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W a t e r LIFE


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The official publication of the Charlotte Harbor Reef Association

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Parents of 7th Graders sign your kids up!

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Fishing Classes

For the 10th year the Don Ball School of Fishing classes are being offered at: Port Charlotte, Murdock, LA Ainger, Punta Gorda and Heron Creek middle schools. This is an 8 week program held in the school cafeteria from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. one night a week. Children receive invaluable fishing instruction from local guides. They will learn how to tie knots, cast and identify fish. Students receive a quality Shakespeare Rod and Reel, a custom tackle bag, tackle trays, lures, hooks, jigs, sinkers, spoons, plyers, casting plugs and more! Plus, every student receives the new 2011 edition of the Don Ball School of Fishing workbook and upon graduation they will receive a custom Be-The-Fish graduation t-shirt. The cost of the whole program is just $12. Students will have a chance to see the equipment, meet us and ask questions at a school lunch session in early September. Application forms will be available at each school office Sept 1. Early sign up is available from the website NOW! Call 941-766-8180 for more information. Sponsored by the Charlotte Harbor Reef Assn. and the Fish Florida Foundation with additional funding from Fishermen’s Village and Water LIFE magazine


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Inshore & Offshore Headquarters Tarpon Discussion

Dear Water LIFE I find it a little hypocritical of your magazine to comment on the death of Tarpon on the Boca Grande beaches and a few pages later giving congratulations to the winners of the Fishin' Franks Shark kill tournament. I agree there are problems with the Tarpon tournament and they need to find a way of reducing the fatality of the Tarpon that are caught, But I am completely against the useless killing of sharks stingrays and catfish under the guise that they will be donated to food for the hungry as a means to justify a kill tournament. The fish that are caught in this tournament are left out all night in most cases until they are brought in for the weigh in, I don't personally know of any processing facility that would serve fish under any circumstance to anyone including the homeless. You really need to make sure if your going to comment on an accidental kill in one tournament that you treat a intentional kill tournament with the same eyes. I know Frank is one of your biggest advertisers and you really should excuse your self from writing this article since it is impossible for you to be unbias on this subject. Davi d Harper, North Port

Edi tor notes** Frank’s shark tournament is a kill tournament and Frank does not deny that, which is a much more honest position than a supposedly catch and release tournament that routinely kills fish and then trys to cover it up. And whether Frank (or anyone else) advertises in this publication has no effect what-so-ever on what we write.

Harper Responds: Tarpon fishing in general is harmful to the tarpon. I have had extensive conversations with the FWC research people and the main cause of fatality is from the lactic acid build up from fighting the

fish for any length of time. I agree that the PTTS does cause some fatality, but not any more than that of the weekend warrior. And one of the reasons I got so fired up is that the photo you used in your article has a tag in it's mouth which would have been removed by tournament officials if it was a tournament fish before being released. In your article you made it appear that particular fish was fatality of the tournament. I was at the beach the day that photo was taken and I know that particular fish was caught and donated to the shark research vessel that was located out in the harbor. The rigging was still in the tarpon that was used for shark fishing. Davi d Harper

Edi tor notes** The FWC never mentioned that! I just sent a follow up letter to the FWC asking about the tarpon being donated to the shark research project: FWC Responds: The fish with the tag 1000156 in the photo was in fact used for “SHARK RESEARCH” based on the angler return card or Tarpon Tag Harvest Report Form that was received by the FWC since your last inquiry. The reader was correct in that it was not a tournament fish because the tags are removed from the fish before they are released as part of the tournament rules. I have copied and pasted the saltwater regulations 68B-32.003 regarding the tarpon harvest tags so you can see them here. 68B-32.003 Tarpon Tags: Required for Possession; Report; Annual Issuance; Taxidermy; Limitation on

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Number of Tags Issued Annually; Limitation on Number of Tags Issued to Professional Fishing Guides. (1) No person shall take, kill, or possess any tarpon, unless such person has purchased a tarpon tag and securely attached it through the lower jaw of the fish. Within 5 days after the landing of a tagged tarpon, the person possessing it shall submit a form to the Commission (Form DMF-SL3200 (3-05), incorporated herein by reference) indicating the length, weight, and physical condition of the tarpon and the date and location where the fish was caught. Additional tags may be denied to any person or guide who fails to provide the required information. (2) Tarpon tags are valid for the period beginning July 1 each year and continuing through June 30 of the following year or until used, whichever occurs first. Before August 15 of each year, each tax collector shall submit to the Commission all unused tags for the previous license year along with a written audit report as to the number of unused tags, on forms provided by the Commission (Form DMF-SL3210 (3-05), incorporated herein by reference). Tarpon tags are nontransferable, except for those distributed by professional fishing guides pursuant to subsection (5). (3) Subsection (1) shall not apply to anyone who immediately returns a tarpon uninjured to the water at the place where the fish was caught. The prohibition of possession of an untagged tarpon in subsection (1) shall not apply to a taxidermist who removes the tag during the process of mounting a tarpon. The removed tag shall remain with the fish during any subsequent storage or shipment. (4) In any license year, the total number of tarpon tags issued shall not exceed 2,500. conti nued on faci ng page

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The big shark bit this gag in two.

TARPON conti nued (5) Each professional fishing guide may purchase tarpon tags for subsequent transfer to individual customers; provided, however, that the total number of tags issued during any license year to professional fishing guides shall not exceed 1,250. S pecific Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. History–New 11-3088, Amended 11-1-89, 10-1-90, 12-4-91, 11-26-92, 11-29-93, 1-1-95, 1-1-96, 1127-96, 11-12-97, 11-16-98, Formerly 46-32.003, Amended 3-1-05. Regarding your reader’s other comments, the following information about our FWC tarpon research may be helpful. Be warned, it may be more than you wanted to know. I am just trying to explain it in a way that makes sense. Tarpon fishing in general is a threat to the fish. Our FWC research on tarpon catch-and-release mortality rates using sonic tags showed a 13% mortality rate. This was based on fish that were sonically tagged and tracked up to 6 hours post-release from 2002-2007. These tarpon were adult fish only. Tagged tarpon came from the recreational fishery of Boca Grande Pass and Tampa Bay. All told, 11 out of 82 tagged tarpon died. Some fish died from post-release shark attacks (n=7) and others merely did not recover from the fight and died from causes unknown, but likely related to the stress of fishing (n=4). You wrote about this in your article. FWRI also did a blood physiology study in 2008-2009, to evaluate the effects of angling on the tarpon’s stress response as measured by using changes in blood chemistry parameters. We compared groups of tarpon that were angled to groups of tarpon that were not angled (controls). I did this in two size classes of fish; adults (large fish more than 70 pounds) and sub-adults (small fish less than 20 pounds) from the recreational fishery. I measured eleven (11) different

Photo: Capt. Glen Ballinger of Venice

blood parameters and lactate was one of them. As a fish swims and uses its muscles, glucose, a muscle energy reserve, is consumed and lactate is created. Results showed that as fight time and handling time increased so did the lactate in the tarpon’s blood. We were not able to associate lactate concentrations to mortality because the same adult tarpon that were bled for lactate analysis were not sonically tagged and tracked to evaluate survival. The act of fishing has an effect on the tarpon’s physiological response and these responses are often not lethal. This means a fish can recover from the fight and have their blood levels return to normal…similar to a marathon runner, for example. After a race, a marathon runner has lactic acid build up in the muscles, but with aerobic activity during a cool-down window, they will recover and do not die after the race. However, not all humans are marathon runners and people have different endurance levels. Fish are no different. Many tarpon have the endurance to be caught and fought on hook-and-line and survive after release if handled with care, but not all fish will survive the fight. This was established in the earlier mortality study. Tournament tarpon have not been evaluated for mortality anywhere in the state. The mortality study and the blood chemistry/physiology study that are completed were performed on the recreational fishery. However, in the summer of 2010, FWC took blood chemistries from tournament tarpon in Boca Grande Pass. These analyses are to be completed by winter 2011. They are not yet finished. One final thing. I saw at the end of your article you mention the Edwards study. Randy E. Edwards published his tarpon tagging research in 1998 in the Journal called Gulf Of Mexico Science conti nued on fol l owi ng page

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45-pound Cubera Snapper!

