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W a t e r LIFE


Charlotte Charlotte Harbor Harbor and and Lemon Lemon Bay Bay Keeping Boaters and Fishermen Informed Since 1997

P r o d u c e r s o f t h e K I D S C U P To u r n a m e n t

January 2009

More Manatee Madness! Page 4

Threaded Shrimp Page 8

Stuff Happens Page 5


Applications now online Page 12-13

w w w. W a t e r L i f e M a g a z i n e . c o m

Nearshore Fishing is Good Page 22-23 Always FREE!

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Water LIFE


January 2009



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LETTER: Permi t Regarding: The Big-4 and regulations covering them. The article shows "Pompano: Min 24" to the fork" I think the regulations are: Not less then 11" or more then 20 fork". It looks like the article has the regulations for African pompano. It would be nice to catch some 24" pompano though. S teve Ri mar Editor replies: I screwed up. I did exactly as you suspected!

COMMENT: Cl ub S eeks to Expand Manatee Pl an It will be interesting to see how the local mainstream media chooses sides on the new manatee habitat issue. A run on habitat in the name of manatee preservation is nothing more than an assault on fishing. In my opinion, what they want is Turtle Bay. Manatees are plentiful and scientists have already said they need to be downlisted from endangered, not protected more. The fact of the matter is, the manatee club’s new ‘petition’


and Comments

appears to be just another way to tug at tender heart strings and solicit more cash. If the Manatee Club had specifically cited Phosphate Mining on the Peace River at Horse Creek as being a threat to manatees there would be some validity in their position, but they don't mention phosphate mining as a threat to habitat. Does anyone else see the irony of: first we didn't have enough manatees so we had to protect them; and now we have too many manatees so we have to feed them? Is it even remotely possible that what we are really seeing is the bad-effect of the environmentalists well intentioned but misguided meddling with the species. I suggest that if the manatee club wants manatees to have more food they buy a truckload of lettuce every day and dump it in the outflow canal behind the power plant at Fort Myers. They have been training those poor animals to come there for 20 years. Mi chael Hel l er


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Contributing Editors:

Senior Edtor: Capt. Ron Blago Charlotte Harbor: Capt. Robert Moore Port Charlotte: Capt Andy Medina Gasparilla: Capt. Chuck Eichner Commercial Fishing: Kelly Beal Sea Grant: Betty Staugler Real Estate: Dave Hofer Diving: Adam Wilson Kayaks: David Allen Sailing: Bill Dixon Office Dog: Molly

on the COVER:

Goliath Grouper are the target of many anglers despite their still protected status.

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RealEstate: Whatʼs happening NOW!

Fishing Resource Guide: Everything you ever wanted to know – almost Don Ball School: Class Report

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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.

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Things to Enhance Fishing



BY Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Contributing Editor It’s kind of sad that while fishermen are talking more and more about making the harbor better for fishing, the manatee club is again pushing its no growth, no access agenda on us. That battle is coming again and I am up for it, but for now here are some of the interesting perspectives I have come across while talking about making things better – conversations with fishermen that started long before the manatee club came up with their latest fundraising scam. First off, whatever we do, has to be for the betterment of fishing and it has to be implemented for both Charlotte Harbor and the Pine Island Sound. That’s the inshore area we fish in. That means Lee and Charlotte County anglers need to start working together right now. To make fishing better everyone agreed we need to reduce the pressure on the fishery. Running the shoreline has to stop. "We need to let the fish eat without getting their heads run over," is the way one accomplished guide I talked to put it. I think a majority of people now feel this way. Idle-speed-only from 300 feet to the shore; 100 yards is the number most people used. There was some differentiation between ‘trolling motors only’ or ‘4 strokes, or idling only’ inside that area, but running on plane within 100 yards of any shoreline needs to stop. It could be argued as a safety issue, that it is only a matter of time before someone cuts a

kayak in half, but we need to do this strictly for the fishing. You’d still be able to run inside the bar when the wind and waves were up – when that was the safest way home – but on most days it should be idle-only with trolling motors or pushpolling preferred. Catfish Creek was brought up for a mandated poll-and-troll area last summer, but no one wanted signs. How about a GPS or a Tom-Tom for the slow learners until they figure out their way around? Another thing that theoretically would improve fishing would be to restrict tournaments. ‘There are too many tournaments’ was a common perspective. One idea was to have tournaments be regulated. My opinion is the state needs to figure out how to better use tournament anglers as scientific information gatherers. The redfish hatchery concept is back on the plate again. Anglers who fish out-ofstate told me Texas is raising redfish and releasing them by the millions. Texas releases their frye when they are barely two inches long. Since a lot of bigger fish eat the small frye they say the ones that do survive help ensure biological diversity and survival of the fittest. Florida’s past approach was to raise redfish until they were 8 inches long. It was not cost effective. The Charlotte Harbor /Pine Island sound estuary would be a great place for a new redfish hatchery. There was also talk that we need to be doing more for the mangrove shoreline lost in Hurricane Charley; protecting from


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Submerged structure is always good for fishing. Here, an Ontario man sinks his Blazer at Placida.

erosion is thought to be critical. There was talk about looking at the regulation slot sizes we are using. Would it make more sense to alternate the slot size every few years so as not to create a 'wall' that few fish can get past? Live Bait? There are a lot of people netting live bait. Do we need to know more about the spawning patterns of scaled sardines, Spanish sardines and threadfish herring? Might we need to reduce the pressure on those baits? Limiting cast net mesh-size to 1/2 inch at certain times of the year was one idea. Bottom trawling for shrimp in the harbor was also a topic of discussion. Shrimp, like white bait need to grow and be allowed to move offshore in their natural patterns. And shrimp trawling in the harbor can’t be very good for the harbor

bottom, which many anglers said has now been dragged flat. High on everyone’s list was water quality. We need to closely monitor water quality, fertilizer, septic, and storm drain runoff and someone needs to coordinate all the data collected by the different agencies and make it all available on the internet. We need to license every vessel on the water, kayaks included. Some suggested licensing shore fishermen as well. The revenue needs to come back to the harbor. Finally, many guides appear to be missing their TWIX card or their county occupational license. Guides need to display a sticker showing they have all their paperwork in order. This beautiful estuary is unique, it is a fishing estuary, and we need to plan now for the future of the estuary and the future of fishing.

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Top 10 Stories from 2008

By Capt. Ron Bl ago Water LIFE Senior Staff Each year I go through my notebook and look for stories that didn’t find their way into the mainstream media, that I thought should have gotten better coverage. These are things that I find interesting and they are mostly related to fishing and boating. Here’s the countdown: #10 After bi g headl i nes at the beginning of the year that proclaimed that the 90s was the hottest decade of the century; NASA backtracked and said that the 30s was actually hotter. I guess they forgot to carry the one. Their bad. #9 Gl obal Warmi ng Update – 2008 appears to be the coldest year of the decade according to NASA. Here are a few entries from my notebook- Jan 4th Sarasota Airport reports record low of 4 degrees – Feb 12th 800 freeze to death in coldest winter in African history Summer of 08 was the coldest summer ever in Anchorage Alaska. Al Gore has some explaining to do. #8 No Hurri canes or Red Ti de. Maybe we are just lucky but natural disasters have passed us by for the third straight year. It’s funny about the red tide researchers who received a lot of funding grants to find the cause of red tide who are now switching their efforts into find-

