. It is difficult to fish several people this way as the lines are moving all the time. You have to be careful and when you get to the end of the drift, you reel in and cast back over the other lines, keeping your rod tip up, so when the other lines gets to the end of their drift they hold their tip low and reel in under your line. We did this dance for about 20 minutes, then Blake's rod bent over and the line started heading towards Texas. A big, fat, football redfish just short of 27 inches and as round

as he was long, started boiling its way down river. What a battle and what a look on his face, Blake had been waiting years to get back and do battle with a fish and the battle was on. We were juiced up thinking the bite had turned on, but it was a another one hit wonder. With big fish still in our thoughts we headed for a last ditch effort to the San Souci Trestle. Anchored up we started casting up into the pilings, letting our bait hit the water and drift in as much as we dared while trying to stay clear of all of the older broken pilings below the water under the trestle. Then wham Blake gets hit and the fish powers right on through the pilings and out the other side no slowing it down, pow the line snaps, and Blake’s face lites up, this is what I came for! he said. Finally fish so big you can't stop them. We fished another hour and broke off three more times. With 30 pound braided line and 40 pound leader we had no chance. It was getting late and Blake had a good first day back. Keep in mind some of the best fishin is right next to where you live. Frank can be reached at: 625-3888 or


Harbour Heights Canal Controversy

Comment By Fishin Frank I recently attended a County meeting on the Harbour Heights canal systems. Here is what I learned: There are about 390 homes on the canals and Charlotte County wants us (Harbour Heights waterfront property owners) to pay $20,000 – Yes twenty thousand dollars a year to survey the canals to let the County know if we need to spend money to dredge them. Then they want to set up a maintenance dredging system, which will spread the cost out for property owners. They want to use smaller equipment, which they say would be less invasive. I am not sure, but if you dig a hole with a smaller shovel the hole is the same size it just takes a lot longer. The canals were dredged 4 years ago. It was a little over 20 years before that time. The costs of surveying for the next 20 years: 20 years X $20,000 = $400,000. We would pay the county $400,000 to say yes it is time to dredge and then pay for the dredging. Makes no sense. The other thing the County said was if we have another hurricane they would do for us as they had done for other communities which is get FEMA money to help pay for dredging, Well every single house in Harbour Heights was damaged and 15% of the homes, I believe had to be torn down, mine included.Where was the FEMA dredging money then? Oh, and by the way, don't we owe China a few trillion dollars? Why stick it to the feds who are already too broke to pay for this? If we do not pay any more than we do now, and do not pay the county $20,000 a year to survey we would have, in 20 years, $780,000 to start the dredging program again. This to me seems like a good way to get the canal project going. And if any of you are wondering how deep your canal is, call me, I can loan you a stick. Heck, I could even write numbers on it. We donʼt need high tech mapping! I know why the county wants to do this, they need money and $20.000 a year is not chump change.I just do not get why we have to throw good money after bad at this. The real question is why do some of my neighbors want this?



By Capt. Bart Marx Water LIFE Fishing

Hello fellow anglers, it has been tough with the winds and all. Trying to fish in the Gulf with 15 knot winds and the water temperature in the low sixties makes it hard to get to the shallow reefs and catch some of those flounder and sheepshead that are out there now. On one of our trips we made it to the Novak reef and were catching some sheepshead and snapper when one of the anglers hooked into something that was really giving him a fit. Then, after a few runs of the drag he brought it up where we got a look seeand it was a RED fish, a 26" redfish at that. It was a real surprise! Then the wind started up again and we moved inshore to catch some trout. Joe had the 26" red and his son got a trout.