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By Mi ke Wri ght Special to Water LIFE Our fishing trip on Sunday July 10 started out like many others, but it would end like no other. Four eager fishermen arrived at the Harbor Lights dock in Venice at 5:30 am as Captain Glen Ballinger loaded an empty fish box with 280-pounds of ice. We all imagined that box would be full of fish upon our return, especially with our primary target for that day: American Red Snapper. The plan that day was to start deep and work our way in. The seas were calm and we made our way in less than 2 1/2 hours to a spot 80 miles from Venice inlet in over 200 foot depth. We tried a variety of cut baits and dropped down a couple of the live guys, but the bite was uncharacteristically slow. Soon the anchor was up and we were moving to shallower water.

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Photography: Senior Editor: Capt. Ron Blago Port Charlotte: Billy Barton Punta Gorda: Capt. Chuck Eichner Commercial Fishing: Kelly Beall Sea Grant: Betty Staugler Real Estate: Dave Hofer Inshore: Fishin’ Frank Offshore: Capt Jim O’Brien Diving: Tommy Davis Kayaks: David Allen Sailing: Bill Dixon Office Dog: Molly Brown

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One happy Testa-Rossa with a nice Spanish mackerel from Charlotte Harbor in July. Photo: Capt. Billy Barton

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In 180 feet of water we had more success. We collected half of our limit of ten red snapper in about an hour. All were in the 10 pound range and taken mostly on the bottom with frozen sardines. The live bait was attracting amberjack, and after catching and releasing a few 20 pounders (amberjack must be released during summer months this year), we knew it was time for another change in plan. The anchor came up again and we moved a couple of miles closer towards shore. Glen knew this new location held yellow tail snapper and almaco jack, so we decided to anchor and chum. Instantly the bite was on. We never had a chance to get our bottom rigs out because the drags on the flat lines were screaming within seconds of the bait hitting the water. We landed a few of the usual suspects, but soon it was apparent all types of fish were going to get in on the action. The American Red Snapper were coming up from the 160 foot depths to attack our bait and soon the limit was reached. All of the red snapper were larger than the 10 pounders we picked up earlier. Large mangrove snappers, almaco and yellowtail were soon filling up ourfish box. We continued to catch and release greater amberjack, gag grouper (also out of season) and bonita, as we did the few shark that were attracted by the chum and commotion. Our fish box was just about full and everyone was drenched in sweat, but we were having such a great time we decided to catch and release until it was time to head home for the day. Since we had released several bonita, we were hoping a large blackfin tuna would put the icing on our day and finish off our dwindling cooler space. Our bottom rigs remained in rod holders as the relentless action continued. As had happened several times, we were all hooked to fish at the same time. Dave Beveridge, fishing a flat line with a



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Dave Beveridge, fishing a flat line with a tomtate for bait caught this 45-pound cubera.

tomtate for bait, believed he had hooked another shark on his small spinning rod and prepared for either the 15 pound braided line to snap or the 30-pound monofilament leader to be cut. Neither happened. As Dave fought his “shark” for 40 minutes the rest of us were too busy catching our own fish to pay much attention to his efforts. Dave was dismayed as the fight continued and his small rod and reel outfitted with low-test line continued to hold up to the fish. Dave called Glen over to help him release the fish as he knew the long battle was near its end. When the fish rose in the clear water Glen recognized a shark was not on the line, but he had a hard time believing what he saw. He quickly grabbed a gaff, and with help from his crew, the catch of the day was hoisted into the boat. Dave’s fish was a 45 pound cubera snapper. The fish was on the deck with a

conti nued from page 5 Volume 1, pages 1-7. The article is entitled, “Survival and Movement Patterns of Released Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus)”. I have a copy of the paper and can mail it to you if you would like a copy of it. Edwards tagged and tracked 27 tarpon and only one died (4% mortality), and the fish that died was pulled up onto the boat for photographs. You mention in your Water LIFE article that Edwards found a 37% mortality rate of tarpon tagged and transported to a scale and an 11% mortality of live-baited tarpon. That is not in his published work. Do you have this data or a report somewhere? I would like to see it and have it as reference if you do. Hope this helps clear up some of your questions. Kathy Gui ndon, Ph. D. Assistant Research Scientist FWC-Fish & Wildlife Research Institute Edi tor Responds: The report I cited was 42 pages long with a 10 page appendix. It was Randy Edward’s TARPON RELEASE MORTALITY ASSESSMENT USING ACOUSTIC TRACKING Final

circle hook precariously dangling from its lip just inches from massive teeth (including canines more than an inch long) as all the other fishermen congratulated Dave on his catch. Between the five of us we had pulled just about every fish imaginable from the Gulf of Mexico, but this was a first. None of us had ever seen a live cubera before, much less haul one into the boat. We were all exhausted, but with the chance of another cubera at this location we continued to fish. Of course with the addition of the new resident 45 pound fish our coolers were full. Even our water and soda lay on the deck so we could fit all our fish into the box and coolers. We released a few more fish, alas no more cuberas were to be had, and Glen signaled it was time to call it a day. After a few pictures at sea with the catch of the day we headed home as a happy and tired group.

Project Report, Grant Agreement 6634, Dated Dec 19, 1991, on file at Mote Marine since 1992 and submitted to the FWC. On page 37 the report said: If the nine fish that were not released by guides (and therefore not released by breaking the leader without touching the fish) were considered as a statistically separate population, the conclusion based on eight of nine fish surviving would be that survival is between 63% and 95% (95% confidence interval) for fish that are handled before release. A release mortality rate of up to 37% might have substantially different management implications (Waters and Huntsman, 1986), as compared to a rate of 11% or less when all tarpon are considered as a single statistical population. FWC Responds: Cool, Michael. I don’t have that report that I know of, but need to get it. So your numbers in the article were based on using the confidence interval. Very nice. My 95% confidence interval around the 13% mortality rate is 6- to 21%. Thanks for the info. We helped each other! Kathy

Last word: So either 1 out of 3, or 1 out of 5, may be dieing.

Crevals and Tribulations


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By Capt. Chuck Ei chner Water LIFE Punta Gorda The key to successful fishing is careful planning. Long before your boat enters the water you normally have a game plan. What type of fish, what rods and reels to use, what type of bait, tides, weather and what boat prep do you need to do before you go fishing. Attention to detail separates the men from the boys in this game! The summer tarpon season had just begun and an old friend Jimmy Smuck and his 15 year old son Jake flew to Punta Gorda for a week of fishing. Staying with my brother Bob, there was a lot of excitement for the week ahead. Our first day of fishing was to be on my boat so I prepared like crazy, studied tides and prayed for leaping tarpon. With early daylight rising we cast little jigs for ladyfish to be used as bait. Ladyfish are always easy to catch but hard to put in the boat. On this day, after 2 hours with 4 men casting we had 6 ladyfish and 2 grunts. Frustration was mounting as the morning incoming tide grew higher and the bait catching became even tougher. On my call we left to go hunt tarpon and within 20 minutes we found tarpon rolling and slurping! How lucky can you get, right? Three rods were baited and with everyone looking at the beautiful eastern sky, a huge swirl drew our attention to the west. The swirl was from a huge tarpon that just ate a bait and by the time we came tight on the fish it was under the boat and gone! Moments later, a ladyfish got nailed and spit the bait before we could set the hook. Tarpon were all around our boat and we were excited. Unfortunately, the next 4 fish were catfish that ate the rest of our bait. Casting lures proved fruitless so now we had to leave hungry tarpon and go catch bait. This time we put 20 ladyfish in the well in short order and moved back to the spot. A huge storm was upon us and 5 hours later we headed

