W a t e r LIFE
Charlotte Harbor and Lemon Bay
Keeping Boaters and Fishermen Informed
Producers of the
Now on You-Tube April 19 will be 2008 Event Page 26
CAT FISH CREEK: Let?s talk about
Tarpon In Winter Page 9
Did ancient Manatees Sleep with the Dolphin? Page 25
w w w. C H A R L O T T E H A R B O R M A G A Z I N E . C O M
Editor Notes* The Galloway family of Port Charlotte, sent us their wonderful version of The 12 Days of Fishing. We始re sorry but we don始t have room to print every verse here, but if you know the tune you can figure it out from the final verse, below. Thanks to David, Chance and Savannah Galloway On the Twelfth day of Fishing My true love gave to me Twelve Bags of Chum
Eleven Blue Runners Running Ten Finger Mullet Nine Squirrel Fish Biting Eight Frozen Squid Strips Seven Green Backs Splashing Six Pin Fish Flopping Five Ballyhoo o o o Four Earth Worms Squirming Three Sand Fleas Hopping Two Tarpon Crabs And a Jumbo Shrimp on a Hook
WAT E R L I F E
We attributed this photo last month to a different guide when actually it was taken by Capt Andrew Medina on one of his charter trips. Nice Red, Andy.
What始s This Fish?
Merry Fishing To All! And To All A Good Catch!
Largest Freshwater Fish Ever?
Dear Water LIFE Merlin Lewis caught this fish about a month ago in Gasparilla Pass. We have not been able to identify it. Since he caught this fish, I have heard from a different number of people who have caught this type of fish from Cape Coral to Stump Pass. Cathy Hartwig, Royal Palm Marina. The photo is a specimen known as the grass porgy, Calamus arctifrons. Generally found from South Florida to Louisiana. This species reaches about 10-12 inches. Thomas H. Fraser, PhD Adjunct Scientist Mote Marine Laboratory
A fish to validate even the wildest fishing story was wrestled out of a river in northern Thailand a month ago. The 646-pound (293-kilogram) Mekong giant catfish measured nearly nine feet (2.7 meters) and is thought to be the largest freshwater fish on record.
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漏 2007 Vol VI No. 12 Water LIFE
WRITE US! e-mail (preferred) Waterlife@comcast.net Regular MAIL: 217 Bangsberg Rd. Port Charlotte, FL 33952
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Fishing / Environment: Capt. Ron Blago Charlotte Harbor: Capt. Robert Moore Gasparilla: Capt. Chuck Eichner Port Charlotte: Capt Andy Medina Offshore: Capt. Steve Skevington Real Estate: Dave Hofer Sailing Advisor: Bill Dixon Kayaks: David Allen Sea Grant: Betty Staugler Diving: Adam Wilson
on the COVER:
Dave Yarborough of St Pete, night tarpon fishing at the US 41 bridge
on our WEBSITE:
Realtors: Links to advertisers
Tide Graphs: For local waters
Weather: Links to all of our favorite sites.
Back editions: Pages of previous editions
Artificial Reefs: Lat. and Long local reefs
Manatee Myths: Read the original plan to create sanctuaries and refuges, as spelled out by the United Nations in 1984 Kids Cup Updates, Fish Tracking and Tournament Information.
Watch What You Wish For
By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Editor Recent events make me think that going to the state and asking them to establish poling/trolling motor only zones in Charlotte County waters may not be a good idea. First off there is the governor. Two months ago the governor applied some sort of ‘veto’ to the DEP’s decision (after significant and reputable scientific input) to downlist the manatee from endangered to threatened. The fact that any one person can himself, unanimously and independently, make a decision that effects not only boaters but the environment itself, is a very bad omen. It means that if we did decide to establish some sort of protected fishing area the governor could change it, expand it or, for some yet unthought of reason, close it down altogether. Once we have the State’s attention, all the other little buys-body environmentalists will come out of the woodwork. At November’s MAC meeting in Charlotte County we saw the ‘seagrass lady’ immediately latch onto the idea that a no motor zone could be a mitigation area for some other seagrass environmental issue taking place somewhere else. If we build it, they will come. Mark my words. Don’t get me wrong. I like the idea of a quiet fishing place where boats don’t blow through, I just don’t like the idea of anyone other than people in Charlotte County making the rules or changing them if necessary. Remember, change doesn’t come easily once the state government is involved. Look at the manatee issue. Plenty of manatees, but the Peace River has been shut down and it’s going to stay that way no matter if the next count sees a million. Learn from this. And consider this as well: At the Gulf Fisheries
Council meeting last month a plan named ISLANDS IN THE STREAM, which aims to convert major popular fishing areas in the Gulf of Mexico into marine sanctuaries, was presented by Billy Causey, Director of the FL Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and his federal counterpart. The ‘draft’ plan specifically calls for President Bush to bypass the processes of the Gulf Council and public involvement in the designation and management of such areas. Boaters and fishermen remember, you are up against scientists with tunnel vision and a liberal news media, all of whom honestly believe they know what’s ‘best’ for us all. Most of them are usually wrong. The next point that gives me concern is the story on Page 13. If the DEP was in any way involved with faking a news photo for an environmental issue, no matter how long ago it was, they need to explain this at their December meeting. Putting the explanation off will not be acceptable. Today, what I shall call ‘patchwork environmentalism’ is a creeping threat. One little zone here, one area there, a section of slow speed and then someone comes up with the idea of ‘just connecting them all.’ And when they don’t get their way immediately, they simply delay the issue for ‘further study.’ Elsewhere in this edition there is a photo of Catfish Creek marked with what could serve as an access channel for boats ...if we (ourselves - amongst us) decided that it was a place we wanted to try a poling/trolling area. Locals know the local waters best. We need to figure this poling/trolling issue out for ourselves at a local level. Lets not ask for outside help unless we really need it.
One of the other areas that has been talked about for ʻtrolling or poling onlyʼ is the west wall of Charlotte Harbor, between the shoreline and the outside of the sandbar. If there was such a plan, anglers want to be able to come and go without long idle times and be able to run on plane behind the bar if the weather turns bad.
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Taking it to the Extreme
By Capt. Chuck Ei chner Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor Red fishing in the winter is a sport that I look forward to every year. It reminds me to be humble as I pursue a fish that is pictured in fishing magazines throughout the United States. The black dot, the redfish signature on its tail, so subtlety breaking the water’s surface has become a national symbol that makes the northern angler dream at night. This fish is partly responsible for my arrival in southwest Florida. The vision of a tailing redfish, quietly poling, stalking and making a splash-less cast just ahead of my quarry brought me here many years ago. It no longer keeps me up at night, but to be successful does require a lot more skill than luck. For the rest of the winter you can expect extremely low tides and lots of wind. The good news is that the water is extremely clear which makes sight fishing for redfish all the rage. Whether they are actively feeding in shallows where the tail breaks the surface or you spot them patrolling a sand hole just outside a weed patch; the rules are the same. Stealth, with a capitol S. In my experience, stealth means different things to different people. I have fished with many experienced anglers. Some think it’s ok to use the trolling motor to search for fish, some think its ok to use 30# braid with 15-inches of leader while other anglers reach for a cold one and let the lid slam while fishing in 2 feet of water. This is where I depart from the other anglers when fishing for shallow water redfish. A true stealthy approach cannot be understated if you want to catch shallow water reds this winter. Here are the rules that I live by. Be it a bit extreme or not, the stories at the end of the day are the true marker of stealth. Rule #1- Sound Control: Anything on the boat that makes noise can alert the fish of your presence. Depending on any given day this may or may not bother the fish however most of the time absolute silence will catch you a lot more fish. Use the trolling motor to get into a general vicinity and then pole a long way into your target area. You have to watch for wave slap against your hull and if you move too quickly you push a pressure wave that the redfish can detect. Ideally, if you have the wind at your back, be patient and glide into the area and cast/pole appropriately. How you use the push pole matters as well. Quiet water touch-downs and exits are important. It is often wise to position your boat on a spot and wait for the fish to come to you. Your boat can’t get much quieter if it’s sitting in one spot. Livewells are something to be left off. Shrimp will do ok in the winter if that’s
your bait choice. You can hand bucket water if you have to. Generally, the ride between spots will refresh your bait. Walking and talking are two things to consider. I walk like a cat on a hot tin roof when in a fishy area. Squeaky hatch doors, walking heavy footed, moving tackle boxes and the like will definitely alert the fish of your presence. Sound matters way more than most give credit to it and a lid dropped on my boat often means were moving to the next spot. Talking at a normal level is usually tolerable to the fish. However, I know a few redfish fans that will disagree with that. Rule #2- Visual Control: Since you will be sight fishing in shallow water, the fish can see you as well. Any movements with your arms, hand gestures, protruded long arm cast swings can send a shallow water red scurrying. The idea is to cast to these fish, but if they are visible, it’s wise to anticipate their position and ability to see your arm motions and in affect, cast when they aren’t looking. This generally applies to fish in close range, but depending on the sun position your shadow can be seen. Clothing without shining objects that blend with the sky or background are as close to camo as you can get. If this sounds a bit extreme you’re right. My rule of thumb is to control anything that I have the power to in order to get in close range for a natural presentation of my bait. It does take a lot of patience. Leave your tower boat at home unless your going to wade fish. High structures and shiny objects definitely will reduce your chances and I am speaking from experience as I have a tower boat myself. Rule #3- Tackle: Tackle for the job is pretty straight forward. A long rod 7-8 feet in length with a light tip to be able to energize your casting distance. For line, the lighter the better. Clear 6-pound mono would be a great choice with a short leader of 20-pound test. My preferred mono line for this fishing is Trilene XT green which is extra tough and you can handle most open water fish. Braided line in 10-15-pound test is a good choice as well. The simple rule is: the less there is to see the better your chance of making the catch. Choose a leader to line knot that is small. Leave the swivels, snaps and other fishy gadgets at home. For lures, generally small light weight plastic baits such as shrimp, grubs, crabs and a variety of creatures will work. Scented baits work well but I find that you have to experiment with color and shape and good ol’ fashion generic plastic lures work well. Live shrimp is as close to a guarantee as you will find in winter red fishing. Use a bait holder hook and
You see, junior, this is why we save the little pieces
Chuck Taylor with a November redfish caught while out fishing on Charlotte Harbor with Capt. Chuck Eichner.
