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W a t e r LIFE


Charlotte Harbor and Lemon Bay Florida



Keeping Boaters and Fishermen Informed

May 2006

Kids Cup Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup Special Section Inside

May 6 Tournament

5 Redfish Lures

Page 13

Here! May 11-13


This New House

P a g e 25

Page 31

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




Water LIFE


May 2006

Water LIFE

May 2006



Itʼs time for the Visitorʼs Bureau to get with the program

By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Editor What’s up with Charlotte County? In particular, what’s up with the County visitor’s bureau? This publication independently produces the Kids Cup tournament. It’s the third year for our event. Each year has been bigger than the last. On May 5th we will have a small intimate dinner for over 350 people. If you are driving past the Best Western that night, take a look at the parking lot. We’re attracting a lot of people. It’s not only warm bodies we are bringing here, but cold hard cash as well. We have anglers coming from around the state and beyond. Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, Georgia, Texas, Alabama. And we’re also getting some of the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup Tournament anglers to come in early to fish - their event is the following week. We’ve got sponsors coming to help with the Kids Cup from as far away as Michigan. ‘Heads on beds’ as they say in the tourism industry. Those people translate into meals and drinks for local restaurantuers, room-nights for hotelliers, and a slew of trickle down dollars for everyone from bait and

Best Bet!

tackle shops to gas stations and apparel stores around the county. Fishing and prefishing will easily account for $15,000 in fuel sales. Many of the boats themselves, often in the $40,000 range, came from boat dealers in this area. Add in what we raise for the event, and what we spend on the event and then total up all the money we have moving around in Charlotte County thanks to the Kids Cup. A creative mathematician could probably show the Kids Cup brings $150,000 into the local economy. Did we get a call? Did we get one little ring from the visitor’s bureau asking if they could help? Do they even return a call? No. The visitor’s bureau seems to be fixated with the ‘heads on beds’ concept, which is OK if you are in a county that has something to offer, but the fact-of-the-matter is, Charlotte County offers nothing but fishing and boating...unless you count the ‘heads on beds’ in the nursing facilities we have here. We have long advocated the visitor’s bureau focus on attracting people to Charlotte County from near-by areas, places where people can come spend a night and go home. We are not Orlando, we are

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not a destination location. Charlotte County is more of a one night stand. But instead of focusing on the resource we have for fishing and boating, the visitor’s bureau recently used their resources to promote a privately owned ferry service to Don Pedro Island, and this month they are firmly behind their own kayak festival, which selectively invites some local kayak merchants while excluding (also selectively) others. This year they already have a controversy brewing about their kayak captain’s meeting. Controversy is not what brings people here. Early last month there was a ‘poker run.’An excuse for oceanracer power boaters to spend the day on the water. Nearly 50 onehundred-thousand-plus dollar power boats came up Charlotte Harbor to Fishermen’s Village for lunch. These were people with big money driving very expensive machines – the kind of people you would think the Visitor’s Bureau would want to have come back – people who could spend a night or two and open their wallets here. Did our visionary Visitor’s Bureau approach those boaters? Do they cultivate yachting or sailing or

Nearly 50 high powered and high priced ocean racers came to Fishermenʼs Village for lunch as part of a poker run event last month.

other watersports that could bring dollars here? I think not. There are apparently a few people in this county who think power boating is bad and that the environment is to be looked at, but not fished; that fast boats are obscene and that fishing is cruel. It’s a small clique who are sitting in influential public positions, working on their own private agendas. A disturbing pattern may be emerging in Charlotte County. We have seen it develop first with the county’s Parks and Recreation department, an agency that just drags its feet when it comes to providing services and access for boaters, but then runs headlong to


help its own touchy-feely types. I’m beginning to think we are now seeing that same approach from the Visitor’s Bureau. Don’t let anyone tell you they are promoting the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup, I’ve heard they’d rather not have ‘the cup’ here at all. We need a County Visitor’s Bureau that is committed to promoting and supporting boating and fishing year round. The county’s various agencies need to be staffed with people who are committed to the fact that the harbor is our most valuable resource and boating and fishing is a major contributor to our local economy.


Water LIFE


Improve your odds of a Live Release.

By Fi shi n' Frank n If you keep your fish in the livewell, drive back up harbor at 20 m.p.h. or less. This will give the fish time to adjust to the water changes.

n Chemicals to rejuvenate fish work well, but in an open system, the stuff washes out the drain. Chemicals only work well in closed systems. IF YOU DON'T HAVE A CLOS ED S YS TEM IT’S NOT HARD TO MAKE ONE: Start with an ice chest – the inside should be at least 27 inches or larger so the fish can stretch out and be comfortable – You’ll also need 2 one-litre bottles of frozen water, a bilge pump or a heavy duty 12 volt air pump. Place the frozen bottles in the ice chest early. Do not add water yet. Wait until you catch your keeper, tournament winning, red. Then put the fish in the regular live well on your boat until you are ready to go to the weigh-in. At that time put water in the ice chest and add the two jugs of ice. It is important to use the water from where you caught your fish. Add the chemical treatment, mix well, then put in the redfish before the water cools too much. Ice cold will put the fish into shock. Have the pumps running from the start. The ice in the jugs will melt quickly, cooling the water. Remove the water bottles before you transport the fish. This should help get that redfish if not happy, at least healthy, back to the weigh-in.

Water LIFE

Fish Hook Removal

Michael and Ellen Heller Publishers

(941) 766-8180

No one wants to think about it, but if you fish long enough this could very well happen to you. Hereʼs how to get a hook out from under your skin: 1: Make a loop from fishing line and wrap it around your wrist. 2: Put the loop over the shank end of the imbedded hook and push down on the shank. Hold pressure down on the shank, which will free the barb, and use the loop to pull the hook free.

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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 Kayaks: David Allen Local: Capt. Andrew Medina Tournament Report: Capt Jerry Cleffi Sea Grant: Betty Staugler

on the COVER:

Redfish are the focus of fishing this month. Capt Robert Moore holds a nice specimen

on our WEBSITE:

Tide Graphs: For local waters

Weather: Links to all of our favorite sites.

Back editions: Pages of previous editions Artificial Reefs: Lat. and Long local reefs

Manatee Myths: Read the original plan to create sanctuaries and refuges, as spelled out by the United Nations in 1984 Links to Realtors: Connect with our real estate advertisers

May 2006

Water LIFE

Preparing for a Tournament


Tournament Pre-Fishing and Strategies

The Top-5 boats head out to fish during last yearʼs Kids Cup. Much planning by all the anglers and captains preceeded this final day of fishing.

By Capt. Chuck Ei chner Water LIFE Pirate Harbor Editor Each angler has his own approach for tournament preparation and tournament strategies. Here are a few tactics that this captain has used over the past 23 years of successful competitive fishing.

Tournament Pre-fishing

Basically, your trying to figure out where to fish on tournament day. Since this article is about redfishing in Charlotte Harbor, the most important thing next to weather is tides. Step 1 would be to know the tides on tournament day and try and locate active fish on tides that are close to that day. You may have to do your homework a week or two in advance to understand how fish are relating to flats, potholes, grassbeds and bars on low, medium, high tides similar to tournament day. Incoming and outgoing water will change where the fish will be. My philosophy is to have as many low and high tide spots as possible. The reason is that if you have a stiff breeze on tournament day blowing on your one hotspot, the fish might get turned off. Dirty water, loose grass or just a bad attitude can occur. So then you run to a calmer spot to hopefully find active fish. Many tournament anglers will fish their spots a day or two before the tournament

just to be sure the fish are there. This can be good and bad. If you make a few casts and hook a couple of fish, they might not be in an eating mood the next day. If the fishing is hot, you don’t want to get carried away and burn up your spot. Some savvy competitors will fish their baits with the barbs turned down so as not to hook the fish on the take. Redfish can be moody and change their preference on different days. The tried and true gold spoon is no secret and is great for covering lots of water and locating active fish. You will have to figure out the type and retrieve if this is your approach. Soft plastics are good producers and you have to experiment with colors, smells and styles not to mention retrieves on a given day. Fishing a lure with confidence may play more of a role then your selection. Tournament Strategies Run & Gun- Some anglers like to fish a lot of spots. They will fish a predetermined spot giving it 20 minutes to produce and if doesn’t happen then on to the next one. Some guys will fish 15 or more spots in a day. Sometimes this is a good strategy, but it’s not really my style. Your lure spends a lot of time out of the water on the way to the next fishing hole.

The Mi l k Run- Select your top 4-6 spots, picking them out strategically for a given tide and time of day and fish them slowly and methodically. Give each spot and hour or so and depending on the fish activity, move to the next at a pre-determined time. Obviously, if your on fish you will probably fish them until you think it’s time to move or they quit biting, so the ‘milk-run’ will vary on a given day. You may be on redfish that are too big hoping to finally get that right one that meets the limit and fish many hours in the process. Sometimes the right fish never comes along and it’s time to re-think where to fish. S take & Wai t- This is really the confidence method. You fished or ‘tested’ this spot a couple of days before the tournament and you know the fish are there. This approach is about fishing a known good area and waiting them out. You can live and die with this type of fishing. If the fish show up, you’re doing high fives, but if you have sat for 2-3 hours with no action it is tough to keep up the confidence. You will be keeping your line in the water pretty much for the whole tournament and there is a lot to be said for that. This technique has produced a lot of winning stringers in the bass fishing circuit.