Water LIFE

ing out why we have not had any red tide outbreaks. Here is a thought. Since the last major red tide event, we have had a severe drought in SW Florida. Rainfall the last two years has been 30-percent below normal. You think there might be a relation there? #7 The Fl ori da FWC has fi nal l y sai d that they wi l l take up the i ssue of a state wi de moori ng l aw. The last few years, local communities have passed their own local rules on where and for how long boaters can moor their boats in local waters. Most of these local laws, when challenged in court have been overruled, leaving everyone pretty confused. Let’s hope the State can come up with something that everyone can understand. #6 What can your government do for you? Looks like the Feds are going for a national saltwater fishing license. NOAA wants all saltwater recreational fishermen to be registered by 2011. States that already require saltwater licenses can submit that list to the Feds. All others can register for $15 to $25. I got a call from a friend in New York who told me that they were starting a saltwater fishing license. Makes sense for the states without a license to start one so they can beat the Feds to that money. #5 Goodbye Grouper. Looks like grouper fishing is about to become a catch and release sport for recreational fishermen. The Feds, who already have a one red grouper per day bag limit, are




Santaʼs day Off – Santa was out fishing the day after Christmas with Capt. Angel Torres and came up with a beautiful redfish.

lowering the daily bag limit on gag grouper to one per day. Still not tough enough for you? – how about a closed season from Feb 1 to March 31. That should pretty much kill the offshore sport. #4 Fees Both fishing licenses and boat registration fees went up in 2008. I guess we pay more and get less. #3 Be Aware of Manatees. I really thought that 2008 was going to be the year the manatee was delisted from endangered to threatened. The year started out that way with the FWC voting to follow the recommendation of their own staff and outside experts to make that official; but the governor suggested they do a little more research. The governor declared Nov. 2008 to be Manatee Awareness Month. In his proclamation he says, “the manatee faces a very high risk of extinction due to human related threats including the loss of warm water habitat.” I guess the FWC will just have to do more research until they agree with the governor’s opinion. Looks like the Save the Manatee Club is starting a new lawsuit. This time it’s not the manatee that’s endangered but it’s their habitat that’s endangered. There are now too many manatees and not enough habitat. #2 The Geo Tubes are gone from Stump Pass. This was probably one of the dumbest things that I saw last year.

The Geo Tubes, which caused a documented increase of over 5 acres of sand to the north of the pass, were removed because the State DEP said there was a few hundred feet of sand eroded from the southern tip of the State Park. Talk about a lose – lose situation. The State losses 5 acres of prime beach front when the sand begins to dump into Stump Pass; and the people of Charlotte County get to pay a few extra million dollars to dredge Stump Pass and probably dump that sand back on that beach. And will the erosion on the southern tip of the State Park stop? Hell no. #1 Hard Ti mes- The Number one story. What can you say about the economy in 2008? Last Jan the unemployment rate in Charlotte County was 4.2-percent. By the end of the year it’s about 10-percent. In 2007 there were 2,116 home foreclosures in the county; in 2008 that number will be close to 5,000. Higher prices on food- stock market losses, losses in retirement accounts. Lower home values and raising property taxes and insurance cost. Terrible is too nice a word to describe what we are going through right now. The though of a quiet day fishing with the hope of catching something for dinner is the only thing that a lot of people are looking forward to. Lets all hope and pray that 2009 brings better times.

There are plenty of big gators sunning themselves on the muddy banks of the Peace River right now. The bumps on the cold blooded gatorʼs back help him collect the sunʼs heat.



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Jig Fishing with Shrimp Page 8

By Capt Robert Moore Wat er LIFE S t aff Last week, at one of the local boat ramps with a fishing pier near-by, a very courteous gentleman came up to me and asked if he could have any live bait I had left over from my trip. I replied “sure” and dipped my bait net into my live well and offered him the last couple of dozen shrimp I had left. He quickly replied “Oh no, I meant live bait, as in shiners!” He began to explain that he had run out of the live bait (shiners) that the previous boater had given him and he needed more so he could continue to fish. I asked him what he was catching on the shiners and he replied “nothing lately, but last month we caught almost everything we wanted on shiners.” I explained to him all I had was the shrimp and he half heartily took them. By the time I returned with my truck and trailer to load my boat I noticed the same man holding a nice redfish he caught on the shrimp I had given him. This story pretty much repeats itself everyday. Not just at this particular boat ramp and pier, but among lots of anglers throughout the southwest Florida area. Fishing with baits such as whitebait, greenbacks, pinfish, etc., has pretty much become a way of fishing for most of us, including myself. The one exception for me is that I stow away my cast nets during the winter months. With a few different tactics, I can usually catch more fish inshore during the colder months using live shrimp than live shiners. The number one reason for this is simple. Our fish are used to warm water. They get 8 months of it throughout the year. Then, the water temperature falls from the repeated cold fronts we get during the winter months. This drop in water temperature begins to slow the metabolism of most inshore species like redfish, snook and even trout. Chasing down frisky live bait

Water LIFE

requires too much energy. So they begin to eat things like crabs and shrimp that require very little effort to catch and digest. My change in tactics are also very simple. I fish slow and on the bottom, almost the exact opposite of when I am fishing live bait such as shiners. My favorite method of getting a shrimp on the bottom is with the use of a jig head. I simply tear the tail off the shrimp and then thread it backwards onto the jig head. The head of the shrimp is facing the opposite direction of the head on the jig. Most times I prefer a ¼ ounce jig head. I find that a ¼ ounce works well in most conditions and at depths up to 6 feet. If you are fishing deeper, then you need to adjust the weight accordingly. My retrieve is simple – bounce it very slow a few inches off the bottom. Very slow, to me, is defined as every 20 seconds or so. Most of my strikes occur while the bait is sitting on the bottom. This is just one of many techniques that work well while fishing with shrimp. The best technique is the one that works for you, so try giving your cast-net a break and make a stop by your local bait shop. You might just be surprised how successful you will be with just plain ol’ live shrimp. Tight Lines – Capt. Robert Moore can be reached to book a trip or for fishing information at: 624-5710 or at









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Screaming Reels

By Capt. Andrew Medi na Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor What is January really about? To me, I guess it means the start of a new year, resolutions I make that will never, ever happen, and tides too low to get anywhere close to the mangroves. Now is the time that if you stroll out onto the harbor this month and visit areas such as Whidden Creek and Catfish Creek a familiar buzz is in the air. The buzz is the sound of air boats and tunnel hull skiffs, fishing the pot holes in the back country that no one else can get to. If your boat will not run in a couple inches of water you will find yourself sitting on the outside of the bar asking how can I get back there? Well the answer is, you don’t, because even if you are lucky enough to get back there, you might not

be lucky enough to get out. You might find yourself waiting around till spring. My advice to you is fish the deeper water you know. For instance, the out side of the bars will hold fish this time of the year. One of my favorite spots for winter time fishing, has to be the bar south of Burnt Store Marina. This time of the year you can always find fish on that bar. What we do is use our trolling motor and skirt the edge of the bar, till we see fish. Most of my winter time fishing is done with either shrimp or artificials. I fish these baits not only because I’m comfortable throwing them, it’s because frankly I don’t like getting wet this time of year. It’s cold and getting wet and running across the harbor is really not my cup of tea. Besides that, fish will eat them. If you are throwing shrimp, a pop-



