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W a t e r LIFE


Charlotte Harbor and Lemon Bay

Keeping Boaters and Fishermen Informed Since 1997

Producers of the

June 2008 KIDS CUP

This ISN?T the BIG ONE

St Pete Shark Tourney

Offshore Some Were BIG


IFA: Getting into the Swim of Things

Page 6

Parks & Rec to Propose

Boat Ramp Curfew

Public Meeting on June 17 Page 11

Flatsmasters: These Guys were All Happy Page 13

w w w. C H A R L O T T E H A R B O R M A G A Z I N E . C O M



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Them and Us


Dear Water LIFE I read the recent Scuttlebutt article in the May, 2008 issue of Water LIFE Magazine pitting environmental groups against fishermen touting an "us" and "them" theme. Call me naive, but I never have understood how polarizing and dividing people up into opposing forces helps to come up with solutions to major challenges. As an outdoor enthusiast, boater, skier, hiker and biker, I am enjoying the very same waters, the same fish and wildlife that you are. Anything either of us does to prevent red tide and keep the waters clean, benefits the commercial and recreational fishing industry and our overall economic vitality. We cannot afford dead zones, and we cannot afford the energy and time it takes to fight against each other when we need to think and act as a community, with a common goal being to maintain healthy rivers and tributaries that protect the harbor. My husband and I come from a small town in Minnesota near the Canadian border and live on a small wild rice lake. Fishermen there boast that we have the biggest walleye in the area and tell impressive fish stories about the "ones that got away." You and I share some common ground. It's a shame to waste it.

Respectfully, Randee LaS alle Sierra Club Member Sea Turtle Patrol through Coastal Wildlife Club Shorebird Monitor for Charlotte County



One of Us


I propped the old frame up against a stainless steel cleat on the seawall. The photo itself, what used to be a color print, in a dime store 5x7 wooden frame, was faded into a dark pinkish monotone. Earlier I had tried to get it out of the frame, only to find it was yet one more survivor from Hurricane Charley, one of the framed prints that hung on the wall at Fishin Franks Bait and Tackle shop in Port Charlotte when the windows blew in and the storm, all 178 miles per hour of it, passed right down the isle. “It’s awful dirty,” my wife had said when she first saw the picture, not knowing invasive moisture in the hurricane air had sealed the photo to the glass with invisible glue. There was no taking this apart, I knew because I had tried with other framed pictures before. So I put it all back together and took it outside, into the morning sun, to rephotograph it. It was a picture of Norman Day, ‘Mr. Snook’ they called him down at Fishin’ Franks. Norm stood behind two big snook hung on a line in the picture. The picture was taken somewhere in Punta Gorda, maybe 25 years ago. That was before snook were restricted in size, back when an angler could keep any fish he caught. The two snook in the picture were pretty big. Norm, of course, made them look bigger. Norm passed away on Memorial Day weekend. As I positioned the frame in the morning sun, Norm was sitting on the seawalll one last time. I propped the frame up against the stainless cleat, using a white seashell that was lying on the ground to keep the bottom of the frame from from sliding. I thought to myself: Norm would have like’d this. He was that kind of guy. – MH


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Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor Magazine

Michael and Ellen Heller Publishers

(941) 766-8180

TOTALLY INDEPENDENT Water LIFE is not affiliated with any other publication Vol VII No.6 © 2008 Water LIFE

No part of this publication may be copied or reproduced without the written permission of both publishers

WRITE US! e-mail (preferred) Regular MAIL: 217 Bangsberg Rd. Port Charlotte, FL 33952

Contributing Editors:

Fishing / Environment: Capt. Ron Blago Charlotte Harbor: Capt. Robert Moore Gasparilla: Capt. Chuck Eichner Port Charlotte: Capt Andy Medina Offshore: Capt. Steve Skevington Real Estate: Dave Hofer Sailing Advisor: Bill Dixon Kayaks: David Allen Sea Grant: Betty Staugler Diving: Adam Wilson

on the COVER:

Capt. Steve Skevingtonʼs mate gives the camera a thumbs up as a goliath grouper is brought alongside, on a charter trip last month.

on our WEBSITE:

This Monthʼs Edition: Send a link to a friend Realtors: Links to advertisers

Tide Graphs: For local waters

Weather: Links to favorite weather sites.

Artificial Reefs: Lat. and Long local reefs

Manatee Myths: Read the original plan to create sanctuaries and refuges, as spelled out by the United Nations in 1984 Kids Cup Updates, Fish Tracking and Tournament Information.



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Good, More Good and Very Good Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Editor Saturday, May 24, Memorial Day Weekend and for a change the tides were coopperating. First thing in the morning the tide was low, low enough for me to jump into the canal and hammer a new middle stringer under my long dock. With that screwed in place and then breakfast done, I swung the boat out over the canal and lowered her into the water. Then my sister-inlaw called and my wife spent an hour or two on the phone. Actually, her timing couldn’t have been better; by 11, when we finally left the dock, the tide was coming in good. It was one of those high tide and higher days. We wanted a high tide. We headed down the harbor. My mission was to check on the mangroves propugules that Betty Staugler and her crew of Sea Grant Mangrove Marrauders had dispersed last fall. We ran down the outside of the west side bar, my wife and I, towards Cape Haze. Our first Discovery: Marker ‘A’ was back. A measuring station that had been blown away by Charley. It’s south of halfway point, outside the bar, about 250 yards from shore. (photo on page 23) It didn’t take long from there to find the area where the mangrove planting took place. Yellow and orange streamers of tape and vertical grey PVC pipes mark the shoreline. By now the tide was way high and we

cruised across the bar and tied up on one of the dead trees. A fat redfish scurried along the shore as we walked in the water. There’s not a lot more to say, except good, more good and very good. We checked several spots that day and my report is the area is alive and coming back. The mangrove propugules Betty’s team planted appear to be growing, but it was hard to differentiate between them and all the naturally occuring new red mangrove growth. While the shoreline still looks desolate from a distance, back from the shore there are mangroves growing everywhere. And wild things abound. The best news is we saw numerous tiny fish – chubs I think, swimming way back in from the shore. There were a gazillion little crabs, (probably why the redfish was there) and even an anole, a green lizzard that is actually native to Florida. We heard an osprey beat the heavy air with its enormous wings and then dive on something off the shore. Spot after spot that we looked at, it was all the same. Life coming back to what had been one of the most devastated parts of the west side harbor shoreline. When we were ready to leave I just pushed the boat off the shore and drifted out past the bar. It took about 30 minutes, all the time me throwing my trusty gold spoon. At one point, a small cobia followed it back, almost right to the boat.



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By Capt. S teve S kevi ngton Water LIFE Offshore Let’s start off talking about the great shark bite that's been going on all month. These fish are hitting all day, right on the beach. Cut Spanish mackerel and bonita seem to be working best. We just anchor up and start chumming and these fish show up in no time at all. I like running 5/0 circle hooks with the sharks, on about three feet of 106 lb wire. Tarpon fishing just off the beach is red hot right now too, with some fish, as everyone knows, going 150-200lbs. We are fishing these "beach tarpon" with cut bait. Again, we are just setting up on anchor and running cut baits back behind the boat then waiting for one to come along. The permit are still on the chew, but for some reason they are a little harder to find this month than last. Once you find them you get to pull on a few, then you have to go hunting again. We are fishing them with both




live crabs and small yellow jigs. Kingfish are still around with limits of them being caught out around 50 feet of water. Live bait has been best on those fish – the biggest live thread-fin's you can get. Snapper are a night time fish right now, that is if you can pull yourself away from those full moon tarpon bites long enough. You should get your limit of mangrove snapper pretty quick. There's alot more great fishing going on right now too. Offshore, the blackfin tuna are still blasting live baits fished on top, and ceder plugs dragged about 150 feet behind the boat at around 7 knots. The deeper wrecks are still holding some respectable amberjack and ‘cudas. What more could you ask for? Capt Stev e can be reached for charter at (941) 575-3528 or at

It looks like Capt. Steve had some good fish last month: Clockwise from the top left:amberjack, an 11 foot hammerhead, a number of lingering kingfish and some rod-bending goliath grouper.

Clean Slate - A ‘log slate’ on which the courses steered by

a ship and the distances run as indicated on a log were entered during a watch. At the end of the watch, the information was entered on the deck-log and the slate was wiped clean for the officer keeping the next watch.


Doug & Judy Kaff

Price Reduced!