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This is the first reports of Jacks inshore we have had this summer

home without a bite. After a long day of fishing with no action the Baltimore boys needed fast fishing so tarpon was not the plan. Fishing on Bob’s boat for the next two days allowed for a few back country fish to be caught however his boat broke down and could only idle so fishing options became very limited. To complicate matters we had extreme high and low tides with strong current. Jimmy and Jake remained happy and fished with a vengeance enjoying the wildlife and scenery. On this outing there were just enough bites with a few snook, trout and jacks to make it interesting. The next day we loaded my 24’ Avenger with tackle to handle a variety of species from snapper to tarpon. Shortly into our adventure my engine broke down – two boats broke down in 2 days - it made us wonder if there was a curse! We re-grouped in my flats boat, caught whitebait and went to fish the canals. Setting up on a favorite set of pilings we chummed and immediately had action. Jake, Jimmy and Bob hooked and landed

nice snook. A few small jacks and snappers bit and then the bite went cold, ice cold! As the day progressed fishing became tougher as the tides got lower – a real case of lockjaw. The next couple of days of fishing was done late day and well into the dark. One evening, we caught some fat mangrove snappers and a few small snook. Then big jacks moved in blasting the free swimming pilchards we had pitched out. Jimmy and Jake had never experienced such strong fighting fish. Saltwater stripers and perch along with freshwater bass and crappie are their mainstay - the

strength of the jack crevalle was exciting with a thumping rod tip and pulling drag. Sometimes problems arise like an outboard that doesn’t want to run or bait that is hard to catch or fish that don’t cooperate, but the four anglers on this fishing adventure have an obsession with fishing. Modest fish catching at best was still phenomenal for them and they are already planning their next trip back.

Capt. Chuck Eichner is a local fishing guide and operates Action Flats Back country Guide Serv ice. To book a trip call 941-628-8040 or go to www.back country

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Hot, Humid & Snappy August

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By Capt. Bi l l y Barton Water LIFE / Charlotte Harbor Well guys it's August and that sun is cookin! I love this place, I say it all the time. Hell, I was born here, I live my life outdoors, but I don't think I'm ever gonna get used to that humidity! There were several days this month when I actually took the time out of our fishing day to just jump in and get cooled off! July and August are the two hottest months of the year here. As far as the wind is concerned, they are pretty much the two calmest months of the year also. Most days that sea breeze really doesn't pick up until our afternoon storm clouds start building. I find the best way to stay cool if you don't have a bimini top or a beach umbrella on your boat is just to cover up. I've had several people make remarks to me about my long sleeve shirts and long pants, but they actually help. Light colors and light fabrics are key. Light colors are going to reflect the suns heat. The light fabrics absorb some of your sweat, but not too much to where they become heavy and restricting. Also,

if there is any breeze at all, they'll let that breeze in, which in turn will keep you cooler. Drink lots of fluids too. Not just water, your body needs sugar. I know, I know, we hear it all the time, but heat exhaustion is no fun! Alright, enough with that, on to the fishin! As the seasons change here in Southwest Florida, our fishin changes too. For some of y'all this might make things a little frustrating. You learn a specific style and place that is just starting to be reliable and faithful to you. You fish it for a whole month and nothing changes. Every time you show up you catch fish. Then, all of a sudden, one week it's not faithful to you anymore and those fish are gone. Don't write that place off, just keep it in the back of your mind because chances are it's gonna be holding fish again at some point. Chances are

whatever factor it is that made those fish wanna be there, is gonna be the same factor next year. Something is gonna change their feeding habits and something’s gonna make them relocate. I think that makes things interesting. It could be the heat, the cold, a reliable food source, or the amount of rain we are having... who knows!? You just gotta think like a fish, it'll help with your success. Trust me I'm still learning and I will be ‘till I kick the bucket! One of my favorite salt water critters to target here is mangrove snapper. During our summer months, especially June through September, snapper fishin is

just the way to go. Pound for pound they are one of the scrappiest fish in our waters and they go great on the dinner table. The size limit in our inshore waters is 10-inches and you can keep five per person per day. Lately we've been getting several fish up in the sixteen to eighteen inch range, which I must say are pretty impressive fish for inshore fish. Snappers are a very structure oriented fish. You can find them just about anywhere this time of year in edible size, however I like to target them around the boat docks in Grassy Point, Pirate Harbor, and PGI. The artificial reefs also prove to be a great choice. One thing about snapper that make the challenge a little more interesting is their eyesight. The larger they are the more skittish they are going to be towards leader size, the size of the hook, and the weight you are using. When I target these fish I'm usually fishing them on a light action outfit with ten pound line tied to a 15 pound piece of fluorocarbon leader. A 1 or 1/0 circle hook will suffice and preferably no weight at all. If you need a small split shot sinker to get down to them then that's what you should do. Another thing about snapper is they are a schooling fish. Chances are, if you get one or two keeper size fish that there

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are more in the area. A good way to get em going is to chum them up a little. I've been fishing for them with whitebait and I chum cut up little pieces of whitebait along with a few live ones as we fish. If you aren't using whitebait they love a nice live shrimp or a small finger mullet or pin fish. A couple good secondary choices for chum is a bag of frozen shrimp (cut up in little pieces) or a can of Jack Mackerel or Chicken of the S ea. That stuff works great too. When you hook up around a piece of structure or some dock pilings be ready to get em out in a hurry or their gonna break you off over and over and send you home discouraged. They are scrappy little buggers! Cook em fried, grilled, bake em, heck boil the darn things... they're delicious any way your gonna cook em. I guess that about sums em up. I hope this helps some of y'all understand these fish a little better, and I wish you success on your snapper ventures. Until next month put it to em guys! Fish hard, it's good for the soul and take a kid fishin... it'll be the best thing you ever did for him.

For information, or to book a fishing trip, Capt. Billy Barton can be reached at 979-6140 or at:

Mate Works for Tips

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By Capt. Ryan Trui t Mate for C apt Steve Skevington Water LIFE Offshore "That morning sun made its way thru the windshield of my chevrolet" blared out of the speakers of my pick up as I drove down SR 771 towards Placida. The twelve 5-gallon fuel cans were filled up in the bed and the first half of my chicken salad sandwich made a decent breakfast. The Pik-N-Run opened at 6 and I was in and out by 6:20. All fueled up and iced down by 7:30 the Paradise was ready for an all day trip. Capt. Steve showed up just in time to greet the clients. This was going to be the standard "grouper/snapper morning, followed by bigger reef stuff in the afternoon deal." We had 6 folks from Port Charlotte who had saved their pennies to go out on a "real charter" not a headboat trip. They loaded up the gear, there were four big dudes and a couple of sweet gals. They were very excited and ready to go. As I cleared the docklines I could smell the sunblock and heard "smile... thats gonna be a good one" as they took photos of everything they saw. It never gets old, I feel their anticipation and excitement everytime. We ran out to some trusted ledges and

soon we had 5 or 6 keeper grouper and a cooler full of snapper and grunts. More photos, more sunscreen. Capt. Steve made a decision to hit a well known reef – targeted species:aj's. The guys wanted to test their arms, so guess what? We took care of that! There were fish everywhere! We could see a dozen aj's a couple of nice sharks and cuda's. The water was deep and clear. The first blue runner lasted 5 seconds. It was blown-up at the surface and the fight was on. The 1st guy duked it out for 10 minutes and soon landed a 40inch AJ. The next cast was the same gimmick: explosion/screaming reel. I handed

the rod to the onr supposed "experienced fisherman" on board. He decided he was going to throw the reel into gear and start the fight– the thing is, he threw the reel into FREESPOOL and the Penn Senator suddenly looked like a huge mono birdsnest. Capt. Steve looked over and without emotion, just said "he's gone." No problemo, Pedro, by the time I got the levelwind brillo put away the biggest guy on board was hooked up. We could see the AJ and the 300-pound shadow chasing it. You know the rest of that story, Star rod hits gunwale, Seve and I help the poor victim hang on and then the goliath breaks the line and the hopes of the angler. We caught a shark, a cuda and a couple more small aj's then headed in. One of the gals really wanted to get a nice fish to show all the guys at her work, so we trolled some ceder plugs for awhile and she did a great job as she landed a healthy kingfish and a nice bonita. Everyone on the boat was sunburned and happy. They all sat down and relaxed while I knew it was just halfway thru my day. Stowing gear, washing down blood and bait slop off the deck. As I was cleaning all the fish I could see a few of them chatting and pointing at a sign that is mounted inside the boat, it reads,"MATE WORKS FOR TIPS,1520% CUSTOMARY" I knew these guys were average hard working people so I had a feeling that I might be a little let down. They all watched me finish cleaning and I tried to