small split shot rigging the shrimp Texas style as in plastic worm fishing. This way you can cast and retrieve covering lots of water. There are few fishing thrills in the world to match the culmination of a long stalk to a feeding redfish. Imagine this scenario- you work your way into a fishy looking basin and see a redfish skirting the edge of a shallow sandbar. Poling quietly you align your boat for the perfect cast while anticipating the direction the fish is moving. Mentally, you prepare to cast with a low trajectory and your bait is launched. Luckily your perfectly placed bait barely disturbs the surface and you can see the redfish getting visibly excited. Excited enough to saunter over and investigate your lure. With your eyes focused
on the fish you impart a short twitch and your plastic shrimp hops and falls to the bottom. Now, your heart is pounding out of your chest and the red races over to your bait, hesitates and inhales! Rearing back on the rod with the drag singing Sweet Lucy is one of the day’s or perhaps week’s finest moments. This is your reward for doing everything right and for me, it only takes one of these moments to make my day. If this sounds a little extreme you’re right! Extreme attention to detail, a super quiet presence and stalking redfish in shallow waters. Charlotte Harbor is a fine place to be! Capt. Chuck Eichner is a local charter captain. For information or to book a guided fishing trip call 941-505-0003 or
Offshore Report December 2007
By Capt. S teve S kevi ngton Water LIFE Offshore Fishing the last few week's has been entertaining to say the least. Here we are in the midst of the mackerel and kingfish run... and we are catching our fairshare, but the interesting thing about the last few trips is the variety of other fish that have come boat-side. Large black tip sharks, tarpon going to 140 pounds, big kingfish and Spanish mac's as well as ladyfish, bonita, bluefish, blue runners, and jacks, have all graced us with there presence and appetite. And that's just the fishing offshore, out to about twenty feet Super Sized Tarpon for November, off the beach! of water. Out just a bit further we are finding more nice kingfish and they can fit in their mouth's will be tons of keeper sized grouper, it's no swallowed up. These bruisers will be secret that the grouper are back close to entertaining us all the way through the shore in a big way. winter months. When your dead serious about boatThe nightime snapper bite seems to ing a bunch of these tasty fish, try be slowing down a bit, however they trolling a lure down at least 35-to 40are chewing real good on the 60-to 65feet, this is especially productive when foot ledges in the daytime along with fishing in clear water, about 50 feet some really nice triggerfish and lane deep. snapper. Tight line's On the offshore wrecks, the BIG www.paradisefishingcharters.com amberjack are back, and they’re hungry. Capt S teve can be reached for charter For the next few weeks almost anything information at, (941) 575-3528
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There was plenty of shirtless weather yet in November and there were plenty of nice redfish, as seen in this photo from Capt. Angel Torrez
By Capt. Robert Moore Water LIFE staff Winter time has arrived. The greatest part about our winters is that fishing does not stop like it does for our friends up north. This is my favorite time of the year to take advantage of the super low tides and get out of the boat to learn some new areas while wade fishing. With very low morning and afternoon winter tides upon us, some shorelines that usually have 1-2 feet of water on them will be completely exposed. Wading is the absolute best way to learn all you want to know about a shoreline’s bottom. Why is learning the bottom of a particular shoreline important? Because you can easily find the deeper depressions that will typically hold fish on a higher tide. Lots of my favorite honey-holes were found while I was wade fishing on a low tide and then came back and fished that spot on a higher tide. Remember, when you are primarily fishing on grass flats with an average of 2-4 feet of water on it, an
extra 12-18 inches is a big deal to a snook, redfish or trout. The fishing can also be fantastic while you are fishing these low tides. There are many occasions you can find fish on a grass flat all grouped up in a large sand hole, kind of like fishing in a small pond. The key is to be prepared because usually you will be wading several hundred yards from your boat. There is nothing worse than getting that far from your boat and then realizing you don’t have a pair of pliers or some extra hooks. Of first and foremost importance is what you have on your feet. A good pair of thick wading boots is invaluable. The stingrays are out in full force this time of year and nothing ruins a trip quicker than getting stuck by one. A waist or chest pack with the bare essentials is also helpful. I have a waist pack that can carry a small tackle tray with an assortment of artificial lures, small spool of leader line, extra hooks, pair of pliers and a bottle of water. I
usually never wade more than several hundred yards from my boat so if I need anything more, I can return to the boat. You can even attach a small bait bucket to your waist pack for keeping shrimp. Now planning my trip starts with a tide chart. I look for outgoing tides with the lowest depth range around early or mid-morning. Usually I only look for the negative tides. For example, low @ 10:20 a.m. at a negative .02 feet. This will be a very low tide and most grass flats that I fish during the spring, summer and fall months will have little or no water on them. I like to arrive at a spot about 20-30 minutes before the tide is suppose to begin to turn and come back in. I will idle and park my boat as far up on the grass flat as I can get it. I then throw out the anchor and make sure there is enough scope to handle the rising water. I will then look for activity on the surface. The best activity to look for is large mullet. Nine times out of ten times, if you find a large school of mullet on the edge of a shallow grass flat there will be redfish, snook and trout with them. All these fish are waiting for the same thing, for the tide to rise so they all can get onto the flat and feed. If you find active and jumping mullet trying to get onto a shallow flat, usually you have found game fish as well. As you are wading and fishing, remember to pay attention to the bottom. Look for areas that are slightly deeper than the rest of the areas. Look for sand holes you may not have known were there. Put these areas in the back of your mind and come back and fish them on a higher tide. You’ll be surprised on how many new fishing spots you will find.
Capt. Robert Moore can be reached for questions or to book a fishing trip at: www.captrobertmoore.com
Kayak Fishing Tournament Series Coming December 2007
S t aff R eport Kayak fishing is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing segments of inshore fishing. This first-of-its-kind kayak fishing tournament series features all photo catch and release events targeting trout, redfish, and snook. Anglers must fish out of a paddle powered craft, and are required to fish with artificial lures only. A captain’s meeting will be held the night before each event where anglers will receive their official measuring device and score card. The following morning at safe light they are allowed to launch from the public access point of their choice, and must return to the tournament site with their score cards and photos by 3:30 pm. The 2008 KayakSlam Series will consist of two separate three tournament divisions, the West Central Florida division and the Southwest Florida division. Anglers may fish a single event, an entire division, or the entire series. Over $6000 in cash and prizes will be awarded at each event. Each tournament will pay out ten places plus longest snook, trout, and redfish. Bonus awards will also be given to top youth, woman, and senior angler. Points will be awarded based on order of finish, and bonus prizes. Anglers will also earn points towards qualifying for the KayakSlam Championship to be held in Punta Gorda, Florida in April 2008. West Florida Division January 12, 2008 Placida April 5, 2008 Sarasota March 1, 2008 Clearwater
Gulf Sands. Customized and updated 3 bedroom 2 bath end unit condo w/open floor plan. Partial Gulf and Bay views. Heated pool and deeded boat dock.
Affinity Tackle Location TBA Joe's Crab Shack
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April 26, 27 2008 Punta Gorda
For more information: Classic Tournaments at (941) 637-5953. or www.kayakslam.com
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P a g e 11
26' Bayliner 2609 Rendezvous Deck Boat, 1995. Powered by single 175hp Mercury outboard. Asking $13,900
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22' Black Jack 224 Bay Boat, 2006. Single 250HP Yamaha 4 stroke, low hours. $47,900
37' Marine Trader Double Cabin Trawler, 1979. A lot of bang for the buck on the Trawler Market Single 120HP Lehman. $49,900
28' Cape Dory, 1985. Highly sought after. Downeast style diesel powered trawler .Single 100HP Westerbeke $55,900
35' Trojan 350 Express. Very nice, well designed boat that is lift stored and ready to cruise. Twin 320HP Crusaders. $67,500
"Sea Breeze" is a spacious, two stateroom cruiser.