Tournament Preparation The best tournament fishermen I have ever known were meticulous about detail. In fact, with any type of fishing 10-percent of the fisherman catch 90-percent of the fish and I strongly believe it is the attention to detail that makes the difference. Your rods, reels and tackle should be in perfect condition with fresh line. Your lures, leaders, etc. should be carefully selected, hooks sharpened and quick lure changes are made easy so no time is wasted fumbling or looking for that right lure while in the tournament. Pick your top 5 favorite baits and place them at the ready for a quick switch and be sure to have back-ups. Tie your lures on the night before when your wide awake and your adrenaline isn’t fired up. A bad knot tied in the early morning darkness of a tournament will bring Murphy’s Law out of the woodwork when that nice redfish eats your lure. The boat should be gassed up and completely ready to go the day before. The last thing you need is a dead battery or find you forgot your outboard oil the morning of the tournament. The fi nal , but absol utel y the most i mportant thi ng, for tournament success i s confi dence. Your attitude will make or break you. If you haven’t boated a fish in the first 5 hours you have to keep your mental edge and confidence high that your next cast will produce a winning fish. Some anglers believe in the ‘Zen’ method of mentally visualizing your success prior to the tournament and the ‘karma’ from this will carry from the spiritual world to the real world. Hey, whatever works for you. Make lots of casts, fish each cast as if the winning fish was going to strike and never break stride – we’ll see you in the winner’s circle!

Capt. Chuck Eichner operates Action Flats Back country Charters and can be found



Water LIFE


May 2006

May 2006

Water LIFE



Resuscitating Your Tournament Caught Fish By Capt. Betty S taugl er Sea Grant / Water LIFE A tournament caught fish is stressed. It has just engaged in a struggle for its life. Dissolved oxygen is the most critical factor affecting the survival of stressed fish. Fish need to be kept in oxygenated water to revive them and to help them survive. On a boat, this means holding fish in a recirculating or aerated livewell that is operated continuously with a flow of replacement water coming through the livewell pump. A resuscitation tank at the tournament weigh station provides oxygenated water by directly misting oxygen into the water through a ceramic oxygen diffuser. (Note: the typical air stone used in an aquarium will not work. It will not provide small enough bubbles and will not provide sufficient oxygen diffusion. In fact, the large bubble from an aquarium tank apparatus can be harmful to fish.) A ceramic oxygen diffuser provides a faint, grayish looking mist cloud of oxygen bubbles in the resuscitation tank water. (Note again: too much oxygen can be harmful. A large cloud of oxygen is too much.) The optimal dissolved oxygen level for fish is 6 to 10 parts per million (ppm). Dissolved oxygen levels greater than 12 ppm, can cause the bends in fish. This is because extra dissolved oxygen will naturally want to come out of solution. As it does, oxygen in the form of gas becomes trapped in the fish’s tissue

and bloodstream. A fish with the bends, just like a diver with the bends, can go hours before symptoms appear. The bends left untreated, will most certainly lead to death. Salinity is another important factor in maintaining resuscitation tank water and in contributing to fish health. The flowthrough systems used with onboard livewells continuously replenish water in the tank. However, salinity levels vary considerably from open ocean to bay waters, and are altered by any recent rainfall and runoff into bay waters. Since fresh water is more buoyant than seawater, it remains in the surface zone where it is pumped through the in-hull fittings that supply water to the onboard livewells. Resuscitation tanks are seldom set up as a flow through system. A resuscitation tank recycles the same water over and over. This allows control over salinity, which can be regulated with a commercial livewell additive or salt. (Note: rock salt, ice cream salt or sea salt are acceptable, but not table salt or iodized salt, as these contain iodine, which is toxic to fish.) Conversely, salinity can be reduced by adding fresh, de-chlorinated water. Tap water or even bottled water are not normally suitable without treatment. Temperature is also critical as it affects the amount of dissolved oxygen, and the metabolism of the fish. A resuscitation tank should be shaded and out of direct sunlight. As temperature increases, the

Betty Staugler (right) handles a redfish in the resuscitation tank in last yearʼs Kids Cup

solubility of oxygen in water actually decreases. Experienced anglers know that it is much more difficult to keep bait alive and successfully release fish in the hot summer months. Monitoring the temperature of the resuscitation tank during warm weather is essential. Water should be cool to lower fish metabolism and reduce oxygen consumption. Under extreme conditions, it may be necessary to lower the water temperature. Placing recycled milk jugs containing frozen water in the tank is one way to lower water temperature, placing bags of ice in airtight containers is another. (Note: FWC regulations prohibit lowering the resuscitation tank water temperature by more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit as this can result in excessive stress on fish.) Proper handling is of equal importance

More about Redfish

S t aff R eport One of the unique characteristics of the red drum is its “tailing” behavior. Tailing is a feeding mode which can be observed in shallow water when the fish roots along the bottom for crustaceans and shrimp and its tail protrudes above the surface. Redfish are a migratory species. When young, these fish like brackish water and tolerate fresh water, so it is common to find them far up the Myakka and Peace Rivers and within Shell Creek. As the fish approach maturity, about 34 inches in length, they begin to school and ultimately move to the Gulf, returning when they are mature to spawn near the passes in the late summer and fall. A broad variety of artificial lures work with this fish, including soft plastics, surface lures, jigs and flies. Gold and silver spoons

are also very popular. Weedless spoons in the grass beds can make fishing easier. Soft plastic lures such as Sluggo, D.O.A. and Old Bayside in red and white, chartreuse or silver are often good. Surface lures like the Bomber Rip Shad in black and chrome or red and white or the Devil’s Horse, a lure that resembles a needle fish, will attract reds. Artificials or soft plastics fished under a float in shallow water can be affective. Fly patterns that resemble shrimp, small crabs or greenbacks and swim with the hook in an up position are also good choices. When fishing the flats, 8- to 12-pound test line is adequate, but fishermen should be sure their drag is not set too tight. In shallow water, reds make long runs when hooked. In deeper water they tend to dive to the bottom. During low tides they move toward sandbars, points and potholes.

to reduce physical damage to fish. Wet bare hands will cause the least damage. Towels and gloves – even when wet – are abrasive and result in lost scales and mucous coating that protect the fish. Boga grips are commonly used in handling fish, but are not always used properly. Maintain a good hold on the fish’s lower jaw with the tool in one hand, and cradle the belly of the fish with your other hand. This maintains control of the fish and keeps it in a horizontal position. (Note: Using the grips to hold a fish vertically damages mouth cartilage and causes the fish’s internal organs to pile up on themselves in an unnatural position that may harm the fish.)

Source: Sea Grant publication in rev iew, by Bob Wasno, Lee County SG, Betty Staugler, Charlotte County SG, and John Stev ely, Manatee County SG.

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Water LIFE

Page 8

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Saltwater Canal Home

3/2/2, 1621 sq. ft. built in 2003. Home shows like brand new. Nothing to do but move in. Living, dining, & fam. rm., storm shutters, storage shed, fenced yard, 20 min. to Harbor 1 bridge, MLS 600193 $399,900, call Ellen at 628-6954

Large 3/2/2 home with 1516 sq ft, built in 1989, completely updated with new roof, screens, tile, carpet, appliances, countertops, cabinet doors, paint in & out and more. Home has large Living, & Dining rooms, cathedral ceilings, large backyard with plenty of room for a pool. This is a must see!!! MLS # 630672 $229,900 Call Ellen at 235-5648

Looking for a nicely updated 2 bedroom 2 bath 1 car garage home on an oversized corner lot? Look no further! This REDUCED! home has been upgraded from the wood cabinets, & tiled countertops, to the custom window treatments. This home is priced to sell at $179,900. MLS # 621781 Call Ellen at 628-6954.

3/1.5/1 pool home with 1344 sq ft in a very private setting, home is on 2 lots with privacy fence around both lots, 12X12 workshop with electric, living & family room, separate dining room, large walk in pantry, metal roof, Huge lanai and pool area, great for entertaining. Call today before its gone!!! MLS # 626061 $229,900 Call Ellen at 628-6954

Beautiful 2/2/2 home in Heritage Oak Park, 1162 sq ft, built in 1999, This custom built “B� model shows like brand new, home features upgraded cabinets with pantry, built in computer desk, filing cabinet, & counter, Tile throughout with carpet in bedrooms, Extra shelving in closets & garage, 10 ceilings fans, screened garage door, and more this is a must see!!! MLS # 628701 $242,900 Call Rieka at 456-8866.