ping cork will work extremely well for trout and reds where you do not see them. The sound of the popping cork imitates a fish feeding and will trigger other fish to eat as well. In situations where you can see the fish, it becomes a different game. If you throw a popping cork on them, chances are they will spook. This is where I will switch to a lighter line and a small 1/8 or even a 1/16th oz. jig head. Jig head selection is important when it comes to this style of fishing. You want to buy a jig head not for what it looks likes. The hook-straight is the most important feature. Many jig heads on the market today are made with cheesy hooks using thin wire. Nothing is worse than hooking up a nice redfish and having that fish straighten the hook out. Try to buy the stoutest hooks you can get. The importance of the light jig head is so that when you cast and the shrimp or rubber body enters the water, it will not make a loud splash and spook the fish you are trying to cast on. If you can get a cast in front of the fish without spooking him, 9 out of 10 times he will eat. Other than staying outside the bars, you may want to take the opportunity of the low water to visit some of the harbor’s man made reef’s. This time of the year a lot of grouper and snapper are held up on these reefs. It won’t take long to find out if they are there. I will usually troll a large lipped lure, such as the Mann’s stretch 30s, or the Rapala XR mag. Series. The good thing about the Rapalas are they come in 15s, 20s and 30s, which means you can troll a couple plugs all at once on multiple rods and cover the entire water column. Just trolling the plug over the inshore reefs is a great way to get a rod bent and can be a blast when the fish are there. It’s not often we as inshore anglers get a chance to do something a little out-of-the norm. Maybe I should make that one of my New Year’s resolutions. Capt. Andrew can be reached for Charter info at 456-1540 or on the web at



Water LIFE

Winter Speckled Trout Fishing

By Capt. Chuck Ei chner Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor Sometimes it’s hard to admit that winter is really here. Sitting inside my house with 2 sweatshirts and a hat on, I finally gave way to turning on the heat in late December. Like dogwoods blooming in early spring are a sign for snook and largemouth bass, this is my sign that it’s time to focus on speckled trout fishing and specifically big trout- gator trout! Our winter weather on Charlotte Harbor really started around the first of November and our water temperatures have been in the mid 60s to low 70s ever since. I believe the shortened daylight hours, lower water temperatures and windy weather signal the trout to school and become more predictable. Most southern anglers know that trout love to feed on the grass flats. Charlotte Harbor trout are no different, however two major factors will keep them out of the grassbeds in the winter; severe cold fronts and extreme low tides. These conditions have a tendency to congregate the trout and they will drop into adjacent deep water areas. Generally speaking, these will be average size fish in the 15- to 20-inch range. They are relatively easy to catch and a jig and shrimp bounced on the bottom will be hard to beat. A popping cork with shrimp dangled 3-feet below is a popular winter choice as well. Local spots like Alligator Creek, Pirate Harbor, Burnt Store Marina see their share of fish with many other less famous spots being even more productive. Many trout will drop outside of the bars and lots of casts are required to locate these free roaming fish. I actually believe that winter trout spend most of their time over deeper waters in Charlotte Harbor feeding on minnows and whitebait that have retreated from the grassbeds. When the waters warm and tides rises they follow their food source into the grassbeds. On the higher tide phases with sunny weather you can expect to catch plenty of fish over the grass. Winter trout are fickle and react very quickly to water temperature changes. A huge cold front will push them into the deep pockets, canals, dredge holes and creek channels. They will stay there as long as the cold weather persists, but often one sunny day will scatter these fish as they pursue better feeding grounds. Big trout are a whole different quarry. Big is a relative word, but 23 inches and over is big in my book and with few exceptions you won’t find many of these fish mixed in with their younger cousins. The all tackle trout record is 17 pounds 7 ounces, and occasionally fish near half that size are caught in our waters. Like most fish species, bigger fish prefer to expend less energy in their constant pursuit of food. This means fewer larger meals which equates to the old saying

“big baits-big fish”. Generally, I find that artificial lures and in particular, top water baits will catch more than their share of big trout. Perhaps this is because smaller baits attract the more aggressive smaller fish. A Zara-spook, Mirrorlure lure top dog, Sebile or similar type walk-the-dog lure is a favorite. Targeting big fish is the key and requires a dedicated effort. Water depth and bottom terrain are the most important considerations. Search for gator trout starting in water depths of 3 to 4 feet over patchy grassbeds with sand areas mixed in. Areas with deeper water or a channel nearby are an added bonus as big fish usually prefer to have an escape route nearby. Larger wide expanses of grass hold their share of trout, but the bigger trout are easier to target where there is more bottom variation. State biologists tout Pine Island Sound as having some of the best speckled trout habitat in the state. There are plenty of 20 inch trout in the sound and bigger fish are common. The grassbeds around Bookelia are known for big trout and with some time spent you will eventually locate “sweet spots” around Charlotte Harbor that hold bigger fish. Turtle Bay has huge expansive turtle grass beds, thereby giving it the name – I have yet to see a turtle in turtle bay! Some of my biggest trout pushing the 30 inch mark came from there. One component to increase your odds for big fish is to fish under low light conditions. Early or late in the day are best and cloudy days present a special opportunity. The closer you fish till dark the greater your chances of hooking a monster! My general rule of thumb is under low light conditions fish a top water bait covering lots of water. If a fish blows up and misses the plug keep a spare rod rigged with a soft plastic jerk bait and quickly throw back where the blow up occurred. The fish is usually in the attack mode and will munch the second offering. As the sun gets higher in the sky often the top water bite will slack off. A sub-surface suspending bait or twitch bait like a Rapala that runs less than 3 feet can be very effective. If you want to cover a lot of water quickly, try a ¼ oz. Rattletrap. Long casts, varied retrieves and persistence will help you locate schools of fish and an occasional big boy. Once a school is located step up to a bigger plug and go

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Trout will go after anything that gets their attention; from the pink shrimp in the fishʼs mouth above to just about anything in the box of lures below. Note the vegetation in the top photo. This is trout country.

to work. For lure colors it is simplechrome silver or gold, grey or white with a black, green or blue back are consistent. The old standby of red & white is time proven. When the water is murky with low water visibility, brighter colors often get more attention. The net-ban implemented over 10 years ago has made a dramatic comeback in the trout population as well as the redfish. Trout are delicate fish and careful

handling will preserve them for others to catch. Try not to net them as this removes their protective slime coating. If possible, de-hook while still in the water by grabbing the hooks with a needle nose pliers and shaking free. A day spent chasing trout is something we can all enjoy regardless of age and experience. The pursuit of gator trout is a game of confidence, big lures and a little luck.

Capt. Chuck Eichner is a local charter captain. For information or to book a guided fishing trip call 941-505-0003 or go to his website: www.back country Mention Water LIFE for

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Redfish Cup at Punta Gorda April 30 to May 3 This Yearʼs Seasonal Payout Almost $1 Million S t aff R eport The Redfish Cup announced a near $1 million-season payout along with its 2009 schedule and Punta Gorda is the first stop. “With the best payouts and even better anglers, the competition intensifies and the top anglers are rewarded for their talent, dedication and hard work,” said the Redfish Cup general manager Steve Levi. Each event features a $50,000 grand prize and

$195,000 in total payout. That makes the Redfish Cup the largest payout in the history of competitive saltwater fishing. Live online coverage will be featured on and at every event during the season. The 2009 Cup also continues its broadcast relationship with ESPN2, with each tournament aired on ESPN2 on the Saturday morning following the respective event.