34' Catalina 34 MK II, 2001 - sailors' favorite! Performs well and is very easy to handle. 35HP single deisel. $97,900
24' Grady White Offshore. Twin 140HP motors. Fish rigged with tuna tower, outriggers, down riggers, etc. $10,900
26' Shamrock, 2003. Inshore orOffshore fisherman. Full keel tracking and protection. Single 250 Indmar. $29,900
31' Contender Open 2006. Twin 250hp four strokes. The ultimate fishing machine! No expense spared on electronics. $149,500.
Mechanically good express sportfish. Owner will accept trade.
36' Mainship Express Open, 1990. SaltShaker tower with controls. Twin 330HP Meruisers 2000. $32,900
Owner wants her sold now!
25' Parker 2520 Pilot House Fish 2005, like new. 225 HP Yamaha Four Stroke. 5 year transferrable hull warranty. $54,900
31' Slickcraft 310 SC Express Cruiser, 1988. Twin 260hp Mercruisers. Very clean condition only 197 original hours on her. $29,500
30' Proline Express - 2000. Great offshore fishing boat. Twin 225HP Evinrude. $49,900
32' Island Packet Cutter, 1991. Must see if looking for a high quality vessel. We present all offers. Single 27HP Yanmar Deisel. $99,000
"Slip Away" in a spacious Motor Yacht.
42' Uniflite double cabin. Queen berths fore & aft, with a popular sundeck. Twin 300HP Detroit deisels, 8.2L. $114,900
Excellent condition throughout.
38' Egg Harbor Sportfish, 1974. Twin 335 HP Marine Power 5.7 Vortec EFI - NEW 2006. Has had extensive upgrades. $69,500
Top 10 Stories of the Year
Of importance for the coming year is that our own senior writer and good friend Capt. Ron Blago has been elected to chair the Charlotte County Marine Advisory Committee in 2008
By Capt. Ron Bl ago Water LIFE Senior Staff At the end of each year I like to go through my notes and see what news items or trivia that I felt were missed by the mainstream media outlets and should have received a lot more coverage. Most of these items I personally find fascinating and offer a clue as to where we are and where we are heading. 10 – If you are over 26 years of age, you are older than half the people on earth. The average age in America is 37. Charlotte County. has the highest percentage of population that is 65 years or older in America. Did you ever wonder why there seems to be a drug store on every corner around here? 9 – The best book I read last year was A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. If there was a theme that I picked up, it was how scientists of the past got so many things wrong. I’m not talking about the quacks but the smart guys – Archimedes, Gallileo, Newton, Einstein – all of them got major portions of their science wrong. We only tend to remember what they got right. That’s important to remember when we listen to how today’s experts predict the future. Here is a piece of unrelated trivia- If you drilled a hole to the center of the earth and dropped a brick down the hole, it would
take 45 min. for the brick to hit the bottom. 8 – The federal government now has 1,008 endangered species and 304 threatened species on their list. Scientists have estimated that, worldwide there are between 1 and 1.75 million new species of plants and animals that have yet to be discovered and classified. Looks like people involved in endangered species management are definitely in a growth industry. 7 – Global Warming. This is too complicated a subject for any one individual to fully understand (sorry Al Gore). The earth is constantly changing – at any moment of time it’s either getting colder or warmer- it never stays still. During the time man has been on the planet, it’s been a lot colder and it’s been a lot warmer and we have survived it all. When we were having our record hot summer last year; south of the equator they were having a record cold winter. South Africa was having freak snowfalls and Chile had the coldest winter in 30 years. How can half the world be boiling and the other half freezing? If the human species is wiped out, it won’t be from global warming but more likely from our attempts to control global warming. 6 – I think we all had suspicions the grouper sandwich we ordered wasn’t really grouper at all. The State of Florida did a
sting last year to see what the odds were of actually getting grouper in your grouper sandwich. So far over 100 restaurants have been fined for selling ‘fake’ fish. In defense of the restaurant industry, most restaurants passed with flying colors and some of the others were victims of mislabeled fish from wholesalers and suppliers. The single most popular fish that was passed off as grouper was farm raised Asian catfish. I’ve noticed that a lot of restaurants have dropped the name grouper for the more generic ‘fish sandwich.’ My friends tell me that the price of Asian catfish has doubled since Grouper Gate. 5 – The biggest non-event this year was red tide. After two years of major outbreaks and predictions of economic and environmental disaster, nothing this year. A major embarrassment for a lot of scientist and researchers that were counting on some big research grants. What happened? Were there fewer people in Florida this year? Was there less pollution going into our waterways? I guess they will just have to go back to the drawing board. Another piece of trivia – 45% of all past red tide outbreaks started in the month of September. Speaking of non-events-how about that hurricane season? To my friends who predict such disasters, I say cheer up, even a broken watch is right twice a day. 4 – Every 5 years the government collects data on the number of hunting and fishing licenses purchased in the country. It seems fishing is falling out of fashion in America. In 2006 there were 30 million fishing licenses sold, down 15% from the 35.2 million sold in 1996. Hunting is just as bad with a 10% drop to 12.5 million in 2006 from 14 million in 1996. It seems the outdoor life is on the endangered species list. 3 – We finally started a mangrovereplanting program in Charlotte County. to replace the mangroves killed by hurricane Charley. There are a lot of people to thank for this but none more deserving than our own Sea Grant Agent, Betty Staugler who has taken the lead in coordinating this project. If we can bring the mangroves back to pre-Charley conditions, then the methods and procedures we learn here can be used in other gulf coast states. 2- Charlotte County. implements an
abandoned boat program. One of the lessons learned after hurricane Charley was that you can’t always count on the State of Florida to do what they promise. After the hurricane, there were sunken boats all over the harbor. In the past, you just called the Marine Patrol and they removed the boats. Unfortunately the marine patrol had no money to remove the boats; so that left the county on the hook to pick up the tab if they wanted the boats removed. We have now passed an ordinance to provided funding for our own locally controlled abandoned boat program. Boaters can call Charlotte County Code Enforcement. 1 – Manatees-Gov. Crist and Jimmy Buffet. I’ve made a career the last 10 years writing about the manatee situation in Florida. I thought I had seen it all. I was wrong. After years of research and millions of tax dollars spent we asked the question – has the population of manatees in Florida grown to the point where they should be removed from the endangered species list and placed on the threatened list ? The answer to this question is mostly symbolic since the laws protecting the manatee are not going to change no matter what happens. Now the data has been reviewed by the FWC , FMRL and outside experts and their unanimous opinion is – the manatee should be delisted to more accurately reflect the fact that the population has been steadily increasing over time and is now over 3000 in Florida. At the last moment a reprieve is received from our new Governor Charlie Christ, asking the FWC to hold off on the vote. It seems the governor has some misgivings on the accuracy of aerial surveys that are used to count manatees and wonders if there is a better method to use. Well governor, if there is a better plan, please tell us what it is. If you can’t answer that question then let the FWC vote. I’m sure it was just a coincidence that after the governors request to the FWC, he was invited to a Jimmy Buffet concert in St. Petersburg and after that went on Jimmy’s radio show where they both expressed their love for Florida and manatees. So much for sound science. Cap. Ron can be reached for comments, information or to book a guided fishing
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Photo Used to Spark 90ʼs Net Ban Appears to Be A Set Up
Either the FWC, the Naples Daily News or Both may be Involved Edi t or Not es: Our Commercial Fishing Correspondent, Kelly Beal, sent us a link to this story on the internet at
www. fi s hi ng fo rfreedo m. net
By Dav i s Gri x Ever since retired Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit Supervisor Grady Johnson Sr. revealed that the allegedly ‘netted dolphin picture’ that kicked off the “Ban The Nets” campaign in the mid 90’s was a staged, fraudulent picture, everyone connected to the incident has been “covering their behinds”. The picture was used to incite public furor against the commercial net fishing community, prompting hundreds of thousands of citizens to angrily sign the SOS petition. The picture was an obvious fraud to the trained eye, yet was believed to be true by a vast majority of the unsuspecting public… Especially since the picture contained an FWC (FMP) officer as validation of it’s supposed authenticity. In late 2006, retired Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit Supervisor Grady Johnson Sr. revealed that years before the picture appeared publicly, he had his deputy tow the exact same dolphin offshore days before the photo was taken. He also testified that a marine biologist confirmed that the dolphin had been killed by a powerboat prop’s cut on the snout. As the facts go, Supervisor Johnson received an anonymous early morning phone call to go to Coconut Island. Thinking it had something to do with drugs being transported, Johnson jumped out of bed and rushed off to the scene, only to find FMP/FWC Officer Dave Bingham towing the exact same aforementioned dolphin back offshore. When Johnson questioned Bingham about the dolphin, he explained that a group of people had just left the area in a boat after taking a picture of the dolphin. Bingham never mentioned a net, nor was there a net in sight or in Bingham’s boat. Years later, Johnson saw the photo of FMP/FWC Officer Dave Bingham posing with the same dolphin he had towed offshore… only this time Johnson noticed
that it was covered by a commercial fishing net, insinuating that the dolphin was killed by the net rather than a powerboat. Johnson has been on a quest to expose this law enforcement fraud ever since. In a letter last year to Johnson from Rodney Baretto, Head Commissioner of the FWC, Baretto claims the that Johnson’s original timeline was off. Johnson admits the dates may be off after 15 years, but he’s 100% certain and willing to take a polygraph about the netted dolphin picture’s fraudulent portrayal by the FWC (FMP). According to upper level sources at the FWC in Tallahassee, the photographer and writer that were at the scene of the dolphin picture have signed affidavits stating that THEY did nothing wrong. In Florida Sportsman Magazine, (publisher) Karl Wickstrom claims that ALL of the information came from the FWC and (from) a sit down interview with the officer… The same officer that KNEW the dolphin was killed by a powerboat, yet is pictured holding a rope attached to it’s tail with a net that was obviously placed on top of the mammal. The FWC claims that all of the information was provided to Florida Sportsman Magazine by a reporter and photographer for the Naples Daily News. Editor Notes: On November 29th we spoke with Eric Strachen who was the photographer. He said he remembers noticing the dolphin appeared not to have been recently killed but was dead for some time, Strachen is himself a boater and fisherman. Strachen further said he never signed any statement for the FWC and that he came and left the scene by car. since the photo took place on Hideaway Beach. Strachen said he was (and is) a member of the National Press Photographers Association and was involved seriously with ethical photojournalism. “We just didn’t set up photos,” Strachen said. Our conversation with Mr Strachen came right at our publication deadline.
