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Wa t e r LI FE

Charlotte Harbor, Lemon Bay, Venice, Estero, 10,000 Islands and the Gulf

The Charlotte Harbor Reef Association

s a m t s i r h C y r ! r a Mer e Y w e N y Happ

December 2018

T Tx xt t U Us s U Ur r F Fi is sh h P Pi ix x! ! weʼll use ʻem! See page 4

Capt. Dave Patton out of N. Fort Myers with one of two 31- & 32-inch gap snook from Everglades City


from Water LIFE magazine


from Water LIFE magazine

Katie Goodwin with a crappie


from Water LIFE magazine

Greg with a 44 and a half-inch redfish


from Water LIFE magazine

Bert Albano, wahoo, 10/24/18, South of Key Largo in 220 feet















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tion trade. I have a feeling that what we are seeing is the County I talked to Heidi at the Building doing what they told Sunseeker Department last month. I call the they would do: Fix up the infrabuilding department every month. structure around the site. The “Iʼm sorry,” she said, “I donʼt have County doesnʼt want to be the any new activity for that site.” I had one holding this project back. asked her about Sunseeker - 4900 But the cost in engineering Tamiami Trail is the address. and building plans has apparI keep an eye on the project. ently not yet been invested. There has been some activity So still I say, either they around a temporary building at the have nothing and they are Looking into one of the 12-foot deep, 10-foot Sunseeker site. It looks like they wide, catch basins that will retain storm scrambling to come up with may be setting up a sales office water at the Harbor end of Main Street before funding ... or this is going to be with an entrance off Main Street, a Real Estate Flip. it goes into the Harbor. the curbing was being formed on Flip, Flip, Flip is still my Main Street last month, but as far plans, no engineering, no sticks and guess. as plans go, there are still no building bricks, as they say in the construcMerry Christmas everyone! – MH RE: MOTE MARINE I recommend you send this article by Ron Blago from Water LIFE (Nov 18) out to the South Manasota Key Association membership. I have long advocated that a huge problem with Mote is that it is basically a consulting firm or business, not an academic institution, and this makes it highly susceptible to conflicts of interest. If you hope to use Mote to solve our problem with red tide you are likely to be disappointed. They are not only accepting large amounts of money from one of the major polluters (Mosaic) but also from other parties with vested interests in avoiding a real solution to the problem. To solve a medical problem you diagnose the underlying CAUSE of the problem and attempt to address that specific issue. You do not treat the symptoms alone or

primarily. The cause of red tide outbreaks is the original growth of the plankton bloom- once it is in plague proportions there is little that you can do. The primary cause is certainly a suite of nutrients and growth conditions that humans are likely to have exacerbated, but can likely diminish by reducing the introduction of pollutant chemicals into the Gulf. We need to identify the key growth conditions over which humans can have an influence and make the long term changes necessary to address these problems. I also attach (see Water LIFE online) an article from NC about the general issue of how consultants often provide bad information for management of coastal resources due to conflicts of interest. Bill Dunson Port Charlotte


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MORE CAPT. RON: Thank you for a very enlightening piece. Itʼs very concerning that so little concrete action is being undertaken to ameliorate the red tide problem rather than to simply track its location. We look forward to your sharing new insights on this problem and any actionable suggestions you may give to your readers. Cindie Allen I am curious if you have any ideas on why the public fishing pier on Bayshore has been closed for in excess of a year. Are you aware of any scheduled repairs? If not ; could you please inquire of the county what if anything is planned. William Smith Ed Notes* We will follow up!

FROM A GUIDE FRIEND: It is sure busy, lots of traffic and the fishing is stellar, but I gotta say the season is SLOW.. for everyone, I am hearing. Not sure if itʼs a combo of all the bad news in the water or what, but folks are struggling. But like I say, fishing is hot, so go figure. When the fishing gets bad, the phone will ring off the hook!! Feast or famine, thatʼs the life of a fishing guide.

Water LIFE inc. Ellen Heller Publisher

(941) 766-8180

FishPix, text only number 941-457-1316

217 Bangsberg Rd. Port Charlotte, FL 33952

Independant - Not affiliated with any other publication! Vol XVII No 12 © 2018

NO PART of this publication (printed or electronic) may be copied, reproduced or re-used without specific written permission from the Publisher

Contributing Editors:


Senior Editor: Capt. Ron Blago Baitshop: Fishinʼ Frank

Upper Harbor: Cameron Parson

Peace River: Capt. Dave Stephens Punta Gorda: Capt. Chuck Eichner Venice: Glen Ballinger

Estero: Capt. Joe Angius

Everglades City: Capt. Charlie Phillips Kayaking: Bob Fraser Sawfish: Tonya Wiley

Pier Fishing: Bobby Vitalis Diving: Adam Wilson







Offerings of the Season By Michael Heller Water LIFE editor Every year we take the students in our 6th Grade Fishing Class out onto the Gulf for an offshore trip. Jack Pearson, who runs the head boat Reef Raider out of his Englewood Bait House, is the Captain. Mark (I don’t know his last name) is the mate. This year we had to cancel one Saturday because of a windy passing cold front. The following week the reappearance of Red Tide and another looming cold front almost scrubbed us again.... but the front got hung up in the Panhandle and the Red Tide... well.... we ran out past the yellow water to about 10 miles before we dropped the anchor in the clear. Then it was game on, or I should say, fish on! The kids caught plenty of fish. It was one of those wonderful days when everyone caught fish. Kids were keeping count on the fingers of both hands! Lindsay Jansen brought in a door-mat sized flounder that pained all the fish eating adults on board when we had to release it. Online student Austin Lucy and in-class student Justin Medina brought up a grouper with both of their hooks firmly in it... the triumphs were many! My technical function is H.A.B. (Head Adult on Board), but really I am just the photographer: Hey Mike, over here, Hey I got one, over here... Hey