On another trip with two anglers we met at Pineland Marina to start our fishing



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It’s Been Tough .... but good!

journey with Jim and his son Jimmy. We went through the pass and went to a natural bottom in about 40-feet of water where we started our catching session. The guys kept busy as snapper and gag grouper were feeding like crazy. Jim caught a nice 2-pound mangrove snapper then Jimmy hooked into something and got railroaded and broke-off. I re-rigged his pole and he got another bite and the drag was singing and his line was tight. I told him to just keep the tip up and reel when you can. It was a few minutes and he got the fish up where we could see it. It was a nice gag grouper that measured in at 31" Woo Hoo! There were some others too that we had to return to the depths and the wind started to pick up that day too so we went back inshore and caught a few trout before it started to rain cold rain and we went back to the dock. On a third trip I went with repeat customers to Bull Bay and caught a few small reds before we moved to Turtle Bay and caught a few trout including a 20

incher we invited to come home for supper. Now the tide had come in enough to go to the Cape Haze shoreline and get into one of the creeks where we hooked a 31inch redfish that we took pictures of and released. It has been good fishing if you can time it with this weather to get out there when you can stand up and fish. Pick your window of opportunity and get out there and fish. If you would like to book a trip with Capt. Bart Marx give me a call at 941979-6517 And remember that singing drags and tight lines make me smile!

The Olʼ Fishin Hole

APRIL 2013



By Captain Jim O’Brien Water LIFE Offshore

HEY YA - ALL how ‘bout these winds? Man it’s either calm or blowing 20 to 30. If mother nature gives you a window of decent weather you better take advantage and get out there and fish! Here’s the fish'n report: On APRIL 1 the grouper opened up some. RED GROUPER BLACK GROUPER and SCAMP WILL BE OPEN IN FEDERAL WATERS, GAG GROUPER DOSN'T OPEN UNTILL JULY 1st. If you bring the wrong ones back it will be a stiff fine you will not like.

SHEEPSHEAD - are all over the place, on Helen’s reef, Mary’s reef, the bridge going over to Boca Grande, and the ElJoBean bridge. Get up close to the pilings take a little rake with you and scrape the barnacles from the pilings for chum and then send your fiddler crab or sand flea or a small piece of shrimp down to them. They will love it. Sheepshead can be caught on near shore reefs and up to 12 miles out. LANE SNAPPER - they are bitting strong this month on most of the inshore and offshore reefs and wrecks. The best bait is shrimp.

MANGROVE SNAPPER - if you can get out there, they are on most of the offshore wrecks. There are some BIG - UNS being caught. The guys I talked to were using jig heads tipped with shrimp. GAG GROUPER - not open till JULY 1, but they are being caught on the near shore reefs and wrecks. They have been chewing on live pin fish, mullet chunks. There has been some BIG - UNS caught in 85 to 100-feet of water and a few being caught in closer, like at 50 feet. BLACK GROUPER - opens APRIL 1. The only ones

Jesse Varnem (l) and Charlotte Harbor Barber Shop owner Izzy Rogner fished a near-shore reef with Capt. Chris McCrae late last month when they found these cobia while fishing with pinfish for bait. One cobia had a small eel in it.

I heard being caught were from 120 to 140-feet of water, caught on big pin fish or squirrel fish.

RED GROUPER - Here again if you can get out there there have been some pigs caught anywhere from 50 ft of water to 85 feet of water. The guys are using frozen sardines and mullet chunks. These guys put the lunkers back for APRIL 1. I laughed and said I will probably see you out there. We probably are all getting low on grouper by now, I know I am. COBIA - Some nice fish on the offshore wrecks, with smaller cobia showing up in the Harbor now too.

AJ'S - are plentiful on the offshore wrecks and reefs. If I could have got my computer to work I would have showed you some AJs from 30 pounds to 92 pounds. The

guys got those bad boys out 60 miles. They also caught some American red snapper and some nice red grouper They put everything back but all the AJ'S - good going guys. A couple of other fishermen I talked to said they got some decent size AJs in 50 to 75 feet of water. Best baits are big blue runners and big pinfish.

