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Water LIFE


Charlotte Harbor and Lemon Bay Florida

Keeping Boaters and Fishermen Informed

May 2004

Kids Cup The Official Publication Page 16



Page 13




Page 20


Water LIFE

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Laishley Marine, Your local

Tournament Headquarters


Paddlerʼs Adventure

Kayak Tournament May 7 • Fun Food & Fishing!

• $ʼs, Prizes, and an Ocean Kayak for the largest slam • $ʼs & Prizes for the largest (totalweight) snook, redfish & trout

Registration Forms at Laishley Marine

Kids Cup Redfish

Tournament Ages 10-15 June 5

Kids Cup Seminar, Laishley Marine May 22 at 10 a.m.

Registration Forms at Laishley Marine

Redfish Cup

Tournament June 11-13

• Big Air Dog Show • Iron Fish Cookoff

• Cardboard Boat Races • Sportsman Competition

The Premiere ESPN 2 Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup is Coming Back to Punta Gorda


May 2004

One Fiesty Silver King May 2004

By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Editor I got the call at just after 1 p.m. “Hi Mike, this is Derek Jacobsen. I’m out here by the reef with a client and he’s got a tarpon on. It’s a big fish, you want to get a picture?” It took me about 20 minutes to launch the boat and run halfway down the harbor, but when I go there New Jersey angler Steven Noto still had his tarpon on the line. “She’s jumped four times since I talked to you,” Derek said, and with that the fish came out of the water again. Steve had a good hook set and he dipped the rod just enough to keep the fish on the line. It was a big fish all right and when it fell back into the water it took off running again. Derek reached over and cranked in a little more drag on the reel while Steve hung on. “Forty pound fluorocarbon leader,” Derek said. Steve said something like ‘son-of-a--’ as the fish continued to take back the line he had worked so hard to reel in. In a half hour Steve again had the fish up on the surface and it looked like the battle was almost over. The fish swam lazily on top, angling towards the boat, then when the tarpon looked up and saw the boat it turned and ran. “Oh no!” Steve said as more line went screaming back out.

Water LIFE

Steve stuck with it and in a little while he had turned the fish and brought it to the surface yet again. “She’s 150-pounds,” Derek said, but before Steve could react the fish turned. I remember the tail, a huge, powerful forked masterpiece of propulsion design. The fish was a golden shade of silvery brown, like the water in the Peace River. She swirled on the surface, did a lazy head shake and swam away, its big yellow goggle eyes looking determined, not unlike the look of a giant redfish pulling drag in a straight unstoppable line. She’s heading for the Pass, we joked, but it might have been true. Derek reached over and clicked in yet another notch of drag. This fish was well fed and lively. There was a lot of bait, big schools of threadfins, around and the water temperature was just 70-degrees. It was April 22, way early for tarpon, especially a tarpon this big, this far up in the Harbor. There had been a few stories of tarpon in the Pass a week before and some smaller fish at the US 41 bridge, but harbor fish don’t usually show until much later. Steve reeled and joked that he wouldn’t be able to use his right arm tomorrow, but he hung on and began to bring the fish up one more time. This time the fish came straight up out of the water alongside the

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Capt. Derek Jacobsen watches at Steven Noto works to keep the tarpon on the line.

boat. Both men jumped back. Derek responded pulling the trolling motor out of the way. Steve’ s eyes and mouth were as big as the tarpon’s, but he hung on. If men giggle, we were doing it. Drunk with fishing ecstacy. The best part was the fish was still on the line ... and now she was running again. She came up next in front of the boat, then ran again. Next she came up off the starboard bow, tail walking like a dolphin. Steve reeled her boatside and Derek had the leader in his hand,when she went down again in a tail thrashing display that left both men wet. “ No, no, for gods sake no! Don’t run any more,” Steve begged, but the fish wasn’t listening. Derek reached over and put in

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yet another click of drag but the fish didn’t notice. When he brought the fish up for the eighth or ninth time it came straight out of the water between our boats, looked at my boat and splashed back down. In the end – two and a half hours after the fish first took the threadfin – Derek grabbed the leader, the fish turned and broke it off. A marginally legal release. She swam a few yards and lay motionless. Derek moved over and took the fish by the gill plate. There was a last big splash catching Derek in the face, then the fish swam down, strongly, and out of sight. It was Steve’s first tarpon. “I’ll remember this for ever,” he said. So will we all.

6550 RIVERSIDE DRIVE - Over 1.25 acres on the Peace River with fantastic 4 bedroom/3 bath home. Beautiful treed setting . great water views. Parking, ample storage and a workshop along with a heated pool and spa; living area and master suite. Additional bedrooms and a loft/office overlooking 2-story great room. $1,150,000

RIVERSIDE DRIVE ACREAGE - Approximately 1 acre on prestigious Riverside Drive, with 97 feet on the water. Beautiful setting for your new home! $499,000

28443 COCO PALM ˆ Large 3/3 waterfront home in Palm Shores on 2 lots looking for that special owner! The Victorian design makes it unique to the area with marble entry and oak staircase. The second floor master suite has its own sitting area with a window seat and faux fireplace. Additional land could accommodate another garage or parking for a motor home. $339,000

4187 ROCK CREEK DRIVE - Beautiful 3/2 custom home with southern exposure on the Countryman Waterway. Light and neutral colors with 10ʼ ceilings throughout. Oversized, airconditioned garage, large 40x8 dock with 9000# boat lift and davit. Enjoy your Florida SHOWPLACE in the solar heated pool! $397,000

Water LIFE

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May 2004

Shark Tournament June 12-13


Yet Another Croc(k)? Dear Water LIFE

The first foursome of the day played together to the 5th hole at Palm Beach, where one impatient golfer went ahead of the group. The remaining three finished their round and headed for the nineteenth hole to meet their lesspatient friend. However, he wasn't there...and was no where to be found. Since his car was still in the parking lot, the threesome waited two hours. In due course, they notified the clubhouse and the search was on. The impatient golfer was not located, but his clubs were found on the seventh hole. Three days later, Ole Moose was spotted on the seventh hole and was the immediate suspect. Ole Moose

was an American crocodile that was an infrequent course visitor for over 20 years. Not too much concern was ever given to Ole Moose, as he had always made a hasty retreat whenever he saw anyone coming. To make a long story even longer, after the course officials, SPCA, lawyers, citizens groups, the mayor, Palm Beach PD, and the American Crocodile Association of Southern Florida agreed, it was decided that, in order to put everyone's mind at ease, Ole Moose should be ʻunzipped.ʼ Take notice to what the man standing over Ole Moose is holding. Carl Garrison, El Jobean Editor Notes* I donʼt know about this story. I think we would have heard about it on the evening news if it really happened .


Dear Water LIFE My name is Gaylord Eggleston. I purchased land in Charlotte Harbor. Myself and Sharon Cedro are planning to build a home there. We really love reading Water LIFE

magazine. Itʼs just great to see all the water ways. We look forward to getting your magazine. Thank You, Gaylord Eggleston P.S. We promise not to bring any snow from Buffalo.

Water LIFE

Michael and Ellen Heller Publishers

(941) 766-8180


Water LIFE is not affiliated with any newspaper or other publication © 2004 Vol III No5 WaterLIFE

We received the above ʻboatingʼ photo via e-mail with the message entitled “wrong button.” The image shows an erant Stinger missle, released from a Tomcat and sliding across the carrierʼs deck.

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

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

Contributing Editors:

Stephen Schoff sent us this picture of a trimaran docked at Rum Bay. Look carefully at the pilings – how did they do that?

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Fishing / Environment: Capt. Ron Blago Charlotte Harbor: Capt. Robert Moore Gasparilla: Capt. Chuck Eichner Port Charlotte: Fishinʼ Frank Offshore: Capt. Steve Skevington Technical Advisor: Mike Panetti Sailing Advisor: Bill Dixon Cartoons: Ron Mills Kayaks:Ben Turpin

on the COVER:

Capt. Derek Jacobsen yanks back the trolling motor as angler Steven Noto hangs on to a big tarpon. See page 3

on our WEBSITE:

Tide Graphs: For Punta Gorda, Shell Point, El Jobean, Pine Island, Matlacha, Redfish Pass, and Lemon Bay.

Weather: Links to all of our favorite weather and radar web-sites. Back editions: Previous edition pages.

Artificial Reefs: Lat. and Long. for 24 local artificial reefs off Charlotte, Sarasota and Lee Counties.

Manatee Myths: Read the original plan for sanctuaries and refuges, as laid out by the United Nations in 1984

Links to Realtors: Connect with advertisers

May 2004

Water LIFE


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Lack of Data Doesnʼt Stop us from Spending for the Future The new park at Sunrise Lake is an enigma of design excellence. While three quarters of the area has no visitors at all, the one quarter that is parking for the boat ramp (far right) is already overflowing.

Commentary By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Editor “Look at the asphalt itself in the circular parking area for the pedestrian park users. It’s clean, uniformly bleached in the sun. No tire marks or oil stains at all. Now look at the parking lot for the trailer boaters. One stall looks like someone overhauled a transmission there, others have noticeable marks from continuous use,” one local trailer boater observed. The asphalt and the painted arrows at the new Spring Lake boat ramp are showing the effect of the traffic already. Tire scuffs on the curbing speak to either bad drivers, bad design or a little of both. In spite of the shallow channel leading to the

harbor, the boating part of this park gets used heavily. It seems odd that the county doesn’t know how many people are using the new park. “We don’t monitor that,” the man in charge of Spring Lake said, and that’s the problem. Perhaps now that there are parking charges for boaters we will at last be able to count the number of boaters who use the ramp ... if that information is ever made publicly available. The revenue from parking fines, (a yearly boat ramp parking sticker costs $30 – a single parking fine costs $35) will go into the state – not the county – coffers, so it may take an accountant to

Passing: Bill Meek ʻthe tide chart manʼ

Staff Report Bi l l Meek was 9 3 wh en h e p as s ed away. Ev en av i d fi s h ermen mi g h t n o t k n o w h i s n ame, b ut fo r as l o n g as an y o n e can rememb er Bi l l Meek affect ed fi s h i n g al l aro un d Ch arl o t t e Co un t y. Bi l l Meek p ri n t ed an d di s t ri b ut ed t h e 3 x 5 i n ch t i de cards s o man y l o cal Bill Meek delivered his tide chart cards to tackb us i n es s es h an ded o ut le shops and businesses around the county. t o t h ei r fi s h i n g cus t o mers . Meek ’s t i de cards were cus t o m p ri n t ed wi t h t h e l o g o o f each b us i n es s o n t h em. Bi l l was n ’t a ri ch man . He s o met i mes t raded t i de cards fo r do g fo o d at t h e l o cal p et s h o p t o k eep h i s p up p i es fed, an d al mo s t up t o t h e en d Bi l l dro v e aro un d t o wn , b us i n es s t o b us i n es s , i n h i s b i g o l d s t at i o n wag o n b ri n g i n g t h e mo n t h l y t i de cards an d a l i t t l e g o o d ch eer wh ere

sort it all out. Knowing those numbers could call into question the reason for spending so much money on the unused nature trail and manmade lagoon at Spring Lake and spending so little on the crowded boating facilities. Charlotte County is an environmental water resource worthy of more than what its Parks and Recreation department is apparently willing to offer. So, boaters are now asking for data on boat ramps: specifically, the number of peak time users vs the planned facility capacity. The county needs to make sure expansion and future improvements at all its boat ramps are in proportion to known population growth.