Beginning in April, the invite-only teams compete in four regular season events in the hopes of qualifying for the season-ending championship in September. Entry fees for the four regular season events are $3,500. There is no entry fee for the 20team championship. The 2009 Redfish Cup Series will make its traditional first stop in Punta Gorda, on April 30 and then go on to visit Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.



While in Texas, the Cup will be the first national event to visit the Kemah area since Hurricane Ike devastated the town. A continued emphasis on community outreach for the Redfish Cup and its anglers will be an initiative called Net Gains presented by ARC Dehooker. The program gives local youth age 7 and up a free fishing and conservation clinic taught by the Redfish Cup pros on the Thursday prior to each event. “The Redfish Cup owes a debt of gratitude to our fans over the past six years,” said Levi.


Gearing Up for th

Mi chael Hel l er Kids Cup Tournament Director Now it begins. We’ve already reserved the room at Bennedetto’s restaurant in Punta Gorda for the Captain’s meeting. NewYear’s Eve we stayyed home so we could put the application form, the parental release form and the 2009 rules online at one minute after midnight. By now I’m sure we will have received some back in the mail. You MUST mail in your application. We use the postmark to determine starting boat order on tournament day. All the information is on the website, go to and click the link. Last month, at the Marine Advisory Committee meeting Betty Staugler our Sea Grant Agent and Kids Cup redfish tracking coordinator was approved for a grant to help fund the tagging project. At the meeting I explained to the Committee members that the kids on the water today will be the ones sitting in the committee chairs in the future

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Fundraising to begin this month

and that we want them to learn about the Harbor and the fishery and be inspired to help manage it in the future. I told the committee tracking fish and learning how the changing environment effects the fishery is critical to that learning. I told them fish No 59 was just recaptured at Cape Haze, that was one of our surgically implanted fish. I told them about Betty’s cool tracking website. If you haven’t looked at our website and seen the tracking link or some of the before and after hurricane Charley picrtures of the harbor shoreline or the Kids Cup, please do that. A few months ago Capt. Danny Latham, who is one of the Kids fishing school instructors and a very accomplished local angler, told me he thought the redfish were moving away from the shorelines and into the deeper water in the center of the harbor. I have thought this myself, since Charley. This year we hope to be able to put underwater sonic receivers in the deeper water in the middle of the harbor to see if we track any of our tournament fish there.

Looking over the photos of the Kids Cup from the last five years one thing stands out dramatically. Before we started tagging and implanting fish we had the anglers release their fish. You only have to look at the photos to see how well that worked not only for the fish but for the kids too. But after we started the tagging project the fish were released by either the surgery crew or the fin clip crew. This year that’s going to change. We are going back to having anglers release their own fish. It’s just better – so long as long as the dolphins aren’t hanging around. This month I will start making the fund raising rounds, talking to potential Kids Cup Tournament sponsors. The tournament raises money for the Kids Fishing Classes we run in 5 county middle schools. I know this is a tough economic time, but we can’t let that affect educating our kids about the environment and teaching them about fishing. If you were a sponsor last year we need you back, if you were not a sponsor, we need you now.

We are going to bring back the concept of anglers releasing their own fish, like it was when we started in 2004.

Please, be a Kids Cup Sponsor and wear your sponsor shirt proudly. Call 941-766-8180 for Kids Cup sponsor information or go to The Kids Cup will be on April 25, 2009.

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Water LIFE

Warmer Offshore

By Adam Wi l son Water LIFE Diving We saw some some great diving in December. Water temperature around the beach remains in the low 60s, but offshore, as close-in as 30 miles, the surface temperature has stayed in the mid 70s with bottom tempperature around 70. With the high winds we still had through December, visibility out to 70 feet has not been good, but out deeper the vis has remained a constant 20 to 30 feet, making for some great hunting or macro photography as long as you use an external flash. At the end of last month we made it out to 100 feet straight out of Stump Pass, hitting some big structure to hunt for amberjacks. I had a friend here from the east coast that wanted to shoot a big one. Most of the ones he sees over at West Palm Beach are around 20 pounds or smaller. Sure enough, no sooner did we roll off the boat, the big schools of 40 to 60 pounders came swimming in to see what all the noise was about. I left Barry alone with the school to pick out his choice of jack and I continued down to the bottom. The reef was swarming with gag

grouper, big mangrove snappers and American red snappers! I have never seen red snapper in this shallow off our coast. Sometimes in the summer we run across a few out much deeper, but this school was huge, probably numbering around 100, and Barry with his big AJ they were quality 8 to 15 pound fish. Unfortunately, red snapper won't be back in season until April, so all we could do was push them out of our way and hunt for grouper and mangrove snapper. I was able to shoot my limit of 5 gag grouper in that one dive. Probably the last time I will ever do that as the new grouper regulations take effect January 1, allowing only 2 gag grouper per person. The mangrove snapper were also quite easy to pick off. They are starting to school thick now on the deeper, large reefs and most don't seem to be as




A gag grouper with a shaft through the head. The next iron this fish comes in contact with will probably be the barbecue grill. The hull in the background is in 80 feet of water.

spooky in the cooler water. All the shallower spots we hit recently inside of 70 feet have been colder than it is far offshore with temps in the mid to high 60s and very murky water with very few large fish. I think the shallow water became so cold so quick this fall it moved most large fish out deep to find a more consistent temperature. Hitting some ledges and artificial reefs


further south out of Boca Grande pass recently we discovered more of the same. Lots of quality fish out past 80 feet. It's going to be pretty easy to limit out this month on grouper and mangrove snapper. Just remember the grouper limit as of January 1st will be 4 grouper, only 2 of which can be gags, and 2 can be red grouper. The season will close February 1st.

– a loss of electrons of metals reacting with water and oxygen.

You’d think when you bought a marine grade product it would be water proof and corrosion resistant. Not so. Recently we bought an electrical selector switch, the kind that you use to switch between two batteries. Even though we only have one battery on our boat I like to use the switch backwards, so I can switch my one battery to power either the entire boat, or in the other position, to power only the motor. Electrical problems on boats are almost always related to a bad ground. By isolating the motor you can also isolate electrical problems and be able to fix them later, after you get home. The switch at right was a $40 waste of money. After a week of salty air with heavy humidity, the terminals were corroded and the one main battery cable (middle) was green right into the wire. We should have shrink wrapped that, but it was a factory ‘end.’ from the same store. Now it’s all junk.



Water LIFE

The Parks and Recreation Dept. Director has Left the County By Capt Ron Bl ago Water LIFE Senior Staff Laura Kleiss Hoeft the director of Charlotte County’s Parks and Recreation Dept has left the job. First off I have to praise her accomplishments as director. Under her leadership, Charlotte county’s park system saw it’s greatest expansion in the county’s history. Few people can even remember how bad things were under the old director she replaced. I remember the best thing I heard anyone say about him was that at least he cuts the grass. Laura came from Sarasota Parks and recreation. She came to Charlotte to run her own department and in a few short year there were big improvements. Boaters did pretty well during the Hoeft era. The expansion and remodeling of the Placida and Spring Lakes and Port Charlotte Beach boat ramps. New ramps were opened at Ainger Creek and South Gulf Cove. Property was obtained for new ramps at Bay Haven on the Charlotte-Sarasota border, and Cattle Point near El Jobean. There were also a large number of new parks and athletic fields that came on line for the county. There was the Charlotte County Auditorium and the new baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays all under Hoeft’s leadership. A pretty good list of accomplishments. As a member of the Marine Advisory Committee, I’ve butted heads with Laura many times over the years, and in fairness I should list just some of the problems. Bay Haven Boat Ramp- Three years ago the county, with the help of boaters funds, purchased a piece of land for a boat ramp in west county between the old Thunderbird Marina and the old Week Seafood House. It was purchased for the purpose of becoming a boat ramp. So far the only thing that has happened is that they put a children’s playground on the property. S outh Gul f Cove Boat Ramp- One of the newest ramps in the county. A great place to fish on a windy day. When they were building the ramp, members of MAC told Hoeft that the ramp was not long enough or steep enough. She insisted that experts designed the ramp. When the ramp was opened for people with large boat, their trailer would run off the end of the ramp. People with small boats would have to drive down the ramp until the water was up to their doors. I suggested that the county get a Ford F-150 pick-up (the best selling vehicle at the time) and a 22ft boat (the most popular sized boat in Charlotte County) and try to launch it at the ramp. My suggestion was not well received. Six months latter the ramp was modified at the experts expense. S pri ng Lakes Boat Ramp- The plans for the renovation looked great so MAC put up boater’s money to make it happen. What we got was a boat ramp cut