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remember all my Grated fishing jokes. My position requires knowledge of the sea and to be somewhat of a teacher or people person. Soon a couple of the guys headed towards me with some folding money in their hands and I knew it was time to get paid. They all chipped in and said they didn't realize how hard the mate worked. They also mentioned that they thought the tip was included in the price of the trip. Well, they treated me pretty good. When I finished cleaning the boat it was pushing 8:00 and as I headed north on 771 the rest of that lonesome song played. I enjoyed the second half of my chicken salad sandwich and realized that I had to be back at the boat at 6:30 AM for a 36 hr overnight trip. Ugh! I might need two chicken salad sandwiches for that one. Capt. Ryan Truit or Capt. Steve Skevington can be reached at Paridise Charters at 941-575-3528 for information


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P a g e 11

Rain Full Creeks Along the West Wall 1

2 3



1 Recent rains have saturated the area and made the run off in creeks even more pronounced, when seen from the air.


(1) A crescent shaped depression left by Hurricane Charley is filled with water after the recent rains and threatens to connect Charlotte Harbor with the Rotunda canals. (2) Hurricane Charley defoliated the west side of Charlotte Harbor. Spots that had been hot for fishing went cool as the fish looked for new structure and better cover. (3) Now 7 years later dead trees are toppling over and new growth abounds. (4) Creeks that were once mangrove covered and shrouded from view are now open and uncovered for all to see. Aerial Photos made on July 18, 2011 by


Page 12

Two Examples: Reporting The News

COMMENTARY By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Editor In the late 60s I was living in Southern California and working as a stringer-photographer for the Santa Monica Evening Outlook newspaper. One day I noticed the local dry cleaner in town had a display of handguns for sale on the counter, right next to where I picked up my clothes. ‘These guns are for sale’ read a sign near by... and hanging on the movable racks behind the guns, draped in clear plastic bags, were police uniforms from the Santa Monica Police Department, one after another. A light went on in my brain, these

could be guns confiscated by the police, being ‘fronted’ for sale by the dry cleaner. I took the story idea to the Outlook and spoke with the editor about it. The next day he sent a reporter back to the dry cleaners with me. I had my camera in a shoe box with a small hole cut out for the lens. The reporter purchased a 38 Special...and then bought some bullets for his new gun. Meanwhile I got a picture of the display and the next day the story ran on the front page. The headline was: Want a Gun? Santa Monica Dry Cleaner Sells Them.” It was my first Page-1 photo and life in Santa Monica became difficult for me after that. I had a bunch of minor traffic stops;

registration checks, my tail light was out...typical police harassment in a quasi-legal kind of way. Then one day I was playing stickball with some friends in the beach parking lot when a patrol car came up to us. An officer got out. “The chief wants to talk to you,” he said pointing at me and he took me back to headquarters in his squad car. The chief told me “You have to know when you are banging your head against a brick wall,’ and that I ‘should leave town, soon.’ But I told the chief I wasn’t going anywhere and that maybe I’d dash my brains out against that brick wall, and maybe the next guy would too, but eventually someone would knock a brick out, ... and what people would see, through the hole ... would be him. That was the end of our conversation. I had to walk back to the beach, but, in the end, the guns did come from the cops and there was a shake up at the Police Department and it was the chief who left town. It wouldn’t have played out that way without the local Santa Monica newspaper doing its job, reporting on the events and continuing to follow up the story, always telling the truth - the whole truth, no matter who was involved. The dry cleaner was part of a chain of stores that advertised with the Outlook but that didn’t matter. The Santa Monica newsroom was totally separated from the advertising department – that’s the way it is at every good newspaper. Impartial news reporting can never be influenced by ad money. But at the local Charlotte Sun newspaper, evidently the separation between news and advertising may not be as distant. From what I have seen in the events I have been involved in over the last six months, the Sun has chosen to avoid controversy in order to protect its advertising revenue. Back when I worked for the Sun, before I got disgusted and quit, I reported on the bad science associated with Save the Manatee Club’s campaign of misinformation, but I was told by the Sun’s liberal management to stay off the manatee issue and to “Dumb it Down.” Today it looks like the Charlotte Sun


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has taken its own advice. Laishley is a big name in these parts. The newspaper’s logo appears as a sponsor on Laishley business owned events and the Laishley business cartel supports the Sun with its advertising dollars. Now, the Sun has refused to investigate charges of (at the very least) mismanagement of the Laishley city park, falsifying official city reports and giving false information to the police by Marina Park Management Ltd and Smugglers Events Ltd, both Laishley businesses. You’d think any local newspaper would look into a story like that, especially with First Amendment rights and the city involved, but not the S un, not when the Laishley businesses are involved. That’s what I have been told by a source inside the Sun newspaper. I hope that’s not true.

When a newspaper fears the power of an advertiser, it influence the kind of news decisions they make. Then the community they serve becomes just another dirty little company-owned town. A local newspaper is supposed to watch the local politicians and the police. Without an ethical newspaper to remind them, history has shown, time and again, the politicians and the police wind up ‘forgetting’ the law. Granted these are tough economic times for us all, but being a responsible newspaper involves more than overcoming the tough economy, it involves a committent to the truth at all times, no matter what (or who) is involved. Make no mistake about it, ignoring stories for fear of advertisers is nothing new in the newspaper world, but it is always a management decision. I know the city desk editors and the beat reporters are all usually responsible journalists, but I also know at the S un the publisher is primarily a businessman and not a newsman. And that priority could put our whole community at risk.


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Tourism and the Charlotte County Marine Advisory Committee

On the Line commentary

By Capt. Ron Bl ago Water LIFE Senior Staff I received an interesting e-mail (at right) from Lorah Steiner, the new Director of Tourism in Charlotte County, concerning my comments on charging additional fees to use our public boat ramps. I will apologize for not contacting Ms. Steiner before my article was published, but I didn't find out what was going on until the meeting was over. I did talk to a friend in community services and one of the county commissioners but no one knew anything about a meeting, let alone a plan to start charging an additional fee to use our boat ramps. It was only by luck that I was able to find someone who had actually been at the meeting. I consider myself a pretty knowledgeable person when it comes to our local boat ramps, but this was all news to me. As a member of Charlotte Countys Marine Advisory Committee (Charlotte County’s oldest and largest advisory board) for over 10 years and chairman for three of those years, I have helped design, finance and build most of the boat ramps in the county. The MAC's biggest job is to allocate close to $1 million in power boat generated funds among many marine related projects including building and maintaining our boat ramps. No one from the Tourist