Tarpon Sidestep

S t aff R eport The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission of Florida has unveiled its new vision for tarpon fishing at Boca Grande, but they are waiting until next tarpon season before beginning to enforce it. Rules which include banning break away tackle, limiting the number of rods to three and banning intentional snagging of tarpon at Boca Grande go into effect in July, AFTER the spring tarpon fishing opportunity at Boca Grande is over. Harbor tarpon fishing will be unaffected. The no-break away ruling will apparently mean changes in fishing style for both live bait tarpon fishermen who ‘wire’ their sinkers onto their line so they will come off when the fish hits, and to jig fishermen who use plastic cable ties to allow their weights to come loose (photos on page 29). Some form of closure or a fishing lottery may still be an option for limiting angler congestion and hostility at Boca Grande.

Sea Horse Marina Sale Now Pending

S t aff R eport The sale of Seahorse Marine, at the base of the US 41 Bridge (4999 Tamiami Trail, Charlotte Harbor) is pending with an asking price of $3,300,000. Realtor Gilchrist Mercer of Mercer Realty in Punta Gorda told Water LIFE the purchase is being considered by “an entity from Naples.” Final inspections are still pending and may yet prove the 1.3 acres “unfit for their intended use,” Mercer said. When asked about the intended use Mercer answered he was not sure, but felt safe saying he “expected it to remain a marina or marine facility as it always has been.” Mercer also mentioned an addition of “dockominiums” and “slipominiums” as a possibility at the site. The access channel into the marina is shallow and a dredging permit would have to be issued before a new facility could function smoothly. At one time the site was licensed to sell gasoline and diesel fuel, but two previous marinas on this property have closed their doors in the past.

Water LIFE

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Kids Are Where Itʼs At May 2004

By Capt. Robert Moore Water LIFE Staff “Does your son like to fish?” If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me that, I’d be retired by now. When I think of the last nine years with my son Ryan in my life and the fishing experiences we have had together I grin from ear to ear. Up until recently, the most memorable experience was the day Ryan caught his first redfish in the PGI canals. Then, one day last month, when we really didn’t have plans to fish, we were crossing the U.S. 41 bridge into Punta Gorda when we both looked out over the water. Ryan said ‘Wow, look how calm it is. Haven’t seen that in awhile.’ I smiled and knew exactly what he meant. Thirty minutes later we were backing the boat into the water. We headed up the Peace River to Marker #2 for bait. I anchored the boat and started chumming. Ryan quickly asked if he could chum for me. I showed him where I wanted the chum to be placed in the water and proceeded to get the cast net ready. After several throws the livewell was crammed with 200 to 300 baitfish. I asked Ryan if he thought that would be enough and he said ‘Yeah, that should do it.” We cleaned up the boat and headed over to the Grassy Point area on the Port Charlotte side of the Peace River. I had caught some fairly nice jack crevelle along the seawall there the week prior, and was hoping to repeat the same. I flung forty or so baits up along the seawall to see if anything was interested. After three or four minutes we saw several fish crash the baits, so I quickly hooked a bait on one rod and made a cast towards the seawall. My cast was a bit too far and the bait smacked up against the sea-




Water LIFE


wall. As I was reeling in the bait I felt a hard hit. I went to set the hook and nothing. My bait was gone and no fish. I reeled in and put on anther bait. I made another cast and gave Ryan the rod and told him to hang on. I turned to get another rod when I heard the familiar sound of drag screaming. When I turned back to look, Ryan was grunting as he tried to set the hook the way he has seen me do it over the years. There was no finesse in his attempts, just continuous up and down jerks of the rod. I smiled and asked him what he had. “It’s a big boy,” he replied, followed by “Dad, help me,” which were the next words out of his mouth. I walked up next to him and told him he was doing fine and to keep tension on the line. “Pull up and reel as you go down, just like I taught you,” I said. I watched Ryan hang on to the rod for dear life and looked out to see how much line was already gone. I’m guessing at least 70 yards was off the spool as the fish headed along the seawall. There is a curve in that seawall,



but the fish wasn’t slowing down. Ryan was having a hard time keeping the rod tip up and the rod bent over, so I reached down and grabbed the rod just above the reel and helped him pull the tip up. This made the fish turn to deeper water and slowed his run. At that point I was sure he had a nice jack crevelle on, so I went back and grabbed my rod and put on another bait. As I walked to the front of the boat Ryan was on the port side. “Dad, I almost got him,” Ryan said. “You’re doing great, bud,” I assured him and I made a cast towards the seawall. I was awaiting my turn to do battle when Ryan calmly said “Dad, I got him, and it’s not a Jack, it’s a snook!” I looked down and saw the familiar black line down the side of a beautiful snook. At that point, I must admit I got pretty excited. I reached down and placed the Boga Grip on the fish’s mouth and pulled it out of the water. Ryan’s eyes were as big as golf balls. The look on his face will be the memory I will relish for years to come. The snook buried the Boga Grip right to 19- pounds. We did fish some more that day, but to be honest the rest of the trip just didn’t seem to matter. We could have caught more fish if we wanted to, but being content with one beautiful snook seemed to get the best of us. In past years, when Ryan and I would go out fishing, I would spend hours finding the right bait and trying to find the quality fish I wanted him to catch, even though I knew there was a school of jacks or ladyfish right around the corner. One thing I have learned from fishing with Ryan and other children his age is that they don’t give a damn what fish they catch, just as long as they are catching something. When it comes to taking children fishing, just take them out fishing and enjoy the memories. In this case,






CALL 941.697.4343 FOR INFO

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Water LIFE

All-Species-Day at the CBCA Spring Classic

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St aff Rep o rt Now in its 18th year, the Charlotte Builders and Contractors Association Spring Classic is one of the oldest continuing tournaments here. Divided into inshore and offshore categories this tournament is a measuring stick for the fishing in our area. This year we saw some big trout, over 4 lbs, but after it was all over the consensus was that the 38 redfish and 12 snook anglers brought to the scale were mostly smaller than usual. The 23 Jacks weighed in were mostly average but the big 23pounder was a whopper. Offshore fishermen brought in 13 snappers that were small, some amberjack and grouper that were average. The off-

On this side we have (clockwise from the top left) a blue fin tuna (that was a surprise, but not a tournament fish) an amberjack, a jack crevalle, the head of a redfish being passed through the fence and a hefty gag grouper.

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May 2004


On this side we have (clockwise from the top left) a redfish and a snapper in the basket, a grouper, a big trout, a phtotogenic snook, and a big flounder (not a tournament fish, but a nice dinner)

400 Monaco Drive - Wonderful intersecting canal views from this 3 bed. home that takes your breath away. This property has been well maintained w/an oversized side entry garage. 10,000 lb. boat lift w/room for pool (per owner). $399,900 MLS # 412415

1351 Osprey Drive - Beauty & quality throughout. Built by Ferro. Wood cabinets, solid surface counters, extensive tile, zero corner sliding glass doors, 2 walkin showers, custom window coverings, beautiful landscaping, South facing lot w/97' of seawall & basin view, 3 car garage w/ motor home door & hurricane shutters on entire house. $639,000 MLS # 424534

May 2004

Water LIFE


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“A Place to Sea”

• • • •

Wall Mounts • Sculptures Stained Glass • Tile Art Glass Art • Prints & Gifts Tropical Art • Painted Carvings

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A Proliferation of Pilings:

More Signs for Lemon Bay

May 2004


4 8 8 0 -H P l aci da Ro ad, Eng l ewo o d Tarpon Center

(941) 697-4696

By Capt. Ron Blago Water LIFE Staff Photos: Stephen Schoff across from Whiskey Creek


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Stupid is as stupid does. I have seen the future and frankly it sucks. I came to that conclusion last week when I picked a few friends up at the Aingers Creek boat ramp in Englewood for their annual fishing trip. This year I had to remind them that the boat ramp was now a pay to park facility and they would have to come up with a few extra bucks or face the possibility of a $35.00 parking ticket. I can’t repeat most of the comments I hear about the new parking fees, but needless to say the people using the boat ramps are not too happy. Parking fees are not the only changes this year. The long anticipated and dreaded manatee speed zone regulations are now in effect on Lemon Bay. I first noticed the change coming out of Aingers Creek when I saw that the Resume Safe Operation sign near the Rocky Creek Marine had been replaced by a sign that read Slow Speed to the ICW. As I idled to the ICW I saw several of my fellow boaters take a sharp turn south from the deep water channel, and in an effort to save a few minutes time, traveled through the shallow grass beds near Cider Point ripping up the bottom. We all knew the manatee regulations were coming. For years manatee zones and restrictions have been a heated topic among boaters in our area, but to actually see the signs go up has caught a lot of people by surprise. The regulations are pretty straight forward: maximum speed of 25 MPH in the main channel of the ICW with slow speed minimum wake every where else - No exceptions.