off from a much larger, beautifully landscaped park. Boaters actually got fewer trailer parking spots than they had before the renovation. And the promise of additional off site parking for overflow trailers at peak times-never happened. Ro cky Creek Mari na- Parks and recreation went forward with a plan to buy the marina and turn it into a municipal marina/boat ramp. The county planned on big bucks from that deal. Unfortunately there was another marina within spitting distance and another public boat ramp within a stones throw. Of course the fact that Aingers Creek (Rocky Creek) can run one foot deep during the winter and would limit the boat use was not a major factor. To save face the county backed out of the deal by saying that there were EPA problems with the property. I guess they didn’t know that there was gas and oil at marinas. Bl ue Way Trai l Probl ems- Laura fell under the spell of the kayak crowd and produced a beautiful brochure mapping all the kayaking trails in Charlotte County. She never came to the MAC about this and went her own way. People who read the brochure were sent to launch areas that were no more than public right of way with no parking available. So kyakers parked in the roadway, on private property; even in driveways. They parked in the public boat ramps thus taking up valuable space meant for trailers. Still there is no plan to maintain and manage the Blue Way trail system, but we sure have a nice brochure The cl osi ng of the Tom Adams Boat Ramp- One day Laura came to the MAC and told us she wanted to close the little boat ramp at the end of the Tom Adams bridge leading to Englewood Beach. She said it had become dangerous and a nuisance. The MAC told her don’t do it. She immediately had the decking of the dock at the ramp removed. We had the Sheriffs Dept, the Englewood Fire Dept and the Coast Guard Auxiliary go on the record stating that they used the ramp for rescue purposes. It was the closest ramp to Stump Pass. The director went right to the Board of County Commissioners and asked them to close the ramp, stating that there were no objections from anyone including the MAC. That was a lie. Within 30 days the ramp was gone. Parki ng Fees at Boat Ramps- The BCC asked Hoeft to come up with a plan to charge for parking at our public boat ramps. She did and the BCC approved it. The trouble was that she estimated that the county would generate $250,000 annually in fees. That never happened. How much profit the county made on this deal is

Page 15


Kleiss-Hoeft, Left.

Above: The December Marine Advisory Committee meeting

unknown. Laura never would release the exact figures to the public. I would be surprised if it is 1/10 that amount. El Jobean Pi er. - A lot of people were shocked last summer to find that the Parks and recreation was accepting bids to remove the southern half of the El Jobean fishing pier. This had been closed for a number of years due to a fire. It was always my hope that portion of the pier would be repaired and put back in service. Laura said that the pier was falling down and was becoming a hazard to navigation. All of that was bull and local people realized that. BCC was just as puzzled as everyone else and put a stop to the project; but Laura came under hard scrutiny because of it. Cl osi ng the Port Charl otte Beach Compl ex at ni ght. - Right after the El Jobean fiasco came the request by Parks

and Recreation to close the Beach Complex at night thus shutting off the boatramp and lighted fishing pier to night time fishermen. With the help of a lot of people a public hearing was held and it was discovered that only one part time resident had a problem with the ramp. It was generally assumed that Parks and recreation wanted it closed to make things easier for them, not to help the community. Loss of credi bi l i ty- By far the biggest problem was the loss of trust in the director; as an old sales manager once told me “ the only thing you really have to sell is your credibility; when you loose that it’s over for you.” Laura Kleiss Hoeft did great things for Charlotte Co and I’m sure with her talent she will get an even better job; but it’s time for Charlotte County to move on.

Page 16

Water LIFE

By Bi l l Di xon Water LIFE Sailing




It is the height of the sailing season. Go Sail! It doesn’t get better than this.

Remember, the Racing Rules change on Jan 1. Big news for racers: You do not have special privileges. When you meet a non racer (power or sail) Col Regs apply to both of you. Resul ts: The Hol i day regatta Dec 6 & 7 featured fabulous weather. Warm, sunny, light and shifty on Saturday (ask Butch Dorey) and a honking down-wind start on Sunday. Thirty two boats in 7 classes enjoyed great racing and a great cookout afterward. Judy Tessier outdid herself as the chocolate lady. Wi nners were:

S pi nnaker: Bamma Slammer, Bob

Knowles, S-2 7.9. Non S pi nnaker A: Fancy Free, Jerry Poquette, Soverel 39. Non S pi nnaker B: Morgan, Bill Curtis, Morgan 24. Crui si ng A: Diva Gorda, Rudy Gottschlich, Jeanneau 36. Crui si ng B: Bravo, Pete Rehm, Tartan 34. Pocket Crui ser: Euphoria, Ed Brauer Hunter 30. Mul ti hul l : In Flight,

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The Holiday Regatta held in December

Pete Welch, Stiletto 27.

For January, the Gol den C onch, is always a great regatta and is at PPYC at Burnt Store Marina January 10, and 11. The PGSC spring series starts Jan 18. Skippers meeting PGICA bldg Jan 14 @ 6:30 pm. Enter quietly please, there are Yoga practitioners meditating. Jan 31 North Sails is putting on a rules seminar at IYC. There is a link to North U on the PGSC website:

No regatta i n February thi s year, but southwest Florida’s biggest, the C onqui st ador C up will be March 6, 7 & 8 out of Harpoon Harry’s at Fisherman’s Village. Planning is well underway to make the 16th running of this event, the biggest and best one yet. Bill Dixon can be reached at:

Low Tides in the Venice area left sailors high and dry last month. Photo from: Patrick McCarthy

Notice To Sailors

Starting with the Golden Conch Regatta in January, WaterLIFE magazine will post the sailing photos we shoot on the internet at They will be for you to have If you want prints you can email the photo to and pick them up at their store. Happy New Year from Michael & Ellen Heller at Water LIFE MAGAZINE



R Re ea all E Es st ta at te e N Ne ew ws s PROVIDED BY: Dave & Marlene Hofer RE/MAX Harbor Realty (941) 575-3777 Recent area news i tems

1. Allegiant Airlines based in Las Vegas announced plans to start twice weekly nonstops to Knoxville, TN and Greenville, SC. Service will start March 5 for $118 round trip. 2. Charlotte County Airport purchased the hangers built by Air Tech for $1.56 million and will lease them back to the sellers for $156,000/yr.