Development Council or Community Services ever went to the MAC and said there was a problem with the current policy. If there is a problem or a proposed policy change, since the MAC is putting up the money, we would like to here about it from County staff first. I know that things are changing in county government, but I had no idea that the Director of Tourism was now taking an active roll in the management of the boat ramps. I thought that was Community Services’ job. It was John Jackson, their director, that sent over a request for an additional $400,000 of MAC funds for the proposed CattleDock Boat Ramp in February. Unfortunately he didn't get the money because the MAC figured putting $800,000 aside for a proposed boat ramp that didn't have a road to it built yet was a bit over the top. Things were not all bad for Community Service though. They got $100,000 for the abandoned boat program, $55,000 to build and monitor artificial reef sites; even $15,000 to shellrock an expansion for the brand new Placida boat ramp parking lot. There are some MAC projects that justifiably should be under the jurisdiction of the Tourist Development Council. This year the MAC recommended and the BCC approved $268,000 for the completion of Phase One of the Punta Gorda Harbor-walk Project. This is definitely a tourist development proj-

ect, so next year I will ask that the CRA bring their request straight to tourism. I'm sure you will want to help them out. There was one other request that was totally unprecedented in MAC history; a request for $50,000 for seed money to help the Charlotte Harbor Regatta bring the 2012 World Disabled Sailing Championships to Charlotte Harbor. Their spokesman made a passionate request for the help. He needed money right then and the MAC was able to give him the $50,000 to build 400 feet of floating dock to help the handicapped sailors get into their vessels. After the regatta, these docks will then be available for other events like boat shows, fishing tournaments and regattas. I know that this project should be handled by Tourist Development too and frankly I don't know why it wasn't. At that time I asked if the sailors had contacted the Tourist Development Council. I was told they did, but didn't get the help they needed. The MAC felt that this was a major event that would help tourism in Charlotte County and bring national attention to our community so we acted on it. The MAC has a pretty simple philosophy, we are here to help our community. We will work with anyone who can help our residents make money, but we are not too interested in working with those who want to pick the pockets of our residents. Capt. Ron Blago

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email to Water LIFE

Re: Capt Ron, Boat Ramps, July Dear Sir, I read with interest your editorial on the recent meeting regarding private vendor use of public boat ramps. I was surprised you didnʼt contact me or John Jackson but rather relied on a single account of the meeting. Although I am new to Charlotte County, I am not new to the industry and can assure you that one personʼs opinion would not move me to take any action I would not otherwise take on my own. Captain Marian expressed an opinion about private vendor use of public beaches and parks. I did some research to see what the policies were in other communities along the Gulf coast and was surprised to find there was a great deal of interest in having a multi-county meeting to discuss polices on vendorsʼ (all vendors – not just kayaks) use of public facilities. We are an emerging market and our public facilities are not yet experiencing some of the same issues as those in more mature markets. This meeting was not just about kayak vendors. It touched on many aspects of private vendorsʼ use of public facilities. There was a great deal of discussion regarding environmental impacts; impacts on parking, neighborhood impacts and liability insurance among other topics. Had you been at the meeting or perhaps had taken time to speak with either myself or John Jackson, you might have had a better understanding of what transpired. At this point, there arenʼt many kayak vendors using public facilities. Those that are should be properly permitted and should carry liability insurance. This is not a money-making proposition for Mr. Jacksonʼs department. Readers assume that the opinions expressed in editorials are well researched. Unfortunately, that is too often not the case. I canʼt speak for Mr. Jackson but I would appreciate it if you would take two minutes to get my perspective before you make assumptions about my motives or circumstances. Sincerely, Lorah Steiner Director of Tourism Charlotte County, Florida

Peace River Crab Trap Removal

Page 14

By Betty S taugl er Water LIFE / Sea Grant Last month, southwest Florida was closed to blue crab trap gear for 10 days in order to facilitate the removal of abandoned gear. The ten day rotational closure was implemented in 2009 as a way to identify and removal traps that have been lost or left behind before they lose their buoy and are much harder to find. Current rules prohibit tampering with traps, trap contents, lines or buoys that do not belong to you (even if the traps are derelict or in the water during a closed season). Penalties are stiff and may result in a third degree felony conviction, fines of up to $5,000 and the permanent revocation of your fishing privileges. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) use two approaches to remove traps during the closure. A FWC hired contractor may remove traps or volunteer groups may receive permission to conduct a cleanup event.

This year, a contractor came to Lemon Bay and Gasparilla Sound and I was authorized to remove traps from the Peace River. If you were out in the Peace River during the closure you may have noticed how remarkably clear it was of trap gear. That is likely because prior cleanups in 2006 and 2009 removed the majority of derelict traps in the river and the commercial and recreational fishers did an outstanding job recovering their gear this year. Good thing I was not looking for traps visible from the surface. My authorization allowed me to use side scan sonar to identify and remove submerged traps that are no longer marked with a buoy. In

order to retrieve traps found on the side scan I used a homemade drag. It’s a slow process that will make you dizzy after spinning the boat around all day trying to snag hold of the traps. My outstanding crew and I averaged fifteen traps a day with a grand total of 61 removed over four days. Some of the traps we removed were still fishing and others came up as trap debris (usually a rebar frame and line). Two traps removed had this year’s green tag on them, indicating they were lost right after they were placed in the water. The FWC’s year didn’t begin until July


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1st. These traps are a reminder that behind every trap is a person trying to make a living and/or simply put food on the table and at the end of every line there is a trap, that when lost may continue to fish until it degrades. The trap retrieval program is funded by commercial saltwater license revenue and from retrieval fees collected.

Betty Staugler is the Florida Sea Grant Agent for Charlotte County. She can be reached at 941.764.4346 Sea Grant is part of of the Univ ersity of Florida IFAS Ex tension

Fishy Relationship August

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By Capt. Bart Marx Water LIFE Inshore Last month I received a phone call from a gentleman who had some questions about fishing around Charlotte Harbor. After a few minutes Kevin asked to reserve a time for a fishing trip. Kevin said he would have a guest come along to fish with him. Come to find out the guest was his future wife and she had never really been fishing on a boat. Kevin and I had some time to look at the days that they both would be in Punta Gorda and after looking at the tide tables and the solunar tables we chose an afternoon trip from two in the afternoon till eight in the evening. That was the peak time to fish that particular day. The day came and we met at Ponce Park to start our fishing adventure. This is where Patty and I first met - very nice lady wearing a Texas Rangers shirt. We talked a little about Texas, they got settled on the boat. There were a few things that needed to be said. There was the safety talk that the U.S. Coast Guard likes us to give before we get under way. I asked the question what is your threshold to lightning and Patty's eyes came to life – What do you mean? I said, how close can you tolerate lightning. She was mostly okay with it until I shared that sometimes your hair stands up like a Marty Feldman doll. She said that would be too close. We left the dock and headed down the Harbor to the south where I had caught bait in the cast net earlier in the day. I sharedsome local history about our area and how parts of it got their names. And I explained about the broad point that sticks out into the Harbor that runs from Colony Point to Alligator Creek. And Patty being from Texas is very fluent in Spanish and corrected me very quickly as how to correctly pronounce Punta Gorda ... so we started off with a discussion about things. As we traveled south toward BurntStore we were looking at the clouds that were building. We got to our first fishing spot and started to fish. For the first few minutes it was slow until Kevin hooked into a small trout that we released to grow up. That was the beginning. I kept moving the boat along the mangroves and would cast the line for Patty and hand her the rod as we continued along the shore. There was a nice breeze blowing because there were some rain clouds building and coming in our direction. There is a bimini top on the boat so it is not too bad when it rains. Continuing along the shoreline Patty hooked up to a good fish. It was pulling her to the right and to the left and I was

coaching her all the way. She was doing an outstanding job keeping the fish out of the mangrove roots that have oysters growing on them. She couldn't quite get total control of the fish pulling back all the line she was retrieving so I stopped her just long enough to turn the drag a quarter turn to help. Then she had a little more control of the fish and I fired up the trolling motor and pulled the boat away from those razor sharp oysters. Reaching open water it was time to slow down and regroup. It took a few more minutes for Patty to take control of the twenty eight inch redfish that was on the other end of her line and giving her a fit. The team effort got Patty her first redfish ever and it was a whopper. We had a photo shoot as you can see in the photos on this page. Then it was released in good condition; it was really exciting. Moving on along the bank Kevin caught a nice red and it was released also. Continuing to move toward the point we anchored up and started to fish for some mangrove snapper and caught a few there at that spot. It rained and sprinkled on an off throughout this whole time. Then we moved to another area to fish and started catching small snook and some bigger mangrove snapper. I had placed two in the live well, keeping them alive, and after a while Kevin and Patty asked to set them free. They were not in the mood to cook fish. The bite was starting to slow downand they asked if it was okay to shorten up the trip – no problem! So that was it. An exciting trip with rain and some lightning.