Offshore Report: ITʼS

The north marked channel leading to Stump Pass is technically part of the ICW so it stays at 25 MPH, but the south channel is now a slow zone. Regulations in Ski Alley at the present time will remain as they traditionally have been: Wide open in the alley is still OK. These new regulation will cause boaters to change a lot of old time boating habits or face some stiff penalties. No more flying over the grass flats to get to your favorite pot hole or mangrove shoreline. If you live on Aingers Creek and want to go to the White Elephant on Englewood Beach for a hamburger you now have to idle most of the way. Just add another hour to your meal time and enjoy the ride. The biggest problem I personally have with the new plan is the signs themselves. They seem to be popping up everywhere. Originally I had thought that we were going to follow the same procedure that is used in the Sarasota County portion of Lemon Bay. A few large signs next to the ICW telling people 25 MPH in the ICW - Slow Speed out side the channel. Instead, Charlotte County, in its wisdom, has pilings next to the channel, in the shallow water, and even put them on some navigational markers. This is a very confusing and dangerous situation. Remember that these new pilings are not lighted so be careful. To me a piling is just another thing for a boater to run into. There is some hope for us poor boaters in Florida. Senate bill 540, which if enacted will make manatee signs more uniform through out the state by making them easier to read and safer for boaters.


By Capt. S teve S kevi ngton Water LIFE Staff What can be said about fishing in May? There are so many different options for the offshore angler this month. It’s hard to know where to start. We’ve got tarpon showing up in Boca Grande pass just waiting to suck down some pass crabs. If your lucky enough to be carrying around a bunch of these tasty little morsels, and those sometimes stubborn Tarpon refuse to eat, just make a short run offshore to your favorite wreck and try flat lining a silver dollar size crab for permit. This kind of fishing does sometimes require patience, so if you don’t have any......., you can simply go grouper digging. The red grouper bite has been nothing short of awesome. Drifting over hard bottom with 4 oz jigs tipped with cut strips or live baits have and will produce big reds this month. Nice size lane snapper will be on these same hard bottom spots all month. Shrimp and squid on 1/0 fish finder rigs should take all the lanes you want. To pick the bigger ones out, try fishing a live scaled sardine on

the same rig. King mackerel are everywhere this time of year. Anyone willing to spend some time trolling will more than likely cash in with nice size kings this month. Everyone has their favorite lure. I have grown quite fond of live bait when it comes to kings. Blue runners, scaled sardines, and even silver grunts can also work really well on kingfish. It’s spring, and it’s very hard to do anything wrong fishing this time of year. With the fish this eager to bite, lets not forget to put some back. There’s one thing more rewarding than eating a fresh fish, and that’s releasing it. So, at the risk of sounding like a tree hugger, lets limit our take, not take our limit.

Anglerʼs Dream see page 12

May 2004

Water LIFE



Direct Bay Front Home

P a g e 11


With unobstructed views. Remodeled 3/2 with a dock, space for 2 lifts and moorings for up to four boats. Lot size at over 23,000 sq ft. Would allow construction of another home if desired. $995,000 MLS #418491

(941) 474-9534

Judy Kaff (941) 830-0502 Adjacent non - water front lot @ 20,000 sq ft. Beautifully landscaped, fenced for privacy $349,000 MLS#418495 Can be sold separately or together with above property MLS # 418491

Water LIFE

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By Capt Ro n Bl ag o Water LIFE Staff If you learn from your mistakes, I must be a genius. Every spring as fishing activity picks up in our area most guides push themselves and their equipment to the limit. If you don’t make your money now, when the tourist are here, it’s going to be a long lean summer. Things like bad weather and mechanical breakdowns can wipe out a whole year’s profit. With everyday being so hectic, it’s not surprising that even the most professional and experienced boater can make silly mistakes. Already this year I have compiled quite a list of bonehead moves. Fortunately I try to learn from my mistakes. One valuable lesson I learned recently is, if you put your boat in the water at five in the morning, you are not really awake. I came to that conclusion when I watched my boat drift away from the ramp after I forgot to tie my bow rope to the dock. I had to swim after it. Remember to take your wallet out of you pocket before you hit the water. Who would guess wallets are like sponges? Another valuable less is to always have a qualified marine mechanic do even the simplest repair. My livewell pump stopped working, which is a pretty common event. After all, it runs 7 or 8 hours a day so you are lucky to get a years worth of use out of one. Fishing everyday left me short of time so I figured I could change out the pump myself. How hard could it be? Cut a few wires remove a few hoses and replace the pump. I did the work myself, it worked great at the dock. The next day while taking a few people fishing, I noticed that my bilge pump was pumping out a lot of water. I shut of the livewell pump and opened the deck cover to discover the inner hull full of water. I reached in side and shut off my inlet valve and pumped out the rest of the water. Later that day I spent three hours tracking down the problem. Here is what I learned: If you loosen a hose clamp to remove the pump; when you reassemble it, you really should tighten the clamp back up, not just put them in place and forget about them. Another important detail is when you reassemble the pump to the pump

This year Molly Brown, a three year old Springer Spaniel, has a motorized swimming turtle for company in the pool until the water warms up enough for the rest of her family. Unheated pool temperatures are already past 74 degrees and should continue to climb. By the heat of summer, swimming pools inside screened cages will have 86 degree water. Now a slow but steady increase in chlorine replenishment is required. The turtle and other motorized pool toys are available from 5-Star Pools

On the Line with capt Ron

May 2004

Last month the Coast Guard approached sunken hull near Marker No. 1 in Charlotte Harbor. The boat had the numbers scraped off it and there were no water line marks or barnacles on it, indicating it must have been scuttled from a lift or a trailer. The boat was marked and then left floating. It was seen several days later near Mkr No. 5.

housing, you need to replace that little rubber gasket that holds them together. I learned that without that gasket the pump leaks like a sieve. I will say that ActionCraft boats sure can hold a lot of water without sinking. I saved the best for last. Last year I had a Boga Grip, one of those expensive fish grabbers with a built in scale. I laid it on the deck and a customer proceeded to kick it overboard by accident. This year I bought the Berkley imitation which we affectionally call the ‘Bogus Grip,’ it does the same job but without the scale. I was fishing in Lemon Bay with a friend when we found a good number of redfish. We quickly had our legal limit of 2 in the fishbox and were in catch and release mode. My friend hooked a monster 30 inch plus red. He asked me to take some pictures for him just in case he lost the fish. I put down my Bogus Grip and took some great action shots for him. As the fish came along side I put down the camera and grabbed the grip locking it onto the fish’s lip. As I held on to the leader line the hook brook loose. The fish jumped and swam away with the grip firmly attached to his lip. I know I should have used the lanyard or at least had a float attached, but I didn’t. If anyone in Lemon Bay happens to catch a large redfish with a

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Water LIFE

Page 13


Boat Races at the Charlotte Co. Speedway

Staff Report Race car and race boat drivers like to have their tachometers installed so the RPM that is the shift point, or the red line, is oriented straight up. That way, when the motor is screaming and they are bouncing around in the cockpit, all they have to recognize is that the pointer on the tach is straight to know they are at the top RPM. They donʼt really need to read the gauges they simply ʻreferenceʼ them. Driving any performance craft (or vehicle) should entail a regular scan of the instruments whenever the motor is running. Even when not racing, most performance drivers scan the instruments, referencing where all the needles on the gauges are pointing – when something isnʼt pointing where it normally would, itʼs an indication there is something wrong. The new generation of digital engine management displays make instrument interpretation by pointer position impossible and take more time to scan visually and interpret. Thatʼs why race drivers prefer analog displays.

Staff Report “The race is the last one on the card because we usually have to clean up the track afterward. All that broken fiberglass really makes a mess.” Those were the words of track personnel at the Charlotte County Speedway as we talked about the boat race sched-

racing. Then they stopped the race and re-routed the field through the figure 8 course. For those of you who are not familiar with figure 8 racing, once the pack gets spread out they wind up crossing at the intersection of the ʻ8ʼ often at great speed. The first crash sent an aged Rave careening off itʼs trailer as an older Saturn dumped its load. Then a Citation came loose in turn two and smashed into the barrier wall sending spectators on the other side scurrying. In the end an old Camero pulling a Marquis broadsided a Renken. As is the case with any demolition style race the last car running with a boat still on its trailer was the winner. The crowd loved it!

uled for Saturday night April 24. There were seven boats entered, all pulled around the paved oval on trailers by stock cars. Drivers from the nightʼs other races drew lottery style for the ʻprivilegeʼ of driving in the boat race. At first it wasnʼt much, just ten laps of

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Water LIFE

Page 14





May 2004


Recent Transactions in So. Gulf Cove

Factual Information provided by the Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte Association of Realtors. Real estate value in waterfront property is enhanced by various factors. Sailboat water, areaʼs where waterway depth can accommodate a sailboatʼs keel and where there are no bridges out to the open water, are considered prime.

Washington - A sailboat lot on a corner with a concrete seawall, 10,000lb lift and just five minutes to fast water. It also has a 1700 sq ft home built in 1994 with 3 bedrooms/ 2 baths and a swimming pool. In 1996 it sold for $87,000, 2 yrs later for $119,900 and finally in early 2004 for $334,850.

Singer - This 1950 sq ft home was built in 1988 with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. It sits on a canal with access to Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf. Canal has a sea wall and great multi level 12' x 36' dock and a solar heated pool. Ten years ago in 1993 it sold for $110,200 and again just this past March 2004 for $263,000.


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Miami - This salt water tip lot home was built in 1979 with 1448 sq ft. 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, no pool. In July of 2003 the home was purchased for $170,000 and after some fixing up, new roof, appliances and remodeled windows, they resold the home 7 months later for $218,000.

Attica - This tip lot home has a screened dock, davits and great "big water" views. It has 2 bedrooms, 2 baths and 1320 sq ft. and swimming pool. It originally sold for $86,200 in 1981 when it was brand new . It sold in February 2004 for $234,000.

Athel - Built in 1984 this home sits on a tip lot with 150 feet on the water. It appears it was a fix it up and sell it that doubled in 7 months. It was purchased in August of 2003 for $89,000. After a new kitchen, roof, carpet, paint in and out and new a/c it sold in March of 2004 for $180,000.

Alpaca - What sets this house and property apart is that it is on sailboat water with Gulf access. Seven years ago in 1997 this land was sold vacant for only $16,000. In 2004 with a 2000 sq ft home built in 2003 it sold for $307,000.