where’s the photographer? It didn’t end, and since everything was released on this trip, I had to hustle a lot running back and forth, chasing kids catching fish all day. The cabin of the Reef Raider has doors on each side and a passageway out to the aft deck. Cutting back and forth through the cabin became my way of getting around the boat so I didn’t have to squeeze behind the kids lined up fishing along the rail. On one of my trips I noticed a case of water, which I assumed Capt. Jack brought along. I put my camera box down next to the water and alongside two big bags containing smaller little bags of Oreos and other little bags of chips. I didn’t think much of it at the time, although the Oreos did make my mouth water. On a Head Boat, the mate’s main function is to help unhook fish and rebait hooks. Mark works on the Reef Raider and he knows the bait shop too. At one point, when we were repositioning between fishing spots, Mark gave my wife Ellen a handwritten note on yellow, lined paper. “This was outside the bait shop when we arrived this morning,” Mark


said. ‘Snacks for Kids Fishing Tomarrow 11-10-18,’ the note read. “It was taped to two big bags piled up on a case of water, left in front of the bait Mark explained. The gift was a perfect snack. The kids who brought lunch, ate their lunch, as they always do, almost as soon as we left the first fishing spot. Now en route to our third stop, everyone was hungry again. We started passing out the snacks and many smiles ensued. This offering was a wonderful gesture on someone’s part. After the trip, my wife and I tried to figure out who it could have been. Our best guess was a past instructor, but when I called him he said no. I asked a number of the parents at the next class, but no one I talked to took credit for the generosity either. This is the kind of thing that restores my faith in the contagious power of goodness. This, especially at this time of year, is what all that Peace On Earth and Good Will Toward Men, is really all about: Being good in your own life and good to others. So thank you, whoever you are. Your thoughtfulness has touched our hearts and stomachs! Merry Christmas to you.... all!

Ellen & Michael Heller


Lindsey Jansen with a fine, door-mat-sized, flounder her first time fishing offshore and now sheʼs hooked!

Chain of Lakes Bass PAGE


By Capt. Chuck Eichner Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor The Kissimmee Chain of Lakes watershed encompasses more than two dozen lakes. It’s a bass fisherman’s dream and we are lucky to have such a fishery only two hours from southwest Florida. Every fall I make a trip to the area and I always leave with unique memories different than the last trip. Camp Mack’s Riverside Resort is an upscale fish camp with camping, cabins, boat ramps and slips. It’s an active place and holds fishing tournaments



lakes is beautiful with lots of aquatic vegetation, birds, turtles and alligators to look at. To look at the boat ramp you would think everywhere you went there would be a boat fishing. On a busy Saturday there were no less than 50 bass boats launched and just as many air boats. But with dozens of lakes to explore you never had to share the waters with other fishermen..... however the airboats were a different story. With hundreds of airboats boasting V-8 engines with open exhausts, tooling


FISH PIX! f r o m Wa t e r L I F E m a g a z i n e

(not in use) and buildings that speak of its historic past. It is a most interesting place with down to earth folks that own it. Even their bathroom speaks of an old fish camp! They also operate a 5Star Trip Advisor air boat ride service that is worth checking out. One of the fishing challenges was finding live grass beds that were not sprayed with poison. We ran countless miles of dead grass fields in search of green. Green meant fish! Hotspots I had fished in the past 5 years were barren of vegetation and fish, so each time I go it’s like the first time to the lake. Despite that, I still love the challenge, camping, adventure and big largemouth bass!

George King, largemouth bass. 27-inches 10-pounds. DeSoto County lake. Caught on a tiny chrome Rattletrap, 4 lb test line.

Capt. Chuck Eichner operates Action Flats Backcountry Charters He can be reached at 941-628-8040

boasting 300+ boats. Located at the northeast end of the lake, the boat ramp there can launch 6 boats at a time. Three days of bass fishing produced about 1 bass per hour for the two of us, not bad, but not great. My brother Bob figured out the big bass wanted white spinner-baits that produced two largemouths pushing 6-pounds, both caught in the middle of lily pad fields! A big bass, crushing a spinner-bait, slowrolled right under the surface, will get your juices flowing! What makes this all so special is that you can run from lake to lake looking for fishy spots. The ride through the

around the perimeter of the lakes, the sounds of the wildlife were often nonexistent. I always thought fishing was a tranquil sport, but apparently that is a thing of the past. The airboat guys put a lot of money into their machines, have trick paint jobs and neon lighting at night.... and they ride the shallowest of waters, literally day and night. Back at camp there is activity galore with air boat tours, food and sometimes music concerts. In contrast to that is Camp Lester, located adjacent to Camp Mack. Camp Lester is a true old Florida fish camp that time has forgotten. There are still fish hanging racks

Ryan Clark Bass 20-inches. Caloosahatchee, near Alva Bridge.





Snook in the Creeks, Trout on the Flats PAGE





10,000 ISLANDS

sand trout, or sugar trout) as another option. Fishing sandy bottoms using shrimp tipped jigs, these smaller versions of their By Capt. Charlie Phillips speckled cousins are a popular fish-fry tarWater LIFE / Everglades City I hope y’all had a Happy Thanksgiving get. No size limits and 100-pound aggreand are ready for Christmas, it will be here gate limit make it understandable why. But I would encourage you though, to take soon enough, like it or not. what you need and leave November continued the rest. And regardless of the trend of another solid the State rules, or lack 2018 month of fishing thereof, while fishing the down in the Everglades. boundaries of the EverInshore and offshore glades National Park, rethere is plenty going on member there is a 5-fish to keep you busy. This max limit per species per time of year, we have person. If you target a lost a lot of our humidspecies outside park boundity, the rains are stopped, aries and simply transit and everything is getting thru, not stopping till you fat for winter, so take get to the dock, you can do some time and hit the that with the over 5 fish water this month. limit, but if you stop at all, Inshore the speckled you are now considered to Beautiful setting, docked at the trout have been all over Port of the Islands Marina be fishing and you can be the hard points and grass ticketed for breaking the flats, especially on the special fishing provisions higher tides. A tactic I find works well as of the National Park. another option is to work long mangrove Redfishing has still been solid with shorelines that have some depth and flow. plenty of slot fish as well as the little-uns These banks will usually hold quality trout and drifting along, working a jig, we often I have watched grow all season that are catch a limit while targeting other species. continuing to get larger. Snook are hungry and hitting good in As we cool off, many down my way the back creeks and river mouths. The will turn their attention to silver trout (aka snook started moving to the back with the