3. The slowdown in the construction industry has hit Florida hard as the statewide unemployment rate reached 7percent last month for the first time since December, 1993. Charlotte County has fared worse than most with the rate exceeding 10-percent, almost 3 times worse than the rate recorded just 2 years ago. 4. Sarasota passed on the opportunity to build a $65 mil monument to attract the Baltimore Orioles' spring training. The commission even withdrew their prior offer of $33 mil. Vero Beach also withdrew its $13 mil stadium renovation offer. Could it be that Florida cities are finally getting the picture? It's hard to justify spending millions of taxpayer's dollars to bribe major league teams to play 18 games a year in their town. The theory of attracting more dollar spending visitors to our communities from February to April (when we're already full) doesn't seem to wash. 5. Punta Gorda City Council voted to spend $216K to install floating docks at Laishley Marina east of Rt 41.

6. With the trade almost complete between Punta Gorda Public Works and the Laishley development team, concepts are beginning to emerge for the development of the Henry Street property in Punta Gorda. The developer will likely be submitting plans that will include buildings of up to 54' on the property.

7. Southwest College will be leasing 6 classrooms at 950 Tamiami Trail in Port Charlotte in a 6400 sf building. The Ft. Myers based school, will be looking to offer classes to 2,000 total students. In other news:

Hendricks Food Vault opened for business at 615 Cross Street in Punta Gorda (Crossroads Shopping Center). They offer great deli sandwiches in a sit down restaurant and will have packaged carry-

outs in the future.

Water LIFE


Page 17

S al es S tati sti cs: Nationally:

Mark Twain once said "history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme".

Most economists and advisors will proclaim that we are in an unprecedented financial deep freeze caused by the real estate bubble.

This is not the first "bubble" that has threatened our economy. A former President once wrote to a friend "... stock(s) and (bonds) are the sole domestic subjects of conversation..., buildings are stopped, capital withdrawn from commerce, manufacturers, arts and agriculture to be employed in gambling." He could well have been referring to the mortgage backed securities craze and subsequent freeze of commercial mortgage capital that we are experiencing today. Can you guess what president made that remark? .... it was Thomas Jefferson in 1791 after The Bank of the United States failed and was bailed out by the Federal Government!!! This crisis, too will pass.

New home inventory have finally fallen within our acceptable range of 3.7 to 3 months of household formations (note: that is much different than the months of sales that is currently distorted by pathetically weak sales volume. The good news is that we do have pent up demand represented by new households.

Please visit us at to view any available properties from Venice to Burnt Store Marina

The Punta Gorda parking garage is going up quickly with new precast concrete technology.


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Water LIFE




Was there a Kayak Under your Tree?

By Davi d Al l en Water LIFE Kayaking Was There a New Kayak Under your Christmas Tree? What a pleasant surprise! A sleek, colorful kayak was just what you wanted and now you can spend afternoons and weekends paddling through the bays and rivers of Charlotte County, enjoying the warm sun, seeing, closeup, the beautiful birds, dolphins and all the wildlife that inhabits our area. So, what do you do next? Having a new kayak is just the starting point. You are going to need some additional equipment to make your excursions enjoyable and safe. To start with, a paddle is a good idea if you want to get very far. Try to get as light a paddle as you can afford and one that is properly sized for your height and the width of your kayak. And beyond that, we all know about the Coastguard require-

ment calling for the use of a Personal Flotation Device while paddling, and a whistle to attract attention in case of an emergency on the water. One additional item I find essential when kayaking is a “Dry Bag”. This is a rubberized fabric bag with a watertight closure that is ideal for keeping car keys, billfold, and other articles dry and safe during a paddle. These bags usually cost about $15 and can be found at any kayak or dive shop. Let’s take a closer look at the paddler him or herself. The proper clothing for kayaking is something we mostly take for

2008 JOHNSON OUTDOORS Key Paddlesports Dealer – East Coast

granted in this warm climate. But a couple of suggestions may make your time on the water more pleasant. One important factor is how much exposure to the sun you are willing to tolerate. If you would rather not expose your arms and shoulders to the sun, there are a number of long sleeved, polyester shirts on the market that are comfortable to wear when paddling, reasonably cool, dry quickly, and look great. Colombia is one of the better known lines that makes a range of sportswear for on the water activities. A lightweight, broadbrimed hat with adequate ventilation is a must for protection from the sun. A good pair of sunglasses, ideally polarized, can help reduce the glare off the water. Polyester shorts and water-shoes or sandals complete the lineup of kayaking wear. OK, now that you’re decked out suitably for Gentlemen’s Quarterly, where do you go to display your beautiful kayak and your paddling skills? As a member of the Port Charlotte Kayakers for many years, I, and all of the other club members, have learned firsthand where the best kayaking spots are in Southwest Florida and beyond. And, If you don’t live in Charlotte County there are kayaking clubs in most of the larger cities. Sarasota -- the Kayak Explorers; Englewood –The Kayakers of Lemon Bay; Fort Myers–The Southwest Florida Paddling Club;

Naples – The Paradise Paddling ClubKey Largo–Florida Bay Outfitters. All of these clubs know the best paddles in their respective areas, so join and learn. If you have just moved into this area, there are a couple of choices beyond joining a local club. There are a number of books that list good paddling spots, usually with a map and description of the distance, potential hazards, etc. My favorite is “A Guide to Sea Kayaking in Southern Florida” written by Nigel Foster, and published by The Globe Pequot Press. Price: $16. There are several local kayak rental businesses that will arrange guided tours of the area. In Placida Grande Tours offers guided tours that include the bays and sounds and the Wolverton Mangrove Tunnels. Further south, Florida Bay Outfitters has many wonderful tours of Pennekamp Preserve in Key Largo. Now you have absolutely no excuse. You have a shiny new kayak completely equipped, you are decked out to the 9's and you know where to go. So, Just Do It! The Port Charlotte Kay ak ers meet each Wednesday ev ening at Port Charlotte Beach Park at 5:30 PM. All are welcome. For more information, contact me at 941-235-2588 or email to: You can check out our upcoming paddles and ev ents at: pck ay ak Then come join us!

Just an Observation

The photo to the left was taken last night. We have a light in the canal, about 15 feet out from the seawall. From our second floor balcony we can look down on the fish that gather and swim around the light. Itʼs a cool perspective. A couple of weeks ago I got a new lens for my camera, a high speed lens with vibration reduction. Itʼs great for available light like the fish picture to the left. Itʼs about 50 feet from my second floor balcony to the surface of the water above where the light is. Last night I put on my new lens and went upstairs to take some pictures of the fish in the light. And hereʼs the discovery. I donʼt know if the high frequency vibration reduction motor in the lens or the autofocus might have something to do with it, but if I was focused on a snook, when I clicked the shutter the snook would ʻflinchʼ ... not spook, but just flinch ...a little reaction, every time, only from the snook ....from over 50 feet away!