Two Lots on Corner of Fleming & David

60ʼ ON THE WATER with seawall and new dock. Lots cleared with water and sewer available

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Gulf Cove Lot CHILCOTE TERRACE Cleared, filled, with seawall and dock. 3rd from Myakka in area of upscale homes. 98'X125' $399,000

Great New Bayside Complex. Gated with private

elevators and coded entry . Turn-Key furnished 2bed 2bath. nice views – unit has private garages, community J u d y K a f f dock, workout room, pool with spa. $799,000

$399,900 $359,000 PELICAN LANDING - Direct Gulf front unit with great pool, great beach and community docking for smaller boat. Great Intercoastal fishing location. Turn key furnished. $749,000


DUPLEX, On Manasota Key, short walk to beaches Convenient parking in front, each unit with its own lanai Live in one side and rent the other ! Unit 1: 2 bedrooms, one bath Unit 2: 1 bedroom, one bath

New Const. Direct Gulf Front New Condos: 3 bedroom 2 1/2 bath. Two Pools, elevators, under building parking ON THE BEACH! a. $999,000 "The Palms " full gulf views SOLD! $769,000 "Barefoot Beach" Bldg 1 Turn-Key furnished, generated b.SOLD! over $31,000 in rental income last year...full gulf views c. $499,000 "Barefoot Beach" ...Bldg 2 entire floor no common walls d. $1,199,000 "Boulder Pointe" direct gulf front, 2 pools and tennis court

(941) 830-0502

(941) 474-9534



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Fishing, Like Real Estate is all About Location

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S t aff R eport What do you do if you’re a guide, the wind is blowing 30 knots and you don’t have a trip scheduled? You go fishing. Especially if you’re Capt. Angel Torrez and your friend Robert, from down at Fishin Frank’s wants to go. “It was nasty,” Robert Lugiewitz said, accounting for the the day he and Angel and Robert’s cousin Elyse Soelinger from Indiana all went fishing. “We took several waves over the bow,” Robert added later. Their plan was to fish the bottom and the outside of the 20 foot hole, the one straight across from Pirate Harbor. “We had to put out 150 feet of anchor line before we could get it to stick,” Robert said. The water is about 12 feet deep there. It’s in the middle of the Harbor. Angel likes the outside edge of that 20 foot hole when it comes to sharks. Fishing, like real estate is all about location. Originally the trio started out looking for tarpon. “It was way too windy for tarpon. It was actually boarderline for sharks.” Robert said. It’s always the little ones that come first ... and then the bigger ones start moving in. They started chumming. That’s the way it was that day too. “We caught maybe 15 Atlantic sharpnose sharks, the little ones,” Robert said, explaining that their distinctive mark is the sharpnose and maybe some white blotches on them. Robert knows about this kind of stuff – he works at the bait shop and he loves shark fishing.

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Above: Look close and you can see the two leaders FarLeft: Elyse and a Spinner Below: Atlantic sharpnose

“There isn’t a day that I get up that I don’t love going to work,” Robert said. Then he launched off into what a great guy his boss Frank is. “Can you say something nice about Frank?” Robert asked. OK; Nice Frank. Now lets get on with the shark fishing. The Atlantic sharpnose swim in little wolf packs, so it’s not unusual to catch several. The third shark of the day was Elyses. The drag was running out, we set the hook and as soon as we set the hook it launched itself into the air. It wasn’t a sharpnose, Elyse had a spinner shark on her line. Spinners are two or three times the girth of the sharp nose shark. They are little bulldogs, Robert explained. The spinner is a midget-version of a mako shark: acrobatic and a really hard pulling little animal. Elyse fought it for 10 minutes. “The tackle was a little big, but it was still fun,” Robert said. Angel unhooked the shark and offered it to Elyse. “She was petrified,” Robert said. “Hold it here and here” Angel said, showing where, and where ... and having here hold it over the gunnel. “If it wiggles, just drop it,” Angel said. He stepped back, it wiggled, and she threw it right onto the deck! “We all had to jump back and make sure our feet were clear,” Robert said laughing as he recalled that afternoon.

Elyse finally grabbed a hold and they got some pictures. Then the little sharks stopped chewing. They got their first big run and got broke off almost immediately. “We were using bonita for bait, we had some mullet, but the bonita seemed to be better for the little sharks. They put out another bait, a bigger piece yet, on the small pole, the one with the 100 pound single strand piano wire with 18 inches of leader on it. Within 15 minutes they had their next run. The fish took it and ran with it. “It dumped 100 yards of line and broke us off, “ Angel recalled. That fish stayed deep. Bigger sharks stay deep. But usually a lemon will swim upward towards the surface, so will a hammer. The next hit came to the surface. They were fishing 50 pound main line with 5 feet of 200 pound cable. Another miss. Another bait. Elyse hooked an 8.5 foot lemon shark straight away. She was having a blast. “She caught her first tarpon last Friday, with Capt Rob Moore and now here, her first shark,” Angel said. “Then I hooked a 9.5 or 10 foot lemon myself,” Robert said, and when they got that shark to the boat he had another leader in his mouth, a small piano wire. They guessed it was the same shark that broke them off earlier. The wind didn’t matter, the waves didn’t matter “To be a part of the day and to watch someone catch their first big fish, “It’s really cool,” Robert said.


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Tarpon Man Tells

By Capt Robert Moore Water LIFE Staff Tarpon fishing in Southwest Florida is now in full swing. The month of May proved to be a great start to the season and hopefully will be an indication of things to come. Whether you’re fishing the passes, inside the bays or searching the beaches, June should provide you with some great action. My preferred area for hunting down the silver king has been in the backwaters of Charlotte Harbor. There is not always the numbers of fish that Boca Grande Pass can offer, but the variety of other fish you can find mixed in with the tarpon make up for it. Not only can I find tarpon up to the 150-pound range, I can also battle with a variety of sharks that are scattered all over the harbor. Some days the sharks ranging from 2-to 5-feet are so thick that we completely change our focus to sharks rather than tarpon. Throw in an occasional cobia, tripletail and mackerel and you have all the action one could ask for. The one consistent fact about my fishing is my methods. In catching anyone of the fore mentioned species the first thing is to obtain my number one bait of

choice – the threadfin herring. The summer months offer large and numerous schools of threadfins throughout Charlotte Harbor. Throwing my 10-foot cast net is my fastest way of obtaining a full live well, but using sabiki rigs on a rod can also help you obtain them. Since threadfin herring is so prevalent it’s the obvious food source for most species you will encounter in Charlotte Harbor. It’s the bait of choice right now. Next I will make way through the harbor looking for life. My definition of life can mean many things. First would be actual fish exploding or free jumping. Next are birds such as pelicans, terns or frigates diving in the water. In order for these birds to eat, the baitfish must be on or near the top of the water column and the number one reason baitfish are near the surface is because Mr. Predator is below them. I will then get up tide/wind of the life and drift. If your boat is equipped with a trolling motor like mine then you can use it to go in an out of the area you are targeting. I will then deploy two lines off my boat. One will be free lined and the other

will be 2 feet under a small cork. Free lined means no weight or floatation, just a hook and a threadfin swimming naturally. I will drift the baits behind, usually staggering the length. If one method of deploying seems to get more strikes than the other then I will switch over and have both lines deployed the same. I use 3-feet of Capt. Rob proves his technique for catching tarpon works! 60-pound mono leader connected to a 6/0 Daiichi Big Moe result in the bite stopping or disappearing all together. live bait hook. If the shark or mackerel Capt Robert Moore can be reached for action begins to pick up I will then add a fishing information or to schedule a charter small 6 inch wire leader to prevent break trip at 941-624-5710 offs. Try to avoid using your engine in and around the fish for it will most times

30' Catalina 1989, single 25HP Universal Diesel. Comfortable cockpit, sleeps 6, full galley. Full bimini with dodger Rigged for single handling. $34,500

21' Aquasport 215 Explorer Walk Around Cuddy has been lift stored, owner has kept it in top condition. 200HP Johnson O.B.Boat is an excellent value. $17,900

28' Carver Voyager fresh water cooled twin 5.7L Mercruisers. Very roomy with 11'1" beam. Large flybridge, marine head w/shower, airconditioning, full galley. $18,500

23' Donzi 235 Sport 1998, with a 2006 220HP Mercruiser 4.3. Interior like new and trailer is included. $16,900

30' SeaRay 300 Weekender, 1989. Always been lift stored out of the water. 260HP Mercruiser Inboards. $24,900