We caught some nice reds and snapper and made another fisherman out of a new friend, Patty. Kevin was a very good fisherman and he wanted to expose his future bride to our great sport of fishing in Charlotte Harbor. We have great fishery here and I was glad to have been able to share it with them.

If y ou would lik e to book a trip with Capt. Bart Marx call 941-979-6517 Alpha@Omega Charters. We are a k id friendly company and welcome children of all ages 8 to 80. Singing drags and tight lines mak e me smile.

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With Capt. Jim O'Brien

Water LIFE Englewood Hey ya- all, I hope ya-all have been doing some fish'n. The fish'n spots I have been going to have been HOT- HOT- HOT. The fish'n has been spectacular and I am talk'n grouper, porgies, snapper, trigger fish, chicken dolphin, just everything. The tarpon fish'n has been real good in Boca Grande Pass, best bait to use are blue crabs and squirrel fish. Sharks are still out off the beach and up in the Harbor in the deep holes. Most of them are in the 4 to 5 ft. range – there are some big bull sharks out off the Palm Island Ferry Reef, a couple of them was in the 10 ft. range. Some of the guys I talked to have been catching snook and reds on the West Wall of the Harbor. Blackfin tuna has been hitting plain cedar plugs from 50 to 60 miles out. Chicken dolphin (mahi mahi) have been chewing real good at 25 to 32 miles; the best baits on these guys are the Hank Brown fluorescent lime green and hot pink 1/4 to1/2 oz. jigs tipped with shrimp. The snappers are chewing real good now. The mangrove snappers are hitting chicken rigs tipped with shrimp and squid. You can also use a knocker rig on these guys too. Put a No-2 hook on the end of your fluocarbon leader and put a small slip sinker on your leader above your hook. If you get the chum going real good and bring the mang's and yellow tail up to the surface, I use a lime green 1/4 oz. Hank Brown tipped with shrimp. You can pitch that to the BIG-UNS on a medium light rod. I like the Shakespear Ugly Stick with a light reel. Those BIG-UNS will give you a nice battle. There is also a lot of bonita out there at 20 to 30 miles. The last two charters I had out last week. I had two 10 year old girls on board with their dads and family. I couldn't believe how good they fished and every time I would show them something they were all ears. I love to see yung- uns get hooked on fish'n. I have 2 brothers and their dad come down from New York every year in the fall. They started fish'n with me when they was about 8 years old and now there both out of college. Do you think that makes the ol' Capt. here feel a tad older? WHEW ! Our last charter out was when I met Emily Kinser, 10 years old, her dad Kevin Kinser, Dustin Johnson, Shawnie Shearer, Eddie, and Al. We had a real great day of fish'n. We


I got so exited trying to get Emily with her fish in the picture. I chopped Eddies head off – sorry Eddie, my bad. Above from bottom left: Emily Kinser, Shawnie Shearer, and Al. Back row left to right Kevin Kinser, Dustin Johnson, and Eddie

By Bill Dixon Water LIFE Sailing Last race of the PGSC summer series Aug 7. First race of fall series Sept 18. contact Pete Welch at With underlines in the blanks. Damn computer underlines it all.

Here, itʼs Dustin Johnson, with his head chopped off and Emily with her fish

had 6 people fish'n and caught 12 big red grouper. We limited out on red grouper and we caught a porgy that must have been on steroids. We caught some big trigger fish some smaller porgies and some nice chicken dolphin that was the iceing on the cake. It don't get any better than that, the mangrove snapper was up to 24-inches long. Momma Mia - thats -a - nice - a - mang. Emily had the chicken rig on the ugly stick and she caught everything from grouper, porgies, trigger fish, sometimes she would pull two fish up at a time! Great fish'n Emily. The guys missed 7 or 8 big hits on their rods! The dolphin was caught on a lime green florescent 1/4 oz. Hank Brown jig tipped with a piece of shrimp. Throw the jig out in the chum slick and don't do anything, the jig has a flutter action which will keep it in the strike zone longer. They’re a little costly, but well worth it. I think you get 3 1/2oz. jigs in a pk. and 4- 1/4oz. jigs in a pk. for $ 4.50 a pk. I hope ya-all get in on the action, the fish'n aint-a-goingto-get-any-better. I'm sitting here at my desk writing this article and my jaw just fell on the desk so that means it’s time to get out of here

From Sun Up To Sun Down There Is Always Time For A Big Hit Capt. Wayne Kerry

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Light wind for Series race #5 in July

Half Day & Full Day

The Olʼ Fishʼn Hole


USCG licensed

If y ou hav e any questions or if y ou hav e a good ol' fishin’ story or a recipe for cook ing fish that I can share with our readers giv e me a call. To book an offshore charter with us aboard the Predator II call (941) 473-2150 AND BE SURE TO SNORT SOME OF THAT SALT AIR CUZ IT’S GOOD FER YA!

All racers and partiers are invited to The Sarasota Sailing Squadron for labor Day weekend festivities. Races in the Gulf, food, music and copious adult beverages at the Squadron. Check for details.

I heard a rumor that the city of Punta Gorda was going to apply for $350,000 of boat registration money for engineering and permitting of the West Mooring Field. IMHO it will be a verry long time coming as boat registration $ for 2011 and 2012 are already allocated. I also heard that DE-construction will begin soon on the wall and ramp at the Community Sailing Center. Also heard that they will not be able to store their Hobie 16's there because of the Harbor Walk. Real shame as the Hobies were of interest to older kids and some young at heart adults.

On July 23 I was at the launch of the first section of floating dock for the upcoming Disabled World Championship. Didn't make in time for the stress test. Nine of PGSC's largest stood on one side and it didn't sink (or flip). Good job volunteers. Anyone wishing to help with the remaining jillion sections contact Roger Strube at


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Not a bad day

By Tommy Davis Water LIFE Diving The day started with everyone showing up 30 minutes early. I could tell this was not the crew’s first rodeo. We loaded 24 tanks, 12 spear guns and the largest cooler I had ever seen slap-full of ice. Leaving the dock at 7 A.M. in a fully loaded 36 foot boat with trip 250s on the back was a great feeling. The first spot that we dropped on was a barge in 55 feet of water and there was not too much to shoot since all 50 of the gag grouper we saw had diplomatic immunity. The dive ended with some small snapper and one lesser AJ. It was still a great dive and I have never been spear fishing with 4 other divers on the same wreck. It was a new experience for me, to be looking at a fish and wondering if I should shoot or not, and then from over my shoulder a shaft comes sailing by. With everyone shooting to fill their own limit we all had to be on our toes. I remember my friend Adam saying “I wasn’t going to shoot that red grouper until I saw another shaft starting to point in his direction.” The next drop was on some ledges in 65 feet of water. As soon as we hit the ledges there was an 18 pound gag waiting to greet us. I went left along the ledge, Adam went right and shot two nice man-

Page 17

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groves and a keeper red grouper. These ledges were really nice and hold tons of fish in the winter time. The crew I was diving with were all seasoned veterans of the sport and had plenty of numbers. They also had a very organized up down system of three divers on the boat and three in the water at every spot. The three divers on the boat would be preparing for their next dive while the other three were getting there limit of fish. I was able to do a total of five drops with three tanks of air. The day went by fast - as they say, time flys when you are having fun. We shot a total of forty snapper, three hogs, three lesser AJ, two porgies and two red grouper. Not a bad day of diving but the real reward was to just be out on the water with friends!

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ABOVE: Retrieving a shaft from one fish and BELOW: Getting ready to send it into another. Photos are from Tommyʼs mask camera

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23269 Bayshore Rd Charlotte Harbor

Real Estate News

Page 18

Recent area news i tems:

1. Knoxville based Service Provider Group, LLC. leased 7,000 square feet in the Sunloft building. They acquired First Financial Employee Leasing and

Big League Dreams USA to pursue the construction of a smaller version of a major league baseball stadium replica. Actually, they had laid out some $450K to buy a franchise from this California based entrepreneur. They have asked for their investment to be returned, pending further investigation into its viability.