By Betty S taugl er Sea Grant / Water LIFE The following Sea Grant projects are among those funded for 2008-09. They were selected through a peer review process based on the quality of the science, the importance of the work relative to critical coastal and marine issues in Florida, and the potential impacts for the people, the economy and environment.  Scientists from Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and the University of Florida will develop methods to grow the sunray venus clam, a native Florida species that could diversify the state’s clam aquaculture industry.  Marine biotechnology researchers at Florida Atlantic University will isolate biological compounds from cone snails to evaluate the potential for new drugs.  Marine sponge cell lines will be developed by scientists from Harbor Branch for use in producing marine bioproducts such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and chemicals derived from sea life.  Harbor Branch scientists will develop methods to produce an anti-tumor compound they have discovered in marine sponges.  Scientists from the University of Florida and Mote Marine Laboratory will identify how beneficial bacteria protect

Water LIFE

corals from disease, contributing to the information needed to sustainably manage Florida coral reefs and their associated $3 billion-a-year economy.  The effects of trap fishing on transmission of a lethal virus in spiny lobster populations will be examined by University of Florida scientists. Spiny lobsters are one of the most economically valuable fisheries in Florida.  Effects of habitat loss on survival of juvenile snook will be determined by scientists at Mote Marine Laboratory. Snook are a prized sport fish in Florida coastal waters, and understanding how land development affects their habitat is important to both survival of the species and the marine fishing-related economy.  Scientists at Florida International University will predict and map changes in sea grass expected to occur in Florida Bay if there are changes in sea level, salinity and nutrient inputs. That information will help water managers successfully implement the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Research Devel opment Projects  University of Florida scientists are developing methods to raise marine baitfish year-round to support Florida’s growing marine sport fishing industry.  University of West Florida scientists will evaluate new genetic methods to identify links between red tides along the Florida Atlantic coast and specific sources of water pollution.  Florida Atlantic University faculty


Page 19

Here is an aj, shot a few weeks ago with a 2 foot long shark in his guts. The ones our diving guy Adam Wilson examined the next week had grunts, file fish, vermillion snapper and key west catfish in their stomachs! This is angler based science at its finest.

will conduct training workshops for staff of state government agencies on use of new molecular techniques for assessing the health of coral reef communities.  University of Florida scientists are investigating the genome of the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus, the leading cause of death from seafood in the U.S. Little is known about how this organism causes disease, and this new research, when combined with results of ongoing work sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, will lead to improved detection, treatment and seafood safety.  Researchers at the University of Florida also are developing a rapid genetic

test for the pathogenic protozoa Perkinus, recently found in certain shellfish imported from Asia. The test will allow the USDA to implement rapid screening to protect consumers from being infected by contaminated seafood.  UF researchers are also collecting preliminary data for a potential new method to determine how Salmonella colonize oyster beds—information that ultimately will be used to protect the safety of this important marine food resource. Betty Staugler is the Charlotte County Sea Grant Agent with the University of Florida Extension Service. She can be reached 764-4346.

Water LIFE

Page 20

The Commercial Perspective


and require operators of federally permitted Gulf of Mexico commercial and for hire reef fish vessels to comply with the more restrictive of federal or state reef fish regulations when fishing in state waters for red snapper, greater amberjack, gray triggerfish and gag grouper.

By Kel l y Beal , Water LIFE, Peace Ri ver S eafood

Year End Breakdown

Mullet December kicked off an incredible mullet run season. The local fishhouses had excellent landings with many nights exceeding 50,000lb catches. Most of the mullet fisherman will follow the mullet south in January for the final catch. In my conversations with the fisherman most said they haven't seen this many mullet in ten years.

Stonecrab It's been a banner year for stonecrabs. The stonecrab season goes from October 15th till May 15th. It kicked off with huge landings but due to a down economy the demand for the claws has been low. Many stonecrabbers were put on a limit to two or three days a week. But things have started to change in late December as the catch has started to decline and demand has gone up. Isn't that always the case? "When the wind blows out of the northeast you catch the least" - and thats whats happening. We can't blame the octopus because there hasn't been that many. It's the weather on this one.

Not many blue crabs, like this monster from a couple of years back.

Reef Fish The shallow water grouper fisherman out of Pine Island have pretty much stayed in during December due to bad weather. It's just been too rough. The shallow water grouper complex include Red, Gag, Black, Scamp, Yellowfin, Yellowmouth, Rock hind, and Red hind. The Deep Water Grouper Fishery as well as the Tile Fish Fishery opens up on January 1st . The Deep Water Grouper Complex include Snowy, Yellowedge, Speckled hind, Warsaw, and Misty. Also effective on January 1st will be new management measures for gag grouper. The interim rule will establish a 1.32 million pound commercial quota for gag

Shrimp The bay shrimpers have had minimal catches in December. The size as well as the quanity has been way down. There has been a slight increase in size late December and we're hoping the next moon brings an even larger increase in size and catch. The offshore shrimpers are catching a tremendous amount of shrimp but they have little size to them. In about three moons we should start to see those huge U12's again. (that's under 12 shrimp to a pound).

Blue Crab The drought has not been kind to the blue crab fisherman. This has been a terrible year. We need rain desperately. We probably won't see an abundance of crabs for a while. This year we never really got a female run and the large jumbos have been scarce. The price has been steady, but of course the demand is always high for what isn't around. The average crabber is bringing in about 100 to 140 lbs of catch per 250 traps. Let's hope in 2009 the crabs show back up. We are due for a good year.



Thank you for supporting the local fisherman throughout 2008 and have a happy and healthy 2009. Please stop by Peace River Seafood and enjoy a great locally caught meal or just to chat with the local fisherman!! Call 505-8440 The following was gIven to Kelly Beal by the14-year old son of a commercial fisherman

By: Stormy Phanco 11/21/08

It was a beautiful fall day, or what I would call a beautiful day. The wind was screaming a northwester. The waves in Charlotte Harbor were pounding. The white caps were crashing over and over. It was the day, the day the mullet would run. It was now or never. I went to my boat that was tied up at the fish house. My heart was pumping fast and my blood was boiling though my veins. I jumped on my Barnhill and ran it out through the shell cut, out to find the school, the school of mullet. There in front of me I saw them jumping and flipping heading for Boca Grand Pass. I steered my Barnhill to the front of the school. I yelled back to my brother LET HER GO!!! I surrounded the school of mullet with my 500yards of gill net. There must have been 5000 pounds, we started roping them on my boat and a large wave come over the side of my boat and splashed me in the face. At that moment I woke up realizing it had only been a dream. A dream, thatʼs all commercial fishing is any more. Sport fishermen, or Yankees as my grandfather would say, have taken my commercial fishing heritage away and I will never have that experience again.

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Water LIFE



Sometimes Unsubstanciated, But Often True

NO ONE HASA BETTER IDEA The county is dredging nice clean sand from Alligator Creek and having to pay to have it hauled away. Up the harbor, at Port Charlotte Beach Complex, the county is buying clean sand to fill in the beach. The beach needs filling in because it has a steep drop off and the sand falls into the channel after the channel is dredged. The chanel has to be dredged because it leads to the boat ramp. The material dredged from there is too dirty to reuse.

PUBLIX REEF Officer Nick Price observed a vessel travelling under a bridge loaded with four shopping carts. Officer Price was able to locate the vessel on the water, but it was without the carts. His investigation and interviews revealed the carts had been dumped into the water to create an artificial reef.

CHARLOTTE COUNTY Officer Jason Semeyn conducted a fisheries inspection on a commercial skiff in the Intracoastal Waterway. The vessel contained approximately 1,500 pounds of mullet on ice. There was a locked box on the stern of the skiff that contained a wet 1,890 square foot seine net. The net was a combination of four seine nets that were zippered together. The operator was issued a citation for violation of transit. The net and fish were seized and the fish were sold for nearly $600.