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Etiquette on the Water ... itʼs not that hard Water LIFE

May 2004

Guest Commentary By J.R. Witt For many years local fisherman and guides have been spoiled by our natural resources in SW Floridia. In years past it was uncommon to see several boats occupying the same shoreline together. Our population on the water used to be very limited. Everyone knew one another by name. Now things have changed. With new growth, increasing population and the sky rocketing boat sales we have seen in Charlotte Harbor and the surrounding areas, we are bombarded by new comers. Locals refer to it as ‘the invasion.’ With many new fisherman in the area and numerous different types of fishing styles, flats fishing has become very popular. People have moved here from around the globe, but many are unfamiliar with the local method of shallow water fishing. Shallow water fishing is different and unique in many ways. Sght casting to fish in three feet or less of water is a very exciting adventure that is uncommon fish-

ing for other parts of the world. Shallow water fishing is shallow, water fishing. Sometimes with low tides the water depths can be from two feet of water to two inches of water depending on the area where you are fishing. To help people understand flats fishing I like to compare it to hunting. Hunting and fishing are just alike. Both hobbies locate their prey and set up for the hunt or the catch. At no time when you are hunting and hear a gun shot from a distance would you get on your four wheeler and locate that hunter and then set your tree stand up next to his. Well fishing is the same way. Just compare it to hunting and think about the things you would not do to another hunter. Practice the same kind of hunting etiquette towards other fisherman. I have been fortunate in the past years to be able to fish all over the country and to see first hand many techniques and styles of fishing. A lot of it I did not understand because I was the newcomer. So I can relate to the new comers that have started fishing SW Florida. But in SW


Florida and surrounding areas there are unwritten rules on the water, we consider common courtesy and respect. Following is a list of things to help you understand why someone might be angry at you and it may help you avoid a conflict with other individuals on the water. 1. WHEN FIS HERMAN ARE ANCHORED they chum the water, creating chum slicks. This draws the bait to the boat from hundreds of yards away. Be aware that driving in front of them with your boat or throwing anchors out or getting too close to them will disturb their efforts. GIVE THEM ROOM. 2. WHEN YOUR BOAT IS ON PLANE and running the flats and you see anchored boats with bent rods or a fisherman catching fish, do not pull alongside of them. Remember flats fishing is shallow water. Boat motors and loud noises will spook the fish. Give them room unless invited in.

Page 15

3. WHEN YOU ARE ON THE FLATS and see someone on the trolling motor or push pole, give them as much room as you possibly can. Keep away several hundred yards. Give them room. 4. IF YOU ARE ALERT AT ALL TIMES everyone will be safer in shallow water. We have a lot of wade fisherman here. Slow down, use common sense, be safe. 5. TRY TO HAVE YOUR BOAT READY TO LAUNCH before backing up to the ramp. After launching your boat pull it out of the wet slip and move it to the outside of the ramp. Do not ‘camp out,’ this just slows down the process. After your boat is loaded, pull it several hundred feet out of the way and then finish securing it. This will make for a smoother program other than the typical cluster !#@?, that it has been. There are several things more we could add to the list, but if just these five things could be

Boats anchored near markers are often trying to net live bait. They should be given extra room. Donʼt invade their ʻcircle of opportunityʼ unless you are invited in.

practiced on and off the water it would make for a more enjoyable day on the water for everyone who enjoys fishing as much as I do. Let’s put respect and etiquette back on the water.

Water LIFE

State F.W.C. OKʼs Culling Exemption for Kids Cup Page 16

S t aff R eport Speaking by phone for the State Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Lisa Gregg said she had looked over the Kids Cup application and was issuing a waiver for culling. The culling waiver allows anglers to keep a redfish in the livewell and later ‘exchange’ or cull that fish if a larger one is caught. At the Kids Cup Competitor’s meeting all boats with livewells that conform to the 2.4 cu ft or 18 gallon requirement will receive copies of the exemption which must be carried aboard during the event. The exemption will be valid in Charlotte, Lee and Sarasota County waters.

Below are the applicable culling requirements from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Marine Fisheries: Effective March 2004, pursuant to Rule 68B-22.007, Florida Administrative Code, the executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), or his designee, shall issue a tournament exemption permit to the director of a qualified catch-and-release fishing tournament to allow redfish to be caught, held, and released during the tournament, and to allow the tournament to exceed redfish bag and possession limits pursuant to 68B-22.005(1) after redfish have been weighed-in. Tournament exemption permits will only be issued to catch-and-release redfish tournaments that agree to the following permit conditions: Tournament anglers and tournament staff must attempt to release alive all redfish that are caught, including those fish that are weighed-in. Each of the tournament anglers possesses no more than one live redfish in the boat's live well or recirculating


May 2004

tank at any one time; All boats used (for culling) in the tournament must contain recirculating or aerated live wells that are at least 2.4 cubic feet or 18 gallons in capacity.

Dead redfish possessed by a tournament angler are not discarded. A dead redfish is considered harvested and will count as the daily bag limit for the tournament angler who harvested that fish. Redfish must be maintained in an aerated recovery holding tank prior to release. Recovery holding tank requirements may be specified in the tournament exemption permit at the FWC’s discretion in order to increase survival of released redfish. The tournament must provide the FWC with a description of the aerated recovery holding tank(s) used to maintain redfish alive after weigh in. The tournament must provide the FWC with a description of the location where tournament caught redfish will be released after weigh in. In order to increase survival of released redfish, release locations may be specified in the tournament exemption permit at the FWC’s discretion. The tournament must agree to allow FWC staff the opportunity to collect research data and conduct research and onboard monitoring during the tournament, as needed and, The tournament must submit a post-tournament report to the FWC indicating the number of fish weighed-in each day of the tournament, the number of fish weighed-in dead each day, and the number of fish that died after being weighed-in, but prior to release each day. The FWC may specify additional tournament reporting requirements as a condition of the tournament exemption permit.

This 15-inch tall bronze sculpture of a tailing redfish will be the trophy for each of the top 5 Kids Cup finalists. Thunder Marine in Englewood is the top 5 trophy sponsor. The top five trophies will all have a bronze plaque on them, but the plaques werenʼt ready at the time we went to press, so we added one on the computer to resemble what we will have. The overall winner of the Kids Cup Shootout will also receive a scaled down version of the big Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup trophy to be presented by J.M. Productions on the ESPN2 stage, on Sunday June 13, at the main Redfish Cup event. There will also be one custom Kids Cup winnerʼs jacket.

May 2004

Kids Cup

Tournament Update

By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Publisher and Kids Cup Tournament Director There will be a free seminar for Kids Cup Competitors at Laishley Marine on Saturday May 22 from 10 a.m. until noon. The plan is to have 5 stations with different guides at each one. We will cover casting, live shrimp as a bait, soft plastics and plugs. We will also have a large scale version of the Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor fishing chart for you to look at and discuss. The

chart will appear in the Ki ds Cup Tournament program next month as well, so everyone will have a copy. We have had the first batch of T-shirts printed and more are on the way. Fish the tournament, be a sponsor or just buy a Ki ds Cup shirt for $15, all the money goes to the Don Ball School of Fishing. The tournament hats are almost ready. They are light-weight and should be good for the summer. Along with two t-shirts, There will be a white hat and a black hat in each competitor’s bag. We have already ‘tested’ these hats and they are good to 63 mph. To continue testing any further we will need a faster boat. Speaking of faster boats, Thunder Mari ne in Englewood has stepped up to become the Tournament Trophy Sponsor and Li sa Levendofsky at Burnt S tore Properti es signed on to be the Competitor’s Award sponsor. The top five anglers get trophies, shimano rods and reels and a chance to go on and fish with

Water LIFE

Kids Cup Seminar

Page 17


the pros in the Oh Boy Oberto Redfish Cup on the following weekend. Both Exude and DOA have said YES and they will be providing useful soft plastic lures for the competitor’s bags. Bi g Fi sh Tackl e has also committed to donating grub tail spoons and bait cradle spoons for the captain’s bags and there will be live bait shrimp hooks in there as well. Both Fishin’ Frank and Becky at Rio Villa Bait and Tackle will open early on June 5 to accommodate tournament anglers. Sponsor support throughout the community continues to grow. Mercury Mari ne, Pal m Chevrol et, Lai shl ey Mari ne, Charl otte County Vi si tor’s Bureau, Boat U. S . , West Mari ne, Don Gasgarth Charl otte County Ford, Ingman Mari ne, Manasota Key Real ty, Buffal o Graphi cs, Anchorman Mari ne, B&F S mokehouse, Capt Bi l l ’s Barber S hop, Col umbi a S portswear, DOA, Exude, Bi g Fi sh Tackl e, S creenPri nt Pl us, The Best

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Page 18

Water LIFE

May 2004


It Was Dumb – I know

By Fi shi n Frank Port Charlotte Staff I have been complaining about where the fish go on low tides. It was pretty easy to figure out, but it was really hard to get where they were hiding. With a strong east wind and low tide I headed into the Myakka cut off. Dumb, I know, but I had a hunch that the deeper waters in the narrows would be holding fish. Making it over the flats in the first bays, I shut down just as I reached the narrows of the east side. Taking out the push pole and moving the boat over to the left or west side until the keel of the boat was just rubbing bottom, I pushed the boat to the center of the bend. Anchoring up, I started chumming with small pieces of dead bait, sardines work great for this. Then, with live bait rigged 2 feet under popping corks, we started casting to the high side of the tide. The bait would drift along the edge of the mangroves with the tide, letting line out a little or reeling in a little to keep the bait as close to the mangroves as possible. As a back-up, we put a line down current using a jig head with a live bait on it – not on the mangrove side, but on the inside, as close to the edge of the inside sandbar as we could, just in case the fish did not know they were suppose to be by the mangroves. The hardest part of this kind of fishing is the waiting game. To get chum to work and start bringing in fish can take 40 minutes, so we kept casting the popping corks along the mangrove on their drift, and in about 15 minutes the first popping cork disappeared. Fish on,

and while the 14 inch red did not put up a long battle he was determined to show off his bad atttitude. After releasing him, my dad, Fishin Frank the elder, took off his popping cork and started free lining shrimp. With the tide coming in just a little stronger now, the free lined bait would still continue to drift along the bottom. Six more casts and dad had another redfish, this time on the free lined bait, a little larger than the first, but still not a slot size ‘keeper.’ Back he went. While dad was releasing the red, the back rod bent double. Fish on! Rodney had a nice one. Rodney is what I call the rod holder on the back of my boat. He catches some of the best fish as he doesnot reel in all the time, and he has patience. Any way, putting my rod in another holder and grabbing the rod from Rodney, this was a heavy fish. When I put the boots to the drag he started to boil, and really thrash the water on the shallow bar. It was so shallow he was fighting literally with his back out of water . The third time he boiled we could see another fish moving with the one on the line. Dad cast just behind my fish and fish on again, for a double header. The wife would be happy, she wanted redfish for dinner and I was sure this would be a keeper, judging from what I could see and feel of the fish. Dad however, was having a harder time with his since his fish was a little smarter and took off for the other side and the deeper water. Me, I prefer to continued on facing page