23' Four Winns 230 Horizon, 2001. Fast 230 27' Sportcraft hard top, 1991. 270hp HP Volvo Penta I/O, Bimini top, swim platMercruiser. Great fishing / cruising. Lift kept, form with boarding ladder. This boat is in enclosed head, sleeps 2. Make offer. $19,900 imaculate condition. REDUCED $22,900

31' Wellcraft Scarab, 1991 with 2006 twin 496 Magnum Mercriuser. This Scarab is very well kept. New outdrives in 1997, fresh water flush system. $39,900

31' 1985 Silverton Convertable. Twin 270HP Pleasure Craft Marine engines overhauled in 2006, 308 hours. Great for offshore fishing or family cruising. $24,900

33' Grady White 330 Express, 2004. Twin 250HP Yamahas. Designed as a Media Spotlight boat with almost every option available Call for full specs. $199,900

21' Hurricane, 2007 Sundeck w/fish pkge. 2007 Yamaha four stroke 150, less than 35 hours. Loaded for a fishing day or just cruising with family. REDUCED! $32,900

20' Sea Hunt 202 Triton, 2004 Yamaha 4stroke 150 with 150Hrs! Center console has an entry for the porta pottie. Stored inside in excellent shape. $18,900

34' Catalina MK II,2001.Single 35HP Universal diesel. sleeps seven in airconditioned comfort. "Sea Breeze" has four sails including spinnaker. Full electronics.REDUCED $94,900

23' Sea Swirl 2300 Stripper, 2000. Single 200HP Evinrude. Nice walkaround cuddy, good for coastal fishing, cruising and diving. REDUCED! $23,900

30' Young & Grant Sportfishing, 1983. Single 350hp Caterpillar 3116 turbo new in 2000. This vessel is charter rigged and a proven tournament winner. REDUCED! $34,900

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P a g e 11

Parks and Rec Could Propose Boat Ramp Curfew

What would happen to local tournaments if anglers could not launch until after sunrise?

By Capt. Ron Bl ago Water LIFE Senior Staff It always amazes me how good ideas sometimes turn into nightmares when they are put in effect. Take for instance local boat ramps. What started out as a few complaints about a few people leaving their vehicles at the Placida boat ramp so they could avoid paying the toll to go over the Boca Grande bridge, resulted in a mile of signs and everyone having to pay 75 cents an hour to park at most of the county’s boat ramps. By the time most people found out what was going on; it was already a done deal. The moral of that story is: if you want to be part of the decision making process, you have to be involved early. The reason I bring this up is that I will be attending a joint meeting of the Charlotte County Marine Advisory Committee, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and the Beach and Shores Advisory Committee on June 17th at 9:30AM at the Port Charl otte Beach Compl ex. A joint meeting of three advisory boards is extremely rare and it is assumed that something is wrong and a policy change is being proposed to solve the problem. The meeting is being hosted by the Director of the Parks and Recreation Department and although (at the time I’m writing this article) no agenda is yet available; I’ll tell you what I know will be discussed. There allegedly have been complaints from local residents about loud noise at night from public boat ramps and fishing piers. The Port Charlotte Beach Complex seems to be the focus of these complaints. I’m sure one option to be discussed is to close these areas at night. This is one of those conflicting rights problems that always pop up in government. On one hand, residents have a right to peace and harmony in their own neighborhood. On the other hand, the public has the right to use public facilities they paid for without burdensome restrictions. How would you feel if you were forced to leave the fishing pier at 9 p.m. just as the snook were starting to bite, or if you wanted to get in the water early, but found a chain blocking the boat ramp and a sign that says open at 8 a.m. Not a

pleasant thought for most fishermen. Charlotte County has a historical and cultural heritage when it comes to using our waters and any restrictions blocking access to the water will not go un-noticed (unlike the boat ramp parking fees). Another topic sure to come up is the fishing pier problem. Recently a plan to demolish the southern portion of the El Jobean fishing pier was voted down by the Board of County Commissioners, but that decision only postponed reaching a solution to a continuing problem we have with our older piers.

This meeting on June 17th at 9:30 am, the Beach Complex is a public meeting, which means everyone is invited to attend and be heard. If you find a chain across the public boat ramp or a No Trespassing sign at you favorite fishing pier, remember you had your chance to participate.

The El Jobean, Coral Creek and the Placida fishing piers are all over 50 years of age and are showing signs of wear and tear. Built originally as railroad trestles used to help transport phosphate to the deepwater port of Boca Grande they were converted to local fishing piers and have become historical fishing landmarks. Unfortunately they have a long history of catching fire, mostly from carelessness. Creosote soaked timbers burn pretty well when ignited from a careless smoker or an unattended open flame. We can try to minimize the fire danger but the longterm future of the piers has to be planned. From a logical point of view the problem has three possible solutions: Remove, Repair or Replace. Remove means closing them off to the public now and ripping them out when the money becomes available. This was the county’s first solution to the El Jobean problem. Repair means improving the piers structurally so we get a some more good years

out of them; Replace means building a new pier out of materials that will require little maintenance and last 100 years. Which way will the county go? That depends on who shows up at the meeting. I’m hoping that we get to This sunken boat in Chadwick Cove at Englewood has discuss other situations going been posted but plans for removal are not readily at hand. on that will have an impact on boaters, like the removal of that. Kyakers do not have to register their the Geo Tubes in Stump Pass. The DEP vessels, so there is no money to provide ordered that they were to be removed by services for them. Our boat ramps were the end of April, but as fate would have built for power boaters with trailers; it, a last minute inspection found nesting should kayaks have their own boat shore birds and by the time they are gone, ramps? we would be well into turtle nesting seaOne last item I hope is discussed is son; so their the GEO tube removal has how do you get a sunken boat out of been postponed until October. Someone local waters? I thought this problem was has to tell us what the advantage to simple when I asked the question four removing those tubes is. What will hapyears ago. It appears that the simple quespen to Stump Pass when they are gone? tions are the hardest to answer. We all Another topic I hope comes up is the know that the owner is responsible for future of kayaks in Charlotte County. As his vessel so if the boat is registered it both the costs of boats and fuel have dras- should be a simple matter to notify the tically risen recently, I’ve noticed that owner to get his boat out of there or the more and more people are turning to county will remove it. We have had an kayaks to get on the water. The Marine embarrassing situation in Chadwick Cove Manufacturers Association has reported in Englewood where a sunken boat has kayaks are the fasting growing segment been sitting in the middle of a navigable of the boating industry. Where will the channel for over 90 days, and so far the money come from to accommodate this only action taken has been a sticker growing segment of boaters? placed on the boat telling the owner to Powerboats pay boat registration fees, remove the boat by April 25th or else. which if you didn’t know, are going up The boat is still there. We have to do a 50% next year and every 4 years after better job than that.

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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 . The Conservation Charlotte Oversight Committee contracted to spend all but $2 million of the $77 million bond referendum that voters approved in November, 2006. The bonds were financed with a 20 mil tax that will continue until 2025. The largest purchase ($27.3 Million) was the Ryals Orchard just east of Washington Loop Road. The 1,655 acre tract is bisected by the meandering Prairie Creek.

The Beckstead family, owners of Palm Island Resort and 30 undeveloped lots on Thornton Key will get to "bake their cake and eat it, too". Their $1.25 million investment in 2003 will bring them $5.75 million ($192K per lot) when the County closes on this deal. Now, thanks to County taxpayers, they will continue to enjoy the pristine mangrove view in perpetuity... and a fabulous return on their investment!

The County will also acquire 110 acres of scrub jay habitat in Deep Creek for $1.03 million. Benderson Development, in the process of creating a huge new development straddling I-75

Water LIFE

and Harborside Drive, has made a proposal to sell 505 acres with the remaining cash and the balance financed by the developer.

2. Charlotte County will be seeking to extend its 1% sales tax so that infrastructure projects can be completed. Punta Gorda spent $17 million from these tax proceeds since 1994 and have completed 10 projects, most notably $2.1 million for Laishley Park, $1.8 Million for the government center parking lot and Freeman House, $3.8 million for Fire and Police stations and equipment and $1 million towards the County Courthouse restoration. Another 10 projects have been started in expectation of a positive endorsement from voters on August 26.

3. On May 8, Charlotte County CRA Members stumbled ahead with plans to immediately expend up to $11.4 million for a new parking garage/retail center. Despite Smith-Mooney & Weikel's recognition that justification for this expenditure is light years away, 4 other members voted to proceed.