That’s about it for now, it’s time to get out of here so if you have a good ol’ fish story or a recipe for cooking fish that we can share with our readers or If you want to book an offshore charter with us aboard the Predator II call 473 2150


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Tricks of the Trade



By Michael Heller Water LIFE editor In fishing, if you are not experimenting you are not doing everything you can to catch fish. You have to try different things, different colors, different styles, different technique, even different baitfish. From what I’ve learned about fishing over the years, no matter what bait you are fishing with, if you don’t believe it will catch fish your chances of catching a fish go down. Conversely, tweaking lures, watching the way they swim and making adjustments, bending the lip a little or re-positioning the hooks, maybe experimenting with a different knot from the leader; there are a lot of variables to make things perfect, or to get-it-right. When they first came out the Yozuri Crystal Minnow was a hot lure for snook. Problem was the hooks that came on it from the factory sucked. They would bend straight with a Charlotte Harbor snook hanging on it. The lure needed bigger trebble hooks, but too big a hook would make it swim funny. Experimenting was the key. Then once you got it right, that’s when you started catching fish - if you were fishing where there were fish. Last week Marc Nichols, owner of D.O.A. lures was demonstrating how his lures swim, he was using a shallow stock tank set up at Fishin Frank’s. Fishing guides catch fish, fishing businessmen catch clients. Marc is both. He was doing a hands on, first person demonstration, at Frank’s Ternt Sale, fliping and retrieving a lure so people could see how it looked in action. It looked good and he was selling his ‘product’. A small crowd gathered. A few of the people had never seen a worm hook with a sliding weight on it. Marc took the time to explain how the movable weight lets you fine tune the way a bait swims.



One fellow in the crowd cocked his head just a little and began to nod, very subtly. He was catching on. These are the tricks and nuances of fishing, the science-project like experimenting that goes on all the time for some of us.. The baits Marc was using were the DOA Air Head, a hollow molded soft plastic. The bottom of the Air Head belly is slit to hide the hook. Normally it’s a sub surface bait that looks and swims like the sardines and threadfin herrings that are residents of the Harbor. Marc took a Leatherman tool from his belt, reached over to the table behind him and picked up a roll of Scotch brand 1/4 inch, glue backed, foam weatherstrip.. He cut an inch long piece off and stuck it inside the hook-pocket on one of his baits. With just a little added buoyancy he had made the shallow swimming Air Head a floating topwater bait. “You have to cut a slit in the tail” Marc told a spectator ‘to make it track right on the surface. Otherwise it will flutter and swim funny. I like to put a hole in it first and then cut the slit up to the hole to keep it from ripping’ March added. He’s obviously been experimenting a lot with this. He flipped the bait down to the other end of the tank and began a retrieve. The Air Head darted across the surface perfectly, swimming side to side with an enticingly attractive movement to the tail. The men all nodded, the kids giggled at the wiggling little plastic fish and the cash register began to ring.

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Adding weatherstrip to make an Air Head bait a topwater

APRIL 2013


On the first day of the Conquistador Cup, Bill Wilinson's Flying Cloud, a Harbor 20 was out in front with the bigger boats bearing down as they approached the mark. The fearless little guys had the right of way here.


(Mostly) a Great Month for Sailing

Not such a great day for this Pine Island Sailor, last month, when the wind was too much. The mast is probably tightly stuck in the mud bottom.

RIGHT: Last monthʼs Conquistador Cup final couldnʼt have been any better... unless you were aboard the racer Mother Ocean. The wind was great, conditions were perfect. Coming down to the finish Mother Ocean was in the lead, ahead of Fancy Free on one last long haul towards the finish line. The problem was, big Mother was hard up against the wind with her canvas pulled in as tight as it would go and about 100 yards from the finish the angle didnʼt look so good. On her present course she would pass behind the committee boat instead of in front of it, missing the finish line. Mother Ocean tacked off to starboard, hard, and angled back towards the line. That tack was all it took for Fancy Free to close the gap, and while Mother Ocean was momentarily in irons Fancy Free made her move. Sailing on a course she couldnʼt maintain, at maybe 20 yards from the finish line, she let off her sails, turned straight into the wind and coasted (slower and slower) across the finish line. Mother Ocean literally lost by inches. After two days of sailing! It doesnʼt get any better than that.