May 2006


Beautiful 3/2/2 with 1392 sq ft built in 2002. Home shows like a model, ready to move into. Private country living on 2 plus lots, Home features large stone waterfall in front entry, 12 X 21 large pond filled with Coy & Goldfish, cathedral ceilings, carpet, tiled entry, A gardeners delight with 300-400 plants. This home is a must see!! MLS # 632486, $249,900 Call Ellen at 235-5648


Nice and neat pool home in great area, This 3/3/2 with 1696 sq ft was built in 1982 and is ready for you to move in. New paint inside and out, newer berber carpet, new hurricane code garage door and the list goes on. MLS # 617135 $ 244,900 Call Ellen at 628-6954


Sailboat water executive home for the most discriminating. Totally renovated . 3/2/2 pool home features cherry wood cabinetry, Viking kitchen appliances, granite countertops, 2 fireplaces, 3 separate pocket sliding doors overlooking resort style pool, spa and fountain, oversized dock with 16,000 lb boat lift, master bedroom opens to a lanai with sitting area complete with fireplace. This home is a must see!! MLS # 602504 $699,900 Call Meg at 941-716-2305

Beautiful 4/2.5/2 pool home on saltwater canal, with 2806 sq ft of living, built in 2003, This home has all the bells and whistles, Completely upgraded with porcelain tile thru out, custom wood cabinets, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances,8 ft heavy duty sliders, storm shutters, volume ceilings and more.MLS#622627 $789,500 Call Ellen at 235-5648

Still under construction, Beautiful 4/3.5/3 pool/spa home that sits on an oversized corner lot, 2589 sq ft of living area, this home has all the bells & whistles, solid honey oak cabinets, solid surface counters thru-out, hurricane code windows, seamless glass window at nook, 8ft sliders, corner garden tub in master bath, 2 A/C units, plant shelves, great landscaping with curbing & gravel and the list goes on. MLS #628706 $549,900 Call Ellen at 628-6954

Paradise living at its best!! Elegant 2 story 5/4.5/2 pool home that sits on a wide Sailboat canal with only minutes to the Harbor. Home has 3734 sq ft, and features Travatine marble stone floors, solid surface counters, eat-in kitchen, crown molding, French doors, master bath w/ dual dinks,jetted tub & separate shower, 3 A/C units, waterfall in pool, new roof, and more. MLS # 630679 $1,150,000 Call Ellen at 628-6954


WHY WAIT TO BUILD!!! JUST REDUCED. Two beautiful BRAND NEW 3br, plus den, 2 ba, 2 car garage, 1974 sq ft homes featuring porcelain tile floors throughout, except bedrooms, wood cabinets with sylestone counters in these real quality homes. MLS # 485276 & 485277, $279,900. Call Gerry at 268-4249

This 3/2/1 home has 1082 sq ft, built in 1975, and is priced to sell. Nothing left to do but move in. New roof, appliances, tile, carpet, and paint in & out. Centrally located, Perfect starter, Winter, or investment home. Call today before its gone!! MLS # 632685 $170,000 Call Mike at 204-1147

Nicely updated 3/1 pool home on Freshwater canal. Home has 1011 sq ft of living area, Everything is brand new, tile floors, paint in and out, front door, French door, wood cabinets, countertops, appliances, ceilings fans, bathrooms, A/C, Roof, diamond brite pool and the list goes on. MLS # 626252 $199,900 Call Ellen at 628-6954

Spacious 4/2/2 pool home on oversized corner lot, 2335 sq ft , built in 1993, Spectacular home features living and family room, cathedral ceilings, breakfast bar and nook, bay windows, plant shelves, French doors, tile throughout, electric heated pool and more. MLS # 618246 $369,900. Lot next door also available for $39,900, MLS # 618251 Call Ellen at 628-6954.

May 2006

Water LIFE


Page 9

Water LIFE

Page 10

Redfish Life Cycle and other Facts

By Betty S taugl er Water LIFE / Sea Grant Redfish, or red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), are one of Florida’s most popular sport fish. The common name red drum comes from the drumming sound they make during spawning or when taken from the water. Redfish spawn inshore close to tidal inlets through which the young are transported into estuaries. Spawning occurs in late summer and fall. Redfish have an elaborate courtship ritual. Males, sometimes many, follow females for hours at a time, drumming loudly and butting them. Male color intensifies during courtship and climaxes just after dark when eggs and sperm are released. Females may shed a million eggs at a time. Tiny larval fish hatch in 20 to 30 hours. Larval redfish feed mostly on microscopic plankton, which is their main food while floating into the estuarine nursery areas. The larval stage ends in about 2 1/2 weeks and salinity tolerance starts to be acquired. Inside the estuary, juveniles settle along the edges of seagrass beds and other vegetation. This habitat protects the small fish until their fins develop enough to avoid predators. At approximately one inch long, redfish school. They are now growing at a rate of one inch or more a month, and reaching 13-14 inches by the end of the first year. Redfish continue to increase length throughout their lives. However, after 3-feet-long they add little length and lots of girth as they age. Redfish mature around 2 to 4 years in age and live for 25 to 35 years. Young-of-the-year juveniles move in and out of backwater channels and canals as they develop and may remain in the estuary for up to four years. As adults, redfish move out of the estuaries and move into inshore areas to spawn. Thus, repeating the cycle of redfish life. Data recovered from tagged redfish on the Gulf Coast, indicates that these fish do not travel far from their birth area as 50– to 85-percent of tagged fish were recaptured within six miles of their original release

site. The fol l owi ng are some of the redfi sh research acti vi ti es that have occurred l ocal l y: Mote Mari ne Laboratory (MML): Dr. Aaron Adams has evaluated the fisheries within four mangrove creeks along the eastern shore of Charlotte Harbor. Two creeks are altered and two are natural. Aaron is evaluating fisheries as a measure of restoration success. Fi sh & Wi l dl i fe Research Insti tute (FWRI): According to Dr. Phil Stevens and Gregg Poulakis, fishery biologists from FWRI monitor fish densities in the harbor in order to evaluate wildstock populations. Gregg Poulakis (FWRI) and Dr. Aaron Adams (MML), have combined efforts and data collected in their individual research in order to better understand the habitat requirements of redfish within Charlotte Harbor. According to Gregg, redfish about 1 inch in size tend to settle out in the rivers and tributaries, around Turtle Bay & and Matlacha Pass from late October to January. 3-5 inch redfish seem to prefer the Peace & Myakka rivers and are found there between December and March. At 58 inches they begin to move down the east and west wall of the harbor. When redfish are 8-12 inches they show up in Bull and Turtle bays and all over the grass flats. And by the time they reach lengths of greater than 12 inches, approximately one year old, they are found all over the harbor. Aaron indicated that densities are significantly higher in natural creeks versus altered creeks indicating a preferred habitat and water quality. Aaron also said that the densities in the natural creeks are almost equal to the densities in the estuary near the Myakka mouth. Aaron’s next step will be to identify how many of the estuary redfish came from the creeks. This will involve identifying chemical markers within the ear stones. S ani bel Capti va Conservati on Foundati on (SCCF) Marine Lab: Are involved in a 3 year study to evaluate preferred fisheries habitat and how water man-

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May 2006

Above: Redfish stocking has been accomplished through state run hatchery programs. These kids were working with the grow-out facility at Sanibel. Right: A tiny redfish is checked after a surgical implantation of a thin wire tag that, if the fish is caught later and scanned with an electronic device, can be used to track the fishʼs life cycle.

agement decisions effect fishery utilization in these habitats. The S ea Grant Redstart growout faci l i ty located on Sanibel Island at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Ding Darling Preserve released 2,800 fish into Tarpon Bay and lower Pine Island Sound in its first year. All of the released fish were tagged with wire coated tags and will be studied by the SCCF. According to Dr. Steve Bortone, SCCFs research efforts focus on characterizing the genetic diversity and preferred habitat of wild stock; and determining the survivability and preferred habitat of hatchery-reared Redstart fish that have been released into the Estuary. SCCF have been sampling 200 sites per year in an effort to identify micro habitat features that juvenile redfish may be looking for. Based on this information Redstart fish were released in three locations of prime habitat. Released fish,

which were 4-6 inches in length, were released in three split samples, each a week apart. Half of the released fish were put directly into the wild while the other half were put in a pen for three days in order to better acclimate them to their surroundings. Another 200 tagged fish were kept at Redstart to be evaluated for tag decay and survivability based on tagging and handling techniques. Last month, for unknown reasons, all the penned fish at the Redstart site died and since the state hatchery has now closed the project, unfortunately, may now be abandoned. Betty Staugler can be reached for Sea Grant or marine extension information

Fishing The Kids Cup Tide

Water LIFE

May 2006

By Capt Robert Moore Water LIFE Senior Guide It’s hard to believe that a year has passed and my son Ryan and I are preparing for another Kids Cup. Rods are looked over to make sure no eyes are cracked or broken. Reels are being taken down to the local tackle shop for new line. Tackle is being inspected. Folks, this is serious business for the 11 year old I reside with. With a devilish smile he advised me last week while on the way home from school that he’s not messing around and it was time to take the gloves off. So we sat down and started laying out a game plan. If there is one thing I want to pass down to him, whether your fishing a tournament or just going out for a day of fishing, is you need to make a game plan. First thing is reviewing the tides. On May 6th, high tide for Charlotte

Harbor is around 1pm. The height of the tide that day will be 1.2 feet. Then the tide will slightly fall until around 5pm that afternoon. I use the Charlotte Harbor tide location for any areas around Punta Gorda, the east and west walls of Charlotte Harbor up to Pirate Harbor. For the Turtle Bay, Bull Bay, Gasparilla Sound, Burnt Store area the tide will be about 90 minutes earlier. The height of 1.2 feet is the highest the tide will get on tournament day but is certainly high enough to target redfish along the mangrove bushes depending on the shoreline you pick. My son’s casting is pretty good in open water. His accuracy is not when casting up along the mangrove bushes. If you have the same predicament with your child, just remember that if you choose to use shrimp the bait does not have to skip 10 feet up

Placida Deep Sea Fishing

under the bushes to catch fish. If you get the bait within a couple of feet and let it sit, a redfish is bound to sniff it out and find it. If you decide to throw artificial baits try and get your child up close to the shore and have them cast along the shore rather than to it. Second part of our game plan was what tackle we were going to use. My favorite rig that I have passed down to Ryan is a shrimp threaded onto a 1/4oz jig head. This application is best for under the mangrove bushes and along shorelines with no or little grass. The trick here is to make the cast and let the redfish do the rest. Then there is a shrimp under a popping cork such as the Paradise Popper. Not only does the cork give the visual effect when you get a strike, with the beads and weights, it also produces a clacking sound when popped along the surface that simulates feeding activity. This method is best used in 3-5 feet of water. I usually start popping the cork every 10 seconds and then work different time frames until I find what works. Trust me when I tell you these corks not only work for trout.