Capt Joe Garcia with a trout on his boat last month

first real cold front we had in early November. As we really won’t get cold till mid-January usually, they will spread out a bit in that general area, so they can feed but still get back to home base before a freeze comes thru. Topwaters in the morning or evening are my favorite method to target these linesiders, but jigs, and live baits all work well as other options. As we get into winter, many people I know will catch live freshwater baits in the canals on 41 to use since the snook are so far back in the creeks they eat more sunfish than pinfish. It won’t be long till we can get to them. Lastly, this month I attended a workshop sponsored by NOAA Fisheries called

Kelly Ralston of American Sport Fishing Association with a jack, on a trip with me

the Marine Resources Educational Program, which was a chance to learn how decisions are made. Folks, I would urge you to get involved and be educated when you do. Sportsman numbers are declining so it’s important to do your part to ensure our lifestyle is here for years to come. Have a Merry Christmas and be safe out there. Capt. Charlie Phillips 863-517-1829 e-mail: Web:



Is Mote Building an Ark?

New Facility to be constructed along I-75

On the Line

Commentary by Capt. Ron Blago Water LIFE Senior Staff Get ready for the newest tourist attraction and legacy project coming to Sarasota County. The future Mote Scientific Education Aquarium (MOTE SEA). Looks like Mote has made a deal with Sarasota County to lease (with an option to buy) 12 acres of land at the Benderson Rowing Park in north Sarasota. The proposed facility is to be four stories tall and will have 110,000 sq. ft. of office space, classrooms and exhibits. The cost of the construction is expected to be $130 million dollars and is expected to be completed by 2020. The existing facilities at City Island will continue to be used by Mote as research labs. This new development has come as quite a shock to the Sarasota City government who thought they had a deal with Mote to build the new facility on Sarasota Bay and become the major attraction of Sarasota's Bayfront redevelopment project. I guess the County gave Mote a deal they couldn't refuse. The County is leasing the land to Mote for the princely sum of $100 per year. Mote Marine is an independent, nonprofit marine science institution. It's interesting to note that before moving to Sarasota in 1960, their first facility in 1953 was located on a piece of donated land which is now part of the Cape Haze no wake zone. Just because Mote is a nonprofit and pays no taxes, that doesn't mean

artistĘźs rendering

they don't get tax payers money or that they don't generate their own money. A quick look at the Charity Navigator website shows for the last year reported, MOTE had net assets worth $36.5 million with an annual revenue of $ 26.5 million. On the income side, they pulled in $11.1 million in contributions and grants and another $13.2 million in Program Service Revenue ( whatever that is.) One interesting thing is that Mote had excess funds of $5.5 million; we can't call this profit because after all they are a non- profit, so I guess we'll call it walking around money. Mote has over 200 staff members and over 1400 volunteers that run the place. Mote is so successful financially that they can afford to pay their CEO Dr. Michael P Crosby an annual salary of $285,994. The big question is who is going to pay the $130 million to build the new MOTE SEA facility. Mote's real expertise is in raising funds and if anyone can get that type of money it will be Mote. Already they have asked for $20 million from Tourist Development tax dollars from Sarasota. They have projected that they will have 700,000 visitors to the facilities the first year. Since they currently charge $22 for adults and $16 for kids they figure they will rake in between $11.2 to $15.4 million in ticket sales in the first year. I'm sure this new venture will be just as profitable as the neighboring Benderson Park International Rowing Facility. Tax payers, hold on to your wallets!






Changes In Tactics By Capt. David Stephens Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor I would like to start off by wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! With the cooler weather making its way into Southwest Florida, this becomes a transition time of year for our fishery. What I mean by that is two things. First, fish begin to migrate to different locations. Then second, the types of food these fish feed on changes. The biggest difference that will take place is the habits of our snook fishery. Without a doubt, these guys are the most affected by the changing of our water temps, and so will relocate closer to deeper water. When our water drops below 70-degrees, snook will seek out deeper water for warmth. They move to areas such as residential canals, deeper creeks and rivers. But this doesn’t mean


that the bite will stop. As long as Mother Nature keeps giving us some of those warm sunny days we’re known for, the bite will continue. The past few charters I have ran, we have had some great snook fishing. The

trick is to focus on areas closer to deep water. You might have to move around some, but normally your efforts will be rewarded. Hopefully our trout fishery will start to pick up now. The cooler weather seems to help these guys. As the cooler weather pushes into Southwest Florida, the trout will begin to school up. Deeper flats with nice sandy pot holes will be holding good numbers of fish, but if a

major front makes it our way, look for fish in deeper water. Then areas such as creek mouths and residential canals will be holding fish. For you guys looking to get into using artificial lures, this is the best time. As our water cools off the bait becomes harder to find, meaning better opportunity for lures. One of my favorite lures this time of year is a D.O.A. shrimp. You don’t have to work it any special way, just throw it out as far as you can and slowly reel in. The biggest mistake I see is people reeling too fast. On warmer days I will switch to a paddle tail or jerk shad. These guys you can work a little faster. Another rule you should follow is on


your color selection and it has to do with the water. If your fishing clean clear water, use a light color. If your fishing water that is stained or muddy, use a darker color. Also, in muddy or stained water paddle tails work a little better. I think the fish pick up on the vibration of the bait. Just because winter is arriving, that doesn’t mean the fish stop biting it just means you will have to change your technique.