Northport HS Athletic Dept. Fund Raiser Water LIFE
S t aff R eport Team Potts – Split Personality weighed in early with a monstrous 16.86 pounds. Then they had to wait. Friends congregated on the dock. School chums, but they had to wait for the rest of the field to weighin. Any big fish got their attention. Nervous attention. “I love this. This is our first tournament,” one of the anglers said to a friend. “It’s going to be us, isn’t it?” Kyle Potts asked. The weights were not yet posted on the board. Kyle’s dad Dale knew they had to wait. Joe Shogren, the third team member held up their snook for a photo. Big fish. “Did we win?” They couldn’t be sure, yet. It was one of those days. It started out windy and wound up nice. The tide was low early, but was high by the weigh in. There was a lot of activity at Harpoon Harrys, but it wasn't all tournament anglers a poker run from somewhere south brought a dozen or so hot-boats up the river and they took over the front dock. It was Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. When you sort that out, 26 boats wasn't really a bad turnout for the tournament. And if you were weighing in 16plus pounds it was pretty good day indeed. In fact 16 pounds is a good day in any red/snook tournament and winding up winners is always the only way to go home. The waiting was over. Split personality split the first place prize money amongst themselves. “We started out fishing topwaters and then threw live bait all afternoon,” Dale Potts said. The simple plan is often the one that works. In all there were 12 redfish weighed in with the biggest being a 7.62 pounder from Andy Whitbread. There were 5 snook weighed in the biggest being the 9.95 pound behemoth from team Potts - Split Personality. Couple that with their 6.91 pound red and they had the formula for success at 16.86 Second place went to the Bevis Remax Harbor Realty team with 12.73 and third was GMC Slatery team with a 12.47 two-fish total. There is one more local tournament this year, a spots tournament on December 8 and then next year the tournament venue begins in February with the FLW at Punta Gorda, followed in March by a full venue of Flatsmasters, Xtreme, and a slew of other local tournaments.
Team Split Personality split up the money with these two nice fish.
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TACTICS: Could make it a
December to Remember
By Capt. Andrew Medina Water LIFE Staff Once again we find ourselves in the midst of the hustle of Christmas time. It seems everyone is in a hurry to get things done. But this time of the year is a good time to let everyone else go to the mall, while you go fishing. With hunting season and the Mike and Heather McCarty with a nice bag of snook and reds caught on a charter with Capt. Andrew Medina holidays you see less people long casts. It is a 7-foot 6-inch Falcon rod on the water .... and some extreme low tides! and error. What I suggest is to down size your bait. The old saying big bait, big fish is that can sling a bait a long ways. With Fishing this year has been nothing short longer casts, lighter line and smaller baits are of incredible. With the large bait run we have not always true. This time of the season I find myself, as well as my customers, the way to catch these tailing fish. For the had, the fish were on a chew, with more fish throwing a lot of artificial such as shrimp most part, the redfish will continue to follow hanging out in places that they usually patterns and jerk baits. We will try to stick to this pattern until March, so you have roughwouldn’t be at this time of the year. We have smaller baits in the 3 inch range while fishly four good months of tailing fish to get out been doing real well on snook and redfish, on ing for tailing fish. With the smaller baits there and try to perfect your skinny water, and both live bait and artificials. you have a softer landing when you make sight fishing skills. Fish are scattered through out the harbor, your cast. Large lures that are thrown, make a This past month was also a fantastic but it seems if you found them you found snook bite. It seemed the snook did exactly them big, and in large numbers too. We have lot of noise and a big splash when they hit the water. This will cause the fish to spook what they were suppose to at this time of the been fishing in different areas across the haryear. Large fish were caught pretty consistent90% of the time. But there are downfalls to bor. This time of the season it is very imporly. When the new snook regulations first smaller baits also. tant to chase the tide. I try to concentrate on Downsizing the weight of a lure, means it came out we all thought for the worst, but I low water spots, looking for tailing fish. A cannot be cast as far with heavier line. will say that this has been my best year for lot of these fish, on the bottom of the out Usually I’m throwing 20-pound Power Pro slot size fish in the past few years. I, as well going tide, have been nose down, tail up, in with lures of 6in. or rubber bodies on 1/8 as my charter clients have been very happy to Pine Island Sound and, I might add, eager to ounce jig heads. With these type of artifisee so many 30-inch fish. Most of these fish eat. cials the 20-pound line is fine, but with were caught on pinfish, fishing docks or With tailing redfish the most important smaller lures and jerk baits you will find it creek mouths. As long as a current is present, part of your angling skills, will be bait preseasier to down size line weight also. In this fish have been feeding heavily. Snook season entation. A bad cast is non-forgiving. If you situation I will switch to 10-pound Power will be closing on Dec. 15th so you still drop your bait on his head, a redfish will Pro. This allows me to have the same dishave a couple days to catch a hefty linesider. spook. If you make your bait do something For you trout anglers, as the water cools, the other than what a bait fish would do in a nor- tance on a cast as I would have throwing the trout action gets hotter throughout the Pine mal situation, he will spook. All this is trial heavier baits. Also, my rod of choice has a lot to do with being able to make extremely Island Sound in the potholes. Larger trout
averaging 2 to 4 pounds are readily available. A Culprit/Riptide realistic shrimp bounced off the bottom will surely produce the numbers of fish that will make any trip enjoyable. Just be careful while dehooking the trout. Their skin is fragile since they don’t have scales and any cut might get infected. That can eventually kill the fish. Best way to handle a trout is not to! The use of a dehooking tool will make it a little more pleasant for the fish. For the fly angler this time of the season shrimp patterns or green and white clausers will produce a variety of fish on the outside of the bar. Now on to a special Christmas list that might help you get that someone special a gift they can use. For you ladies, a gift certificate to your local tackle shop will never get stuffed in the back of a closet. Or maybe a guided trip with one of Charlotte Harbor local guides. And for you fellows, Well, your pretty much on your own since I still have yet to figure it out 100%. But I have found that diamonds will keep her quiet for a couple hours. Be safe on the water, and happy holidays. Capt. Andrew Medina can be reached for
Aerial Photos Could Provide Answer to Backcountry Question
Staff Report Recreational anglers fishing Catfish Creek have complained about other anglers running on plane in the shallow water, scaring off the fish. As a solution the local Charlotte CCA chapter has put forth a plan that calls for drawing a line and banning internal combustion motors from operating in most of the area beyond the line. A channelʼ in and out would provide access. The lack of courtesy amongst anglers is central to this problem. Some anglers are simply ignorant, others just donʼt care. We can educate the ignorant ones, but the other guys are going to need peer pressure, ridicule, or something worse.
We ran into Cody Denton, a local crabber, at the Fishery Restaurant in Placida about a week after the Marine Advisory Committee meeting that discussed the Catfish Creek plan. “Show us how crabbers come and go from this area,” we asked Mr Denton and he drew a line on an aerial picture we had with us. Circulated aerial photos could show the preferred route for boats to run on plane into and out of any area. Operations away from that route could then be poling or trolling only. The line could be laid out initially with crab trap floats. We wouldnʼt need a regulation or permission to do that. Whatʼs your idea? Tell us and weʼll tell the Marine Advisory Committee.
THE PIG PICTURE
Looking east, across Catfish Creek. Thatʼs the undeveloped section of Rotonda right behind the creek. Pollution from Rotonda is probably the biggest threat to the Creekʼs long term survival and itʼs continued ability to support fish.