4 . County Commissioner Adam Cummings, ever the "build it now, they will come" cheerleader, has proclaimed that the new jail addition "...has to be built" before costs "go through the roof". Peeking at Sheriff Davenport's crystal ball, he found that despite currently operating at less than capacity, a 15% drop in crime last year, and a three year slide in our county's total population, the jail will be overcrowded by 2012. In a powerful bid to make our prisoners among the most comfortable in the state, taxpayer's will shell out nearly $150K per bed in the first phase of a gigantic $38.3 million commitment.

5 . A pleasant respite from the typical "escalating costs" fearmongering that too often encourages expenditures before their time, the Port Charlotte MSBUs completed 44 miles of roadway improve-


ments with the same amount of funds that completed only 20 miles the year before!

6. Charlotte County will get $250K less from State funds this year and expect another $4 million in State mandated expenditure reductions. 7. Charlotte County Commissioners endorsed the developer's proposal to pay for its share of highway improvements to help accelerate the Loop Development of more than 1 million square feet of retail, hotel, office parks, and 500 residential units to the Jones Loop area. The developer, Wilder Co., offered $6.3 million to improve US 41, the Commission cited expected costs of $12.4 million. Wilder's promise to build faster than previously promised sealed the deal.



In other news: Construction on The Sunloft Center, Convention Center and Weyvern Inn have all topped out and the Harbor Inn Four Points Hotel has broken ground in downtown Punta Gorda. The former "Juicy Lucy's" restaurant has reopened as the Sunset Grill. The Turtle Club and Zen's have both closed for the summer... and beyond? S al es S tati sti cs:

Sales volume picked up slightly last month. Transactions for both lots and houses have been concentrated in the lower price ranges.



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In The Swim at the IFA


S t aff R eport The Englewood leg of the IFA/Ranger Boats Redfish Tour saw Tom Taminni and Derek Powell (shown above) weigh in with 14.48 pounds and walk away with a certificate for a new Ranger boat and a $500 check for the biggest fish of the tournament a 7.78 pound red. The team said they used Gulp baits all day and were dead sticking and moving them to get the fish to bite. Second place was Brady Nelson and Josh Ramsey with a 14.30 that was worth $5300. That was all the 14-pound total weights though, followed by one 13.77 pound total by Bob Looper and

Rick Walters good enough for the $3200 third place check. Then there were a slew of 12’s or less to fill out the field. Yet another windy day made it tough for the anglers. Of interest in the photos above is the angler in the water dumped by his partner as they approached and then backed up from the dock, and the blue stepladder one angler used to get the higher vantage point while not limiting access to the overhanging creeks, as would be the case with a fixed tower. Just over half of the 107 boat field returned to the scale with fish to weigh in, 52 teams had double weights.

S t aff R eport Last month there was a benefit redfish tournament for Tanner South’s trust fund. The fund was established to help his family pay for expenses related to his traumatic dirt bike injuries. The tournament was a great success. Tanner received over $5000. Capt. Jerry Cleffi from Classic Tournament volunteered to be the weighmaster and weighed 21 redfish. The results are as follows: 1st place: $2000, Josh Reiger and Zac Irons for two fish weighing 7.15 and 6.45 pounds. 2nd place: $1000, Mike Barnes, Robert Crafts, Dalston Crafts, and Jeffrey Parker with fish weighing 6.61 and 6.21-pounds. 3rd place: $750, Ty Truett, Bob Legg and Brad Opshal with fish weighing 6.24 and 6.36-pounds.

4th place: $500, Lynn Bevis, Bobbi Daughtry, Lorie and Mark Dahlkemper with fish weighing 5.44 and 5.83-pounds 5th: place $300, Wesley Wells, Hunter Wells, Matt Smith and Scott Vonetz with fish weighing 6.17 and 4.57-pounds 6th: place $200, Justin Beverly and Dan Lichtenstein with fish weighing 5.76 and 4.92-pounds All participants donated their winnings back to Tanner South. The family said they would really like to THANK all that were a part of this tournament.

Page 13


Staff Report This was the 18th consecutive year for the live bait Redfish Classic on Charlotte Harbor and it was another Flatsmaster’s challenge, this time a boating challenge. Saturday’s fishing for the 90 boat field was good but by Sunday when the Top-5 headed out it was a slack water flood tide with strong winds. “We took one over the bow, “The cameraman had his glasses knocked off, we were ankle deep in the boat!” Those were the kind of comments we heard at the weigh in, yet anglers waded where and when they could and a respectable number of fish were weighed in. In the end it was the team that qualified fifth in the Top-5 that walked away with the top prize on Sunday. Team Ego nets,(above) Derek Carlson, Jason Dudley and Brad Brown’s 13.12pound total was all it took to put them on top of the current Flatsmasters standings.The next Flatsmasters Series event is the Red Plug Challenge on July 12 at Punta Gorda.



S t aff R eport Continuing to make a foothold on the Port Charlotte side of the river the may XTreme Redfish Tournament drew 30 boats and weighed in 35 redfish. “It was a tough day on the water, the tides were wrong and the wind was uncooperative. Still there were winners: 1st pl ace: Paul Lambert and Brandon Varney 14.41 lbs $1250.00

and also big fish 7.31 $ 280.00 2nd pl ace: Chris Stephens and Tony Roan 13.21 lbs. $ 570.00 3rd pl ace: Roy Lietz and Clint Webster 12.91 lbs. $250.00 4th pl ace: Tom Fisher and Buzzy Hayes 12.55 lbs. $170.00 The next XTreme Redfish Tournament is scheduled for June 21 at Banana Bay Motel in Port Charlotte.

Tanner South Benefit Tournament

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Kids Cup Redfish Tracking Continues ... Tournament Fish Appear at Hobbs Point!

By Betty S taugl er Sea Grant / Water LIFE It’s been a pretty active month for the Kids Cup Redfish Tracking Project. Our acoustically tagged redfish have been observed by almost all of our fixed listening stations and a good number have been picked up on our mobile tracking unit as well. Some of these guys have been world class travelers and others have been more of the home-body types. Below is a summary of the movements we have observed to date. Fi sh #14, originally caught in Matlacha Pass hung out at Fishermen’s Village until 4/28. It then explored the PGI canals showing up on our units at Bass Inlet and Colony Point. On 4/29, we picked it up at Ponce Inlet, and on the 30th it was recorded at the mouth of Alligator Creek. Our last observation of this fish was at Hobbs Point on May 16th. Taking a similar path is fi sh #8. This fish left Fishermen’s Village on 4/21, heading over to Colony Point. It was observed a day later at Ponce and then on the 24th at the mouth of Alligator Creek. My husband and I picked it up with the mobile tracking gear on May 9th along the PGI shoreline north of the Alligator Creek channel. This fish was


The second place Kids Cup team of Jr Angler Brandon Varney (standing on the bow) and Paul Lambert got to fish in the Englewood IFA tournament when Kids Cup winner Booker Cothern had his boat breakdown on the day of the captains meeting. The IFA had given the Kids Cup winner a free $400 entry in their tournament. Varney said they had one fish when they came back to the dock, but the team did not come to the scale to weigh in. As an interesting ʻasideʼ to the Kids Cup, the FWC has changed the wording on their culling waiver. The phrase ʻeach team may posess no more than two redfishʼ has been deleted from the waiver. The number of fish posessed is (and always has been) determined by the applicable state law: No one angler can catch and keep more than one redfish per day.

also observed at Hobbs Point, showing up on the 14th and recorded there again on the 19th of May. Also recorded by the Hobbs Point unit was fi sh # 24 (originally




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caught in Pine Island Sound) on 5/19, and fi sh #s 28 and 15 (both originally caught near Turtle Bay) and both observed at Hobbs Point on 5/3. All three of these fish took similar paths in getting to Hobbs as Fish #s14 and 8. A number of our fish, including fi sh # 7 (originally caught in Pine Island Sound), fi sh # 25 (originally caught near Turtle Bay) and fi sh #51 (originally caught near the Boca Grande Bridge) have spent a considerable amount of time in the PGI canal system. These guys have been going round and round being picked up at Fishermen’s Village, Bass Inlet, Colony Point, Ponce Inlet, on the PGI Rim Canal and (fish #51) at Alligator Creek. Some of our other interesting observations include fi sh #22 (originally caught in Matlacha Pass), which was last picked up on the south fork of Alligator Creek on May 9th, and Fi sh #5 which was not heard from after he left Fishermen’s Village on April 21st, until we picked him up on our mobile unit near the center span of the 41 Bridge on May 8th. This fish was originally caught at the northern end of Matlacha Pass. Two of our home body fish are Fi sh# 11 and Fi sh #27. Fish #27 (originally captured near Bull Bay) has made it over to Colony Point, but keeps coming back