If you would like to experience some of Charlotte Harbor’s finest fishing, call or send an email. All of our charters are private and customized to fit your needs. Capt. Dave Stephens, 941-916-5769

Tagging Fish DECEMBER 2018

By Cameron Parson Water Life Charlotte Harbor Fishing is about the thrill of the hunt. Fishing is about the catch of a lifetime. Fishing is about the bond with family and nature. But, it's also about the conservation of species for future generations. Fish tagging is steadily catching on with charter captains and recreational anglers. Tagged and recaptured fish provide critical information to scientists on fish mortality rates, fish populations, growth rates, and migration patterns. This information is then used for fisheries managers to make informed decisions. Some friends and I have tagged a few big snook and quite a few sharks over the course of the last year. The snook have all been big breeder snook. The sharks include species such as the bull, spinner, and sandbar shark. Barry Baroudi of TarponWorld on YouTube and @TarponWorld on Instagram and Captain Andrew Herzog with BigBully Outdoors are two fishermen in the area that consistently tag fish. Captain Andrew was one of the first in SW Florida to start tagging with Gray FishTag Research. Gray Fishtag Research is a non-profit



organization out of Pompano Beach, Florida that started with Gray Taxidermy. They wanted to create an international tagging program to promote catch and release fishing while assessing various aspects of fish populations that provide useful information to fisheries managers. There are currently over 10,000 fishing professionals, charter boat captains, and mates who are supplied with tags, applicators, data cards, and proper tagging education free of charge. The program is also open to the public. The only fee to get started is for the applicator, tags, and registration cards. There is no charge to become a member and all tagging information and data is open access on their website. Simply name the fish and record the details (species, length, location) on a tag registration card with the corresponding tag ID. Upon recapture, the catch information is then analyzed against the original tag and release information. Details of the catch and distance traveled will be relayed to the anglers who recaptured the fish and also to the anglers who first tagged the fish. The program has 5,442 tags deployed

on 98 different species. The majority of tags are on Pacific Sailfish (690 tags). Overall, there have been 133 recoveries (2.4% recovery rate) with the highest recaptured species being the Greater Amberjack (8% recovery rate). There have been 37 Red Drum with 1 recapture (3% recovery rate) and 42 tagged Atlantic snook with 4 recaptured (10% recovery rate). No speckled trout have been tagged. Snook and redfish have been shut down due to the harsh red tide. The fact of the matter is that we can further help conserve these fish if we do something about it now. Catch and release is always encouraged, but we can take the time to tag these fish now in an effort to help make future decisions about open seasons, size limits, and bag limits. Take sheepshead and speckled trout for example. The previous bag limit for sheepshead was 15 per harvester per day. It is now 8 per harvester per day. The previous bag limit for trout was 5 per harvester per day. It is now 4 per harvester per day. This just an example of the reality of conservation. An example of the adjustment that can take place to ensure that there will be enough to go around for everyone in the future. Environmental factors are also included. Red tide being the prime example. We were all aware that action needed to be taken and it was. And it's only a temporary fix as of now. Seasons will open again, but there is still more to be done. Recapture rates may be low, but they can only increase if more anglers get involved. Tagging fish is one of the greatest tools that we have. It is through this kind of information that anglers of all calibers can become actively involved and better stewards of natural resources.


All the fish above have been tagged. The photo to the left is a close up of a tag the tag looke a lot like a zip-tie, but there is information on it.

Cameron Parson works at Rio Villa Bait and Tackle in Punta Gorda The shop phone is







FISH PIX! f r o m Wa t e r L I F E m a g a -

Readerʼs Photos


text us ur fish pix - see page 4

Gail Roebuck with a 30-inch mahi mahi

Bill Menard, Venice with Captain Joe Miller and a cobia from 35 miles west of Englewood

Reaganʼs first snook, fishing with daddy, Zach Irons, at Burnt Store.

Chris Dans of Punta Gorda with a 29-inch snook, caught and released in the Peace River on a “Deceiver Fly” in late October. Photo by John Dans

B L Jack crevalle caught by Mike Lahn on Eyestrike trout jig & Egret Baits Wedgetail Mullet combo in Charlotte Harbor.

Duane Needham, snapper

Ian Wichmann , 85-pound amberjack

Matt Frank 24-inch grouper and a triggerfish

Pastor Walter Branch with a grouper




Redfish caught in Charlotte Harbor by kayak angler Michael Lahn Greg with a 31 1/2

Bob Howell , Red Fish Look at the Boogey Man face on the tail!

Tracey, grouper

Logan Drake caught his first snook on the pier in Charlotte Harbor

Duane Needham, grouper

Mo with a 24 in black drum

Christina Kraus with a beautiful redfish caught in Naples Bay.

Bob Howell, red fish


Greg with a 33 in snook

sChristina Kraus with a Naples Bay snook caught and released to swim another day.

Theresa Allers and Ellie Stoutner with two nice lane snappers caught out of Stump Pass.





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Mark, redfish

Nomi McGraw first fish with brother and dad on the Peace River

Matt Frank and Tracy Lowe Went out with Captain Magic Jim! Amazing charter!

Some catches on the Jersey Devil (not for hire) out of Burnt Store Marina: Steve Moll with a nice 35 lb amberjack Phil Smallwood with a nice 30 lb amber Captain Bob Mercier with a 75 lb amber (I needed some help posing) The Gulf is alive with fish! Storm Michael helped bring in blue water and kick off the fall migration.

ReaderĘźs Photos


text us ur fish pix - see page 4

Small snook caught in honor of my Dad who passed away Friday. Englewood FL. Alan

Ron, aka: King Of All the Bridges, caught this monster tripletail in the Charlotte Harbor area.

Doug Courtice catfish in PGI

Mike Lamm 25 inch gag grouper Oct 13 2018 onboard Liquid Life Style with Capt Eric White



Captainʼs Log: Good Sharks & Fine Bycatch


By Capt. John Brossard Water LIFE Sharkin’ Every day you go fishing in December can be very different. I like to pick the nice days with warmer water when I am after sharks. I have come to this conclusion after years of note taking. Last night I looked through my logbook for December, going back to 2009.

12-2009 The water was ok at 76 degrees but the air was 53 to 65 many days No sharks what-so ever. 12-2010 did not even fish for shark that month. 12-2011 lots of small fish, but no sharks. Water temp was 69 degrees. 12-2012 Christmas Day - again, lots of small fish like speckled trout and silver trout, but no sharks. 12-2013 did not fish for shark at all. 12-2014 lots of trout a few red fish - 1 nice spinner shark in the warmer backwaters of the Everglades. Water around 64 (cold for sharks in this area) 12-2015 Warm December, air temp was 88 and water 77 degrees, Tarpon in the backwater and 6 nice sized blacktip sharks and one huge lemon all in one half day trip, All backwater in the Everglades. 12-2016 Spinners and Blacktips, large and small, inshore and 5 miles offshore. Water 73 degrees. 12-2017 One day when water was 68 in degrees, no sharks, then 10 days later, when


before. It had a bunch of barnacles on the tag and the tag was ready to fall off. I cleaned it off the best I could to read the numbers on it and called the phone number on it. The recording said it was the National Marine Fisheries Service, Panama City office. They have not gotten back with me because of the holidays, but I’m sure they will. I’ll let you know what they told me about that shark, next month.