HEAVY LOAD Officer Robert OʼHoro was patrolling in the El Jobean area when he observed an angler walking on the sidewalk of the bridge, carrying a white bucket that appeared to be heavy. As Officer OʼHoro approached the angler, the angler put the bucket down near the side of the

Page 21


walkway and then began to walk away. Officer OʼHoro instructed the individual to stop, but the individual continued walking. Officer OʼHoro was able to catch up to the individual and after several minutes of conversation, they returned to the bucket, which contained eight common snook that were all undersize. The individual was transported to Charlotte County Jail where he received a citation for over the bag limit and undersize snook.

Thanks to the residents of PGI and Port Charlotte for lighting their canals for the holiday season. This may have been the best year yet!

AN OFFICIAL LIE Lieutenant Bruce Cooper concluded an investigation into the theft of a trophy 9-point deer head that was stolen from an FWC check station. The hunter had left the trophy deer at the check station, to be caped for mounting, while he continued hunting for the afternoon. When the hunter returned, the check station operator advised the hunter that an animal must have drug the trophy deer head off into the woods. Not

believing the story, the hunter requested an investigation into the incident. During the investigation, Lieutenant Cooper received information that the head was in a local freezer and was going to be taken to South Carolina for mounting. A search of the freezer revealed the stolen deer head. Subsequent interviews revealed the check station operator had stolen the deer.

The Deadly Dozen : Charlotte Harbor FISHING GUIDES Charters

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Bus: 941-475-5538 Res: 941-473-2150

Captain Robert Moore

When you absoloutely positively want to catch fish

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Capt. Bart Marx, USCG Licensed & Insured Light Tackle Fishing Charlotte Harbor & SW Florida

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Water LIFE

Page 22

Fishing Report

Charlotte Harbor:

Robert at Fishin' Franks Port Charlotte: 625-3888

Another weird month. The weather just can’t make up it’s mind and its making fishing tricky. Lets start with tro ut. Trout season opens on the first and there are plenty of them around. Trout are fun for both the shore fishermen and the boat fishermen. If the weather cools off look for them in the deeper sand holes, in the troughs and channels. Alligator Creek is good for trout as is Turtle and Bull

Bay. El Jobean pier and the Placida Trestle are good places to shore fish for them. Trout are a great fish to learn or practice with artificials on. They will hit about anything: DOA shrimp, paddle tail baits or jerk baits will all work on trout. Of course, shrimp live or dead, under a poppin cork will almost always get a trout. Sheeps head are still plentiful around Placida and at the phosphate dock. The warmer weather has kept them south and as it cools off they will move up into the harbor, to the oyster bars in the bays and to the Alligator Creek reef. Fiddler crabs are the best bait, but frozen sand fleas and small shrimp fished around structure or oysters will bring sheepshead.

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Capt. Angel Torres reports fishing was great offshore, when the wind coopperated.

Throughout the winter redfi s h will start getting smaller. This will be the time to practice using circle hooks. The smaller little redfish will tend to swallow the j hooks every time. Out around the fish houses in the bays and along the west wall are good places to sight cast the sand holes with live shrimp or a jerk bait. Cut ladyfish and cut sardines will produce the bigger redfish. Bigger s napper and g ro uper are starting to move into the passes from the near shore reefs. Drift fishing in the passes is the best. A live small pinfish

or whitebait on the hook will work very well. Live shrimp are of course also good. On the Novak and Trembly reefs, places that get fished very heavy, the way to get fish is to downsize to 30- or 40-pound main line with a 30- to 40pound flouro leader 6 feet long. Chumming on those public reefs will be very productive to bring out those shy fish. Some of those wrecks will hold mang s up to 5 pounds and gags and reds to 15 pounds Co nti nued o n faci ng pag e

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Water LIFE


F i s h i n g The The BIG-4 BIG-4 Report continued

. The farther out you go look for natural bottom and you will get into the yel l owtai l , l ane, porgy and tri ggerfi sh. They are all out there right now.

REDFISH: Bigger fish by the Intracoastal, smaller fish around the harbor islands

Fish Fish to to expect expect in in January January

SNAPPER: Reportedly thick offshore in 30 to 60 feet of water

Lemon Bay:

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

Redfi sh have been good, mostly on artificials and shrimp. There have been a lot of fish over the slot in the water a little north of the Tom Adams Bridge or in the bayou south of Boca Grande. Guys are doing really well on nice redfish. There has also been quite a bit of good trout fishing Guys are fishing trout on topwater in the morning or shrimp in the daytime. The water has been real clear and you can see the trout around the potholes. We’ve had plenty of sheepshead action. They started to really bite about a week and a half ago. Maybe when the water got a little cooler that’s why the fish turned on. Guys I know limited out on bigger fish day after day. There is still some Pompano around and a lot of whi ti ng on the beach. There have been some nice cobi a offshore along with snapper and grouper. It’s all happening now. I had a guy bring me 4 grouper fillets and 2 mangrove snapper fillets he caught the other day – if they are giving fish to me they are catching a lot of them. I think there is just a lot of fish around. Offshore, at 100 feet you can hardly get through the big snappers out here

Page 23


2009 KIds Cup April 25. Applications online Jan 1

SHEEPSHEAD: around the TROUT In the deeper cuts intracoastal. moving up the and potholes if itʼs cold, on the grass flats when its warm harbor as it cools off

C a l e n d a r o f E v e n t s

 Jan 8, Boati ng S afety and S eamanshi p, US Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 87, Lemon Bay Park, Englewood, 6:30 PM. Subsequent sessions from 7—9 PM on Monday and Thursday evenings.Registration $40/individual and $65 /couple to cover the cost of materials. 941-697-9435 Also visit the Flotilla website at

Gary Diener and jack from Burnt Store canals.

to get a hook on the bottom. The other day on a charter to the Bayronto wreck the big amberjacks were around. Nice big fish. They’ll wear you out. Lastly, snook have been in the canals, in the Boca bayou under the boat docks, and over on the Myakka River where guys are reporting catching decent fish under the docks. I’ve had some freshwater guys doing some stuff around here too. Crappi e, bl uegi l l and Myan cycl i ds are all hitting on smaller spinner baits and flies right now. Those are just fun fish to play with on a light 4-pound rig. That’s all I know in the way of fishing. Oh yeah, I almost forgot! There were some small tarpon caught up in Coral Creek, last week, not a ton of them, but a few.

 Jan 20: Reef Fi sh Gear Rul es for snowbi rds. If you aren’t up to speed on the changes that took place this past summer this is for you. Laish,ey Marina. 6 p.m. Free!  Jan 21: S emi nar: l ocal boati ng hotspots for cruising, dining, anchoring out, and having fun on the water! Captains A. Andre Spalvins and E. Taylor MacPherson, with a humorous, informative presentation. Call: 941-408-8288.  Jan 22-25: Port Charl otte Boat S how CountyFairgrounds

 Jan 24: Fl atsmasters Qual i fi er tournament, Harpoon Harry’s, 637-5953  Feb 16: CCA Banquet and Aucti on, Charlotte Events Center, 6 p.m., For information / reservations call 505-1344  March 28: Grady Whi te Captai n’s & Fi rst Mate’s S ymposi um and Boat S how, Charlotte Event and Confrence Center 941-347-8086

Fishing RIGHT NOW:


 April 25: Water LIFE Ki ds Cup Tournament, Fishermen’s Village, Punta Gorda 766-8180  April 30: Redfi sh Cup, Net Gains Kids fishing program and seminar, Laishley Park.  May 1-3: Redfi sh Cup, Punta Gorda

Send your event calendar information to:



Water LIFE


Page 24

Water LIFE Jan 2009  

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

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