R Re ea all E Es st ta at te e N Ne ew ws s PROVIDED BY: Dave & Marl ene Hofer RE/MAX Harbor Realty
(941) 575-3777 firstname.lastname@example.org Recent area news i tems:
1. Florida legislators have settled on a proposed change to the real estate tax assessment and valuation method. Voters will decide on January 29 whether or not they agree with the new formula. Reminiscent of the Federal Paperwork Reduction Act and the Tax Simplification Act, the new proposal is even more complicated than the prior version. Taxpayers will get a $50,000 base exemption instead of $25,000. With a complicated calculation, home traders will be able to retain the windfall when they move to another residence. They apparently disbanded the caps on government spending in favor of a Robin Hood plan. Homesteaders assessment increases are limited to 3% per year while commercial, vacant and non owner occupied properties will be limited to 10%. These changes appear to have no limiting impact on tax agencies budgets, but rather, who endows them. Nevertheless, nearly all agencies have taken the opportunity to complain about the adverse effects of this new pro-
posal. Charlotte County School District's Superintendent is howling the most... a real head scratcher since ... they are exempt from the new limitations. 2. Punta Gorda City Council proved that patience is a great virtue when it comes to real estate acquisition and development. They successfully negotiated the purchase of the 10,700 sf northwest corner of Olympia and Rt41 for $600,000. The purchase price represents a 20% discount from the asking price and removes a prime piece of real estate from the hands of developers and speculators who, as witnessed by the enormous inventory of vacant downtown commercial property, have been unable to successfully Photographed while out of the water on the other coast for a 驶tune up始 this paddlewheel-style boat develop new retail establishments. will be based in Punta Gorda and skippered by Fishin Frank! The boat could arrive this month. The CRA can now move ahead with its proactive goal of increassome $8Mil. Kudos to our 124 unit apartment complex is moving ing the size of the proposed parking Commission's vision to create a facility forward. The age 55+ complex will be garage to provide for an additional 100 worthy of a city many times the size of restricted to renters earning less than the parking spaces and 8,000 square feet of Punta Gorda years before its need area median. retail space. Waiting just a few months becomes apparent. 7. Punta Gorda will likely see a real has apparently allowed the Commission 3. Charlotte County reached a compaddle wheel boat in the months ahead. to take advantage of plummeting conpromise with phosphate giant, Mosaic. The 64' boat was built in 1987 and will struction costs. Although the architect's They have agreed to permit the existing be completely redone before taking up to earlier cost estimate to create the original mine effects on our upstream ecology for 144 passengers on sightseeing cruises in 285 space garage with 7,000 sf of retail a 15 year period with some monitoring Charlotte Harbor out of Laishley Marina. space would cost almost $10Mil, the conditions. Three other counties will S al es S tati sti cs: CRA is now expecting the entire project now be asked to sign on to this agreecost (including the enlarged building size Another bleak month for homes and ment. and new land acquisition) to come in at lots in the area. Only 2 canal front lots 4. The commercial development, The went under contract in all of our deed Loop, got a swift approval from restricted communities, combined. Home Charlotte County for the construction of sales appear to be confined to the lower this 1.2 million square foot retail comend of the market. plex. The property is located at Jones These statistics are intended to assist in Loop Road and Taylor Road in South analyzing trends in supply and demand and Punta Gorda. not to indicate specific market values. 5. The City of North Port received a Ending inventory is not always beginning $2.8 million grant from the State for the inventory plus listings minus sales since acquisition and development of a new lin- many pending listings are held over from ear park on the Myakkahatchee Creek month to month, some listings expire and Greenway. Matching funds will come are withdrawn and, therefore, do not from North Port taxpayers to complete appear as sales and new listings includes this project. price changes.Please visit us at 6. Charlotte Crossing, a to-be-built www.harborparadise.com to view any
By Adam Wi l son Water LIfe Diving The bad news is winter is here, the water is colder and the winds seem to be blowing non stop. The good news is that great diving is everywhere from just off the beach to a few miles offshore. Right now you can find clear water for taking pictures and productive hunting spots closer to shore than any other time of year. With the drought conditions experienced this year we have had much less rain runoff than average to murk up the Gulf All those shallow spots that didn't seem to have a keeper fish on them this summer are now exploding with life along with the cooler gulf temperatures. It's amazing to see how many fish can swarm and stack up over the tiniest of reef structures. We dove on an old artificial reef in 68-feet a few days ago and we easily limited out on mangrove snapper. But most of the amberjacks were still on the small side. If you're looking for keepers, you still have to push out past that 70 foot mark. The wind was howling out of the north that day so we decided to start working our way back towards home and dive some shallower spots along the way. On a ledge in 55 feet we picked up several gag grouper. Most of them were the typical shallow water, winter gags about 8-10 pounds. A week earlier out in 90 feet we dropped on some schools of bigger gags with some over 20 pounds. Almost all of them had stomachs stuffed full of the abundant sardine schools that are around now. With the possibility of some huge rule changes or closures on these fish early next year, enjoy harvesting them now while you can. It's going to be hard to swim through huge aggregations of these fish later this winter and not pull the trigger. I guess I will have to leave the gun in the boat and take more pictures â€“ I find myself doing that more now than I ever used to. I'm really learning to appreciate and enjoy the challenges of underwater photography. It has a lot of similarities to spearfishing and is also a type of hunting. Getting close to fish is not easy, period. Whether you are stalking to get into shooting range with a gun or a camera lens the tactics are the same. Breathe as little as possible, remain calm, never make eye contact and always move slow and smooth. Still, it is hard to shake those hunter instincts and I do love to eat fish, so for now I will have to be torn between the two hobbies. Moving in even closer to the shore, we found the same stellar visibility and abundance of fish. I don't remember seeing quite so many fish in shallow like this for a few years. Maybe less rain runoff means less pollutants that would ordinarily chase fish deeper. Even in as close as 25 feet is going to make for some interesting diving this winter.
Diving: Water LIFE
Clear Water Prevails
Check out this stingray. He was easily 6 feet across from wing tip to tip. I have seen some monster sting rays before and this guy was the biggest. No exaggeration he had to have been over a foot thick and close to 150 pounds or maybe more!! His tail near his body was 4 or 5 inches in diameter.
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Fishing withCapt Ron
By Capt Ron Bl ago Water LIFE Senior Staff Every once in a while you get one of those fishing trips that really surprise you. My friend Capt Bob Szymanski wanted to do a little fishing in Lemon Bay and invited me to come along to try my luck. Bob has one of those top of the line Action-Craft boats with a new 4-stroke Honda motor that’s so quiet that you don’t even know its running. He also has all the latest gadgets on board that makes fishing so much more enjoyable. He’s got the jack plate, the trim tabs, the power pole, the GPS with fish finder and my personal favorite, two live wells with a small one at the bow. I also have an Action-Craft; but it’s 10 years old and definitely a more generic version. Let’s just say if Bob’s boat is like a limousine then my boat is like an old pick-up truck. So every time Bob offers to pick me up in his boat, I jump at the opportunity. The only time I had open was a Friday morning and of course it was cold and windy with an extremely low tide. I had found some fish by Stump Pass earlier that week so we headed to the pass to see what we could do. The one good thing about the extreme low tides we have this time of year is that you can really spot the fish. We anchored on the edge of the channel
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just deep enough so that the power pole would hold us still. My second cast was a nice 18 inch trout and Bob started to catch a bunch of small reds on live shrimp. It was almost too easy and after about an hour we were bored so we moved over to the other continued on facing page
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Kid s Cup Tourname nt April 19, 2008 Punta Gorda
side of the channel and this time we anchored in the shallow water and cast to the deep water. Bob was catching mangrove snapper on every cast and I was catching jacks on a gold jig tail. We would have been happy catching those fish for another hour or two and then calling it a day, considering the day a fishing success. Out of no where comes a school of sardines that decided to stop right next to the boat. How many time have you been fishing when a school of bait goes flying by so you stop fishing and grab your bait net and wait for them to come by again and of course they never do. This time they were stopped right next to the boat in less than two feet of water. The only net Bob had was a 6 footer, so I grabbed it and gave it a throw which resulted in about 20 good sized white bait. I was able to get a second throw off before the school moved on, so now we had 30 good bait to work with. It’s funny how your goals change when you have good bait – now I wanted bigger fish. A friend had told me that a friend of his had caught some nice snook in Ski Alley across from Weston’s Resort. I normally don’t put much faith in these type of second-hand stories, but it was the only fishing report I had. So into Ski Alley we went looking for fish. Past the sunken tree limbs-nothing. Past the grass flats near the State Parknothing. Finally we went past the shoreline near Weston’s and there were a few small snook in the pot holes near shore, but not enough to spend our time on. I then decided to turn into Rag Alley where I have a few productive spots. We were cruising the shoreline when an area in front of us just exploded. I figured they were jacks, but I just wanted to fight some fish and a big jack would do, so over in their direction we went and anchored about 50 feet from the commotion. The first white bait was inhaled by a large snook that gave me quite a fight.