Capt John Brossard 239-777-9279

This spectacular redfish and an also respectable cobia were recent bycatches of our shark fishing

the water was 73 degrees, small blacktips on spoons off a wreck 2 miles offshore, Yes on silver spoons. Lemon Shark on a ballooned blue runner.

Weather permitting, with nice warm days, we could expect spinners and blacktip galore, but unfortunately we can’t always be right. Sometimes, even when all the factors point to

We Caught and Released this Tagged Bonnet Head Shark

Judging from the vegetation and barnacles, this bonnet head shark has been swimming for some time since it was last caught. We are awaiting more information about its last release.

success, the sharks just aren’t there - luckily there is always bycatch when you are shark fishing. Last month it was a nice cobia. Today was a huge redfish. Once in a while it’s a big triple tail or a spotted eagle ray, or something like that. Good bycatches come especially during change in water temperature between seasons. Of interest this month was a bonnet head shark we caught that had been tagged once






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Frankie C pulled this grouper 40 miles off Gasparilla island. The guys all maxed out on this trip.

Kyle Howell dolphin

Josh of port Charlotte. Beautiful snook in punta gorda off a twitchbait and a 3 foot bull shark from Port Charlotte Beach park. Cut bait on the bottom

Julian Kulwicki caught a 16-inch bluefish off Cayo Costa.

Kim Holbrook from Michigan, snook caught north off Burnt store with Captain Scotty Banes.

Rider Rigden with his black drum catch off our dock in Punta Gorda

Dan Nolting - 44-pound African pompsno 15# florou leader, 3/8 oz jig From Bonita Springs

Jarred Kalmes, spotted sea trout

Susan Krause Murphey 27 inch red grouper on board Liquid Life Style

Alan Lamm Amberjack Oct 13 2018 on board Liquid Life Style with Capt Eric White and a Shark from the night before

Joe Brown, large mouth bass. Niagara waterway, topwater, November 2





FISH PIX! f r o m Wa t e r L I F E m a g a z i n e

Jackson caught this flounder in Stone Harbor Bay, caught with squid on a Mustad hook and a 2-ounce weight

Why Oh Why?

Chicagoan Callan Slifka with snook off the dock

By Fishin’ Frank Water LIFE Baitshop Some of the best entertainment you can have is at the boat ramp on a busy weekend, so I ask why would a guy who will not let his wife drive the boat and trailer on the highway, make her back the boat down the ramp? OK, now the boat is going. You start with the motor trimmed close to the boat, to get a good bite on the water. Then, once you reach cruising speed, you trim the motor up away from the boat to get the perfect ride. But if you are going against the wind, try and keep the nose of the boat as low as possible. Why? So you don’t ride up the wave and slam down. I watch a lot of people pounding their way across the Harbor against the wind. Why? All they have to do is lower the front. Now running with the wind is different. You need to have the front of the boat up a bit, or when you cross over a wave or you might stick the nose of your boat into it. Watch the chart. If the water is the same depth or greater a ¼ mile away from a marker you are heading toward, why would you run close to THE most dangerous object in the Harbor - the big wood thing? Why not give the marker some space? More why’s. So you e finally make it to where you are going to fish. A common practise’s is to chum with live baitfish. Buy why do the fish blow up on the bait, or freebies as we call them, but they will not touch a bait with a leash? The trick is to hold the rod with the bait ready to cast and then throw your baitfish right where the fish just blew up. However, we are starting to think the fish may be catching on to that chumming trick so try putting your bait out first, maybe one free-lined (no weight or float) and one maybe 3 feet under a float. Why? Maybe a fish will hit the lonley


Matlacha pass snook, by Jack Marandino from NJ, and permit by Dan Spinazola. From Boston!! Both fish released

Bob Howell and friend with a shark-bit redfish

one, and if not, then chum maybe 4- to 6- pieces. Why? Because with fewer chummers you are more likely to hook up. Now with salt water fish you might not want to set the hook like you are bass fishing. Why? Because most of the time you will see the hook fly out of the water wrapping around and around your head until the hook comes to a nice stop, hopefully just in your ear or scalp, not your nose or eye.... although I was at the Mall last week and that hook through the nose seems to be the new ‘IN’ look. from Water LIFE magazine

When you get a fish, look in the mouth before you grab it by the lip. Why? Me I always look before I grip, touch, or put my fingers anywhere. Many fish have sharp teeth. Some of the fish here in Florida have very sharp fins too, which, if they get stuck into your hand, can cause an infection. Redfish, snook, sea trout and of course catfish can stick you good, which is bad. If you are fishing from a pier you go out as far as you can on the pier and cast out as far as you can. If you are in a boat you cast as close to shore as possible or as far under the pier as you can. Hummm ... Why? Well I think it is pier-boat-envy. If you are on a pier you wish you were way out on a boat, and the people in the boat know that most fish like heavy structure and they want to catch the fish hiding under the pier. Grass always greener or water always bluer. Don’t ask me why. Lure fishing is a passion of mine, but I have changed a couple things over the years. Why? I would have never guessed a single hook instead of a treble hook would get more fish to the boat, or that by flattening the barbs on the front treble hook I could make the lure safer for me and the fish and actually land more fish. VMC hooks have a single hook replacement for lures to get rid of the back treble hook and it works great. Why not replace both front and rear treble hooks? Why? The truth is, most lures will not work or run properly without the front treble hook. It is not only the weight, that the treble hook acts like a rudder to help control the lure as it swims through the water. So I crush the barbs on the front ones and put that single hook on the back. I hope you have a Merry Christmas or Hanukkah and Happy New Year Fishin’ Franks Bait & Tackle Port Charlotte: 941- 625-3888 Fort Myers: 239-634-1043