P a g e 11


There is a good incoming tide for the Kids C

Tide chart provided by Zihua software, Rockport Maine. Tide charts and graphs for any created for your personal computer or webside. www.zihuasoftwar can be

Redfish respond very well to them. For those of you planning on using shrimp don’t be fooled that live shrimp is the only way to go. I have had many successful days on the water catching Redfish with frozen shrimp. The 1/2 oz gold spoon is Ryan’s favorite artificial bait. With the simplicity of using an artificial bait that requires just a steady retrieval is the turn on for him, not to mention the results he gets when using one. For my simplicity I go to the weedless spoon versus a spoon with a treble hook. It allows Ryan to make a cast in every condition no matter what the bottom structure is. Spoons with treble hooks

work great but if the bottom is grassy you spend more time removing grass from the hooks than you do catching fish. The third aspect of our game plan is where to fish. Although I am sworn by Ryan to secrecy on where we are fishing I will reveal this. Moving water is where the fish will feed the best. The tides start earlier the further south you go so our game plan is to pick 45 spots from Fisherman’s Village (tournament site). The furthest spot will get fished first and then we will work our way back to the dock with the tide. If one spot produces well we will stay as long as needed maybe eliminating a spot along the way.

One quick suggestion that I have from ample experience is to make sure the fishing rod is not too long for the angler’s size. I personally use 8 foot medium action rods. Try watching an 11 year old make a cast with one. It is very awkward for them, so match the rod length to the angler. Also, don’t forget a landing net. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard anglers tell stories they had a large redfish and lost it as they tried to land the fish without a landing net. Most importantly if you are fishing the Kids Cup this year, have fun! We’re looking forward to seeing everyone at the weigh in. Tight lines and good luck!

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Dick Erdman,with his crew of Sam, Todd, Fred, and Brian with a fulllimit of lane, yellowtail, and grey snapper.

Water LIFE

Page 12


May 2006

Cast Net roadside

“Help us with a little publicity about cast nets and how local guys make good,” Charles Moore asked us, and we said sure... Here, Fishin Frank shows a potential cast net customer how to throw a net along the side of US 41.The photo shows just how a cast net unfurls during the toss. With the influx of live bait this spring, cast nets are increasingly popular and among the newest on the local market are the Excalibur nets which come from a local company partially owned by Kids Cup announcer Charles Moore. Fishinʼ Franks sells the Excalibur nets. as does Laishley Marine

Redfish - Those Tricky Little Bottom Grubbers

When you recusitate a redfish itʼs the forward motion that moves water across its gills that is important. Back-and-forth motion may do more harm than good.

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By Fi shi n Frank Port Charlotte Staff Redfish, those tricky little bottom grubbing, shrimp eating sons-of-a-gun. Redfish seem to be getting more and more difficult to catch. One of the reasons is that this time of year the tides change. Now the tides get higher and we have more water, on the average, than just a month ago. When the tides are low, redfish like to hide in the deeper pockets of grass out on the flats. When the tides are up high enough they move up under the trees. The best way to fish them under the trees is to tail hook the shrimp – put the hook into the shrimp just in front of the flipper part of the tail, going from the underside out the top. This will keep the shrimp from tumbling in the air when you cast it and the shrimp will skip under the bushes better. To fish under the bushes, ya’ skip the bait like you do with a flat rock on a lake. By holding the rod tip close to the

water and making a fast short cast without lifting the tip of the rod, if all goes well, which it does occasionally, the shrimp will disappear under the mangroves. Often it is necessary to skip four, five or even six feet back up under the trees to get where the fish are. Then, don’t be in a hurry to retrieve the shrimp. It usually takes a minute or two to get a hit. When you get the strike, do not lift your rod up to fight the fish. This will take the line into the branches of the mangroves, and usually you will lose the fish. Instead, keep the rod tip low and keep it clear of the overhanging branches, even if it means putting the rod tip under the water, which often is the only way to keep clear. Since you can’t lift your rod, often you’ll have to move quickly to the back of the boat to drag the fish out from under the trees. Once the fish is clear of the branches lift your rod tip to the 11 o’clock fighting position and reel him in. Whenever I fish reds in creeks, I move in looking for deeper places. Most bends are deeper on the outside of the turn and the current is stronger there as well. That current washes bait around the bend, kind of disoriented in the current, making them easier prey. Bigger fish wait for such opportunities. Throw the shrimp to the high side of the current letting it slowly drift through the bend. Unlike fishing under the trees, here you want to hook the shrimp in the head – in one side and out the other. If you get hit in one spot put on a small sinker and throw to that spot. The sinker will keep the bait in the strike zone. Rocky creek, or Trout creek are two creeks that produce good size reds along their bends. The Myakka cut off has also held some nice reds in its bends lately. Good Luck Fishin’ Frank can be reached for charters

May 2006

Water LIFE

Capt Robʼs Top-5 Redfish Artificial Baits

Capt. Robert Moore Water LIFE Senior Guide

One of the most frequently asked questions to me is what is your favorite artificial bait for redfish? I can honestly say that I have probably used just about every artificial bait known to man at least once. With the increasing number of artificial baits available today, a trip down to the local tackle shop can be a time consuming event when shopping for a lure. Even with the hundreds of different lures on the market I have become confident with a small number of artificial baits. Confidence is the key to productive fishing with any artificial bait. Confidence comes with catching fish. The more fish you catch on certain lures the more confident you will become. Here is my top five list of favorite artificial baits for redfish.

Gold Spoon (a.k.a ʻold reliableʼ) – This artificial bait was been around long before me and will be around long after I am gone. In competitive fishing for redfish I have won more money from fishing with a gold spoon than any other artificial bait. They mainly come in two styles, with a treble hook and weedless. Weedless 1/4 ounce is my preference. I fish 1/4 ounce in water less than three feet and 1/2 ounce in water deeper than three feet. I have also come to love the smaller 1/8 ounce weedless spoon but have had a hard time finding a spoon in that size with a reliable hook that will not straighten out or break. There are numerous manufactures, my favorite being Johnson & Bagley. A good swivel is a must when using a spoon or your line will twist beyond repair. With a medium to fast retrieve this is a great bait to work lots of water in less time.

Old Bay Side Saltwater Shadlyn – The Saltwater Shadlyn comes in 4-inch and 5-inch. For redfish I prefer the 4-inch. When rigged weedless they are very productive in the 1-3 ft. range. My favorite method in fishing these split tailed baits is with a 1/8 ounce jig head. My success comes when I work them side-toside. With my rod pointing down towards the water I will twitch the bait using my rod tip and only reeling enough to take in the

slack line. I basically let the rod tip do all the work. These baits imitate an injured shiner. A slow to medium retrieve works well when worked along grassy bottoms or underneath mangrove shorelines. Top colors for the Saltwater Shadlyn is Tuxedo, Avacado Gold & Closing Night. Web Site -

Mirrolure Top Dog – My absolute favorite way to fish for Redfish or any other fish for that matter. This ʻwalk the dogʼ top water plug is not only very productive but lots of fun to use. The steel ball rattle inside in the Top Dog versus other top water bait seems to draw more strikes for me than any other I have used. Patience is a must when using any top water plug. The phrase ʻwalk the dogʼ means retrieving the plug back and forth along the surface. This bait is also one that must be worked with the rod and not by retrieving your line alone. A medium retrieve seems to draw more strikes. The biggest tip I can pass on when using any top water plug is when you get a strike wait until you feel the weight of the fish before setting the hook. If the fish misses the bait do not stop your retrieve, continue to work the bait the same speed as before. More times than none the fish will follow up with another strike. Top colors are red head/whitebody, orange belly/gold and black back. Yo-Zuri 3D Fingerling – This suspending bait is a little pricey but well worth it in the right conditions. Best results are when used in 3-5 feet of water with a medium jerk/twitch retrieve. Any shallower and the plug will grab the bottom and grass. The 3D Fingerling is one of the closest artificial bait that resembles a live shiner that I have found. With dual treble hooks the water must be free of floating grass. The hooks that come packaged with this plug are its only draw back. They will straighten out on just about every fish you catch therefore requiring you to replace them with 3x strong hooks or better before you even use it. Top colors are Ghost and Gold/Black.