Exact fish tracks are unknown, but the direction and end points so far are close. Burnt Store is the next area to watch.



to Fishermen’s Village. His last recording continued on facing page there was 5/18. Fish #11 (Originally captured on the West Wall) has only been observed at Fishermen’s Village and only sporadically have we heard it. Our last recording of this fish was on 5/8 when Roger and I were mobile tracking in the area. It came close enough to the boat to be picked up one time, but must have been moving fast because we couldn’t find himRoger is out downloading information from the equipment today and I will be out doing the same tomorrow. We are a little slower with the website update this year, but we should be posting the information soon. Angl ers, by now you should have received your letters indicating your Fish #. If you have not received yours, give me a call. Captains, if you want to follow the fish your angler captured, you will need to contact your Kids Cup angler to receive their fish number. Captai ns and Angl ers, if you provided your email address on the tournament application, we will send you an update when the tracking maps are up on the web. Anglers, we will also let you know if your fish is recaptured and called in to the Redfish Hotline (no calls on this year’s fish yet). Also anglers, this year your name will be added to Mote Marine Laboratory’s Junior Fin Clip Raffle program, for a chance to win cool

Water LIFE


prizes. Mote collected fins clips of all of the fish weighed in to determine if any are hatchery reared fish. Last year all of our redfish were from wild stock. The data we have received so far this year is pretty exciting. The question now is, are the fish moving faster this year, or did we improve the study design to the point that we are garnering more observations. Maybe a little of both, or maybe neither. At this point, only the fish really know. Stay tuned for year two of the Kids Cup Redfish Tracking Project. You can Fol l ow Your Fi sh at

http:/ / charl otte. i fas. ufl . edu/ ki dscu p/ i ndex. html

Betty Staugler is the Sea Grant Agent

Sonic transmitters about the size of a AA battery were surgically implanted in 20 Kids Cup Tournament fish.


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Water LIFE

Slow Down and Smell the Fish

Page 16

By Capt Ri ck Kel l y Special to Water LIFE We left the dock about 1 PM with a 10 to 15 knot wind. A reasonably calm day compared to what it’s been recently. When we reached our first stop I lowered the Power Pole so that the wind was at our back and we cast towards the mangroves. It’s been so windy the seagrass was rolling in and snagging our lines. Charlie reeled in his sardine and it had grass all over it. I told Charlie that the sardine reminds me of when I had hair. I believe the wind and grass is also a factor impacting the royal terns and pelicans who can’t find little fish to dive on. Since the birds can’t find food they were attacking our baits. It was almost impossible to get a bait into the water without one or more birds diving down for a free snack. At one point, when I was getting ready to cast my bait, a tern dove and grabbed Charlie’s bait near the mangroves and got tangled in the line. I cast my sardine away from the trees, away from the diving birds and any lurking snook and put my rod in the rod holder so that I could help Charlie with the bird. Charlie reeled the bird to the boat where I carefully covered its head with a towel, folded in its wings and gently removed the hook. Then we released the bird unharmed.

Unfortunately while working on the safe release of the tern the line became all tangled and knotted in the reel. Charlie asked me with a straight face, what’s the size limit on royal terns? I told him a little bigger and that they taste like chicken... fishy chicken. Suddenly, I heard a reel screaming. I looked toward my rod. It was bent over and saw a big snook jumping out of the water where no snook should have been. Never say never! Charlie reeled in the nice slot-size snook while I untangled his reel. About this time Charlie says “looks like we won’t get the forecasted rain.” I thought to myself “Oh No, don’t say that!” Sure enough it wasn’t 10 minutes and the rain came with a vengeance. So now we have wind, rain, weeds, birds and tangled lines. The good news was the fish didn’t mind at all. The air pressure was dropping and they were hungry! We caught several more snook where no snook should be and landed an oversize red and several slot size redfish where the snook should have been. Confusing isn’t it? The time had come to head back to the dock. I started the motor, raised my Power Pole, put the boat in gear and jumped up on plane. As we headed home I mulled over a trying day with lots of problems and challenging situations. Some of them I could fix and some we just had to live



Charlie with a 45” Cobia caught on one of our recent outings.

with. All in all we caught a lot of fish and had a good time. I always look forward to fishing with Charlie because he is a nice guy and fun to fish with. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about. Here are some thoughts on how to handle pesky sea birds diving on your bait: n Just before the bird hits the water give the line a little jerk - pulling the sardine a few inches causes the bird to miss. Unfortunately jerking your line will bring you bait closer to the surface making it an easier pray for the next birds. n Cast the bait under overhanging branches giving your bait some protection.


n Give the birds an easy pick and distract them by throwing out more chum (preferably dead ones - floaters). Hopefully they will go for the chum and leave your bait alone. Caution! - this method has been known to attract more birds. n Hook the bait so that it will swim down and away from the surface of the water. n Terns can dive under water. If the water is deep enough and/or you are fishing in a current, add a small split shot to your leader in an attempt to get your bait down before being scooped up by a bird. n Switch to a weighted shrimp or artificial for a while and hopefully the birds



FISHING 101 Good Spots & Top Technique

By Capt. Chuck Ei chner Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor Fishing often evokes an image of a relaxed angler patiently perched in his boat. To the non-fisherman, it’s an easy sport; drop a line overboard and wait for the fish to bite. But for the casual angler many times the fish never bites. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a Charlotte County resident say they rarely catch fish when they go fishing. It’s hard for me to believe because there are more fish within Charlotte Harbor, Pine Island Sound and the surrounding waters than most anywhere else in the U.S.. I believe that most folks who live here came from a northern state and they are not used to fishing in shallow waters, often less than 5 feet or what we refer to as a deep hole of 20 feet. Our waters are generally clear and you would think that if there are fish in the water then you should be able to see them. Right? Up north, 15 feet is shallow and deep is over 50 feet. Admittedly, I do occasionally have a skunked day on the water, but more often it’s when I pursue the glamorous species, tarpon, snook and redfish. But this article brings me back to my earliest southern Florida fishing experiences. I too had a hard time catching fish until I employed the basics. This article is primarily about catching many subtropical species that do not include the tarpon, snook or redfish. The fish you can expect to easily encounter without a sophisticated effort includes mangrove snapper, assorted bottom species including grunts and flounder, ladyfish, sharks (primarily blacktip and bonnethead), jack crevalle, speckled trout, bluefish, mackerel, goliath grouper, hardhead and gafftop catfish, black drum, barracuda and many others. There are a lot of

Water LIFE



other fish besides snook, redfish and tarpon and primarily these fish can be pursued in open waters not around extreme shallows and mangrove islands. In short, to catch fish on just about any occasion there are 3 basic styles of fishing to employ- drift fishing, anchored bottom fishing and trolling. It sounds simple enough and the baits to use for each style are actually simple enough as well. The warm weather bait of choice would be live shrimp, live baitfish, live crabs or fresh cut bait including ladyfish and threadfin herring. Perhaps the easiest and cheapest baits are frozen squid and Spanish sardines. I find the most relaxed fishing is drift fishing and it is very productive as well. The biggest thing to fishing sucJoyce Diliberto holding the Sheepshead she caught on April 19 in Charlotte Harbor at the threecess is fishing in the right spot. The mile reef. After the picture, the fish was released. basic rule of ‘where-fish-will-befound’ typically involves a bottom go home skunked! This same tactic can a grouper, tarpon or cobia. You really change in depth. For example, an 8-foot be employed around the harbor adjacent to never know what will bite. Another good bottom that falls off quickly to a 12-foot heavy weedbeds or in the middle of a large location is the old pilings from the phosdepth offers the fish a breakline of depth expanse of grass. A different rig would be phate docks on the north side of Boca to ambush from and becomes a fish magone that suspends your bait below a float Grande. These pilings hold a lot of fish. net. The second rule is current flow as you drift along. Impart an occasional Anchor up, place a chum bag over the which helps fish position themselves to jerk as you drift along which creates side and get ready to reel. Goliath take advantage of an incoming or outgosound and draws the fishes attention to grouper love this spot. Many other boting tide on a bottom feature. With these your bait. tom fish will jolt your rod and often 2 rules in mind here are 2 examples of A second productive fishing technique break you off before you can pull them spots that are pretty much a sure thing: is bottom fishing from an anchored boat. from the structure. Go to the Jug Creek Bar and set up a drift Again, being where the fish are is the The key here is the structure. It offers on an incoming tide on the outskirts of key. The many public reefs hold fish a place for the predator fish to stage the bar where shallow meets deep and you however less visible spots hold plenty behind and ambush their prey. This is will catch fish. Location No. 2 is more fish. For instance, the mouth of the basic fundamental of the successful Johnson Shoals just outside Boca Grande the Peace River or intersection of angler. Visualize the bottom and any Pass where you let the tide pull your boat Matlacha Pass with Charlotte Harbor are ambush point that is derived from a botpast the edge of the shallow water ledge great places to throw the anchor and put a tom depth change, or position your boat as it juts down into the channel. These few lines out. My general rigging to fish man-made structure. Identify these locations are fish super-highways and method is to place a 1/0 to 3/0 hook on 2 spots by reviewing a chart and using your there are thousands of fish in our area. feet of 30-pound mono leader and pitch a depthfinder to locate the subtle bottom Set up a bottom rig with a light sinker shrimp or cut- bait out. Have at least 2 contours. with a snelled hook about 12 inches lines out so that one can be fished Next Month: More spots and above the sinker and bait-up with a weightless and the other with a few split techni ques for trol l i ng. shrimp or squid. Match the hook size to shots to get it the near the bottom. the bait size. Another approach is to use Heavier current flow may require more Capt. Chuck Eichner is a local charter a jighead tipped with bait and drift this weight. You can expect sharks, trout, captain. For information or to book a guidbehind the boat. I promise you will not jacks, ladyfish, mackerel and occasionally ed fishing trip call 941-505-0003 or go to