SAWFISH: Nursery areas in the Everglades Havenworth Coastal Conservation

Special for Water LIFE By Grace Casselberry The smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) once roamed throughout the Gulf of Mexico and along the East Coast, but now it calls South Florida, particularly Everglades National Park, home. Smalltooth sawfish were protected under the Endangered Species Act in 2003. Their population declines were mainly driven by bycatch mortality, accidental capture in fishing gear (resulting in death) and habitat loss. Sawfish were also harvested extensively as trophies due to their unique rostrum, the long saw that extends from its face like a spikey nose. It is not unusual to see a sawfish rostrum hanging on the wall of a bar in Florida, just as you might expect to see a set of deer antlers on the wall of a bar in Wisconsin. Essentially, sawfish could not keep up with the harvest mortality and habitat loss. Now, one of the last remaining strongholds for young smalltooth sawfish is Everglades National Park in Florida. You might be wondering how a fish that lives in the ocean could lose its habitat when the ocean is so vast. Well, like many other coastal fish, smalltooth sawfish use nursery areas when they are first born. Nursery areas are often estuaries, with lots of available food and shallow waters for refuge from predators. Coastal development can alter or remove the habitat that is essential for nurseries. In the case of smalltooth sawfish, they appear to prefer tidal flats along mangrove-lined coasts. Development in South Florida has lead to significant losses of mangrove-lined coasts, but Everglades National Park has helped to preserve a large portion of these mangroves. In this last remaining refuge, researchers at

Florida State University and NOAA wanted to better understand the environmental factors that are important for sawfish habitat selection in the Everglades. Dr. Lisa Hollensead and her collaborators set out to the northernmost portion of Everglades National Park to answer questions about how long young sawfish remained in this nursery area and what habitat characteristics were most important to them. To do this she used acoustic

Mangroves line the coasts in Everglades National Park providing important habitat for young smalltooth sawfish. Photo:Dana Bethea

telemetry which involves a combination of tagged fish and anchored receivers. These receivers record the date, time, and tag number when a tagged fish swims by them, allowing researchers to track the movements of tagged individuals as they go from one receiver to the next. To better understand what factors influenced where sawfish spent their time, Lisa quantified several different habitat factors near her anchored acoustic telemetry re-

Start of Winter Sailing

By Peter Welch Water LIFE Sailing The Hospice Cup became a one design / one day event this year due to a dearth of the larger Performance Handicap (PHRF) boat entries. So last month the Harbor 20 one design had 8 boats that competed in four races in a one day event. This was a surprising change, considering that three PHRF races had been conducted with fair attendance this fall prior to Hospice Cup and furthermore the Harbor 20s had been racing in the same events as the larger PHRF boats prior to this regatta. The Harbor 20s did not create this problem. Granted they do not want to be far from their home port because their battery powered auxiliary propulsion has limited range and speed. The PHRF boats can use fuel power to travel much longer distances and wind failure is not a worry. I believe this disparity can be accommodated: Harbor 20s do more laps close to port while the PHRF boats tend to prefer longer courses because it usually reduces frequency of the more strenuous sail and rigging changes. I believe that a "problem solving meeting� could keep both factions happy.

ceivers. Along the shore closest to the receiver, she counted the number of red mangrove prop roots, measured the tree limb overhang that extended out into the water, and took sediment samples. During the study the team captured and tagged 21 sawfish in Northern Everglades National Park. They heard from them in their acoustic receiver array for as many as 334 days. Sawfish tagged in Chokoloskee Bay remained there for the entire length of the study, spending the winter in the area where they were tagged the previous spring. This was the first time that sawfish were documented to remain yearround in Everglades National Park, emphasizing the importance of the area to their continued survival! Analyses of habitat use and movement found that sawfish moved quickly through creeks and rivers, but remained much longer in tidal bays. Researchers have several theories about why this is. Because sawfish are mostly flat, like a stingray, as opposed to rounded like a shark, the best way that they can avoid predators is to move into shallow water where sharks cannot fit. The tidal bays likely provide better protection while still having sufficient food; more than a faster flowing, deeper river would. Analysis of other habitat factors showed that sawfish were more likely to be encountered in areas with more mangrove prop roots, and the sediment they chose was almost exclusively fine silt. This makes sense since the sawfish are using the tangle of mangrove prop roots in shallow water as protection from predators. While many questions remain, the importance of the Everglades and its many mangroves to sawfish is clear. Dr. Hollensead notes, “The Everglades National Park gives researchers a perspective of juvenile habitat use in a relatively pristine area. Generally, large portions of the Everglades are not developed (unlike much of


photos for Water LIFE by: Fran Burstein


Dr. Lisa Hollensead measures a smalltooth sawfish in Everglades National Park. Photo: Lisa Hollensead

the rest of south Florida) and the hydrology is not directly manipulated through anthropogenic influences, like dams, within the park. Results from habitat studies in the Everglades can be compared, almost like an experimental "control", to habitat use results from more developed areas within their range. These comparisons can help scientists effectively implement management strategies for sawfish conservation.� You can read more at: or see the full results of this research at Tax-deductible donations to help us continue our mission to promote the sustainable use and conservation of marine resources through research, outreach, and education can be made at Contact: 941-201-2685

Taxi Flying Cloud H20 Dark 'n Stormy Patti Wagon We'll See Kentucky Blue Jazzy


Ed Werner Cristie van Heek Jim Nuzzo B Knowles M Mixson P Willsey C Amy S Hachten

Points / Place 8/1 9/2 12 / 3 14 /4 17/5 27/6 28/7 29/8

Estero Bay:


By Capt. Joe Angius Water LIFE Estero

Sleeping in, buying shrimp and not tossing the net for bait, easy cleanups and a ton of fish to be caught. When people ask me what's my favorite month to fish, I can't help but to think of December.

Not only does December mean Santa Claus and new toys, it also reminds me of perfect weather to catch fish in. This year shouldn't be any different than the others and my secret to December fishing success is low-and-slow. Don't get me wrong, anglers can still get up early, put on their winter fishing bibs and gore-tex suits, and run to the bridges in a "slop chop" to get bait. Why someone would do that to themselves? It's most likely an act of pride, because that's exactly what I used do.