That was the start of one hour of snook fishing. Bob and I were catching them one after another. If you put white bait near that shore line a snook would attack it. I’ll admit that I lost three really big fish. I was using 20-pound Power Pro line with 30-pound fluorocarbon leader, but my weak spot was the No.1 live bait hooks I was using. I was too lazy to take the time to tie on a 2/0 hook. When you rear back on a big snook and he comes out of the water, gills flared and head shaking and spits that hook back at you - you have to respect a fish like that. Sometimes I’m glad the fish wins. My friends in Sarasota Bay have been catching bluefish and pompano for a few weeks now. I’m sure that as it gets cooler they will be showing up in Lemon Bay. There are still kingfish and spanish mackerel outside of Stump Pass. Capt. Ron can be reached at: email@example.com for fishing information or to book a guided fishing trip.
The winter sailing series has begun. There are races every month
The Punta Gorda Sailing Club始s Charlotte Harbor Y Assist Charity Regatta was held in November.
By Denni s Peck Water LIFE Sailing Just some thoughts on the Charlotte Harbor Assist Charity regatta: It was pulled off with great success even after at the last minute the beach complex site was closed because of new construction. With only two and a half weeks notice we were able to change the venue to the sailing center. This had its oblivious effects on attendance by competitors, but the regatta was still a success especially for the competitors that chose to challenge the conditions. Thanks to the city of Punta Gorda Utilities for parking the city cars and trucks in the grass that day and leaving the parking lot open for competitors. That helped with the success of the regatta in this confined area. You couldn't have asked for much better weather for boats of this size. The Punta Gorda Sailing Club did a great job in putting on this event for
the Y Assist program. Even with the Punta Gorda Boat Club refusing to let the Punta Gorda Sailing Club use the boat basin to hold their committee boat and support boats, the Sailing Club was able to work around that and still pull off a successful regatta. Note that we chose not to challenge the Boat Club, even though they don't control the basin. Time was of the essence here. Saturday started with a continental breakfast for all there and ended with a cookout of burgers and hot dogs. On Sunday it started again with a continental breakfast and then to races. The day ended with the awarding of the trophies. I must make a comment here on how well the competition went in the Precision Fleet. They had some good starts and places changed frequently as the races went around the course. The hottest competition was in the Sunfish Fleet, which saw some very aggressive action on the starting line and at the marks. These races where held just off Gilchrist Park so the community could watch the action. That is what small boat sailing is all about (racing and watching them race). It even appeared to be a great time for those that only
Sunday Paddle Through the Woolverton Tunnels
By Davi d Al l en Water LIFE Kayaking Have you ever paddled through a ‘Mangrove Tunnel?’ If you are a member of the Port Charlotte Kayakers (PCK) you have. So you say, ‘What the heck is a mangrove tunnel anyway and why would any sane person want to paddle through one?’ Good questions. Many paddlers think that the tunnels are one of the often-unrecognized charms of paddling in Southwest Florida. And we have some of the best tunnels right here in Charlotte County. So just what are mangrove tunnels? The tunnels are, for the most part, man made; narrow channels cut through the mangroves that line our bays and estuaries. They were originally conceived as a way to control mosquitoes in the shoreline areas. Later it was found that in addition to mosquito control, the channels improved the flow of water through the mangroves, augmenting their growth, while providing a safe breeding ground for many smaller species of fish. I’ve been told that some were cut through as early as 1950 to 1960 and others much later. These narrow, shallow, paths through the mangroves are completely enclosed, overhead and on both sides, by the thick growth. Many channels are so narrow that a kayak paddle often hits the branches on both sides when passing through. Shaded from the sun, they are a refuge for birds and other wildlife, and often lead to small ponds where roseate spoonbills and
other seldom seen birds feed. Paddling the mangrove tunnels is a unique paddling experience, far different than paddling in the local creeks, rivers or the Gulf. As you enter a tunnel, single file, from the open water, you enter a shaded, quiet, green world. There is essentially no current, no wind, and little sun speckling the water. Often the water is so shallow that the kayaks almost touch the bottom, and you could easily get out and wade through the channel. The channels twist and turn, some for a mile or more, with many false leads that go nowhere. The sharp turns are often a challenge for long kayaks to negotiate, and the file of paddlers must back up and wait their turn. After hurricanes or even strong winds, fallen trees and large branches often block the mangrove channels. Some times you can paddle over these obstructions, but more often the channel must be cleared by hand. Bill Mango and others from the PCK regularly clear out the channels, at least several times a year, and always after a major storm. Two of the best local mangrove tunnels are off Catfish Creek in Placida, and east of Ponce de Leon in Punta Gorda. The tunnels off Catfish Creek have recently been renamed the Ed Woolverton Trail and has officially been added to the Charlotte County Blueways Map. Ed, a 90+ year old gentleman, has gained that honor by his long effort to keep the trail open and to mark the main path through
the area. The Woolverton Trail is easily accessible from Grande Tours in Placida. Captain Marion Schneider, owner and operator of Grande Tours, has guided tours through the mangroves and other interesting local areas. The mangrove tunnels out of Punta Gorda are reached from the boat ramp in Ponce de Leon Park at the west end of Marion Avenue. After launching at the park, you must paddle about 1 mile south and west through the boat channel before entering the mangroves to the right. Once inside, the tunnel continues to lead southeast for about a mile at which point you enter either Alligator Creek or the Bay. An interesting side trip is to Spoonbill Lake in the heart of a dense cluster of mangroves. The lake, just off the main trail, is actually a small pond,
about 60-70 feet across, where, if you’re lucky, you may spot a spoonbill. Spoonbills have become very scarce since Charley Several weeks ago the PCK paddled the Woolverton Trail and had a picnic lunch after the paddle. We were lucky enough to see Ed Woolverton, in a small powerboat, clearing some branches from the main channel. I recommend a trip through the Woolverton, or any of the mangrove tunnels, to any paddler looking for a pleasant change of pace.
The Port Charlotte Kay ak ers meet each Wednesday ev ening at 5:30, at Port Charlotte Beach Park . All newcomers are welcome. Contact Dav e Allen at 941-235-2588 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
S t aff R eport Our current population boom in southwest Florida is resulting in increased fishing pressure on many species. Inshore species such as trout, redfish and snook are the hardest due to their popularity and accessibility. Studies show properly released fish have a much greater chance of survival; some species as high as 96-percent. In order to help preserve our fishery it only makes sense to release fish in a manner that will increase its chance of survival. While fishing in the Myakka River we watched an angler aboard a pontoon boat fishing with live bait attempt to release an undersized sea trout. The fish was being held with a dry towel around its midsection while the angler attempted to dislodge the hook from the fish’s gut. After several violent jerks and after rotating the hook in circles the jubilant fisherman tossed the trout back into the drink with the fish’s entrails dangling from its mouth. That trout’s chance of survival was zero-percent. Even a fish that swims away and looks just fine when released may die from infection or starvation days or weeks later. Light tackle fishing has become increasingly popular. The longer a fish struggles, however, the more lactic acid it builds up in its muscle tissue. Lactic acid buildup can result in physiological changes that over whelm and kill even an otherwise robust fish. Holding a fish out of the water after a long fight, even for short periods, can dramatically reduce its survivability. Imagine running a marathon and then having someone place a plastic bag over your head while you’re gasping for air. Fish need rest and oxygen after a prolonged battle, not additional stress and increased oxygen depletion. So, if you are not going to keep your catch or photograph it you should try to release the fish while it is still in the water. Exhausted fish should be cradled in the water in an upright position, with the jaw slightly opened, and held so the current runs through the mouth and over the gill
plates. When current is not available move the fish forward in the water. Don’t rock it. Rocking a fish back and forth in the water places additional stress on it. The turbulence created from this back and forth motion can decrease the gills’ ability to remove oxygen from the water. Here in Florida the water temperature can get pretty warm; especially during the summer Have you noticed many fish will relax immediately when turned upside down? This often makes hook removal months. Warmer water easier and wnen released the fish doesnʼt seem to be any the worse for wear. Shown here, a motionless snook. has a lower oxygen content to start with. resulting in decreased blood flow to their fact, barbless hooks provide better penetraMoving a fish to a shaded area with cooler liver, gut or heart. This can can be fatal. tion on hard mouthed species. Good hook water (and a higher oxygen content) will The natural buoyancy of their watery envi- penetration increases the likelihood of landallow it to recover more quickly. ronment supports their internal organs in ing your catch. Release the fish when it indicates that it the correct position. Fish are not designed Fishing with live bait dramatically is ready to go by trying to swim away. to tolerate vertical hanging out of the increases the chances of hooking the gut or Warm water fish are notorious for swimwater. Large snook in particular should gills of a fish. Gut hooking fish can be ming a few feet then turning belly up and never be held by their lower lip in a verti- reduced by not waiting and setting the hook expiring. Should this occur, retrieve it, cal, hanging position. When held in this immediately. Allowing the fish to run with upright the fish and continue to revive it. manner, big snook (and other big species) the bait prior to setting the hook increases Sometimes they just need a little extra are prone to rupturing their isthmus. The the likelihood of hooking a fish deep in the TLC. isthmus is a narrow bundle of cartilage that throat or their stomach. In the event that To take a photo of your catch keep it in resides between the gills and connects the you do throat or gut hook a fish, cut the the water until the photographer indicates lower body to the head and gill-rakers. Its leader as close to the hook as possible and that he is ready. Gently cradle the fish in a function is to pump water over the gills. release the fish. The hook will eventually horizontal position by supporting its Snook also rely on their isthmus to create work free, be expelled, or dissolved by the underside and using your other hand to supthat large vacuum to suck prey into their fish’s stomach acid. Attempting to remove port the tail. Photograph the fish as quickmouths when they snap open their jaws. a hook from a fish’s throat or stomach usuly as possible and return it to the water for Maybe you’ve seen a photo of a large ally do more harm than good. The wounds reviving. Always use wet hands to hold snook being held upright that appears to caused by dangling treble hooks to a fish’s fish so as not to remove the protective have a large lump in its throat. That lump eyes, gills, gut or mouth area may appear mucous covering and making it more susindicates a ruptured isthmus. Released minor to the angler but they can also result ceptible to bacterial and fungal infections. snook don’t do well when they cannot in fatality for the fish. The advent of fish holding tools like the breathe and eat. To increase a fish’s chance of survival Boga grip make controlling fish for photos Crushing down the barbs of hooks also land the fish quickly, leave it in the water a breeze when used properly. Simply insert increases a fish’s chance of survival. Barb while removing the hook, and spend the the tool in the fish’s mouth and hold the less hooks are easier to remove and exact time to revive it before release. The fish we fish in a horizontal position while supless physical damage on fish. Catch rates save today ensure our sport fishery’s future. porting its belly or tail with the other do not decrease when using barbless hooks. hand. Boga grips and similar tools place The barbs of hooks are designed to secure stress on a fish’s internal organs possibly bait on a hook not to hold a sport fish. In
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Pirate Harbor Kudos Three cheers to the residents of Pirate Harbor who voted to discontinue using septic tanks and move over to the county sewer system. At an estimated cost of around $7,000 per lot, the entire community is going to be on the pipe within a year. The rest of the county that lies within a mile of the harbor should all take note. This is the way to save our environment. Manatee + dol phi n = bel uga whal e? This is hardly scientific, but does anyone else see the similarity between these three animals? And more importantly, doesn’t the beluga whale (bottom) look like it has a manatee’s body and manatee flippers with a bottlenose dolphin’s head stuck on it?