Mirrolure 19MR – This artificial bait is relatively new to the market but has made a big splash among the competitive world of redfish tournaments. Along with the Yo-Zuri 3D Fingerling the

Page 13

19MR is a suspending twitch bait that mimics a glass minnow or shiner. The plus with the 19MR is that it is a little heavier and cast much further. Twitched at a slower pace this plug will fall only several inches under the water allowing you to work it in relatively shallow water. Top colors are #18 – green back, white belly, silver luminescence and #808 black back, orange belly, silver luminescence. Gold Spoon

Top Dog

19 MR

3-D Fingerling

Old Bayside

Page 14

Water LIFE


May 2006

Shark How To May 2006

By Fi shi n’ Frank Water LIFE Staff Surprisingly, fishing for the small black tip or bull sharks that inhabit the upper harbor with light spinning tackle, 10 pound test line - is very popular. These fish put the angler’s skills to the test. From start to finish it’s usually 15 minutes of hard fighting. Black tips do not jump, but are one of the fastest running fish I have ever seen. Atlantic sharp nose and spinners, often mistaken for black tips, are the ones to give you an aerial display, while bull sharks do what their name implies, they pull hard and long. If you’re going shark fishing with your boat you’ll need some frozen chum, a bag of Eagle Claw 4/0, 420nw, nyla-wire steel snelled hooks, and some frozen sardines. If you don’t already have them, get a couple of bobbers. Sharks are very shy creatures, so during the day look in deeper water for them. There is a 20 foot hole 1 and 1/2 miles south south-west of Marker No. 1 that holds sharks. Lately, the tarpon guys have been fishing there so I fish the 14 foot hole at the mouth of the Myakka River or the waters just south of the Alligator Creek Reef. Another good spot is the new reef just off Cape Haze. In any event, find a spot you like and drop the anchor, a good rule is to not tie the anchor line hard to the boat, instead put an oversize crab float on the line then tie a loop and place the loop over a cleat. That way, when you get a fish too big too stop, you simply throw the anchor line over, and chase that som-bit down. If you wait to bring in the anchor, by that time, the fish, your line and your chance at the really big one will all be gone. After you have the anchor down, put in the chum bag. You want to tie it off the back of the boat just so the top of the bag is out of the water, that will allow it to dispense properly and it won’t tangle in your line when bringing in a shark. The first line out should be one with a

Water LIFE

bobber. That will tell you which way the chum is going and where to set the next line. After letting out a lot of line for the bobber I toss the next out free-line, with just a sardine and no weight or bobber. Last, I throw a line off the side of the boat. To keep it from drifting into the others, I use a sinker, the weight of the sinker is determined by the current. More current more lead. Now relax and enjoy the calm before the storm. A watched pot never boils, an old saying goes, but it’s often true. Just when you are getting a drink or even worse, getting rid of one: FISH ON ! Team work is important now. If the fish is to big to control, the other person starts to reel in the other lines. If the fish is too big too stop at all, and you are about to be spooled, throw the anchor line. The boat will start to drift and this will give you precious seconds to get the other lines in and start the boat to begin the chase. The person with the fish should go to the bow, keep the rod tip up and the line tight. That way the person running the boat knows which way to turn. Communication is key. If you are running the boat, be careful with the throttle. Go slow and easy with a shark on the line, you don’t want to power down and toss your buddy out of the boat. It is better to meet the shark while you are still in the boat. Get the gaff ready if you are going for dinner. If you are going to catch and release sharks, the biggest problem you have to overcome is your own fear. O.K. that’s reasonable, but fear makes handling sharks more dangerous than it already is. Your movements when grabbing a shark need to be quick, sure and firm. When you get the shark next to the boat, grab the leader and lift the shark out of the water, if you can lift him with one hand, then proceed to the next steps, if not and the shark is too heavy it may be best to cut the leader close as you can and let him go. If you can handle it, grab the shark behind the head. With your thumb on one side of the gill and your middle finger on the other. By holding him by the gills it is unlikely that the shark can slip out of your grip. Use a pair of long needle nose pliers to remove the hook, then place him back in

Page 15


New Yorker Robert Linville had his first taste of shark fishing off Cape Haze last month and he loved it. Fishing ten pound test with fluorocarbon leader under a poppin cork the black tips and bonnetheads came a-callng when we put out the chum. This black tip took a frozen sardine and ran with it, much to Mr. Linvilleʼs pleasure.

the water. If the shark has been out for a while do not toss it back. Hold the shark up right in the water easing the grip on his gills let it get orientated then let go. I do not recommend holding it by the tail when releasing it unless you have too many fingers and need to lose one or two extras. For most of us a two or three foot shark is the best size for eating. Larger sharks just have too much meat and it will go bad before it is eaten. OK, now you have a two foot shark on the gaff which you gaffed through the gills – trying to belly gaff a shark will end you up with a bent gaff. Once he is on the gaff and settles down, celebrate a few mandatory high fives. Wise cracks and maybe an adult beverage are now appropriate. It is important to gut the shark immediately. This will stop the transfer of fluid from the liver into the meat. That is what gives some sharks that nasty taste instead of the mild tasty treat they really are. Once the shark is gutted, put it in the ice chest, or pack it with ice. Back at the dock, to clean the shark start by cutting off the fins. Start from the back and cut to the front. Then cut off the tail where it joins the body. Now you have two choices: Either cut the shark into steaks

about 3/4 of an inch thick or fillet it. Remember there are no bones in a shark just the back bone which is really heavy cartilage. To fillet the shark, start the first cut right after the nose and continue along the middle of the back bone down to the tail end. Then work the meat off the back bone and fillet the meat off the skin, same as any other fish. Cut it into pieces and cook on a well greased grill. Shark meat is very mild in flavor so do not over spice it. Shark fishing is dangerous and should not be done alone. It is against the law to shoot a shark – that make it harder too kill the larger ones, but not as dangerous as it was when bullets where skipping across the water while some drunk was trying to kill a shark 50 feet out from his boat. It’s hard to believe, I know, but I remember one night when three guys got an 8 foot shark in their boat and one of them decided to shoot it in the head before it thrashed the boat or bit one of them. He shot it in the head and the bullet went through the head, through the deck through the stringer and through the hull. I hope you get some shark stories of your own this month.


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Page 18

Water LIFE

Area Real Estate News


PROVIDED BY: Dave & Marlene Hofer RE/MAX Harbor Realty (941) 575-3777 RECENT AREA NEWS ITEMS:

1. Murdock Village is inching closer to reality. Four major developers are still in the running for the awarding of development rights. Stock Development appears to have the inside track to get the nod later this month. While controversy surrounds the appropriateness of the County's use of public tax dollars to clean up a private developers mess, it appears that all of the proposals should generate enough revenues to recoup the County's $82 Million investment.

2. Punta Gorda Public Works wants to replace its buildings now, too. They are looking at spending $8-$9Million to replace storm damaged buildings on Henry Street. Insurance coverage is $2.7Million. Their proposed solution? Buy less valuable land elsewhere and sell the existing site to a developer to make up the difference. 'coupla flaws in that theory: They aren't planning to move the wastewater treatment plant, so they need to find a developer that could market $1Million condos on that site as "waterfront" ... I doubt that even "The Donald" would be up to that challenge!

3. Deep Creek owners are faced with a proposed new assessment of $473/yr for the next 10 years to repave roads and improve stormwater systems and install new sidewalks.

4. Charlotte County is trying to buy the 65 acre Buck Creek plot in Cape Haze to set aside as conservation land. Since it is zoned for 120 housing units, they figure that a developer would be interested in purchasing those rights from the County to allow development of land not currently zoned for residential development. They'll need to get $55K per unit of entitlement to swing the deal, though.

5. GSR Capital Group lost round one of its plea to turn Rotonda's Wildflower Golf Club into a 327 unit housing project on its 79 acres. Since it has been designated as recreational open land in the County Master Plan, the conflict might become grounds for a test of the County's legal ability to enforce THEIR vision on private property owners.

May 2006

6.Punta Gorda Public Housing Authority is seeking multi use developers for its prime East Marion Street eyesore. Following the HUD guideline, they will be attempting to find a developer to provide public housing that doesn't look like public housing on this riverview building site. I'm not sure if they will be able to stack FEMA trailers on the site high enough to justify using this site for public housing! 7. Beall's lost its suit with City Marketplace over its lease cancellation. It has appealed the case, so it looks like that key development will be on hold for a while longer. 8. The City of Punta Gorda has rekindled its interest in purchasing the, now vacant, lot at the Southeast Corner of Olympia and US41. They had come close to purchasing the former "bail bonds property" before Hurricane Charley for considerably more money than it can be purchased for now. Though still not economically viable, our community needs to control this landmark location!

9. Now realizing that the 700 condos under construction on the way to Ponce deLeon Park will create additional traffic issues, PG City Council is considering various improvements to West Marion Street. Councilwoman Smith-Mooney sees a traffic light at Colony Point as being a cost effective safety measure. Though 1,000 times more expensive than speed bumps, the old "... if it saves just one life..." line was used in lieu of common sense.

10. Councilman Tom Poole reinforced his contempt for fellow councilmembers and staff employees alike with yet another tasteless public meeting outburst. Hopefully, this November's election will bring us a more mature governing body.

Sales Statistics:

Vacant lot sales slipped further into deep freeze. Only fourteen of North Port/Port Charlotte's 6300 listings went under contract last month. At that pace we have a 400 year supply of lots to sell (assuming no new listings). With more than 1,000 new listings in that area, median prices declined somewhat but new listing pricing is still well above pre-insanity levels (2003). The Burnt Store region has stopped altogether

May 2006

Water LIFE

First Go-Round for Xtreme Redfish Series

S t aff R eport According to Capt. Wayne Kerry, Director of Xtreme Redfish Series, the first event, held from the dock at Harpoon Harry’s at Fishermen’s Village, got off to a good start. “The winds were high that day, but that didn’t stop the Anglers,” Kerry said. Jerry Cleffi and Mark Miller (below) came in first with 10.19 lbs for their two redfish. Jason Renoso and Jason Dill (bottom) came in second, while one of the father son teams, Jim and Austin Taylor, came in third. Austin, who is 11 said he had a good time ... “but it was rough out there.”