I've been fishing forever and guiding for five years and I’ve learned that at times it's really not always worth all of the theatrics in the morning just to net up some bait. Instead, on days that are not ideal to net bait, it's so much more productive to buy live shrimp. December is a great month to get away


Go With Shrimp

with buying live shrimp. There are anglers who would scoff at the thought of having live shrimp in their livewells. To them I laugh because let's not forget that everything eats a shrimp. There were several occasions I've had success with shrimp whereas the captains that would go out to net bait struck out. This should also tell you that there may be a little luck involved. But on those days I was lucky, well rested, warm and dry, and my customers were just as happy.

Since just about every fish species will take a shrimp offering, be sure to load up your livewell with plenty of them. My rule of thumb for buying shrimp is two dozen for every angler. My go-to shrimp rig is 30-pound fluorocarbon leader, an Owner 1/0 hook, and a size 5 pinch weight. This presents the shrimp low to bottom where most of the fish want to be feeding and looking for crustaceans. Be patient as the fish slowly scour the sea floor for your bait. Usually



once one fish finds your helpless bait, that's the dinner bell for all of the other fish to come over and investigate.

Take advantage of the gorgeous weather Southwest Florida will have in December by going fishing. Support local businesses by buying live shrimp at your bait and tackle shop or book a charter with a local captain.

And don't forget to stay current with FWC rules and regulations as they are subject to change. It is our responsibility to remain knowledgeable and to care for our waterways.

Joe Angius (727)-234-3171

Fire Sale!

Sailboat Waterfront

Punta Gorda


Port Charlotte

Call the Captain! Deepwater Sailboat Lot With 80' Waterfront and Dock! Perfect location amongst beautiful homes. Close to beaches and shopping Only $69,000!

Call the Captain! 1/2+ Acre, Sailboat Waterfront Seawalled Lot Possible! 160-feet combined with adjacent lot! Secluded location, 2 minutes to open water yet close to town, fill in place. 2 separate adjacent buildable lots with city water Single lot only $84,900

New Listing

Pirate Harbor

Call the Captain! 100 Feet of Rip-Rap Seawall, 5 Minutes To Open Harbor. Perfect lot located on deep water canal with no bridges. Perfect location for the fisherman! $139,000

Punta Gorda

Call the Captain! Amazing opportunity for fast

Harbor access, deep sailboat and located in a secluded location, close to town! New seawall, $20K of fill, city water, ready to build! Only $94,900

Amazing Deal

Burnt Store Isles

Call the Captain! Deep Water Sailboat Waterfront with 105 Feet of Seawall! South facing, wide canal and short boat ride out! Only $189,000!


Punta Gorda

Call the Captain! Lake Front Beauty in

Gated Community! 5 bedroom with over 2800 sf in immaculate condition! Capt. Chuck brought the buyer to this fantastic deal! $280,000!






Sometimes Unsubstanciated, But Often True crab trap molestation, theft of blue crabs, harvest of blue crabs after hours, possession of undersize sheepshead, and illegal methods of sheepshead harvest. He was also issued four uniform boating citations.

Baby Stingrays - they look like ravoli, stuffed with tiny damned souls!

THIRD ARM SEX Unlike females, males have a modified third right arm called a hectocotylus, which has a sperm groove down it and a specialized tip. To mate, a male will insert his hectocotylus into the female's mantle cavity and ... you know! CUT OFF FWC officer Hardgrove was checking vessels returning to a local marina when he saw a group of men filleting red grouper. As he watched them, he noticed one of the grouper appeared to be less than the 20-inch total length minimum size. Officer Hargrove measured the fish using his issued measuring device and found it to be 18 ¼ inches. The boatʼs captain stated the fish was much closer to twenty inches in length on his measuring tape. Officer Hardgrove let the captain measure the fish with his own tape, and it showed the fish over nineteen¼ inches in length. The officer noticed that the first inch of the boat captains tape measure had been cut off! LIVINʼ LARGE Officers responded to a swimmer in distress call at Mosquito Banks in

John Pennekamp State Park. A large male could not get back on a rented deck boat after going swimming at the reef. A dive boat was brought in.

COST OF BEING CAUGHT Officers saw a vessel with many passengers on board. After a vessel stop and safety inspection it was determined the vessel was operating for-hire as a charter vessel. There were 4 major violations including no Certificate of Inspection, no Merchant Mariner Credential on board, no Stability Letter, and no Drug/Alcohol Testing Program. The captain/owner of the vessel now faces fines totaling $38,000.

TAKE THAT Officers received information from a commercial crabber that his traps were being robbed on the Anclote River. They developed a directed conservation patrol plan to identify a suspect and make an arrest. They set up surveillance cameras and a suspect was watched pulling traps. An officer responded by airboat to intercept the suspectʼs vessel. The suspect was booked into the Pinellas County Jail for felony blue

PICKY PICKY Officers saw a vessel just offshore displaying a dive flag. Upon boarding the vessel, the subjects were found to have one lobster less than the recreational bag limit. While completing a boating safety inspection, the vesselʼs divers surfaced, bringing four lobster onboard. The subjects had previously been warned and so were issued a misdemeanor citation for violating the recreational daily bag limit of spiny lobster.

STUDY From May through September 2018, a team of research divers collected 27 hours of underwater video per week in Long Island Sound. Study sites included an active shellfish lease and the Charles Island rock reef. As biologists reviewed the videos, they most frequently see four common Long Island Sound fish species around the cages: black sea bass, scup, tautog (blackfish), and cunner. However, these fish use the cages differently. Some use them opportunistically, while others seem to live around the cages. NEW REEF The CCA is constructing a new artificial reef 12 miles out of Boca Grande, with 125 tons of concrete culverts and junction boxes scheduled to be deployed right at the end of November. The reef will be in 50-feet of water at: Lat: 26º 45ʼ 582” N Long: 82º 28ʼ 433” W


Enroll your 6th or 7th graders in our new online

Be The Fish

Kidʼs Fishing Program

Next Session Begins January 15 They watch the class videos answer a few questions

(so we know they are learning) and pick up their free

Shakespeare Rod & Reel and stocked tackle box! at Fishinʼ Franks or at Bass Pro

info and $15 sign up at




BE THE FISH! 6th Grade Offshore Fishing Trip Madison Walker

The Reef Raider makes regular offshore trips out of the Englewood Bait House. Call Capt. Jack 941-475-4511 to reserve a spot

Jose Jimenez

Matthew Morales

Jesse Lant

Austin Lucy & Justin Medina

Mateo Gonzalez

Leland Sung

David Hand

Danny Godwin

From Michael Heller Reef Assn. President Our 6th grade class this year was the best class yet, and that’s saying a lot since this is the 18th year of our kids program. Capt. Cayle did an outstanding job explaining things and the kids listened attentively, taking in good information one night a week for six weeks. Part of our fall program is in the classroom and part involves kids outside wading and fishing. So far this year we’ve taken them on a wading trip and an offshore trip. This spring there will be an inshore trip as well. Last month was the offshore trip. It was a huge success! We departed from Englewood and fished four spots out past 10 miles where the Red Tide stopped. From the first line down to the last one up it was non-stop fish-on!