Book Review ***** Water LIFE review by Ellen Heller During dinner out with Ken O'Leary and his wife Gail, old friends of my husband, I was complaining about the 'lack of history' I feel around SW Florida. Growing up in the Hudson River Valley I was immersed in Colonial History and architecture, visited land marks like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and took school trips to Plymouth Rock. Pretty obvious stuff. Later on in life Santa Fe New Mexico was home and the triculture of Old World Hispanics, Pueblo Indians and the Johnny come lately Gringos was apparent at every turn. The local history later became a tourist industry to be promoted and exploited. When Ken heard my whining about Florida having no real history, he quickly recommended a book to read on my new Kindle, which I was not yet completely sold on either. I love books, I cut my teeth on books, threw them when I was mad, bathed with them, slept with them, cried on them, non of which a Kindle can do. But that's another story. "A Land Remembered" by Patrick D. Smith was moving, inspirational, informative and a great story. Written in 1984 it covers Florida history from 1858-1968 and has been taught in schools for years. It is the tale of 3 generations of the MacIvey family settling in south Florida. Each generation had there share of difficulties to overcome ranging from starvation, civil war rebels, bush whackers, mosquitos, hurricanes, massive ice storms, floods, drought, 3 wars and 2 depressions. Through it all the MacIveys never lost there humanity or sense of knowing right

from wrong and their taking care of others extended well beyond family to include Seminoles, drifters and animals of all types. They respected the land and instinctively knew to only take what they needed, early conservation. Historically I learned that the Florida ranges were not fenced until the 1950s and until then branded cattle roamed free till round up, and that Punta Rassa in Ft Myers was trading cattle with Cuba long before Miami existed. Arcadia was the rough town, where a man would go to hire gunslingers or to drink, brawl and visit with prostitutes. And, thanks Ken, I learned to appreciate the geography around me and really see the Hammocks, prairies, and marshland and I can now imagine families in ox carts and Drovers with rawhide whips snapping off rattlesnake heads while keeping the wild cows moving. Florida has history, just as exciting as anyplace else I have lived perhaps just not as obvious. But 'A Land Remembered' is more than a cracker family memoir, or state history lesson. It is a cautionary tale of how devastating it is when good intentions get hijacked by greed, and shortsightedness comes disguised as progress.

Mother Ocean (L) was looking for wind as Fancy Free coasted by to win.



Real Estate News



APRIL 2013

Provided to Water LIFE BY: Dave Hofer RE/MAX Harbor Realty (941) 575-3777

Recent area news items:

1. The City of North Port and its partner, Sarasota County, continued to lock horns this month over the fate of their Warm Mineral Springs purchase. The county offered to buy out the city's investment for $2 million and have it de-annexed from North Port. North Port sneered at the offer and unsuccessfully solicited State and Federal agencies to make them whole on their blunder. 2. Charlotte County Sheriff, Bill Prummel cited a drop in the annual budget by almost 20% from its peak to about $53 Million. Apparently this justified a raise in wages for higher staff level employees by an average of $9,000 per year. Future wages will be calculated based on the County's population changes. Guess who's touting Charlotte County population growth?

3. In an attempt to disprove the notion that dumb investments don't work out, John & Lynell Arnold bought a lot in Rotonda for $45k in 2005. Three months earlier the lot had sold for $5K! Relying on the county appraiser's assertion that they were serviced by county water and sewer services, they bought 103 more just like it. Now they are in court to recover their losses from Charlotte County taxpayers. Combined with two preceding lawsuits, the county's exposure appears to be in the $10s of Millions. Seven years later, the county website still erroneously shows these lots as being serviced by county water and sewer services. 4. The former Best Western Hotel on the river in Punta Gorda has obtained a Holiday Inn franchise and is in the process of being refurbished. Benedetto's Restaurant will become Waterfront Grill in July. Punta Gorda's cantilevered Harborwalk is now under construction with completion slated for this fall.

5. The Charlotte County Speedway is removing the fixtures it installed and relocat-

ing them to their new venue in Arcadia. They are leaving behind only their $30K outstanding real estate tax bill. I think someone was pulling my leg, but I've been told that the county is thinking about operating the speedway themselves.