This is a nice new tournament series conceived around low entry fees and fun. Kerry stresses: “bring your wife, your daughter or your son out for a day of fishing and you too could win first place.” Check the tournament web site out at for more information.

Page 19

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Page 20

Hot Weather-Hot Offshore Action!

By Capt Dan Cambern Water LIFE Offshore I hope you got to go fishing last month because it was one of the best months for off-shore fishing in a while. Sure, the weather got warm and on some days downright hot, but the fishing was just as hot. The action should only get hotter in May. It seems like as soon as we turned the clocks ahead for daylight savings time the fish really got with the program and did just what they’re supposed to do. I have always loved fishing in April/May because it is what I call a transition period. It’s a time when fish are moving from their winter locations and are making the move to spring and summer areas to fatten up and head out to their spawning grounds. The bait has been thick in the harbor and close to shore

which is bringing in the pelagic species that we like to chase. The king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bonita, ladyfish, and some bluefish have been tearing up the bait around Boca Grande pass and near shore waters for just about the entire month and it hasn’t been a problem to catch a full limit of kings (two per person) for everyone on the boat on a half day trip. Although the limit is two, I try to keep it at one per person as there is enough meat on an average king to feed four to five people easily and they are not a good fish for freezing. Add to that some nice size Spanish mackerel and you’ve got plenty of filets for a few days. Tarpon have started to move into the harbor now and several have already been caught on large threadfins and sardines. They should be in

Alphabet Soup:

full swing in the passes and beaches by the first week of May. Further off shore the action is just as hot. Amberjack, barracuda, cobia, and hundreds of huge jack crevalle are stacked up on most wrecks and reefs in the 80 to 140 foot range. Snapper fishing is still real good too, but it doesn’t take long before something bigger and badder is willing to take it from you if you are not quick enough to get it to the boat. The goliath grouper are getting more aggressive as there are more than ever of them and they have to compete with each other for food. We had a 30 pound amberjack robbed from us right under the boat by a 400 to 500 pound goliath last week. The season opened in federal waters for red snapper on April 21st and it sure was nice to finally be able to ice

CBCA now CDBIA F i r s t To u r n a m e n t a n u n e v e n t f u l s u c c e s s

There were plenty of big snook brought in at the CDBIA event which was a live bait tournament held in mid April.

ish XS PDF

May 2006


down our first full limit the other day as well as some big red grouper up to 20 pounds on our last 50 mile trip. You still have to run pretty far for good sized grouper but hopefully by mid May to early June the red grouper will move in to shallower waters (80 -90 feet). The big gags and black grouper are moving way out now. Some wahoo and blackfin tuna are being caught as well as a few sailfish out in the clear blue water from 80 feet on out to as far as you want to go. Unfortunately, just as the off shore fishing is heating up the fuel prices are going in the same direction. I guess we’ll just have to pay more for the cost of living in paradise.

Captain Dan Cambern runs Hammerhead Charters out of the Placida Fishery boat dock s and can be reached at 941-625-6226 / 941-380-6226 or

Nice Fish! Wood Wester of Lake Suzy, with a 12pound red snapper caught in April.

Wat er LIFE S t aff R eport This tournament used to be known locally as the CBCA - Charlotte Builders and Contractors Association tournament, but that group has banded with DeSoto county and is now officially the Charlotte DeSoto Building Industry Association, CDBIA for short. As part of the organizational change the once popular, rowdy and rough inshore and offshore tournament the old CBCA used to hold is now run by Flatsmaster tournament organizer Jerry Cleffi and is an inshore only event. Known officially as the Charlotte Harbor Challenge; gone are the various species – this is a redfish, snook and sea-trout event and the first running of the new format was a great success.

In mid April the scales opened at noon for the 2006 Charlotte Harbor Challenge and a few teams opted to weigh in early to ensure a live release for their catch. Team Hartland Outdoors, consisting of Ryan Rowan and Wayne Nichol had their 3 fish early and weighed in an impressive 19.50 pounds. As the weigh-in continued team after team had either a big snook or a big red, but none could put together a quality 3-fish Grand Slam. Once the last boat weighed in, the prizes were awarded to the winners. Over $17,500 in cash prizes were given out and in the end team Hartland Outdoors hung on to the lead all day. Their total weight was enough to give them the first prize of $5,000!

May 2006

White Butterflies and Silver Kings

Water LIFE S t aff R eport Little white butterflies showed up on Charlotte Harbor on April 20th and some locals say the tarpon at Boca Grande won’t be far behind. Old timers will tell you that once they start seeing the yellowish white butterflies along the flats, tarpon are near. Already, several local guides have jumped tarpon in the harbor near the deep hole and south towards Cape Capt. Derrick Jacobsen had his client Haze. One guide reported on a big tarpon when it jumped close to the boat last season. jumping 14 fish on a one day trip. No one is water. Bait of choice would be exactly sure why the butterdead bait soaked on the botflies signal the arrival of the tom, preferably large threadfin tarpon, maybe it’s temperature herring. related, but it has, in the past, Two Pines been a harbinger of big fish to come. From the northeast tip of Tarpon migrate into our Bokeelia to Burnt Store area as early as April, it all Marina along the sand bar you depends on the water temperacan find small scattered ture. Usually, when the water schools. Look for fish rolling temperature holds above 70 or exploding on bait. Usually degrees, you will start to see the bite will only last until tarpon, (it’s already near 80) late morning. Bait of choice is but when the wind is blowing either dead bait on the bottom it makes it very difficult to or live bait under a cork find tarpon. (about three feet), preferably large threadfin herring.


This area is well known for its early tarpon. School after school of tarpon run through this area. Usually in about 25 feet and 1-2 miles offshore look for fish either rolling or exploding on bait. Bait of choice is large threadfin herring.

Pine Island Sound

Inside Captiva and Redfish Pass you will find tarpon along both sides of the Intracoastal Waterway. For you fly fisherman this would be your best bet. Try to pick calmer days for they will be very hard to find in rough

Charlotte Harbor

Usually at the mouth of the rivers near Marker No. 1. The tarpon you find here are usually fish that are migrating out of the Myakka and Peace River. The U.S. 41 bridge that crosses over the Peace River and the El Jobean Bridge that crosses over the Myakka River will also hold tarpon. Bait of choice is smaller live sardines (whitebait).

Cayo Costa Beaches

The beaches along Caya Costa will hold good numbers of tarpon. Early morning is your best time to target this area. Bait of choice is small crab or large live threadfin herring under a cork. This is another great area to fly fish on calm mornings. Success in all these areas will depend on the tide, so pick your fishing time in accordance with moving water.

Water LIFE

Page 21



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Page 22


Water LIFE

LEUKEMIA CUP REGATTA By Mi ke S avi no Special to Water LIFE

Sometimes Unsubstanciated ... but often true!

X-Tools The little mom and pop company that had a good idea with floating pliers but couldn始t make them cut braided line and then sold out to another company that refined the product and added a whole bunch of other floating fishing products to their inventory has now been purchased by Shakespeare, which means all that green floaty stuff that actually does cut braided line will probably be available in the big discount stores before long and who knows what will happen to it then.

ZEBCO The big fishing equipment consortium started as a manufacturing company during the second world war. Zebco originally had nothing to do with fishing equipment. In time that changed, but the company name from the second world war era stuck. ZEBCO: Zero Hour Bomb Company. Now you know the rest of the story.

Oxygen Generator A new oxygen system is being introduced for tournament boats. Rumored to be in the $1,000 range the system creates oxygen from the air using electrical power and oxygenates a livewell without the need for an oxygen bottle. Ingman Marine in Port Charlotte is supposedly going to be a dealer for the device.

Parking Fee Revenue at Boat Ramps Below Estimate At a recent meeting of the Charlotte Co Marine Advisory Commission a representative of the Parks and Rec department revealed to MAC members that the revenue from parking fees at the county boat ramps was $126,000 last year ; considerably below the $250,000 estimated yearly revenue figure given to the county

commissioners when they approved the parking fees. The cost of collecting the money was $20,000 twice as high as the original estimate. Considering that the county spent $90,000 to install the ticket machines and the cost figure does not include the money spent to fund the parking enforcement department ( those nice folks that give you the parking tickets) , it is highly probable that the county is losing money on the parking plan.

Kids Cup Team Joey Lara could have picked any number of anglers to fish with him in the high pressure ESPN Redfish Cup, but he chose his 15 year old daughter Samantha (Sam) Lara. Ask her and Samantha Lara will tell you straight out that she prefers to be called Sam - not Samantha. Petite as she is Sam Lara showed her stuff in 2004 as she made the top 5 in the Kids Punta Gorda Redfish cup. The team of Joey and Sam will be back in Punta Gorda this month to fish in the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup. The Envelope Please FWC Officer Scott Kirsch was on water patrol when he observed a vessel violate a manatee zone departing Don Pedro State Park. A warrant check revealed an outstanding warrant for violation of probation for petit theft. A search incident to arrest revealed the subject had attempted to conceal 13 opened park entry fee envelopes, which had been removed from the iron ranger, in the crotch of his pants. He was also in possession of 30 one dollar bills. The subject was arrested for the outstanding warrant and additionally charged with petit theft.