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Water LIFE

May 2004

Page 19


from Fishinʼ Franks

The Weakest Link Will Always Fail First Eye Problems

We had been fishing for a while without a bite. We were in an area where we could see the redfish blow out of the brown muddy bottom, but couldnʼt get them to eat. We had thrown several different top water plugs, two spoons, and a rainbow of soft plastics without any luck. I tied on a well worn Yozuri 3D fingerling and began to retrieve it. It took a few casts, but then,

suddenly I was on. A big red taking drag. And then all at once it was over. At first it felt like the line broke, but then as I reeled it in the lure was still attached. Upon closer inspection the wire eye, had been pulled clean out of the back of the plug. “Iʼve seen that a couple of times before,” one angler I was fishing with said. “Iʼve seen it three times,” the other angler on the boat said.

catch the dumb ones. Wth dad still fighting, I landed my fish, and at 26 and-a-little-bit into the cooler he went. Being hopeful and hungry for a fresh fish dinner, I had the Cajun spices already mixed and the grill out at the house. Dad was still playing with his red fish that by now had tangled the line. I sat down while fighting my red and started to help untangle the lines. What a mess. That is the problem when fishing more than one rod, the lines were beyond untangling and one had to be cut. The problem is when they are wrapped together it is sometimes hard to tell which is which, so I played it safe and cut back

These little Yozuris have proven to be lethal on many fish in Charlotte Harbor, but they are really freshwater lures that are not designed to be used on nine pound fish. Local anglers have taken to replacing the split rings and flimsy hooks that come with these lures with heavier items. The plug I was fishing was so modified. And in the end, the weakest link gave way. In

from the mess a little and dad was able to reel the tangled mess through the guides onto the reel to be sorted out later. After all the problems, tangles and a run to the roots of the bushes were over the fish had to be released. It was just a hair over 27inches. We stayed there and over the next hour caught a few more reds - the smaller ones along the mangrove – the other larger one on the inside edge of the bar. Deciding to call it a day, we turned the boat around to get on plane in the deeper side of the narrows. I hit the throttle to jump up on plane, but instead of jumping up on plane the boat jumped sideways and

Look at the size of the remaining hook and split ring. No wonder the eye on the lure pulled out with a big fish on the line.

this case it was the wire eye on the back of plug. We wish they made these lures with a solid connecting

bam there was a loud metallic sound of the prop hitting something. I stopped then put the boat in gear and it moved. No noise. Then reverse. No noise. Hitting the throttle again we jumped on plane and I thought what ever it was it must not have been too bad. I was not sinking and the boat was moving. Heck I can check it when I get safely back to the dock. I could not have fixed it there anyway, lets get back then worry, we agreed. There was a little vibration running back but when I got the boat on the trailer I looked at the prop. Three of the four blades were bent over. One had about two

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inches of blade bent at a 90 degree angle, the other two had lesser bends. That would explain why the boat jumped sideways and all the banging. Over the years I have used that spot to get on plane dozens of times, later I went back and could not find what I hit and I still don’t know, Here is a plug for Peter and Theresa at Suncoast Propeller Shop in the Whidden Industrial Park on Harborview road in Port Charlotte. Thanks for helping me out. We need a good prop shop in town and I hope you stay. There is no telling when I might need their services again.

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Page 20

Water LIFE


May 2004

ScuttleButt Sometimes Unsubstanciated ... but often true

Manatee Markers In the rush to judgement during the installation of federal manatee zone markers some markers have now come loose and toppled over. According to one sheriffʼs deputy a marker he retrieved appeared to have chain marks on it, indicating it was pulled out by someone intentionally, and others, according to the marine Advisory Committee, were not installed deep enough into the river bottom. The next problem comes when we figure out where to get the money to maintain all the new markers. The Feds want it to be a county responsibility, but the county may balk. PowerPole We have heard from a number of anglers and even from one boat manufacturer that the power pole anchoring system is a good product but service and parts follow up from the manufacturer are less than desirable. Stories of orders not followed up and calls going unanswered are becoming more frequent.

The Peace River is Number 8 on the list of this countryʼs polluted rivers, and we are still allowing phosphate mining up river from Charlotte Harbor. An acid spill last month once again pointed out the danger phosphate mining poses to the aquifer in south west Florida. Shown at the left is a phosphate gypsum stack with its top level covered by phosphoric acid. When these stacks spring a leak the acid goes directly into the ground and into our harbor.

Enforcement Blitz On one weekend in April seven FWC officers with boats and a helicopter worked a joint detail with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Caloosahatchee River, Matlacha Pass, and Estero Bay. The officers patrolled the new federal manatee zones and between the two agencies, there were 89 written warnings, 12 verbal warnings, and 8 federal manatee violations issued. Additionally, numerous citations and warnings were issued for other boating safety violations.

Angler Based Tagging is the hot topic at the FWC headquarters in Tallahassee. We may see more of this at the local tournament level soon.

Fishville' After staying closed to boat traffic for over one year, new plans for the marina at Fishermenʼs Village have finally been posted. According to information on the old aerial view the fuel dock will be relocated to the back of the marina, directly next to the swimming pool. The move will necessitate dredging the marina to 6.5 feet in an area where the bottom is now only about 1 foot deep at the shore. The idea is already unpopular. Capt Billʼs Punta Gordaʼs Favorite barber Capt. Bill Rogner is the force behind a new barber shop opening in the old ʻDoll Houseʼ located on US 41 next door to Laishley Marine. Billʼs other location remains unchanged.

New Boat, Same Old Bridge The new fireboat ʻMarine 1ʼ owned and operated by Charlotte County was tied up at the Holiday Inn recently sporting a brand new-broken off antenna hanging down from the cabin roof. Maybe there is some other explanation, but it sure looked like someone forgot to lower it at some point right before it passed under something very low.

Water LIFE

May 2004


Trails,Tails, and Tales

By Capt. Ben Turpi n Water LIFE Kayak Fishing Editor Sit on vs. sit in, the debate continues. Which is better? Will they tip over? Will I be trapped inside a sit in? P erhaps we can answer some of the questions, but more importantly how about a convertible boat. The perfect boat you say for all situations, a sit in when you want to stay dry and a sit on when you want the freedom of movement. Does such a plastic creation exist? Perhaps. Let’s see what we can discover. The more you paddle the more you learn. The more you come to appreciate things about a particular boat, or perhaps get driven very near the edge of frustration by one quirky characteristic of a particular craft. Each boat is different and over time you will CH NTY 93 U 19 CO CE N SI

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Page 21


learn what works best for your style of paddling and your mode of fishing. After all, that is why most of us paddle in the first place, right? Sit ons offer easy in and out capabilities. Nice to get out and fight a fish without having to extricate yourself from your boat. Sit ins offer a nice dry ride great when the water temp is too cold for Florida boys and girls that think 75 degree water is cold. Both boats paddle about the same, given comparable lengths. Sit ons allow you to store your gear on top with easy access. Sometimes this means it gets wet. Sit ins keep your gear dry, but often it is like pulling a snook out of the mangroves to get to it. So where is the perfect boat? I paddle a tandem sit in boat from Liquid Logic. It is 14 ft. long and has a nice open

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cockpit. No fear of being stuck in the boat should it go over. At 14 ft, it paddles very well and is still easy enough to handle on the water, solo. There are countless flavors of this boat from other manufacturers offering a little difference here or there, but this style is my favorite. Is it the perfect boat? Perhaps. Recently, I have been taking my big tackle bag and placing it in the front seat, then placing myself there on top with my legs dangling

over the side. Now I am in a convertible kayak. I am able to use my feet in the sand for anchors, or mobility and can control the kayak in skinny water with great precision. When fighting a nice fish it is easy to get up and out of the boat. All of my gear is stored close at hand with tons of room under the deck for extras should you be on a long trip or just like to take way more stuff than you need. Dry when needed and wet when the water’s warm. Perhaps not the

perfect boat, but definitely worth looking into if you’re torn between the two. Oh, by the way, take the fishing gear out (I know bad idea) and it can be a great family boat for you and your spouse or kids. The SUV of kayaks will continue to evolve, just see what you can do with yours.