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Page 18

Fishing with Capt. Ron

By Capt Ron Bl ago Water LIFE Senior Staff It’s Memorial Day and the boat ramps are packed, that’s the reason I’m staying home this holiday weekend rather than enjoying my time on the water. Everyone knows that holidays and weekends can be pretty crazy, just too many people on the water at one time. Considering that Florida now has over a million registered boats it's not surprising that we once again we lead the nation with 77 boating fatalities in 2007. This has started a few groups to call for a statewide boat operator’s license. In 1996 the state legislature passed a law that requires anyone born after 1980 to pass a safe boating course. That means that everyone 28 or less already needs a license. Here’s a thought: instead of setting up a new department of boating licenses, how about just offering a $10 discount on your next boat registration if you show proof of passing an authorized safe boating course. I know .... it’s too simple. Fishing has been great lately. Tarpon action has been hot both in Boca Grande Pass and off the beach. The people working the area north of Stump Pass have been doing really well. Now that the snook season is closed I’ve been catching a lot of snook in Lemon Bay. The secret has been white bait and high tides. I’ve learned a few new tricks this season. With the high cost of shrimp-when you can get them- I’ve been working more on my white bait techniques. The first thing I learned is don’t always count on getting your bait first thing in the morning. If I don’t see the bait first, I start drifting the

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flats fishing with jigs. In the flats north of Stump Pass I’ve been running into some late season pompano and bluefish along with a good supply of trout and ladyfish. Usually, if the water is calm, I will see schools of white bait on the flats or moving north to south heading for the pass. You want to keep your eyes open for flashes of silver. If you don’t see the silver flash, the school is probably small mullet and not the desired-scaled sardine. Another trick I’ve learned is to watch the birds. Not the pelicans that endlessly dive-bomb on the bait; but the lowly corThis is one of a pair of 24 inch redfish Kyle Reynolds caught while fishing with friends morant that skims a few Capt. Dave Stephens and Capt. Marc Miller. feet over the water for a long distance. I’ve noticed that as they pass over a walls and under docks, all have been pretty productive. school of white bait, the bait will shake and sometime I’ve run into a lot of big jacks in these areas too. jump out of the water. I describe it as ‘kicking a still Actually too big; they have been tearing up my 30bucket full of water.’ When you see this rippling of the pound fluorocarbon leaders. I’ve been reading reports water head right for it with your net at the ready. It’s about redfish in the flats of north Lemon Bay but I can’t amazing how the bait will just stay there. Just remember find them. I guess someone is going to have to show me to be quet. where they are before I believe them. With plenty of white bait in the livewell it’s easy to Capt Ron can be reached for questions or charters at find the fish. In the mangroves, in channels next to sea 941-474-3474

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Summer Divers



By Adam Wi l son Water LIFE Diving If you've been waiting for warmer temperatures to get back in the water the time is now. Usually by June 1 the bottom temps out to 100 feet are 80 degrees. Unfortunately, along with the warmer water comes murky visibility, especially at most shallow sites less than 60 feet. Just like your pool turns green with algae much faster in the summer, so does the Gulf. Go out further and closer to the heart of the Gulf Stream though and the water remains a deep indigo-blue color and incredibly clear year round. Even out in 200 feet it is a lot of fun to jump in with just a mask and snorkel to enjoy the amazingly clear water. Just because you can't go to the bottom doesn't mean you can't enjoy the sights. Not all creatures live at the bottom of the ocean. Fish swarm over large structure like springs and shipwrecks and it's there you will find fish in the water column right up to the surface. Just floating near the boat it's common to see huge schools of permit, pompano, every variety of jacks and runners, barracuda, swarms of bait and bonita along with possible pelagics like tuna, wahoo and dolphin. On our last trip one of our divers wasn't comfortable diving to 180 feet, so he waited for us on the anchor rope at 100 feet. When we were back in the boat he was thrilled because he was able to see us on the bottom from his vantage point for our entire dive, and was surrounded by massive schools of amberjacks and colorful rainbow runners the whole time too. Diving to shallow depths in deep water is for more experienced divers, but can be easily mastered, especially with the help of an anchor rope or drop line. Although the intended depth may be the same as a dive on a shallow reef, not having the sea floor as a stop or for reference requires excellent buoyancy control and a little practice.

Water LIFE


If you have been out of the water for the winter, it's time to do a thorough inspection of all your scuba gear. Gear that has sat for more than a couple of months has a magical way of not working all by itself. I've heard "man this was working fine last time I used it" too many times. Then a long anticipated day of diving turns into a day of driving the boat around for everyone else. The biggest problem is weak or dead batteries in dive computers and dry rotted or cracked rubber creating leaky hoses or broken fin or mask straps. The best way to check your gear is assemble everything at home as if you were about to dive and put it on. It is hot, clumsy and a pain, but it's the best way to determine what is working or not. Try it in the pool. Diving safety has been a pretty big topic on most boats lately. I have a friend that spent over 4 hours floating off Key West last month before being rescued by the Coast Guard at night. The only reason the HH-65 rescue helicopter pilot saw them was a small, inexpensive flashlight waved frantically in the pilots direction. Admittedly, had they elected to tow a floating flag during their late afternoon dive, the captain of the charter vessel would have known their location for the entire dive and not lost them when they surfaced in the glare of the setting sun. I hate to think of the outcome had they not brought a flashlight. No one ever plans on getting lost at sea. Everyone should have these items attached somewhere to their BC for every dive regardless of proximity to land or depth: an air driven horn like the "Dive Alert" brand that installs in line with a low pressure inflator hose, a signal mirror, a rolled up inflatable "see me" tube, and a flashlight. Some even go as far as vacuum bagging small hand launched flares and keeping those in a pocket. All these items are easily stored out of the way on any bc and could mean the difference between surviving and being rescued or not.