5. Tuesday Morning is opening a new store in the Promenades Shopping Center in Port Charlotte. They operate 250 discount surplus inventory stores around the country. They join Bealls Outlet and Winn Dixie at the Promenades Center. will relocate that operation with its 65 employees from Port Charlotte to Punta Gorda. With Spago Day Center, Weiler Engineering and 2 CPAs, all but 2,000 square feet of the building will be occupied.

2. Charlotte County Commissioners, still determined to stimulate new residential construction, will be waiving impact fees that would otherwise be collected for parks and libraries. The loss to the county is estimated to be $500,000. The recipients of this largesse will be many new homeowners who doubtless would have built their new homes anyway.

3. Charlotte County bought 104 acres for a total of $172,000 ($128,000 coming from State grant money). The land will be available for purchase by home builders currently blocked from construction on scrub jay inhabited sites. Scrub jay restrictions made thousands of lots virtually worthless during the real estate boom. This new land mitigation solution will make previously worthless lots..... worthless... 4.

The City of North Port had engaged

6. Punta Gorda City Council is split over raising the millage rate. Lame duck commissioner, Friedman is leading the charge to use some of the city's excess reserves to help avoid a tax increase. 7. Engineers are working on design for a 10 ft. walkway over the waterfront at the Best Western Hotel.

In other news: Punta Gorda airport traffic was up 72% for June vs. June, 2010. Embattled Charlotte County Commissioner Robert Skidmore continues to pile up accusations against his professional conduct and personal expenditures of County and campaign funds.

Sales Statistics: Lot sales have continued to be meager. The number of sales in June were about 30% below last June at a median price decline of 26%. Median house pricing was even with May as inventories continue to shrink. With 38% fewer homes on the market than last year at this time, there is likely to be a vast number of sellers who have simply given up trying to sell at today's depressed levels. Nationally, 13 of 20 major cities saw an increase in median home prices in June The average gain was a modest, 0.7%.


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The Mother of all Mother Ships

S t aff R eport We have been following Fishin’ Franks progress on a new boat concept, a mother ship for kayaks. A boat capable of transporting six or eight kayaks around the harbor, with kayakers and gear aboard. A boat able to launch and retrieve kayaks from deep water. This month Frank is one step closer to taking his first group of Kayakers down to Turtle Bay. On a hot Sunday morning last month Frank met with a dozen kayakers from the Port Charlotte Kayak Club and did some test-loading with the new boat. Anchored just off the boat ramp at Harbour Heights, Frank let kayakers paddle up and practice loading and unloading, getting in and out of their kayaks in deep water. Previously Frank had corrected a splash problem and on this day there were several new suggestions for additional minor adjustments, but on the whole it seemed like everyone was impressed with Frank’s invention. “It takes time to get it all right,” Frank said. Hopefully by the end of August (if the weather cooperates) Frank will have made his first run down the harbor, dropped a bunch of Kayakers off and come back later to retrieve them. For kayakers this will open up a whole new part of the Harbor. For Frank it will be yet another evolution in his business plan. It looks like it could be a win-win for everyone.


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Cool Gasparilla Paddle

Page 19


By Davi d Al l en Water LIFE Kayaking Hot summer days. High humidity. A hot sun that burns your face and arms a deep brown, even when coated with sun screen. A typical Florida summer and we love it. Well, most of the time we love it, but we also like to find ways to avoid the worst of the heat. Particularly when paddling for several hours under the direct glare of Old Sol. Our club hadn’t paddled in the Gulf recently, not because we don’t enjoy the open water, but because there are so many good creeks and rivers in the area. Usually these creeks are partially protected from the sun’s direct rays by the foliage overhead, keeping us cool throughout the trip. But, particularly in July and August, the beauty of the sandy beaches, the bright blue Gulf waters, the chance for a sandwich and cooling swim on the beach, lures us to the barrier islands to the west. On a recent Sunday, 19 of our club members drove to Placida to re-visit Gasparilla Pass, and the surrounding beaches. The plan was to meet at the county ramp at the north end of the Boca Causeway, arriving early to avoid the congestion of trailers and power boat

Inside Little Gasparilla Pass

launches, paddle through Gasparilla Pass into the Gulf and the sandy beaches beyond. It was a perfect day for such an expedition; light easterly wind, bright sun with no rain clouds in sight, and a slack tide at the inlet. After launching, we paddled out the entrance channel and headed for Bird Key on the north side. At this early hour few powerboats were on the ICW so the crossing was quick and easy. Gasparilla Pass was dead calm as we passed through and beached the kayaks on the south tip of Little Gasparilla Island. There is a sandbar on the south side of the Gasparilla Pass and on most days waves are breaking across its length, but not today. We were quickly out of our kayaks and into the warm, but refreshing, Gulf waters. It’s a very short paddle to the inlet, about 20 minutes, so after a short swim, some of our group decided to head south along the Gulf beaches of Boca Grande. A gentle southeast wind was raising small waves in front of us as we glided past the beautiful and uninhabited beaches. We often see dolphins or tarpon

cruising down the coast alongside our kayaks, but not today. We beached our kayaks about 2 miles south of the inlet, cooled off in the water, and had sandwiches and soda. Returning to the inlet, we again beached the kayaks where some of our group was still swimming. The wind had picked up to the extent that we could surf briefly down the backs of the larger waves. A strong tide was flowing out of the inlet as we approached and we had a hard paddle back to the Placida Ramp. This is a great paddle, one I would rec-

ommend to any kayaker who enjoys the sandy beaches, the sparkling blue water, and the chance of sighting dolphins and other wildlife. If you aren’t an experienced kayaker, you can take a short, easy paddle to the inlet, and time your trip to coincide with a slack tide. It’s a rewarding paddle and a good way to keep cool on these hot summer days.

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

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Page 21


Sometimes Unsubstanciated, But Often True

NOAA Fi sheri es has issued a final determination to list the largetooth sawfish (Pristis perotteti) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. NOAA Fisheries does not intend to propose to designate critical habitat for the species.

FLATS MAS TERS An angler on the leading team was disqualified for entering a fish with an obviously clipped tail. Other anglers questioned why the whole team was not polygraphered and why the angler was disqualified and not banned from all future competition. BOGO i s BACK You can get 2-forthe-price-of-1 entrees again this summer. But before you order your dinner you must tell your server you want the BOGO (buy one get one) at River City or the Torch restaurabts in Punta Gorda.

WAR DOGS When President Obama went to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, last month for a highly publicized, but very private meeting with the commando team that killed Osama bin Laden, only one of the 81 members of the supersecret SEAL DevGru unit was identified by name: Cairo, the war dog. Cairo, like most canine members of the elite U.S. Navy SEALs, is a Belgian Malinois. The Malinois breed is similar to German shepherds but smaller and more compact, with an adult male weighing in the 30-kilo range. German shepherds are still used as war dogs by the American military but

the lighter, stubbier Malinois is considered better for the tandem parachute jumping and rappelling operations often undertaken by SEAL teams.

Just as the Navy SEALS and other elite special forces are the sharp point of the American military machine, so too are their dogs at the top of a canine military heirarchy. In all, the U.S. military currently has about 2,800 active-duty dogs deployed around the world, with roughly 600 now in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Like their human counterparts, the dog SEALs are highly trained, highly skilled, highly motivated special ops experts, able to perform extraordinary military missions. The dogs, equipped with video cameras, also enter certain danger zones first, allowing their handlers to see what’s ahead before humans follow. It has been reported that the teeth of some SEAL war dogs are replaced with titanium implants that are stronger, sharper and scare-your-pants-off intimidating, but a U.S. Military spokesman has denied that charge.