The 3rd Annual Leukemia Cup Regatta conducted by the Isles Yacht Club and the Punta Gorda Sailing Dave Flechsig, holding Club was held trophy and Commodore Chuck Taylor Saturday and Sunday, April 22-23. The two day, three race regatta is a Charlotte Harbor Boat of the Year racing event. The boats were broken up into four fleets being Spinnaker, NonSpinnaker, Cruising and Multi-Hull Fleets. Race # 1 went off as scheduled about a half mile south of Marker One in Charlotte Harbor at five minute intervals starting at 11:00 a.m. in a brisk southerly breeze of up to 15 knots. The Spinnaker and Multi-Hull fleets had windward and leeward legs in their race course while the Non-Spinnaker and Cruising Fleets sailed two laps around a triangle course. All fleets used the same turning marks at the same time which made for some interesting port vs. starboard crossings. The crews had to keep a sharp look out for other boats to avoid collisions. Two boats did collide during the race with one boat, a SR Max, sustaining serious damage and taking on water. The crew of the damaged boat shifted all their weight to the rail on one side of the boat to keep the damaged side out of the water saving the boat from sinking. The crew managed to get the boat to her port under power and up onto a lift. After the last boat of the first race crossed the finish line the race course was changed for the Non-Spinnaker and Cruising fleets to a modified Olympic Triangle which included windward and leeward legs. The southerly winds had increased with gusts to 20 knots and moved to the South west. The mark setting committee had to reset the turning marks as well as the start/finish line. After all the marks were set in place the race committee began the starting sequence in the same order as the first race. On Sunday morning there was no wind at the 11:00 a.m. start time of the 3rd race of the

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Regatta. The wind gods failed to show up. Maybe they all were in church. The fleets waited it out, drifting around in the starting area. After waiting well over an hour a southerly breeze of five knots kicked in. The race committee set two short courses and the 3rd race went off flawlessly in flat seas albeit at much lower speeds than Saturday铆s two races. The overall winner of the Leukemia Cup went to the crew of Rooster Tail from the spinnaker fleet an S-2, 7.9 meter boat skippered by David Flechsig. Dave gives the credit of winning to his crew members Paul Alessandroni, John House, Scott Endicott, Kande Blubaugh and Fred Hannon. Fl eet wi nners for the Leukemi a Cup Regatta Spinnaker Fleet, Rooster Tail Non-Spinnaker Fleet, Fancy Free, Skipper Jerry Poquette on a Soveral 39 Cruising Fleet, Skipper Don Levy, on a Swan 40 Multi-Hull Fleet, Bahama Hunter, Skipper Tom


In last month始s Conquistador Cup it was Bahama Hunter who took the win.

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May 2006

Water LIFE

Great Kayaking in the Port Charlotte Area

By Davi d Al l en Water LIFE Kayak Contributor About once a year, I give readers a short list of good kayaking trips, trying to highlight the best, nearest, and most accessible. With so many new kayakers (and would-be kayakers) coming into the area, a question that I get all the time is; ‘Where are some good paddles in this area?’ For whatever reason, newcomers seem to think that there are only a couple of good places to go for a paddle. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our kayak club, the Port Charlotte Kayakers, has about thirty or more launch sites where we begin our paddles so we can add some variety to our outings. And that’s just in this immediate area; paddling the Keys or the spring-fed rivers in northern Florida, opens up an entirely new area for exploration. For now, I’ll start by describing just a few of the local rivers and creeks that are beautiful to see, and are not too challenging for new paddlers. But in addition to the close-in creeks, there are many, many great paddles in the gulf, or along the Sounds and inlets. However, paddles in the Gulf and environs are mostly in open water, often in rough, windy conditions, and these paddles require at least an intermediate skill level. Lets begin close to home at one of the most easily accessible launch sites in the county. Port Charl otte Beach Park offers all kayakers, but particularly beginners, an ideal spot to gain some experience, and yet explore a variety of routes with different scenery for each. The kayak beach, along the northwest edge of the park, is a great place to launch your kayak, with a wellprotected sandy beach that slopes gently into the water. The beach is well protected from wind and powerboat wakes, and tide levels don't affect the launch. The park is easily reached by following Harbor Blvd. to the end, about a mile and a half southwest of Highway 41. From the beach launch point, you can go in any direction you choose. South-southwest will take you into Muddy Bay and the entrance channel to the Manchester Waterway. There is also a mangrove-lined waterway, without powerboat traffic, that will also lead you to the Manchester. Once into the Manchester Waterway, you can paddle about a mile to the entrance to the Triple Lakes, and follow that channel to the Myakka Cutoff. For a shorter, more protected paddle, head east along the park beaches toward Grassey Point. There are some nice mangroves on the south edge of the point to explore, but the entrance is very shallow, so do this one at middle tide or better. Or you may want to paddle north to East or West Spring Lake. Here you will pass under Edgewater Dr. bridge, and can continue north, past waterfront homes, all the way to Highway 41. . S hel l Creek, north of Punta Gorda, is

undoubtedly one of the most beautiful paddling locations in Charlotte County. And, one of the best launch sites is at Hathaway Park on Washington Loop Road. Take Highway 17 north about 6.5 miles from Punta Gorda and turn right onto Washington Loop road. Three miles east on the Loop will take you to Hathaway Park on the left. Pay and Park costs $.50/hr. From the concrete ramp, you can paddle northeast, upstream, through beautiful wooded areas with few signs of civilization. The Creek gradually narrows as you paddle upstream, but you can paddle for an hour or so, particularly during the rainy season when the water is higher. There is always a sandy beach along the route so you can stop for a break. Or you can head downstream and take Shell Creek all the way to the dam, about 3-4 miles. Paddling downstream, the creek opens up to wide vistas and wildlife is seen throughout the lower Creek. Lettuce Lake is one of our club’s favorite paddles launches from Lettuce Lake on the east edge of the Peace River. Lettuce Lake is an excellent launch site with a sandy beach, a concrete ramp, and adequate parking. Unfortunately, there are no rest room facilities at the Park. To get to Lettuce Lake, take Kings Highway north for about 10 miles to the intersection with Highway 761. Turn right and go 1.5 miles to Lettuce Lake Ave. Turn right again and go about 500 yards, take a right turn onto Reese St. and follow Reese St. to the ramp. As with most of these launch sites, you have a choice of routes to paddle, and they are often very different. From Lettuce Lake, you can head north, where the channel quickly turns into a twisty, narrow lead, often blocked by fallen trees or large branches. Several times a year, our club cleans out the branches that block the northern stream; Bill Mango usually leads this effort. The channel north leads into the Peace River after a mile or so, and from there you have many routes to choose from, all of them interesting. The lake route is entirely different when compared with the northern route. Here you can paddle through open mangrove channels, past low banks often occupied by a sleepy alligator taking the sun. It’s easy to get lost in here, with many false leads off the main channel. A couple of relatively easy miles will take you to more open water, and then you can continue east to the remains of the old Liverpool Docks. These docks, just barely visible now, were used at the turn of the century to load phosphate boat for the trip to Boca. At Boca the phosphate would be loaded onto oceangoing freighters for shipment worldwide. There are several nice sandy beaches in the Liverpool area for a break and something to eat. A little further to the west, in the Peace River, there is a very active (


Ever Ready Angel

Page 23

Capt. Angel Torres poses with a bull shark caught off Boca Grande in April. ʻNotice my feet,ʼ Angel pointed out. ʻI was ready to jump back if he moved an inch,ʼ Angel said. The shark was released alive. Angel went home alive too!

at this time of year) rookery where many species of birds build their nests and raise their young. The return paddle to Lettuce Lake, back up the Peace River, is about 3 miles against the current. The three paddles I’ve covered here will hopefully give you an idea of the range of inland paddles available in this area. Many more great paddles are just waiting for kayakers along the shore and further inland. Each week at our club meetings, we decide where we will paddle on the coming weekend. Typically, we’ll have

one paddle in the creeks and one in the open water. New paddlers, or those new to the area, are always welcome to join our group to learn more about paddling and the best local launch sites.

The Port Charlotte Kay ak ers meet each Wednesday at 5:30 PM at Port Charlotte Beach Park . For more information on the club call Dav e Allen at 941-235-2588 or email to

Water LIFE

Page 24


A Significant Withdrawal





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By Michael Hel ler Water LIFE editor Luck, it is said, is a finite quantity. We each come into this world at birth with our given allotment and through events and happenings in our lives we draw on that reservoir of luck, depleting it until one day something happens and people then say “well his luck just ran out.” During one tournament last year, Matt Anderson and Eric White made a significant withdrawal from their luck account. Things started out normal enough with dinner and the captain’s meeting. The boys were dressed in their team shirts and Matt’s 18-foot ActionCraft sat fueled up at the dock, its 200 horsepower Yamaha HPDI ready for the task. The boys left Gasparilla Marina shortly after the 8p.m. shotgun start and headed south in the Gasparilla Sound. They are both seasoned fishermen and experienced tournament anglers. They are also both 16 years old. “We fished a little, and boated three reds right away,” Matt said. Then they headed into Whidden Creek to look for more fish. They were now running the shallows, in the shadows, just before dark. Matt describes what happened next: “We came up out of a hole and headed to Catfish Creek, we had it (the motor) trimmed up high, we were throwing a big rooster tail, but there is this big ‘S curve’ bend,” Matt says, showing the shape of the curve by using his forearm and cupped hand while tracing the boat’s path. “We started to make the turn and then the steering quit,” Matt said. “I saw a little oil leak in it before,” he added. Motor trimmed way up? Big rooster tail? Sharp turn? “I bet the steering came back when you finally got the boat back on the water,” I said, and Matt answered, “Yeah ... actually, it did.” Of course, in actuality, there wasn’t enough prop and skeg in the water to make the boat turn, but they weren’t thinking about mechanics at the time, they were looking for fish and the big prize. Later, at the weigh-in, the boys realized the problem, but the night before the two boys only knew they wanted the boat to go left and it was going straight. “It was like a dream,” Eric said. He was the one at the controls. “I didn’t even have time to get off the throttle. We just ducked behind the console and crashed.”