ARC REEF Clear water and bright green growth signify the start of summer. Now is the time to get out into the water and explore the great near-shore reefs we have in Charlotte County

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Water LIFE


By Bi l l Di xon Water LIFE Sailing I got a ride on Rudy Gottschlich’s Jeanneau 36 Diva Gorda in the Key West Rendezvous. We faced almost all possible weather conditions from beating into 20+ knots of wind and 4-6 foot seas, to being becalmed and drifting in circles. Looong trip down 1 day, 9 hours, 9 minutes elapsed time. I discovered that I am no longer young and strong. I just smell strong. Beside not taking my medication and suffering mal-de-mer, dehydration, chills and constipation, I found out that my night depth perception is lousy. At the finish off the Galleon resort in Key West I was firmly convinced we were going to crash head on into the seawall, but we never even came close. It was a tough race. Jerry Poquette on Fancy Free suffered a broken rudder. Chuck Taylor on Ironic Breeze wound up on the wrong side of a wind shift



and had to motor east for hours to get to Key West. Rudy did better with a second place trophy in the race to Key West and a 3rd in the race back to Naples. We arrived In Key West 10-ish on Thursday, but some boats were still straggling in on Saturday. Glad I wasn’t with them. Oh yeah. Key West was well, outlandish. June 28, West Florida PHRF will be holding their annual meeting in Punta Gorda. Highlights will include 2 free steak dinners for certificate holders and awarding of the WFPHRF BOTY trophies as well as election of next year’s officers and ratification of proposed changes to the bylaws. Details will be on the WFPHRF web site at soon. Sorry, no good action pictures, I was too busy then – Bill Dixon




Water LIFE


Paddling the Daunting Manchester Mangroves

By Davi d Al l en Water LIFE Kayaking Last Sunday, one of our club members had a birthday and invited us to paddle out from her home just off the Manchester Waterway. This wasn’t just our ordinary Sunday paddle; she had promised us coffee, donuts, bagels and more to celebrate the event. The lot adjacent to her home made an ideal launch point for any one of several good paddles, either west to the Como Canal and Highway 776, or east to the Triple Lakes and Hog Island. Even though it was not high tide, and the Triple Lakes and mangroves are shallow

in spots, we elected to try the Lakes route. So it was no surprise when about 21 paddlers showed up for the coffee, donuts and paddling. The food was good and the conversation was interesting. As, almost always, it was a beautiful Florida day, with brilliant sunshine and very little wind at launch time. From the put-in, a paddle of roughly one half mile takes you to the Manchester and another half mile to the entrance to the Triple Lakes mangrove canal. This segment of the route is fairly wide open and relatively deep – an easy paddle for most kayakers.

We moved quickly through the three lakes, touching bottom only a few times, emerging into the Myakka Cutoff, with Hog Island directly in front of us. We often elect to paddle east into Charlotte Harbor, hugging the western shore all the way to Alligator Bay and the Port Charlotte Beach Complex. Then we usually return to the Manchester Waterway through the boat channel. This time we decided to take the western route through the very narrow, shallow mangrove tunnels that line the waterway. After a short break for an energy bar and drink of Gatorade, we headed northwest toward the entrance to the tunnels. Near the entrance on the Myakka Cutoff, the mangroves are fairly open and it’s easy to get lulled into a sense of an easy day on the water, but a few yards beyond the entrance, all thoughts of an easy paddle are quickly forgotten. The tunnels narrow down very quickly to a width of a couple of yard in the wide spots and even though we often paddle the mangroves, those off the Myakka Cutoff are about the toughest in the area to get through. As we paddled, you could continuously hear the scraping of paddles on the man-

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grove branches even though some of our group had reduced the length of their paddles by separating the two halves. A heavy tree branch had fallen across our path in one spot, and we all waited while each kayak was partly scooched and partly paddled over the intruding obstacle. As we approached the exit from the tunnels back into the Manchester, the water became even shallower, mostly due to a buildup of sediment and shell. We had to get out of our kayaks and carry them the last 25 yards. It was a welcome sight to see open water again and realize that we only had a half-mile or so to the launch site. I suppose many of you are wondering why anyone would take such a paddle, so difficult and challenging. Part of the answer is because we enjoy kayaking and being on the water regardless of the difficulty of the paddle. Even the tough ones are enjoyable as is the good shared fun.

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 -

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St Pete Shark Tournament

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S t aff R eport We’ve heard it over and over: It’s ‘sharkey’ out there this year. The St. Pete Shark Tournament proved it. Tiger sharks are around. They are following the sea turtles, one of their favorite meals. S T PETE RES ULTS : 1st place was a 431pound tiger shark caught by Team Tunnel Vi si on. Second place, a 295 pound bull shark, was caught by Team Redneck. Third place was a 294 pound bull shark brought in by Team Penetrati on Fourth place went to a 263pound hammerhead caught by Team Southshore The junior division first place winner team Ital i an Navy brought back a 64 pound black tip.

Screaming Reels: June will be Interesting

By C apt A ndrew Medi na Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor June is truly going to be a very interesting month. Tarpon, sharks, cobia along with all the favorite inshore fish. They should all chew well this month. Redfish, snook and many others will be



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on the feed and be readily available as well. This is the time of the year I will usually start throwing crabs, not only for tarpon roaming around the harbor, but crabs are also a great bait for bush fishing. I have yet to see a redfish turn down a



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crack crab laid up on the bottom. This is part of their natural diet. Crabs work really well for those big, hard to catch reds. There is also plenty of catch-and-release snook action along the east side. Find the ‘green cuts’ and they will usually produce some great action. Another good note: I have noticed some really large mangrove snapper are willing to eat white bait as well, even if it does, legally, now have to be on a circle hook! But the big catch this month is the tarpon. There are now great opportunities to catch a king without playing around in the pass. I truly love the pass, but if you can find the large ‘threadies’ in the harbor your chances are just as good of gettinghooked up. A D.O.A Bait Buster still works miracles in this situation. Also, the Rip Tides Natural Shrimp in glow or any chartreuse combination, will work great on harbor tarpon. If you are a live bait fisherman your day should begin with a livewell full of threadfins. They are not hard to get, as long as you are throwing a net of appropriate size. I like to use a 1⁄2 inch mesh with a little added weight. Something that sinks relatively fast. Your well should be ready for the day in no time. Cobia have made their way into the harbor as well. Cut bait or live silver trout fished around the artificial reefs is a good way to get the attention of a ‘cruising cigar’. If you’re into fly fishing, the water is perfect for wading. Wading is a great way to approach fish on a flat or along a mangrove shoreline. I found with the large bait run this year, green and white clausers have been producing some fish.

Snook and jacks are always willing to eat a clauser. Redfish have been a little tricky though. Shrimp and crab patterns are your best bet for reds. And larger ‘poppers’ first thing in the morning have produced a few fish. And this month you will also see a lot of anglers in the middle of the harbor throwing flies. Tarpon are not shy when it comes to eating a fly. If you’re out there long enough and fish hard enough you will find that one not-so-smart fish. My color choices for tarpon on a fly, has always been the same and has never changed: plenty of blacks and plenty of red and whites get the job done. Look for tarpon in pot holes south of the shacks in Pine Island. The fish should show themselves in the morning – just don’t go out there with hopes of catching one on a 4 weight rod. Ten-weight or larger is standard gear for these tarpon. With a tournament every weekend and sometimes two, it might get a little busy. Another angler might be in your favorite hole. When this happens don’t get upset just sit back collect your thoughts and remember that they are fish and they swim. I have found if you put enough chum in the water, the fish will show up in your area soon. Be safe on the water and just have fun.

Capt. Andrew Medina can be reached for charter info at 456-1540 or on the web at


Water LIFE


SCUTTLEBUTT Sometimes Unsubstanciated, But Often True

Last Month The Interior Department put the Polar Bear on the Endangered Species list giving it more protection. They justified the action based on Global warming. Global warming could then account for the well-being of the manatee, which needs to come off the endangered list. Manatees thrive in warm water. A Lot of Ferti l i zer The local SW Florida county ban on certain lawn fertilizers cited the fact that fertilizer seeps into the water table and cause... algae


and red tide. Well hello! Two Permi ts? Will Punta Gorda require boaters to buy two sparate parking permits – one for the Laishley ramp and one for Ponce Park? DeS oto Ramp Parki ng Is that a boat trailer parking lot being constructed in the field next to Nava-A-Gator? Thi s i sn’t scuttl ebutt , it’s the Gospel Truth. Starting this month if you are snapper fishing from a kayak in the backwaters of Charlotte Harbo,r you will have to have a venting tool aboard.