Ben Turpin paddles Charlotte Harbor and fishes from a k ay ak . To tak e a k ay ak -fishing trip, a guided Eco-tour or just get more information about upcoming paddles, please call ben at 941-374-6973 or v isit his website:

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Water LIFE

Horseshoe Crab History

By El l en Hel l er Water Life Publisher In Japan the horseshoe crab (Kabutogani) has long been legendary. In ages past, brave warriors who died in battle were said to be reborn as horseshoe crabs, their shells, samurai helmets, eternally crossing the bottom of the sea. This myth began with the Japanese Civil War of 1180 and 1185 AD. The final stage of the war, called Genpei Gassen, took place on the ocean at Dannoura. Samurai warriors, soldiers and family who belonged to the defeated legion, committed suicide there. Near the beach of Dannoura is a habitat of Japanese horseshoe crabs. If you see one from the top, it is said you will see a Samurai warrior’s face on the shell. People

in the region explain that based on the Buddhism doctrine of reincarnation, those who died became horseshoe crabs. Once called horse-foot crabs, for obvious reasons, they are not really crabs at all, but instead are more closely related to scorpions, tics and spiders. Horseshoe crabs (Limulus Polyhemus) were never elevated to mythical proportions in the U.S., but they have been useful as fertilizer, as bait for conch and eel fisherman, and for biomedical science. After nearly 400 million years of existence, their longevity can be attributed to there ability to withstand extreme water temperatures and their ability to go for up to one year with out eating. The anatomy of the horseshoe crab is


complex, but highly effective. With a total of ten eyes, or light sensors, they can safely travel to great depths or playfully swim across the top upside down, using their tail for a rudder. They have two compound lateral eyes used primarily for finding mates, and five additional eyes on the top of the shell. The median eyes have cells sensitive to visible light while other eyes are sensitive to the ultraviolet range. Even the tail has a series of light sensors along the top and side that keeps its brain synchronized to cycles of light and dark. The last two “eyes” are underneath near their mouth and used to help them see while swimming. Limulus polyphemus belongs to a class called Merostomata, which means “legs attached to the mouth,” because the mouth of the horseshoe crab is in the center of its body, where the legs attach. It uses its hind legs to help break up food; the small front appendages, are primarily used to place food into its mouth. Although they are fun to look at in the water, horseshoe crabs are also beneficial. If you have ever received medication through an injection, these warriors have helped you. An extract of the horseshoe crab’s blood is used by the pharmaceutical and medical industries to ensure their products are free of bacterial contamination. The bacterial contamination is caused by an endotoxin which is able to withstand steam sterilization. The crabs blood can detect the presence of these toxins, so they are captured in shallow water by hand from a small

May 2004

boat using a clam rake. Once the crabs are caught, they are transported to a laboratory. Sometimes a refrigerated truck is used, but as long as the animals are kept cool and dark during transport, they survive. In a bleeding process, up to 30% of the animal’s blood is removed, but the animals are not injured. Once returned to the water, it takes about a week for the horseshoe crab’s blood volume to return to normal. Theoretically, crabs can be bled several times a year, but manufacturers tend to bleed them only once per year. Studies done show that not only do the crabs survive one bleeding, but that they can be captured year after year to donate their life-saving blood. But that’s not all these prehistoric creatures have done for us. It was in 1926 that H. Keffer Hartline began to study electrical impulses from the optic nerves of horseshoe crab eyes. From these studies, important principles about the function of human eyes were discovered. In another medical application, the chitin variety of horseshoe crabs are used in the manufacturing of chitin-coated filament used for suturing and wound dressing for burn victims. Chitin-coated suture material reduces healing time by 35 to 50 percent. So, next time you see one of these reincarnated Samurai warriors swimming by in Charlotte Harbor, you might stop for a minute to appreciate their complexity, their tenacity to survive for millions of years and be grateful for their gift of life saving chemistry.

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Water LIFE

Page 23


The annual Sunfish Regatta comes to Charlotte harbor this month May 15-16. Boats will race on a course set up behind the Oyster Bar on the Port Charlotte side of the US 41 bridge.

By Bi l l Di xon Water LIFE Sailing Editor I like sunfish. They are far-and-away the most popular sailboat ever made. There are nearly a half a million of them out there. A sunfish is capable of carrying 2 people and gear, in fact there is a Sunfish race on the Connecticut River that includes an overnight camp out. They are easy to sail for beginners and difficult to win races in without a lot of practice. Sunfish will make up the bulk of the boats at the new Community Sailing Center to be located at Laishley Park. I didn’t grow up in a youth sailing program, I was a power boater until the gas crisis in the 70s. When I took up sailing, it was in bigger ‘keel’ boats. My first sunfish arrived near my 40th birthday. I bought it sight unseen from a community sailing center on Lake Michigan. They were purging their fleet of derelicts. After sailing my ‘fish’ around a small inland lake for a couple of summers, I joined the fleet that raced on Lake Michigan. In that fleet were, the masters National Champion, the women’s National Champion, the past World Champion and the present World Champion as well as a teenager, Nancy Haberland, who is on the 2004 Olympic Sailing Team. Sometimes in the valleys in big waves on Lake Michigan, it was easy to imagine you were all alone in the world. At the crest sometimes, it was like downhill skiing. In two years of racing the best I ever did was 4th place, and that was when some of the aforementioned sailors were absent. I bought a second sunfish (pink) for my wife. She raced with me briefly. She didn’t

take defeat as well as I could. Skipping a quarter of a century, I bought another sunfish and now race at Charlotte Beach with the Punta Gorda Sailing Club. I am a lot older, a little heavier, but the race results are similar. Today only Will White, of the sailors that regularly beat me, is a past champion, but somehow that doesn’t make it any better. While tacking recently, I ducked under the boom, caught my hair in the block on the boom and caught my face in the block on deck. I just waited there all hunched over till the boat capsized before extricating my self. Once, I compounded the deck so the faded green paint wouldn’t come off on my shorts. Next race day, I slid off the shiny wet deck, right into the water. I used to keep the ‘fish on pulleys near my garage ceiling. The bow handle casting broke and my ‘fish fell into the bed of my pickup. On the next race day, I finished worse than usual. At the end of the day, the mystery was solved. My boat was so full of water that it took 4 of us to lift it. the fall had cracked the keel. There will be a Sunfish regional championship regatta on the Peace River on May 15- 16. The Punta Gorda Sailing Club and the Harbor Inn are sponsoring it. Competitors from as far away as the Carolinas will be here. The regatta will be open to all local members of the sunfish class, there are no other prerequisites. This will be a qualifying event for the Sunfish World Championship, so competition at the front will be fierce, but sunfish people are nice, so come on out even if you aren’t championship material. For more information, call Rick Pantall at 627-4399.

TOUGH LUCK. Purchased only the day before, the new owner of this boat supposedly took it to a safe spot down river from the bridge and anchored it there. Unfortunately the anchor pulled in heavy wind and seas sending the boat crashing under the US 41 bridge, ripping off the mast and rigging. It remains unclear whether insurance had been in force yet at the time.

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Baitcaster Basics

Water LIFE

Page 24

A windy day had us fishing the lee side of the Harbor in water run out by the tide and then blown out further by the wind. “These fish are in here,” Mike Mahon said, poling his lightweight flats boat in water too skinny for his trolling motor. One fish, then another blew out in front of us, leaving only puffs of mud. Redfish, Mahon said. Mahon is one of Quantum’s pro tournament anglers. He is dead-nuts accurate with a baitcaster and we are out on this morning for Mahon to demonstrate the new Quantum Cabo series, saltwater baitcaster reel. “The bait casting reel is definitely more accurate,” Mahon says, “It has a higher gear ratio than a spinning reel and it will hold a lot of line. Because the way the reel is seated on the rod it is better for throwing top water plugs,” Mahon says. “But they ain’t worth a flip for live saltwater bait since live bait is usually too light to throw very far with a baitcaster.” A baitcaster reel uses centrifical force for casting with magnets taking up the spool tension. Loose spool tension (usually monitored with your thumb) is what, when left unaccounted for, produces the line tangles baitcasting reels are notorious for.

May 2004


“Don’t mix up tension with drag,” Mahon says, “a baitcaster has both.” Drag is drag, this reel has ceramic and felt drag washers, but spool tension is different. On this new reel, spool tension is adjusted by sliding the side cover off and then clicking in the appropriate setting on the dial. “With a lighter weight lure you use a lighter setting,” Mahon advises, “but when you are just starting out with a baitThe adjustable tension settings (0 to 8) on the new Quantum Cabo baitcaster caster keep the tension tighter and string your reel with cheap mono. You’ll be wasting a lot than a spinning reel which makes a big difference in how of line with tangles until you get the hang of using a tired your casting hand feels at the end of the day. baitcaster,” Mahon warned. “I like the baitcaster for top water plugs and spoons,” Baitcaster rods are sightly different from spinning rods Mahon says. “I fish left handed because I don’t like to as well. They have more backbone and they usually have switch hands after I make a cast. It’s all what you are more guides which are positioned closer to the rod. comfortable with,” Mahon says as his line goes tight and In combination, the baitcaster rod and reel is lighter another fish comes back to the boat.

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S t aff R eport The Charlotte chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association has executed a 180degree turn and announced they are now going to resume their annual Kids Fishing Day. Last year the CCAs had cancelled their kids tournament, a 15-year tradition, after the national branch of CCA said the liability risk of putting kids on the water was too great. The chapter then announced a land-based fishing event, but that was later cancelled as well. According to chapter member Bob Leonard, the CCA has now ‘brokered a deal’ with the Charlotte County Parks and Recreation Department who will be the event sponsor and will assume liability for the tournament’s anglers. “They ran it by their legal department and gave us the green light,” Leonard said. The event is scheduled for July 24, and will be held at the Port Charlotte Beach Complex. “We won’t have free rods and reels,” Leonard said, “but the event will still be free.”


The Oldest Restaurant and Marina on the Peace River

May 2004

Water LIFE

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SAILBOAT WATERFRONT POOL/SPA HOME - Tile roof. Looking for that dream home, then look no further. This home located in Collingswood Pointe homes is on two lots. Custom built thru-out. 4 BR + 4 Bath, built in 2000, 3585 Sq Ft. Circular drive and 3 plus car garage with plenty of parking space, dock, 9,000 boat lift and down the Manchester waterway to the Harbor. gorgeous architect and landscaping makes this a true beauty, Italian tile on entrance of large columns and double glass front doors open to view of living room and pool/lanai area. Everything is oversized with large L shape lanai with summer kitchen with dcs cooking/grilling center, U–Line auto ice maker/refrigerator. Pool closet and hose bib in pool area with great view of lake. A gourmet kitchen to die for, wooden cabinets, solid surface counters, 48 inch sub zero style ref. Vegetable sink in Island and 2 breakfast bars. Double oven, one is convention also. 2 water heaters and 2 A/C units. 17-inch diagonal tile in all rooms except Berber in bedrooms. A lovely master suit with his and hers walk-no closets and roman shower, commode closet, 2 vanity sinks, Sec. sys and intercom, niches and plants shelves every where. well and sprinkler sys for yard. Home features gas and electric. The list

PGI Saltwater Canal Condo at Bridgepoint Located on 2nd floor access by elevator. Just a couple of minutes around the corner, past Fisherman's Village and you are in the Harbor, for a day of fun in the sun. What a view from the front windows of the Harbor and a beautiful view of canal and lovely homes from the lanai. The condo shows like a model. Condo Features: an assigned dock, 2br/2ba, glass top stove, mircowave, long breakfast bar and storage for desk items at end of bar, carport. Dome lighting, 5 ceiling fans, berber carpet & tile, sliding florida windows on lanai with storage cabinet at end of lanai, and much much more. $264,900 EM5000 Call Ellen today.