6. Charlotte County continues to struggle with complying with the EPA requirement that it provide sewer services to its 2,000 lot owners in the Spring Lake area of Port Charlotte. Even though HARBORWALK PROGRESS Work continues on the Punta Gorda Harborwalk project with the activity focusing on the these improvements are section between the US 41 bridges and Gilchrist Park. In this for the benefit of just area the walk circumnavigates the old Best Western -soon to those 2,000 property be Holiday Inn Hotel and snakes between the tiki bar and the owners, the County is atwater. Shown at right, workers are digging the foundation for tempting to obtain a the over the water section of the walkway. grant from the Federal EPA to pay for part of it. played at the southern entrance to Punta Assessments to homeowners are proGorda. Rumor has it that Charlotte County jected to be $10,000, $6,000 for vacant lot is exploring the possibility of leasing the owners. 50,000 square foot facility for the creation 7. State Rt 776 will be increased to 6 of a community center and library. The lanes from Spinnaker Drive to Placida new center could be funded with member Road in Englewood. dues and room rentals as is the PGI Civic Association. If you support this concept, 8. Local investor, Dr Mark Asperilla will we urge you to let your commissioners buy the Fishery Restaurant in Placida. know it. Email: Ken.Doherty@charlot9. The Herald Court Center continues to suffer from property leasing and ment ineptness. Current tenant, Creative Circle Studio will discontinue its efforts to run a successful business at this location. The ill fated bicycle store has fallen behind In other news: Last month we wrote in its rents proving that there is very little about Tortuga seafood restaurant that just demand for rusty used bikes in Punta opened in Towles Plaza, Punta Gorda Gorda. (2705 Tamiami Trail). We tried it ourselves. 10. Sweetbay has vacated its store on Rt Quick tip: tell them you're a party of six (or 41 North of Seminole Lakes. Next door, you won't get fed) ... and request a table the YMCA facility will close next month and without lights shining in your eyes! merge with the Punta Gorda Club leaving Sales Statistics: Lot prices have contina blighted, failed center prominently dis-

ued to drift while single family prices have surged 39% over last year's depressed levels. Although sales volume has not increased, the dominance of depressed short sales and foreclosures is thankfully coming to an end. February new foreclosure filings fell to 131 from 165 last year. New construction permits for the Punta Gorda SMSA increased to 482 for the 12 months ended in January, up from 302 in 2011. Average price increased slightly from $213k to $220k. High mark was reached in 2006 with 3,052 permits issued. Low point was 286 in 2009.

APRIL 2013




Sometimes Unsubstanciated, But Often True MOSAIC “Our culture of accountability continues to benefit stakeholders and the communities where we live and work ... to help the world grow the food it needs,” said Jim Prokopanko, President and CEO of Mosaic on being selected one of the Worlds most Ethical companies by an independent think-tank dedicated to the creation, advancement and sharing of best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption and sustainability.

A TUGBOAT HAULS 500 TONS of old poles donated by Florida Power & Light Company to create two artificial reefs off the coast of St. Lucie County, Fla.

boat to again attempt to tow the overturned vessel. This second tow boat took on water and subsequently sank. Its occupants were safely pulled from the water by yet another tow boat of the same company. Officers are investigating. HIGH TIDE GREEN MOSS FWC Officers assisted the Department of State, University of Florida, and Cedar Key Scrub State Park personnel with the recovery and relocation of Indian burial remains in the Cedar Key Area, as the known burial site had become exposed to weather and tidal conditions. The officers provided security, transported equipment and personnel with FWC airboats during the permitted excavation and relocation detail.

HEREʼS YOUR SIGN Officers responded to a vessel sinking at the River Park and Marina in Port Saint Lucie. An investigation revealed that the vessel had been purchased that same day and was being launched for its maiden voyage. The owner trailered and launched the vessel while a friend operated it. As the owner drove off, the operator noticed water on the rear deck of the boat. He then noticed water flowing over the transom. Before long the vessel sank and the operator swam to shore. After salvage operations had concluded that night and the vessel was recovered

SUMMER IS COMING. One neighbor across the canal is already boarded up and gone. U Haul trailers are disappearing fast.