That’s what government will do to you filled by Roger when it gets in a hurry to make rules. DeBruler has S o we’re wonderi ng, if you took been approved a circle hook and ‘reconfigured’ it with a for another year. set of pliers, or if you bent a jig into a Marker A is circle, would that still fulfill the letter of back, four years the new law? after Charley. Gol den Officer Dennis Palmer It’s about 250 checked two fishers from Orlando at the yds offshore on Sandy Creek boat ramp and found neither the west wall had the proper licenses. Officer Palmer just south of also found the duo were using store halfway point. bought goldfish as bait. although the XTreme is a redfish tournament, weighmaster The proper paperwork Andrew Medina took the time to weigh in Josh Rhodes 4.89 was issued. pound trout, rescusitate it and then release it. Roger’s Repri eve The Sea Grant Assistant position, We’re

The Deadly Dozen : Charlotte Harbor

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We Gottaʼ Be Flexible

The Commercial Perspective

By Kel l y Beal Peace Ri ver S eafood Water LIFE Punta Gorda To be a survivalist in today’s commercial fishing industry you have to be willing to diversify, at least that's the case here in Florida. If one season doesn't work out you have the next to try and play catch up. These days it seems our fisherman are always playing catch up and it’s getting harder and harder. I constantly hear the fishermen say "I won't let my son get in the business, we're a dying breed, he could never make it." Forever the optimist, I say we can make it and we will. We just have to be willing to change ... and oh how we hate change! So how does one diversify? Here in Charlotte County we have those that stone crab, blue crab, chase mullet, sand brim, pompano, grouper and do both inshore and offshore shrimping. There are also those that harvest ornamental fish, bait crabs and bait fish. You may specialize in one area, but that resource may be having a bad year and the time comes when you have to change. A bad year doesn't necessarily mean a lack of product. This past stone crab season was incredible! So incredible that the market became flooded and the stone crabbers fell victim to Economy 101's first lesson of supply and demand. Many stonecrabbers were put on a two day a week limit because their buyer couldn't move the catch. When you stonecrab you only have 7 months to make your money. If you go 5 times a week for 28 weeks - that's 140 trips. When the 140

trips turns into 56 trips you can imagine the drain on your income. Okay, so the stonecrabber had a bad year. Hopefully next year gets better. Unless he's incredibly rich, he’ll have to make up for lost time. He still has a lot of work to do, preparing his gear and boat for next season. The commercial fisherman who is gonna' make it is the one who is willing to try new things. He might add chasing summer mullet or blue crabbing. I even know a few brave souls who have added being a charter captain to their list of skills. Let me tell you, every day on the water with a group of strangers isn’t always the greatest thing. Another creative fisherman I know started selling bait and drinks off a barge for the recreationals and he is having a blast. The fact is, these guys are waterman and it's their passion to be out there. When I married my husband Jim my father’s advice (an old salty commercial fisherman himself) was "Don't try to convince him to get a job on the hill - it’s in his blood to be a commercial fisherman – he'll never be happy doing anything else." I took the old man’s advice. I want Jim to be able to commercial fish the rest of his life. The commercial fishing industry has indeed suffered some big bumps in its road, but don't give up. Never give up! Lets be willing to change and diversify our skills so we can beat what obstacles are ahead. Sometimes you have to go out on a limb because that's where the fruit is. Just be sure to eat the Florida fruit, or in this case Florida fish. Buy local! Be healthy, be happy and be safe.... and stop by our restaurant and store on Hwy 17 in Punta Gorda.

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Fishing Report


Charlotte Harbor:

Robert at Fishin' Franks Port Charlotte: 625-3888

The wind hasn’t stopped and it’s going to keep blowing (I figure if I predict it’s going to blow maybe it will stop. My predictions have been all screwed up!) The main fish this month are tarpon. It looks like they will do nothing but get better and better, it should be spectacular for rest of the summer. The Pass should be good for four more weeks, then there will still be plenty of fish, but just not as many or as heavy as they are now. Out on the beaches and into the harbor, threadfins are the bait for tarpon, especially since crabs are so hard to find. The only place I heard of was getting $38 a dozen. We need the rain for the crabs, but we don’t need it to keep the red tide away. DOA bait busters continue top be a great artificial for tarpon when crabs are so hard to find. The Bait Buster works because the lead is more in the middle of the bait. The Strike King (It’s called shadalici-

Water LIFE



cous ) soft plastic tube-bait is becoming another good alternative if you want to fish tarpon on artificials. The shadalicious can be rigged weedless, with an open hook, with a circle hook or a J hook. Zara Spooks or some crankbaits work, but tarpon are spooky and those baits don’t seem to work consistently. While cruising the west side bar, Steve Zylstra and his two boys Ethan and Tyler spotted this cobia along with two manatees. S harks are abunAfter telling Tyler, age 7, to grab his pole with a thread fin as bait, dant, to say the least. Tyler brought this 33 lb. cobia to the boat 27 minutes later. There are plenty of small sharks here in involved in shark fishing offshore, a lot the harbor and they should stay here for more chumming, but it’s a lot bigger the rest of the summer. The key thing is fish, you will get offshore, and when you to bring the lighter tackle out for the are offshore the by-catch is usually cobi a smaller sharks and have fun with them. or tarpon. Cobia is steady this year, not Anchor up and chum, that’s my advice. hot and heavy, but steady. Check the You can also drift if you like but I like to channel markers for cobia they like to anchor and chum. hang there. Try sight casting a threadfin Cut bait, fresh caught ladyfish or mul- or an artificial. Idle along the bars. The let, or sardines, are all good bait for the cobia will be with a stingray or a manta smaller sharks. For some of the larger ray or a manatee on the bar. It’s weird sharks try going to the nearest of the offthat cobia don’t seem to like following or shore reefs. There is a lot more patience hanging with the cow nosed rays. Tri pl etai l should be around in the harbor now too. They could be on the channel markers too, or around any floating debris. Bind cast threadfins or big shrimp for the triple tail. There aren’t usually a lot of them around but the ones that are here are the bigger ones. Here’s a good one this month: Permi t offshore. They congregate more on the man-made structure than on the natural structure. The most important thing with permit fishing is being very quiet. Drift up to your spot and they will hit a crab or a shrimp and they will occasionally take a baitfish. The artificial crab baits that work well on these fish are baits like


Nice Permit! This 26 pound specimen was brought in last month by Gill Benitez on a trip with Travis Ormond on Pelagic Charters out of Stump Pass Marina.

Gulp or DOA crabs or the C.W. crab. It has soft swimmer legs and a treble hook already imbedded in it. Check that bait out. These have worked on harbor tarpon, too. Look for the permit tail on the surface or, if it’s clear, look for the big mirror like shine down below over the structure. Redfi sh are still happening pretty good. A little more patience is involved there too. Find shade and moving water and you’ll likely find the redfish this month. Live shrimp and greenbacks are working. Cut bait just isn’t working for redfish this week. Who knows why? Usually, around the full moon, you’ll have the hill tide and if you drop offshore


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Fishing Report continued

and the l ane snapper that will be in their first spawn. Remember, circle hooks only.

BIG-4 BIG-4 SHARK smaller ones in the harbor, bigger in

Lemon Bay:

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

Most of the action right now involves tarpon fishing. There are quite a bit more fish on the beach, and they are coming and going in and out of the pass. I had some guys last night, catching therm on crabs but they were dipping crabs up from the pass. Millers sent a plane out to Louisiana, Another shop in town has them for $48 a dozen. The $28 dollar mark is what people seem to be willing to pay for crabs. I think the price of fishing – the price of gas – is influencing people spending that kind of money on bait. There have been some S pani sh mackerel around and quite a bit of permi t of late... the wrecks and the close to shore spots have permit around. S nook fishing has been good at Placida; early in the morning has been good. Throughout Lemon bay redfishing has been good,.. the tar-

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Juneʼs Target Species Species Juneʼs Target

REDFISH bigger fish are

COBIA have been showing

pon guides who couldn’t get out because of the wind have been fishing Lemon Bay for redfish. There is really good shark fishing right now, all around the lower end of the harbor and close to the pass. Blacktips, sand sharks, smaller hammerheads, guys are seeing bull sharks but they’re just not catching them yet. Franks tournament should be good

June 14 Franks? Shark Tournament TARPON are here already, in the Harbor

Calendar of Events

n June 1-8-15: PTTS Professi onal Tarpon Tournament S eri es, Boca Grande Pass.

n June 14: Coupl es Tournament, Burnt Store (863) 245-8380 n June 14: S hark, S ti ngray and S ai l cat Tournament, Fishin Franks, Port Charlotte. Entry $30 Fish all night weigh in Sunday a.m.


n June 14: Fi refi ghters Assn. Redfi sh Tournament, St. Pete, 2 redfish 941-637-5953 n June 21: Destroyer Escort Day, Fishermen’s Village, PuntA Gords, 11 a.m. 239-731-8917.

n June 28: Pi rate Redfi sh Tournament, Punta Gorda, (941) 255-1555

you can get into the mangrove


n July4: Peace Ri ver S wi m, Port Charlotte at the US 41 Bridge to Fishermen’s Village, on the tide. n July12,13: Maverick Boats Fl atsmasters S eri es- RedPl ug Chal l enge, Artificial lures only. 941-637-5953 n Aug 6-9: S arasota S l am, multi species inshore/offshore tournament, Marina Jacks (941)




Very Excellent!



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Water LIFE June 2008  
Water LIFE June 2008  

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