COLLINGSWOOD POINTE 3/2/2 HOME ON SAILBOAT WATER on oversized corner lot. Tradewind expansion model featuring oversize garage. Beautifully landscaped with shell and stepping stone path along the left side of home to lanai and wood walkway to huge 38 ft dock and 6,000 lb boat lift. Owners have added a caged patio 18x28, great for entertaining and beautiful plants. If you love plants, you will love the Arbor for all your hanging baskets on the right side of home. Great fishing in area and just a short ride to the Harbor. Volume ceilings and lots of plants shelves add to the beauty of this great room home, open and spacious, split bedrooms and a great view to the water from master bedroom, great room,

kitchen and breakfast nook. You'll love the decor with colors and wallpaper in several rooms. Wooden cabinets in kitchen with side by side ref. glass top stove with microwave. Wood cabinets in baths, with jetted tub, dual sinks, vanity and shower, his n hers closets in master bath. 3rd bedroom also has walk-n closet. All windows and

PORT CHARLOTTE POWERBOAT SEAWALLED POOL HOME Just minutes to the harbor, by way of Elkcam waterway. Looking for space, this one has 4/BR 2/BA, liv. and din. rm, plus family room and a bonus room for office or what ever you need. Many new upgrades, including aluminum roof in 2002, diamond brite pool and 19x50 pool cage in 96, new dock 2001, both baths upgraded with high counters, new circular driveway for extra parking and easy access. $294,900, MLS # 422340 Need room?? Then call Ellen today!

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Port Charlotte Saltwater Pool home on 138ft of seawall. Minutes to the harbor. 3 br. 2 bas. 1 car carport, fenced yard. New 15x30 diamond brite pool with auto cleaning system in a 26x46 mansard caged area, new 12 seer a/c and electrical box. Enough room to add garage. MLS # 421481, $189,900 For more info call Ellen McCarthy

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doors have 3M hurricane protection film. Well and irrigation for yard. Sec. system, inside laundry, 2 pantries. Lanai is wired for spa/hot tub. 18x28 patio could be removed for pool or pool/spa. The list goes on and on. Don't miss this one. $459,900 MLS#418956 Call Ellen McCarthy

At Collingswood Pointe, with 275 ft on the water. Area of million dollar plus homes .......... Overlooking 70 acre lake just 20 minutes to Harbor. Great fishing area. No survey, so size is approx. Tax record show 20,117 sq ft of property. Nice quiet area to enjoy our beautiful sunsets. Area is all natural with no concrete seawall. Price firm. MLS # 415786 $339,900 Call Ellen McCarthy

Water LIFE

Page 26

Tom Knight

S t aff R eport Tom Knight knows about boats. Growing up on Boca Grande as part of the Knight clan, Tom worked in the family boatyard and took his first job as captain on a 34-foot twin at the age of 13. “I’ve been around

boats all my life,” Knight says. Knight left Boca Grande to go to work for Mercury Marine where he started as a test boat driver and worked his way up to the facilities manager at their Placida testing center. He stayed for over 30 years. Now that Mercury has left Placida, Knight is service manager for the Thunder Marine dealership in Englewood and he is the guy to talk to about twin outboard handling. “There is really not that much difference between one motor and two. The primary difference is the safety factor, and with two

May 2004


motors they don’t have to work as hard to move the vessel around. Twins will cruise at a lower rpm as well,” Knight said. “With twins you can equal out the weight on one side of the boat by trimming that engine out, kind of like a trim tab,” Knight explained. Digital tachometers make syncing two engines easier, but you have to get the feel of the particular boat you are on and you have to learn to listen for the ‘harmony’ of two motors running as one. “It’s all a feel for vibration,” Knight said. According to Knight, “incor-

rect trim is the main problem

Twin Screws Pivoting on axis

multipe outboard drivers have, although manuevering in close to the dock is where most people get in trouble.” A twin engine boat can turn around on its own axis, Knight said, swinging a brand new 26foot Hydrosport Vector around in the narrowest, shallowest part of Thunder Marine’s marina channel.

The boat is pivoting counter clockwise (right motor forward, left motor reverse) in all of these photographs, while completing a 360-degree turn in place.

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May 2004

Water LIFE

Page 27

Even a Charter Captain Needs a Little Change of Pace Once in a While

By Capt. Chuck Ei chner Water LIFE Gasparilla Editor Leaving Charlotte Harbor for a little fishing vacation seems crazy with the incredible fishing we have here, but even a charter captain needs a little change of pace once in a while and there is no place better than Flamingo Florida. The park facility has everything an angler could want; great launching facilities, a hotel, cottages and a restaurant. Slipping the boat in the water around 9:30 a.m. we watched the winds pick up to around 20 knots. Not exactly good conditions for fishing the flats but there are lots of options in Flamingo. There are countless miles of bays, channels and rivers that twist and wind through the Everglades Park. The waters here are heavily stained, brown in color and require patience and experience to be successful. Our focus was the near-shore waters of Florida Bay so we headed out into a stiff breeze only to encounter dirty water and a tremendously low tide. You know the type of water you hate to see – “coffee-colored, double cream.” There went our game plan, of casting soft plastics to tailing reds, right out the window. Plan B was to look for bait. Diving pelicans were encountered right in front of the Flamingo lodge, but several throws with the cast net proved fruitless. Motoring past Christian Point heading into Snake Bite channel we marveled at the miles of fishing grounds that were high and dry. This vision was only tempered by flocks of pink spoonbills gliding overhead in postcard formation. Turning our thoughts back to bait catching, we noticed mullet rolling on the edge of the channel and after 8 or 9 throws we had a good dozen baits. These were big baits and it looked like we would be fishing cut bait now. Hey, we came here to fish and relax. Motoring to the first good looking hole we anchored well out of the wind and got out the 25-pound class spinning gear. We were hoping for tarpon, but one never knows what might eat a piece of cut mullet. Since I was in the true relaxation

mode, I decided to crack a cold one and eat a sandwich while Bob and Paul got started. No hurry I figured, not with these conditions. WRONG! Within 10 minutes Paul let out a grunt and his drag was screaming. This fish boiled once and was dumping the spool. Going for the anchor and starting the boat we were ... too late… and the fish was gone! Ok, so now I was settling back into my sandwich and Bob lets out a weehaaaa! Rod bent doubled, drag burning and in unison Paul and I lifted anchor and motored after the fish. But before Bob could get a handle on that fish 100 yards of line was out and the fish ran him into the sticks….gone! And so it went. We re-anchored and settled back in. Long story short, we hooked 5 big fish with 2 for certain being tarpon. All got away. Two lemon sharks came aboard with one at 100-pounds and the other pushing 175-pounds. We also caught small goliath groupers and a couple of nurse sharks. Not bad for absolutely horrible conditions! Day 2 started with an incredible breakfast buffet at the Flamingo restaurant, which has a spectacular second story view over Florida Bay. We watched as dolphins horded up mullet in the basin directly below. On shore, rabbits, turtles and birds wandered nearby with no apparent fear of humans. It’s just a remarkable wildlife experience at Flamingo. Launching the boat we met with a little de-ja-vu from the day before. High winds and a strong outgoing tide left us right out of the gates going with Plan B. But, you know how fishing goes. We went to catch the mullet and there was too much water on the flats. Nearly 2 hours of chasing mullet with no success so we tried chumming for pinfish. Leaving the grassbeds with probably 100 frisky baits we headed to the hotspot from the day before. No sandwich eating for me….we were locked and loaded with 3 lines splashing into the water. Two hours and 3 spot changes later with no action we knew it was time for a change to plan C. That’s why we call it fishing and not catching.


We picked a few sweet spots well west of Cape Sable. The first part of the ride was choppy, but as we rounded the Cape we found calm waters. Here again, nature was in its purest form as we idled for miles gazing onto the beaches and tidal marshes. Large gators were sunning on the shore and slipped cautiously into the water long before we were close. I noticed a “camping symbol” on this same beach designating it as an approved camping area, but I don’t know if I would be camping there! Needless to say plenty of shorebirds and interesting vegetation, but still very little fish activity. We cast artificials to the bank where remnants of old docks, dead trees and outflows made for some very fishy habitat. Shallow diving stickbaits, soft plastics on jig heads and pinfish never produced a strike. After exploring and fishing all afternoon we settled in along a mangrove island outflow and dropped anchor. Paul managed a nice snook about an hour before dark. Then it happened- I was free lining a pinfish behind the boat and felt a nice thump. Rearing back on the rod I solidly hooked up but this fish did not move. Fish on, I hollered. With a powerful surge past the stern of the boat a great silver king flew into the air. Six feet of pure energy landed just off to starboard throwing water everywhere. The boys ran to release the anchor and start the motor, but the fish paused and jumped 5 feet in the air near the boat again. In my mind I knew there wasn’t much of a chance with this fish. We figured 150-160 maybe 170 pounds…. The next run was scorching with a final leap as the hook pulled free. High fives and laughter filled the boat. We all agreed that short 1 minute ride with the ‘king’ was worth the whole trip. Paul then flicked a pin up against the mangrove as darkness was upon us. Perfect time for a snook. A long ride back in the dark was not really something I was looking forward to and I signaled to wind them in, but another tarpon had different plans and the burning drag and exciting fight brought us closer to darkness.

As the sun went down this tarpon came up

Eventually, a nice 60 pounder came boatside for our little photo session The ride back to Flamingo was uneventful until we got close enough to use the lighted buoys to locate the channel entrance. After orienting with a large tripod marker we lined up on the flashing red and green buoys that lay ahead in the darkness. This should make it easy I thought as we were almost home. Shortly thereafter, we heard the sound of my motor choking on mud as I ran up on a flat. It quickly sent the blood rushing to my head, but fortunately, we pushed off and made it back safely. Fishing in Flamingo is way more of an adventure than you might think. The wildlife is just everywhere and the fishing is good even under tough conditions. The lodging is great and the restaurant was excellent and the wind kept the mosquitoes away. I just don’t know if it can get any better than that!

Capt. Chuck Eichner operates Action Flats Back country Charters and can be found online at: www.back country or

Water LIFE

Page 28

May 2004


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May 2004

A tarpon jig is attached to a circle hook with a plastic cable tie. The tie will break when the fish strikes, releasing the lead.