BAD JUJU Officers were dispatched to an overturned 22 foot recreational fishing boat 17 miles east of Ponce Inlet. The occupants were safely pulled from the boat. A local salvage/tow boat responded to tow the overturned boat. The tow boat experienced hull failure in the inlet and began taking on water. Other officers responded to the tow boat and escorted it in safely. Later that night, another tow company sent out a tow

Kids Fishing ;-(

to a trailer, Lieutenant Rogerson noticed that the boat plug had not been used.

BEHEMOTH TROUT Measuring at over 36.6 inches long and just about a foot wide, this brown trout is a behemoth among its species. Brown trout have a wide and diverse range across the globe and can live up to twenty years if they survive spawning season. Age could ex-

Get Some is supposedly the same as Inox, both are water displacing lubricating sprays. We have tried them both and they seem to be the same. Check out the aerosol 3 in ONE oil, we bet you have never seen one of those before!

plain why this particular specimen grew to such a large size. Environment also plays a factor in how big the fish get, and because of the trout being commonplace in streams around the world, some regional trout get larger than others. CARP MADNESS Tournament, which took place last week on Kentucky and Barkley lakes. Twentyone commercial fishing teams from around the country enlisted to take on the invasive species. According to the department, the two-day tournament ended with nearly 83,000 pounds of Asian carp removed from the lakes.

Need more cans and pick ups along the new Harborwalk. This is the kind of thing that gives dog owners a bad name.


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A A p p r r ii ll

Charlotte Harbor:

Frank, at Fishin' Franks Port Charlotte: 625-3888

F s h h ii n n g g F ii s

What we are seeing now coming up into the Harbor is a mystery fish. I don’t know what it is, but it’s big and fast. We’ve heard several stories of guys chumming whitebait at Alligator Reef. The rod gets hit hard and fast and it runs right back into the structure. It could be a blacknosed shark, goliath or gags, what people are describing could also be a big monster snook. There have been probably six stories in the store, guys on their second up-size, up to 60 pound tackle, and they are coming back broke off and reeled. Not one guy, but several stories, half a dozen in the last three weeks, maybe. It could be a big black nose shark, they are structure oriented, We won’t know till someone gets a picture or brings one back or. Me, I think it may be Mr. Snook.

Eight year old Josalyn Tari from Toledo Blade Elementary caught this redfish in a pothole on Lemon Bay, with a shrimp.



F F o o r r e e c c a a s s t t

The weather has been really weird, hot and cold, and we know that effects the fish. We didn’t get the big schools of mackerel and trout. The simple reason was we had a wall of red tide across our passes for most of the last season, so if you were a mackerel cruising up the coast you’d keep going. Over the last couple of weeks the red tide has backed off and now there are mackerel reports and trout and tripletail. What happens to Captiva and Boca Brande happen to the Harbor. Lately they are clear and we have fish. Out in the Gulf, grouper and more grouper; red, gags, and black, we are seeing so many types of grouper now. The sheephead are on the old picked-over reefs, like Marys and Helens. No idea why, but they are liking those reefs. Three-years is my theory on sheepshead. Bad, mediocre, and great is the cycle. Mostly when you catch them is when they go to spawn. They were really good last year and then better this year, so my theory would be correct - maybe spawning inside the barrier islands now and we are seeing so many because there are more people out there finding them. Great! The flats are getting more congested with boat traffic and the fish are moving around. We are selling more snapper and grouper rods. In 2012 and 2013 there seems to be a resurrection of bottom fishing and trolling. Pier fishing for redfish and nice snook, along the pier, out at the ends, trout is picking up. The Hospital pier on the Peace river is showing silver and spotted sea trout, and ladyfish in the morning, going up river.