Caiden Day

Jake Arbuckle


Nicholas Bosllar

This class is part of a new Online Classroom we are developing to teach kids on their phones about Ethical Angling and the sensible use of the local environment. The classroom is linked

The water is clean & fresh on the Peace River!

Anjanice Scholtz

from Water or accessed directly from our new Check it out, sign your kids up online. The next Class starts in January.







December – Predictions and Suggestions Charlotte Harbor Frank at Fishin’ Franks 941-625-3888

BackBay Xtremes Capt Dave Stephens



Fish with a Guide


from Water LIFE magazine

Alan Lamm Jr and shark

Youʼll learn something and youʼll catch more fish!


from Water LIFE magazine

Alan Lamm amberjack on Liquid Life Style with Capt. Eric White

What we are looking at is a gazillion snook, literally.... in the canals, in the Harbor. A guy came in yesterday with a picture of a 49-inch snook from out by Fort Ogden - he caught it on a red and white Rattletrap. The east side of the Harbor is loaded up: the exterior islands have a lot of smaller snook, then as you get back closer to the creeks you find a lot more bigger snook. The Myakka Cutoff is loaded, the west side is the same – it’s crazy! Trout fishin’ is pretty good in the Pine Island Sound. They are mostly smaller on the east side but they are getting cherry picked. Bokeelia had a few more, that are keeper size. The bigger trout are in Bull Bay but there are more of them in Turtle Bay. We had some mackerel, but this latest cold front is going to move Spanish and ladyfish south. While some Spanish are moving south, the King mackerel are literally hanging out in front of us. They like 68 to 70 degrees. There are some cobia too. I’m hearing about lots and lots of little redfish. A few guys are into the bigger ones, but most guys are chasing the smaller stuff. Redfish were still taking white bait last week, but as the water chills the bite will be more for shrimp. Luckily the shrimp are decent size right now. The bottom fishing is really good. Lots of grunt and porgys, the bigger grouper are still out in 60- to 80-feet, but the gags are coming in closer now. I’m not hearing much about mullet. Usually we get a lot of calls for mullet nets, but this year I’m still sitting on a few. I think the price has dropped so low- .30 cents a pound - that there will not be many mullet fishermen this year. With the price of fuel and nets the mullet are not worth it. Right now sand brim and jacks are worth more commercially.

Jacks are a delicacy and the smaller they are the more valuable they are. Jacks are in the $1.60/pound range right now, but it’s harder to find them. Mullet is the first one to die in a red tide. The only thing we can think of is they try to eat the algae. The algae isn’t deadly till it blooms, but when it does they die and then that brings in a ton of catfish and then they die too.

Lemon Bay, Placida, Gasparilla Sound Jim at Fishermen’s Edge 941-697-7595

Fishing has been good the last two weeks, with a lot more activity in the back country. In Charlotte Harbor there are redfish and some really nice trout. Some guides are targeting snook just to have their customers catch one. Guys with shrimp are catching redfish and trout. I caught some really nice trout last Sunday in Turtle Bay, trout to the mid 20s, throwing a Lucky Craft 1/4 oz pointer lure. It looks really good in the water. Guys are catching sheepshead now. They are starting to bite good around the piers and docks. There is still some snapper around the same pilings too. I did have a couple of guys say they got into pompano, there are pompano around. You can catch a variety of fish throwing a jig, but just the standard winter suff. Offshore, some guys are going deep, looking for grouper and snapper. Kings were caught this past weekend. There have been a number of red grouper and gags and a variety of snapper: lane, mangs, vermilion and yellow tail, along with porgys and grunts - some huge porgys, like 9-pounds! I don’t know how big they get, but 9-pounds has got to be a big one. Guys catching bass in and around Rotonda and South Gulf Cove. Water is cooling off now. We are going into the season where the bass get on the beds.

Gif t The G if t o f a Guided Trip Th e g u i d e s h e r e a l l o ffe r

G if t Ce r ti fi c a t e s !


The BIG-4 SHEEPSHEAD Under the trestles, piers and docks




Fish you can expect in

TROUT Bull and Turtle Bay. More in Turtle, bigger in Bull

Text Us Ur Fish Pix! see page 4

SNOOK Everywhere! Bigger in the creeks, smaller out front


LANE SNAPPER Lots of nice snapper on the offshore reefs

Nearshore andf inshore water temps are lower 70s Fishing has been very good but red tide has come back 95˚ 90˚


from Water LIFE magazine


Spotless redfish caught by Joe Sheaffer 11/18 Gasparilla Sound



from Water LIFE magazine

32 inch snook Kevin Geake


from Water LIFE magazine


Michelle Grady with a snook caught in the PGI canals

72˚ 70˚ 68˚

Jay Wochner & USMC Cpl. Dylan Friedman. 40-inch king mackerel on an outing aboard the Bad Donkey II



from Water LIFE magazine



from Water LIFE magazine

Dan Tillett, redfish


from Water LIFE magazine


from Water LIFE magazine

Paul Sanders, black drum 11/12/18

Jeff Kolling -sheepshead


from Water LIFE magazine

This was the last picture we received before going to print this month Capt. Fred Gowdy snook, 15-pound from Estero Bay


from Water LIFE magazine

Angela Hardesty, Bonita Springs with a nice trout caught in the 10,000 Islands


from Water LIFE magazine

Ian Roberts ..North Fort Myers ... with "Monster Jack"






Water LIFE Dec 2018  

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

Water LIFE Dec 2018  

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