By Don Cessna Water LIFE Englewood Our local waters are warming up and this is most likely some of the best few weeks (maybe thru July) of sport fishing for west coast anglers. Tarpon have already been seen here during the past few weeks. Some anglers say there is little doubt if you do tangle with a tarpon you’ll see that large fish within seconds of setting the hook. It is unusual for a tarpon not to jump signaling the fight is on. They provide a really sporty fish-fight and best of all they are a large fish. That makes a major difference at least to the level of your heart rate and adrenaline. It can often seem like Captain Ahab and Moby Dick. Many have been struck by the realization that there

Water LIFE


Are You Ready for a Tarpon Tangle?

is more fish meat there than you were ever prepared to battle. Tarpon are a protected sport fish and in spite of the $50 tarpon tag necessary to keep a tarpon, few would eat them. It is far better to fish for sport and release yourcatch to fight again maybe another day. Why not buy a few fish dinners during the next couple weeks at the grocery? We have a lot of area here to find these fish. Many do well fishing the many passes and bridges. Tarpon will show first in this area at Captiva Pass and work their way north as the water warms. Some people fish a few hundred yards off the Gulf beaches where shallow water sight fishing for tarpon is often possible. You can see fish rolling on the surface or at least see their large wakes. With the jig vs live bait controversy and the local guides not finding many fish in the past three seasons at Boca Grande Pass, a lot of folks could be thinking maybe I can catch a fish somewhere else. You certainly can, and at much less expense. The tarpon are spread all through this area at this time of the year. They are traveling along the gulf beaches, some come in and move through the Intracoastal

Waterway feeding and sometimes resting in inlets. Many neighborhood canals often get some fish as do local rivers. These are all likely places to fish. The rod and reel needed is maybe one notch stronger than common everyday snook or redfish outfits. The rod and reel should be capable of using a minimum of 20- to 25-pound test. Possibly 30-40 pound sometimes, but the thinner the line the better. This makes braided line a good choice for inshore tarpon fishing. Tarpon attack a variety of artificials including flies, plastics, spoons, and my favorite top water plugs. They also eat many live baits such as crabs, squirrel fish or threadfins. It is also not uncommon for a shore fisherman or wader to catch nice fish. Early mornings and evening after sunset are better in shallower waters than at the passes. You see them more often certainly in the daylight although it is more difficult to get near these pods most of the time. The bait or artificial you cast should resemble what you feel the fish in a particular area are feeding on. Tarpon enjoy a strong current which is why passes and bridges

are productive. Again, like snook they prefer to lurk in these same spots and feed with the tides. Many fish are traveling north along the gulf beaches now. Feeding fish can be found both sight fishing and by watching for feeding birds just off the beach. Tarpon also enjoy green backs, pin fish, and lady fish. You can dip your own crabs after sunset and get a few to fish with as well. The migration of these sport fish peaks for only a few weeks and this is the time. Some fish will find suitable waters here most of the summer, but are fewer in numbers. With some effort and time spent trying, it is likely for many fishermen to make the opportunity for a tarpon tangle much more likely. These large and very strong fish would certainly provide one of the best fish stories in your repertoire. If you are fortunate enough to tangle with the ‘silver king’ just look up and say -Thank you, that was a lot of fun, but can I do it again? Don’t forget the king mackerel migration could be back on track after the winds of April. They did show up early in the king season and there could be more fish active again this month. Another great

Page 29

A live bait rig passes the leader around the sinker and uses a copper wire running through it. Both copper wire ends are then twisted around the leader, so the lead will shake loose when the fish strikes. The leader is shown shorter than normal for this illustration. All break-away tackle, both these live bait rigs and ʻartificialʼ tarpon jigs will become illegal in July.

fishing opportunity we have for a short time. Get up and go fishing soon. Don @ Ray’s Bait & Tackle 480 W. Dearborn S t. Englewood, (941) 473-1591

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May Fishing Forecast

This trout was lucky, the hook didnʼt catch in its eye. The Zara Spook Jr. lure is a productive one at this time of year.

Water LIFE

Charlotte Harbor


Robert at Fi shi n' Franks Port Charl otte: 625-3888 The month of May is a great month for big fish. The weather is stabilizing, with hot humid afternoons and some showers. The fish are on the move, going out to the beaches for spawning. There is some nice snook fishing day or night at the beach, on the barrier islands and even around the Intracoastal. May is a good time to catch the big snook if you have the patience to find them. Tarpon are always a May favorite, of course at Boca Grande and jig fishing or live bait will both

May 2004

work. When the fish show up good they will also be out along the beaches and back in the harbor. The tarpon on the beaches and in the harbor will feed heavily on big shrimp and threadfins. Blue crabs generally work better for bait later this month and on into early june. Crabs in the two- to four-inch size are best, but bait shops don’t usually carry blue crabs until the later part of May. They might be pricey at $15-$18 a dozen, but in my way of thinking, for a once in a life time fish it’s worth it . Sharks are the number three fish for this month but they will show up first. They become plentiful, with small bl ackti ps, bonnetheads and the big bul l sharks and hammerheads here following the tarpon, working their way up the coast.

May 2004

Fishing Report Continued from facing page

Shark fishing in the Harbor is easy, but it can be tricky and even dangerous in the Pass. Bl ack ti ps from 3 to 5 feet should be plentiful in the Harbor around the artificial reef and around some of the channel markers. Either drift with a bait or anchor and set up a chum slick. Cobi a are a rewarding by-catch of shark fishing and should be in good numbers through the summer. There have been a lot of really nice cobia this year already. Redfi sh are another good fish to target this time of year. They can be in the 7 to 9 pound range if you are into the better quality fish. A little south, say south of Cape Haze or Pirate Harbor are the better places for reds this time of year. The bigger bull reds will be in the 4-to 5-foot depths cruising the edges of the Intracoastal. Try Devilfish Key and the Boca Bayou area with a dead sardine or finger mullet for bait. Tri pl e tai l generally show up right about now, around the crab traps and the channel markers, try a shrimp or even occasionally a whitebait to catch tripletail. Just look for shadows around the traps and you’ll have spotted the tripletail. S pani sh mackerel are breaking up in the harbor and are scattered right now. S napper fishing offshore should be good at night, try the ‘Novak Reef’ on a night just before the full moon and chum them up off the bottom. Boni ta are fun along the beach this month, within 400 yards of shore. Threadfins,

Water LIFE

B BIIG G-4 4 SHARKS are here big time and they are hungry


M Ma ay yʼs ʼs b be es st t b be et ts s

TARPON are showing up in the pass and in the harbor

whitebait, crabs, even a bottle cap with a hook in it – if it’s flashing they will eat it.

Lemon Bay

Ji m at Fi shermen’s Edge Engl ewood: 679-7595 Everything should be coming into play now. There have been some snook on the beaches already and some guides are saying they are seeing all kinds of fish coming out of the back country. A lot of guides are reporting good redfi sh action in the back country and big fish at Boca Grande close to the old oil dock. Some anglers have been using pinfish, but shrimp is the favorite bait for early in the morning, then go to whitebait when the sun warms it up. There have been ki ngfi sh around for the last few days, just 3 or 4 miles offshore, and there are all kinds of mackerel around as well. They are coming into Boca Grande and Stump Pass and hanging along the bars. There are some tarpon around, but a lot are still south in Captiva and Redfish Pass. There are some good sized fish in the 60-80 pound range in the Pine Island Sound.

Shark Tournament

n May 1: Fishing Club Meeting, 9 a.m., Nav-AGator, DeSoto Marina, 6273474 n May 1-9-16-22 & 29: Professional Tarpon Tournament Series, Boca Grande, $600 entry per event, 255-1555

n May 7-8: DOA Kayak Tournament, Laishley Marine, $50 entry, 639-3868 n May 12 seminar, Redfish and Their Habits, Capt. Scott Roe, West Marine, Pt Carlotte 5:30-7:00 p.m.

n May 15: Flatsmasters Summer Red Tournament, Punta Gorda, 629-9948

REDFISH are stll hanging in there with big fish around

Shark, Stingray, Sailcat June 12-13 Fishinʼ Franks


Cash Prizes

Sign out Saturday afternoon @ 3 p.m. Fish all night, be back at Franks by 8 a.m. on Sunday

Theyʼre Back!

I’ve had guys reporting permi t and pompano along the beaches in the little Gasparilla area. Offshore has been relatively good. Last week we saw a lot of nice snapper and grouper coming from the 70 to 80 foot range. Up in the harbor around Myakka I am still getting reports of snook and tarpon at the trestle there. The sharks are showing up, a lot of bul l sharks and hammerheads. I can tell when the sharks are here because we start selling a lot of big frozen mullet for

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SNOOK are still feeding very well

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bait. A friend of mine hooked a sai l fi sh last week off the Bayronto wreck. In the last four or five years during April and the beginning of May that’s the way its been, sailfish just off Boca Grande. I don’t know where those fish go after the early migration, but there are some here now. In freshwater, there are a lot of bl uegi l l around and I mean a lot and the freshwater bass fishing in the canals and lakes at Rotunda has


n May 15-16: Sunfish Regional Championship Regatta on the Peace River, boats assemble behind the Harbor Inn in Port Charlotte.

n May 15-16: Sunbird Kayak Festival, Stump Pass Park, 743-1900

n May 22: Kids Cup Seminar, Laishley Marine, Punta Gorda, 10- a.m. to 12 Noon, 766-8180

n May 25: CCA Meeting, Port Charlotte Beach Complex, 7 p.m.

n May 26: Seminar,Tarpon and Their Habits, Capt. Dan Cambern, West Marine, Pt Carlotte 5:30-7:00


n June 5: Kids Cup Redfish Tournament, age 10-15, Punta Gorda (941) 766-8180

n June 9 - Boat Maintanence seminar, covering teak and fiberglass, West Marine, Pt Carlotte 5:30-7:00 p.m.

n June 11-13 Oberto Redfish Cup on ESPN2 Tournament, Punta Gorda

n June 12-13 Fishinʼ Franks Shark Tournament 6253888

n June 19: Burnt Store Couples Tournament,

Send us your calendar info. See page 4


Excellent RIGHT NOW:


A A RE RE I I N N THE THE KeepingBoatersandFishermenInformed May 2004 KeepingBoatersandFishermenInformed May 2004 L L OOK OOK O O UT UT ! !...