When the SEAL DevGru team (usually known by its old designation of Team 6) hit bin Laden’s Pakistan compound on May 2, Cairo’s feet would have been four of the first on the ground. And like the human SEALs, Cairo was wearing super-strong, flexible body armour and outfitted with high-tech equipment that included “doggles” — specially designed and fitted dog-goggles with night-vision and infrared capability that would even allow Cairo to see human heat forms through concrete walls.

FUNDING CUTS FOR S EA GRANTCommerce, Justice and Science (CJS) released their preliminary budget for Sea Grant last week, and the amount they suggest ($42M) is more than a 30% reduction compared to the current level of funding at $62.5M. The actual 2012 budget is decided in conference between the House and Senate (with the President’s signature at the final step of the process). The President’s budget recommendation for 2012 is a freeze at 2011 funding, i.e., $62.5M. As part of their recommended cuts, the House entirely eliminated the Sea Grant aquaculture research and extension program and the aquatic invasive species program. They also propose a drastic cut to the

core funding level.

RUTAN’S BIPOD Aircraft design legend Burt Rutan unveiled his latest creation, the BiPod, with a 31.8-foot wingspan, twin-boom fuselages, and pusher propellers driven by six-pound, 20-horsepower electric motors. “We know how to build airplanes,” Rutan

said at EAA AirVenture event last month “That’s easy. But a flying car? Most of those designs can barely fly. So we wanted to see if we could build a hybridpowered model that would be a good airplane—one that could fly over the Rockies and have good range.” The BiPod should take off and land within 400 feet, cruise as fast as 197 mph at 12,000 feet, and fly as far as 760 miles at an economy power setting, a range of 35 miles in the city or 820 miles on highways using electric power only; a motorcycle engine also can be used to augment the electric power. So far, ground effect flights have been conducted, with takeoff power provided by the propellers and the wheel motors. Can a flying flats boat be far behind? Green algea plagues Chinaʼs eastern coast as seen here in a photo from Shandong Province taken in July

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Page 22

Charlotte Harbor:

Robert at Fishin' Franks Port Charlotte: 625-3888


Hot and getting hotter. The most important part is more fish are close to the ICW and the beaches because it’s 3-5 degrees cooler and the water holds more oxygen, so the fish like it there better. Tarpon are now all over in the upper Harbor. Look for them from the 41-Bridge around the mouth of the Myakka and in the center of the Harbor. Right now they’re feeding on threadfins, crabs and other small fish, but by the middle of the month they should switch over to the ladyfish which will be their exclusive diet ... except for glass minnows. There are still some tarpon in the pass, but they are inconsistent. They will be in and out now until the first front. Threadfins and crabs are keeping some tarpon on the beach right now and while you are out there, there are a bunch of nice catch-and-release snook on the beaches too. Heading out in the early morning, there have been nice bul l reds and bigger mangrove snapper in the passes. This time of year it’s sort of smorgasbord fishing but, you might get more fish in the passes because of the cooler water temperature there. Up in the Harbor, ladyfish, threadfins, fresh dead threadfins or curt up mullet are the tarpon bait... and no matter what bait you use you are going to still catch catfish. Even if you use a catfish tail, you’re going to catch catfish. Cobi a and smal l er sharks are still a primary bycatch when you are tarpon fishing in the Harbor. There have been tri pl e tai l and S pani sh mackerel around the pods of bait in the Harbor, so keep a lighter


pole ready. There are more and more redfi sh around Pine Island and all through Lemon Bay. You’ll want to fish the bushes and if you can find little creeks with good moving water they should be good for redfish right now. These fish will be in the 18 to 24 inch range with more on the lower side of the slot. There are some very large redfish around, but they will be outside the bars in 4-6 feet of water or in the passes. Cut bait and frozen shrimp are your best bets, you want frozen shrimp (not live) because the redfish are relying more on smell than sight. A cut piece of ladyfish or mullet on a jig will work too. It’s a matter of the fish going after a sure thing rather than chasing down a live bait when it is so hot. It you want to throw artificials work them very slow.

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All Photos from Capt. Billy Barton

Fishing Report continued on facing page


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w w w. Wa t e r L I FEma ga z i n e .c o m

The The BIG-4 BIG-4

SNAPPER The further you go the bigger they are

Fish Fish to to expect expect in in

TARPON in the Pass and on the beach

August August

SMALLER SHARKS are still plentiful all over

Lemon Bay:

Jim at Fishermens Edge, Englewood: 697-7595

I’m just not seeing that many fishermen. There have been some tourists here from far away places but everyone that lives here is either fishing in the Keys or scalloping up in Steinhatchee. A couple of guys told me they were getting into sheepshead already. There have been some snook out on the beach in the surf in the daytime. The south end of Boca is a pretty popular spot for them. In and around both passes there have been some mackerel com-

Water Temps in the mid 80s

REDFISH The better fish are still to the south

Prepare to get wet!

Avast... Captains, Mates-n-Wenches!

continued from facing page

Redfish should be on this pattern until early Sept when they will begin to feed on pinfish. Jack creval l e are showing up in the local canals. I’m not hearing much about cobi a but I know they are around. August is the best month to go offshore if you are willing to run out far. The larger dol phi n, sai l fi sh and wahoo are all being caught offshore now in 120 feet or 50 miles out. Inside 20 miles, l ane and yel l owtai l snapper are plentiful - but mangrove snapper have been weak. The one thing that did change is there are a lot of smaller mangrove snapper that have moved in and they are biting. The bigger ones offshore aren’t cooperating but the little ones inshore are hungry. Problem is; we don’t know if this will last a day or a month. Inside, at the Alligator Creek reef they usually have 6 inch snapper and now it’s loaded with hungry 9 to 12 inchers. I’ve been hearing weird reports of fl ounder which aren’t supposed to be around right now, but guys offshore are getting 24 - to 26-inch flounder on the Trembly reef and in the Pass. Usually that doesn’t happen until the water starts to chill in October, but they’re here now. This year the fish patterns were first way behind... and now they are way ahead. What’s up with that?

Page 23

Gather Ye Ships & Ye Motley Krewes! Join in the Pirate Flotilla and Invasion of Fishermenʼs Village on Sat August 27

Blast Ye mighty Water Weapons then come ashore To Pillage the Village!

Major Prizes & Trophy awarded to:

ing and going with the tide and what ever bait is around. Some guides in the backcountry said redfi sh are pretty good right now but the live bait is pretty tiny so you have to work through it...either that or fish soft plastics. The back country guys were also catching trout too, fishing with soft plastics. There are jacks showing up. Someone came in here and thought he had caught pompano. .. but I think it was jacks. Tarpon are around. Some guys have been catching small tarpon in Coral and Buck creek. I thing the Charlotte Harbor tarpon fishing is hit or miss, some days they are there and some days they are gone. I don’t know if it’s the current or what. There are a lot of snapper around, some inshore some in the passes. A number of guys have caught really nice snapper in the rubble at Gasparilla Pass. There have been some nice ones around: mangs, yel l owtai l and vermi l l i on, but you have to fish with shrimp or whitebait and get pecked apart until you get them. There are also a lot of smal l sharks around. Some guys on vacation, fishing with their kids in the surf said they were are having luck with the sharks on finger mullet. There are some whi ti ng out in the surf, but I don’t think there are a lot of them. Freshwater, in the canals, off some of the banks, guys are catching bl uegi l l and small bass on tiny plugs. That’s about it.

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For questions or more information contact: Jim Branch, Harbormaster –, 941-575-3000

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Good (and hot!) Hi my name is Cory Penley and I was wondering if u guys could put my 40-inch snook in your WaterLIFE. I got it on a swim-bait the color was red with a gold tail. I am attaching it to this email, Iʼm hoping you guys could do that. Here U Go Cory! Nice Fish! – Ed

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Page 24

Sold Quick!

Your Boat Here!

Water LIFE Aug 2011  

www. . W W ater aterL L IFEmagazine .com The Dog that Cornered bin Laden News and the Local Newspaper Scallop Search Needs V...

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