20–50 mile trips We help you put charters together • Grouper • Snapper • Kingfish • Shark • Tarpon and more!
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Myakka Ri ver Desi gnati on The Gulf Cove anglers association beat back an environmental movement to extend the Myakka’s Scenic River Designation and its associated idle speed zone, down into Charlotte Harbor. The lily livered liberal daily paper barely covered the story, but it was a big victory for us all.
Amberjack Last month angler’s message about amberjack was heard loud and clear: One fish per angler bag limit is as low as we will go. Anglers were nearly unanimous in their rejection of a fractional bag limit at the Gulf Council’s November meeting. The councils answer was to put off that decision. The Council also voted to add a 3 grouper aggregate to the list of alternative to be considered for the management of gag and red grouper. Action (and public input hearings) will be put off until after the January meeting of the Gulf Council in St. Petersburg, FL. Lai shl ey Pi er Rest Rooms A petition may be circulating to ask the city of Punta Gorda to keep the rest rooms at the pier open at night for anglers who are there.
Backcountry Special! 2 anglers, 6
U of F Economic Study Analyzes Kids Cup Tournament
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This is a shortened version of EDIS document FE700, a publication of the Food and Resource Economics Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Published October 2007.
By Chuck Adams, Betty S taugl er and Al an Hodges The Water LIFE Magazine Kids Cup Fishing Tournament is held annually in Punta Gorda, Florida (http://www.kidscuptournament.com). The tournament is locally organized and held in conjunction with the ESPN2 Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup. The tournament theme is "Teaching Kids about the Environment Through Fishing." The 2007 tournament paired young anglers ages 10 to 16 with adult captains and was the fourth year the event has been held. The Kids Cup Tournament is designed to provide local youth anglers with a taste of competitive tournament fishing, without the distractions imposed by cash prizes. Though no money is awarded to the youth anglers, a host of tournament prizes are presented to the participants. These prizes are donated by numerous local and national sponsors. The tournament is the sole fund raising event for the Don Ball School of Fishing. Named after a local citizen committed to youth fishing and community support, the School functions as an extra-curricular program offered at Charlotte and Sarasota County middle schools. Participants in the Water LIFE Kids Cup Fishing Tournament travel to Punta Gorda from places within and outside Charlotte County. The economic activities associated with the tournament are thought to have a positive benefit on the Charlotte County economy. For example, participant expenses associated with the tournament might include meals, lodging, vehicle and boat fuel, fishing gear, clothing, and other expenditures. In addition, a $100 entry fee is required. As a result, these expenses may create a positive benefit to local businesses within Charlotte County, particularly if these local expenses are incurred by individ-
uals who travel from outside Charlotte County to participate. A questionnaire was developed for distribution to all tournament participants. The questionnaire solicited information from participants concerning the nature of their involvement in the tournament; county of residence; tournament-related expenditures by type; and, if a visitor was from outside of Charlotte County (non-local), the number of individuals in the travel party and the county/state of residence. In addition, for a non-local participant, the questionnaire sought to determine if participation in the tournament was the primary reason for visiting Charlotte County. If participation in the tournament was not the primary reason for visiting, respondents were asked to estimate the percentage of their total travel costs that were only associated with the tournament. The questionnaire was distributed to participants at a mandatory pre-tournament banquet. Recipients of the survey were asked to complete the survey onsite, or immediately thereafter, and return it. Those preferring the latter option were asked to complete and return the questionnaire in a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope provided to them. A total of 122 questionnaires
Kids Cup Tournament April 19, 2008 Water LIFE
At Punta Gorda, ages 10-16
Applications will go on line Jan 1 at www.kidscuptournament.com (941) 766-8180
Check out the Kids Cup ʻFollow Your Fishʼ video on You Tube:
were distributed. The individuals targeted by the survey were the adult participants in the tournament, including guide captains and guardians serving as guides, and other individuals involved in the tournament. The tournament expenditure estimates provided by local and non-local adult tournament participants were entered into a regional economic modeling software package. Of the 122 questionnaires distributed to tournament participants, a total of 35 were completed and returned. An extrapolation process was utilized to provide an estimate of the total expenditures for all 122 of the tournament participants. The majority of the respondents (57.1% ) indicated a Charlotte County residence, while 42.9% were residents of some other county or state. Expenditures: Respondents (local and non-local combined) indicated spending a total of $15,461 on tournament-related expenses. Of this total amount, the largest single expenditure type was "fish-
Dine on the dock ~ Million $$ View!
ing gear/tackle", which totaled $6,550, or 42% of the total. Of the remaining expenditures, $3,170 (21%), $2,715 (18%), $1,546 (10%), $1,070 (7%), and $410 (2%) were spent on "other", gas/fuel/oil, supplies, food, and lodging, respectively. The average expenditure levels for the various expenditure categories were as follows: lodging ($137), food ($47), gas/fuel/oil ($97), fishing gear ($262), supplies ($57), and other expenses ($132). Total expenditures for all tournament participants were estimated to be $53,938. Of this amount, $23,649 (44%) and $30,268 (56%) were estimated to have been incurred by local and non-local tournament participants, respectively. The total county economic impacts were $37,760, of which $12,209 was associated with local participant expenditures and $25,551 was associated with non-local expenditures. The latter nonlocal impact component is composed of direct outputs ($13,811), indirect outputs ($3,388), and induced outputs ($8,352). In addition, $20,490 in value-added output was generated, which was composed of $5,810 from local participant expenditures and $14,680 from non-local expenditures. This analysis of expenditures associated with the Water LIFE Kids Cup Fishing Tournament indicates that the Charlotte County economy derived positive economic benefits from the event. Local participants are estimated to have spent $23,649 and non-local participants are estimated to have spent $30,289. The total regional impacts resulting from the Water LIFE Kids Cup Fishing Tournament were estimated to be $37,760
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in economic output and $20,490 in value added output. Although not specifically addressed by this study, events such as this are often
credited with enhancing the awareness level of participants regarding the importance, complexity, and fragility of the marine environment.