APRIL 2013

My bet this month is on Spanish mackerel, starting at Cape Haze and Placida, then at Marker No.2 and Alligator Reef. It should all be covered up with good eating mackerel, but catch them in the morning and have them for lunch or they’ll get strong. Inshore Redfish are doing pretty good, the fish are hidden way back among the islands where they have been laying in the little holes. Snook, on the other hand, have not been targeted much and they are just on the rampage. There are 30- to 40inch fish in the Myakka cutoff, on the East Side Keys, at ElJobean and I-75. We are seeing a massive amount of big snook this year. People are aware there are snook. Hereʼs a trend. These plastic lip-grippers have taken a couple of years to catch on, Water temps are at the point where you but there are at least 12 pictures in this will want to look for tarpon and sharks. monthʼs edition of people holding fish with We have had tarpon in the pass twice althem. Go ahead, look for them! ready. The big schools are out in the Gulf going south and north, back and forth, so we should have tarpon here thick and soon. Tripletail are still all around. They are on the markers and on anything floating in the water. There have been a number of accidental catches of cobia. One guy came in the store and said he had an undersize shark so he Gary Corbett wrote: Fished out of Harney Pond, near Lakereleased it, said it was a re- port on Okeechobee, in mid March in a stiff south wind. Drifting with the wind over the lilypads on the west side of the ally weird shark, maybe 50 lake we cast towards the cattails and reeled back with spininches, .... with a stripe on nerbaits or Texas rigged worms. We caught a couple of it and pointed nose... I told dozen nice largemouth bass like this one during the afternoon. Then I was back to L. Okeechobee Ken Minard (right) him it continued on facfrom Nova Scotia and caught about 30 bass including this ing page

HOG (right) caught by him.

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APRIL 2013

sounded like a cobia! Dont look for cobia and you’ll find them. Bass has slowed down, pretty much. Try offering shiners to entice them. Next bait for bass will be lizards, later this month. People are complaining about talaria everywhere. For bait I like bread with grape jelly left to dry in the sun on a #6 Eagleclaw snelled hook. Bread with cat food works too.


The The BIG-4 BIG-4

GAG So many itʼs stupid! Nearshore reefs. Must release

Fish Fish to to expect expect in in

COBIA on the wrecks and inshore on the flats


April April

SNOOK in the deeper spots outside the bars

KINGFISH In 80 feet. Need water clarity and bait pods

Gulf Temp high 60s? low 70s? changing every day

Lemon Bay:

Jim, at Fishermen’s Edge Englewood: 697-7595

Fishing in the Bay has ben OK, but a lot of the time you had to fight the wind. Still, guys caught reds and trout, a few small tarpon and some snook in the wind. Some of the feeder channels in Whidden Creek and Turtle Bay are holding nice fish, as are the edges in Pine Island around Mondongo and Pelican Bay where there is not a lot of dirty water. Trout, redfish and flounder, from Capt. Billy Barton, on a cold windy March day. Look how shallow the water is. It has been OK, but I haven’t heard of any giants lately. My neighbor did have a 5 smaller Sebille greenback- or whitebait-looking pound trout one day, on a lure - a 3D-minnow. That lures; the MR14 and 17MR have been a popular seems to be a good lure right now because it’s the lure too because you can work them over the grass. right size. Around Sandfly Key, the edges have a There were cobia around Hog Island and some lot of glass minnow starting to show up, so that 3D- offshore on the big reefs. minnow is the natural size bait. Guys are using One day last week, a few guys went offshore. They only went 7- to 8-miles for a cooler full of porgys, grunts, lane snapper, a couple flounder, mackerel and sheepshead. A lot of the fish are moving around, when the goliath are there, they move off that spot, so things have been changing. Offshore, bottom fishing with sardines from the Angler’s Dream head-boat there were reports of amberjacks and sheephead on the closer in reefs. Some guys hooked and lost them, some guys fought Garrett Kizer writes: This fish (AJ) bottomed them and took them home.


out the 60lb scale, caught 70 miles out in Gulf on live bait with Shawn Gore.





APRIL 2013

Water LIfe April 2013  

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

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