The Water Water LIFE LIFE Distributor始s Club
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Pick up a copy of Water LIFE at any of these and 120+ other locations. Water LIFE is not affiliated with any newspaper or other publication and is distributed at select locations around the state. These free ads to our loyal distributors rotate on a monthly basis. If you would like this publication for distribution at your business please call us at 941-766-8180
Mullet Run December 2007
The Commercial Perspective
By Kel l y Beal Peace Ri ver S eafood Water LIFE Punta Gorda The snowbirds are coming and the mullet are running! I always seem to get the call on Thanksgiving. Most of the time it happens as I get my first bite of turkey. “The mullet are pouring out by the millions, it’s time to go!!” You would think I’d be excited, but I know all too well the work ahead of me. I pack up and head over to the fish house. The fishermen usually all come in at once ... in a mad rush to unload and get back out. Now comes the fun part! The fish house crew and I have a full night of grading mullet. We separate the mullet into two categories. Red roe and white roe. During spawning season, which usually starts midNovember to mid-January, red roe is the female and white roe is the male. Basically the red roe is caviar. The white roe is milt containing millions of sperm cells that are expelled by the males into the vicinity of the spawning female, thus fertilizing the eggs. The white roe is often used for crab bait – and if kept properly on the boat it can be sold for food grade. Run season is a great time for the full time fishermen to finally make some money and get ahead. Unfortunately, it is also a time for part time commercial mullet fisherman to come out of the wood work and cause havoc. Then it becomes harder for the full time fisherman to get the right price for his fish. The fish house normally has no problem selling the red roe, but recently we have struggled with selling the white roe. This year the demand is down from Asian markets. The opening price was the lowest it has been in years. Mullet are absolutely delicious. The mullet is to the southeastern sector of the country what the cod is to the northeast or the salmon is to the northwest. Many people are unaware of the cooking possibilities! The oil in mullet makes it perfect for smoking, easy to fry and even better when baked. My favorite recipe is mullet fillets dipped in French dressing rolled in crushed cheez-its and baked in the oven. And if you like chicken gizzards, you’ll love mullet gizzards. That’s right, mullet have gizzards like a bird, in fact, this fish was once ruled by a Florida court to be a fowl and not a fish, because of its gizzard! The ruling freed a fisherman from a charge of fishing out of season. Mullet are caught and sold all year long with little fluctuation in price, except during run season. Then all the players come to town to buy the valuable red roe. When fishermen were able to use the
gill net, the percentage of red roe to white roe was much better. The gill net discriminates and catches what you are after, allowing the juvenile fish to pass through, unlike the seine net which catches everything and leaves a huge percentage of by catch. Now many fisherman are stuck with the less valuable white roe and it goes to waste. No matter what, the mullet catch has remained consistent. Since 1895 (except during World War II when the demands of war resulted in annual harvest up to fifty five million pounds) the annual mullet catch has been about twenty million pounds. This is a big part of the overall commercial catch that fluctuates between 175 and 225 million pounds a year. I am happy for that. The more locally caught fish and less imported fish the better. Let’s keep our commercial fishermen working. Get out there and buy locally caught fish. It tastes much better than farm raised and is a lot healthier.
Clockwise from the top: Red roe squeezed out of the fish. Sorting fish. Fishermen waiting for their fish to be weighed. A box of red-roe mullet. All at Peace River Seafood Market and Restaurant in Punta Gorda.
Decemb Fishing Report
Robert at Fishin' Franks Port Charlotte: 625-3888
S nook season closed December first, two weeks early this year, but snook is still good for catch and release. El Jobean, the 41 Bridge and Laishley Park Pier at night are all snook spots. Throwing shrimp (my 1st choice) or Bombers or Bucktails should get the snooks attention. Careful release is important during the closed season because this is supposed to be the coldest time of the year and the snook go into shock from the cold. It’s getting to the time when the redfi sh we see are anywhere from juvenile rat-reds to the very oversized redfish. The backcountry on the east side of the harbor is filled with little fish now. If you target them, this is the time to tie up with circle hooks. The larger legal redfish are on the outside perimeter of the shoreline in the deeper sandholes. Shrimp is a good bait, but reds will take any number of small soft plastics. Topwaters work very well in the morning. Winter is the time of year when artificials pick up in productivity for all species. One or two cold snaps and a lot of the bait in the harbor
Crui se A Punta Gorda Tradition For Over 23 years This year starting Dec 7th See the Christmas Lights and Decorations From the Water Three Cruises Nightly 6 p.m. 7:30 p.m. 9 p.m. $11 adults, Kids under 12 $5, 2 and under FREE
will ball up offshore. S heepshead are starting to move around. The number of fish on the Novak and Trembly reefs has been reported to be big. There have been a few reports at Placida and the old phosphate dock of sheepshead already. The south side off the Boca Grande Pier is still closed for repairs, but the Placida side is open at least for the moment. Check before you go, it too will be closed for repairs soon. Pompano and Fl ounder, whi ti ng are along the beaches, in Stump Pass and at the Venice Jetty. Right along the surf line is the place to look for these fish right now. Fl ounder to 24 inches have come from the edges of the offshore reefs already. Drag the bait along the bottom. There are still some S pani sh Mackerel out there and they will stick around as long as the warm weather does. Some are in the harbor, some are offshore. Because of the drought some pelagic fish are moving closer to the shore. Sailfish were caught this week 16 miles offshore. Tri pl etai l and cobi a are starting to show more offshore now and a few have appeared inshore on the flats. Lastly, there are still plenty of bonnetheads and blacktips around – on the flats and up in the harbor too.
Jim at Fishermen’s Edge
This nice kingfish came from the Gulf, about 4 miles off Venice.
People that are going fishing are doing good, but I’m not seeing many people going fishing and I’m not selling any licenses. The ramp being closed at Placida, the price of fuel, it all figures into no boat traffic. But the fishing is good! There are a lot of nice sized fish around. Trout fishing, 3-to 5-pounders here. Small pinfish, shrimp, spinner tail lures: - Mirro lures Splash tails, Devils Horses ... anything with the prop blade on the back will get a trout. Fish anywhere through Gasparilla Sound and the Pine Island Sound for decent trout, or look up towards Indian Mound in Lemon Bay. The redfi sh are good up there too.
Kayakers have been doing great on them across fom the boat ramp on the east side. Reds like a live shrimp or Gulp, Slurp or Exude artificials. I went out myself and we did very good on the Exude RT Slugs for redfish. There have been pompano around on the beach and especially in Gasparilla Pass. The south end of Boca Grande by the broken-down pier is a popmano spot now too. Mostly they are catching them on sand fleas, fiddler crabs or jigs. If you can find them a gold headed jig with a gold hook and a yellow tail the ticket.
Some guys are catching Fl ounder scattered in the passes, keeper size fish, most of them are using a little minnow
Learn About Running Your Boat in Shallow Water Free "Back Country Boating and Shallow Water Class at: Noah's Marine, 4064 N. Access Road, Englewood December 12 from 6:00
bait or a shrimp or a bellystrip pulled along the bottom. Try the FishBites or Gulp flat baits cut into strips hooked on the back of a bucktail.
Quite a few guys are catching grouper on Boca Grande right off the end of the island. Catching a keeper grouper standing on the beach is pretty good.
There has been a lot of mackerel and still some ki ng mackerel around too. The variety of fish right now is good. Boni ta are mixed in and so are bl uefi sh.
S nook fishing is pretty good. It’s closed now, but in Charlotte Harbor, Lemon Bay and up at El Jobean at the trestle, snook fishing has been pretty good. Mostly at night, but some nice fish are starting to come in the daytime.
Monday was the first day I heard anyone say they caught some cobia. A guy from Michigan run-
Decemberʼs Target Species Species Decemberʼs Target
KIDS CUP April 19
POMPANO are in the Gulf passes and along the surf
REDFISH and a slew of rat reds are in the Harbor
ning the crab pots said he caught two in the first hour. Usually this is the time for them to move through the area. Cobia in the 40 to 50 inch range were here already, but now with the warm weather it’s slowed up.
S heepshead haven’t seen too much activity yet. It could be the warm weather and warm water and low tides. The Christmas tides are going to be hellacious this year.
Some guys catching bass and crappi e in Rotonda and there are some bl ue gi l l around. It could be a good fishing through the new year.
n Dec. 1-Jan. 31: Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship. Islamorada. A series of competitions. (305) 852-2102,
n Dec 8: Li g hted Bo at Parade, starts at Edgewater Lake in Port Charlotte. Beeney – left off Edgewater Dr – would be a good street to view from. Then the parade crosses the Peace River, dips into the Punta Gorda canals, then passes in front of Fishermen’s Village (that’s the best spot in Punta Gorda for view-
SPANISH MACKEREL still in the Harbor and offshore
If Santa went snook fshinʼ last month this could have been his picture, instead a bearded Bruce shows off a nice 31-inch 9-pound linesider. Snook season closes December 1 and re-opens March 1 in our SW Florida area.
ing) and finishes up at Laishley Park Marina. n Dec 8: Red Spo t To urnament $200/ 3
angler team, Harpoon Harrys, Punta Gorda, a Flatsmasters, Classic Tournaments event.
n Dec 12: Shallow Water Boat Operation Class at: Noah's Marine, 4064 N. Access Road, Englewood, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm Free
n January 10th- Andrew Medina, Cast Net Seminar, Port Charlotte West Marine. Free and the public is welcome. Call for time 625-2700
THE ALL NEW 2008 F-450 KING RANCH SUPER DUTY
FLOUNDER are right at the edge of the near shore reefs
n Jan 17-20 Charlotte County Boat Show,
Fairgrounds (954) 570-7785 n Feb 14-18: Mi ami Boat S how. West Marine accepting reservations for the annual bus trip to Miami on February 15th. 625-2700 n April 19: Water LIFE Magazine Ki ds Cup To urnament Applications online Jan 1 at www.kidscuptournament.com, Punta Gorda. Limited to 120 jr anglers age 10 through 16. $100 entry fee. (941) 766-8180
RIGHT NOW: weather permitting