May 2006

The morning after, Eric White reports on the extraction progress by phone while Matt Anderson looks through the water for any lost or overlooked equipment. The two 16-year olds, fishing in the 2005 CBCA tournament, ran into the mangroves off Catfish Creek in the dwindling twilight of the night before.

The boat penetrated the mangroves so far that the stern was 20 feet into the trees. “It looked like a duck in a nest,” Eric said. “We were almost thrown out.” The boys estimated they were going 45 mph at the time they lost control. The boat is capable of 60. “It scared the crap out of both of us,” Matt said. Stuck in the trees, night falling, the wind picking up, they got on the phone. “I called the Coast Guard, I called Sea Tow, I called everybody,” Matt said, but it was my Uncle Jeff, he was the one who finally came and got us. Jeff Anderson said the boys called him around 9 p.m. “Come and get us,” Matt said. “We’re screwed!” Jeff managed to get to the boys, but by then the tide was going out quick. The next morning he used a come-along to pull the boat back far enough for another boat to drag them out. “I was up all night worrying,” Matt’s mother Rebecca said, adding that both boys had passed the Coast Guard’s safe boating course. So this story ends happily. The boys didn’t have a scratch. The boat’s OK and they even managed to get a redfish the following morning and bring it to the weigh–in. This tale speaks volumes to the strength of the ActionCraft product and to the allotment of

Editor Notes; This story first ran last year in May. Today Matt and Eric are responsible boaters and anglers. We donʼt want to single them out again, we just want other young anglers to learn the potential danger in boating and know how very careful they must be, at all times, when operating any powerful machine.

Water LIFE

A Cementuous Coating ... May 2006

This New House

Part 12

By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE editor “There’s a bunch of seedy looking guys in a black truck parked in your yard. Are you expecting anyone?” It was my neighbor Ronnie calling at just before 7 am one morning and it was a fair question, considering our new house had been broken into earlier that week. Is there any stuff outside? I asked, thinking what next of mine could be missing. I slid my 45 clip holster into my pants and grabbed my car keys. The house we are renting is only a minute away from our new house. “Looks like wire,” Ronnie said. “Flat sheets of wire lath,” he added. I slowed down and took a breath. “Don’t run them off,” I told Ronnie, emphatically. “Those guys are probably my stucco crew!” We’ve been a little jittery since someone kicked in our kitchen door and made off with a nail gun. Then, the very next night, they came back, tried to unscrew the side door to my garage and when that didn’t work broke through a 10-inch window and took a new sawzall and a $230 right-angle drill. “There is so much of this going on around here,’ the sheriff investigating the burglary later said, “that we just can’t keep up with it.” Two other houses on our block and one across the canal were also burglarized that week. Up the block, my neighbor Lance’s house, like ours, was hit twice. “Be real careful when you get your air condition compressors and your appliances delivered,” the deputy had warned us. “They’ll take that stuff the day it arrives.” I topped off my coffee and cruised over to the jobsite to meet the stucco crew. Paul Hart is the stucco ‘sub’ we are working with – a long time local contractor who came highly recommended through a friend. I wasn’t sure when Paul’s guys would start, but any day was fine with me, even if I


wasn’t totally ready. We had passed our framing inspection without a problem the week before and I called Paul at that time to tell him I was ready for stucco. I figured it would be a couple of weeks before he got to my job. But he did me a favor by sending his guys over right away. One thing you have to know about working with contractors these days is when they show up, you never send them away, so I dropped what I was doing and went right to work getting the last few things ready. The ‘few things’ had to do with electrical boxes that needed to be set around the exterior. I had drilled the holes through the solid concrete walls a week earlier, but now I needed a chipping hammer to get the outside ready and then tap-con the boxes into the wall. I’m an old fashioned kind of guy and I like metal electrical boxes, inside and out. I like them outside because they hold a fixture better and I like them inside because you can yank a lamp cord from across the room without fear of ripping a plastic box apart. But I needed just the right depth boxes. The inch-and-a-half ones were too deep, inch and a quarter would be just right, but I only had inch-and-a half ones. Graybar electric is in Whidden Industrial Park, just across US 41 from our house. I went over and met the supervisor, Josh Boyd, who just happens to be a fishermen and who knows a slew of fishermen I know. Bingo! I was wearing my Kids Cup shirt so we talked about the Kids Cup and then about electric and in the end Josh set me up, gave me the boxes I needed and signed on as a Kids Cup sponsor. You’ll be hearing more about Graybar and our electrical progress next month. We’ve been busy with the Kids tournament so having the stucco crew working on the house was a blessing since I didn’t have the time to do much else. It was a curse too, since I wasn’t able to be there, but that in turn was probably a blessing for the stucco crew ... because I wasn’t there, so it all worked out. The crew spent two and a half full days stapling wire and attaching corner bead under the overhangs and around the house and setting up scaffolding. In the mean time my carpenter-helper Bob Schick hustled to get the brick moulding up around the exterior doors. Then my friend Andy Medina and his brother Greg took time off from pre-fishing for the Oberto Cup and nailed up the runners and ‘j’ channel for the soffit using the stucco crews scaffolding. The scaffolding was a god-send because our roof is so FEMA high it would otherwise have taken a fire truck with an extension ladder to get up to it. The stucco crew started with a skim-coat on the east canal side. The stuccoers worked their way down the long 75 foot wall on the north and around to the west

Page 25

we get stuccoed and broken into

facing front during the next two days and then started on the back side and garage, hauling heavy 5-gallon buckets of mud up the walls with a rope and pulley. Little by little the blocky look of our house changed to a textured grey ‘cementuous coating’ (that’s what they call stucco now) that will someday get painted. Earlier in the month, before the stucco crew, before the soffit, before the electrical boxes, I had a chance to get our main underground electrical conduit burried; running it from our existing meter on the unattached garage over to the new house. That took a two foot deep trench and a bunch of other electrical supplies. Those parts came from City Electric in Okeechobee, through another fishing connection I had made in Sebring. Fishing really is helping to build this house. Walter Groggins and the City Electric guys in Okeechobee were involved with a kids bass tournament fundraiser. One thing lead to another and, well you know, fishermen helping fishermen... so I drove to Okeechobee, went over the plans with Walter and came back with a truckload of boxes, conduit, the breaker panel and exterior disconnect; everything I needed to get the power from the meter to the new house and more. But the best part came when I called the county for an inspection of the underground work. The inspector showed up and told me he had been reading about our house and was glad that he finally had a chance to see it for himself. “You are reading about this in the building department?” I asked. “I hope that’s a good thing,” I added, and he assured me it was. “If you have any questions about electrical work just call me,” he said and he gave me his card. ‘Senior Electrical Inspector, Charlotte County,’ the card read. All the Charlotte county inspectors have been accommodating and professional and willing to help us with the owner-builder building process beyond my expectations. I told Jim appreciated that. “We’d do the same for anyone,” he said. So next month we’ll hang some lights on the outside, wire the inside, insulate it and drywall one room. Then when that’s done, we’re camping out. I’m not counting on the sheriff to watch our stuff any more.

Top Left: Bob trims a piece of brickmold, on the stairs, for the front door. Above: Stucco scaffolding, facia and new concrete steps to the kitchen. Below: The canal side of our new house. The house next door has been boarded up since Charley.

Water LIFE

Page 26

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When I first arrived in Florida back in the late 70's, I got bit by the snook bug really bad. I would work during the day and fish the old New Pass bridge at night. Life was a lot simpler back then. You catch snook-you eat snook. After all, the size limit was 18 inches and the bag limit was 4 fish a day... and of course there was no closed season. I may not have caught my limit every time, but it was a bad night indeed when you didn't catch at least one keeper. Among the local snook fishermen on the bridge one favorite topic of conversation was always, why was the snook fishing so much better in the old days then it is now? Here it is 30 years later and we are still having the same conversation. A lot has changed over the years, particularly snook regulations. Snook fishing is now closed six an a half months a year with a size limit of 26-34 inches long, and a bag limit of only one a day on the west coast. Even with all these regulations, the record keepers at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have estimated that 2,651,111 snook were caught in Florida last year. The good news is that over 77-percent of all those snook were caught right here on the west coast of Florida. The bad news is that 96-percent of all those snook had to be released because they were not the right size. In other words there is only a 4-percent chance that the snook you catch is coming home with you for dinner. Even with those odds against you, it didn't stop 225,000 people from buying a snook stamp last year with Lee County (12,828), Hillsborough County (11,342), and Pinellas County (10,385) having the most optimistic fishermen. But things

never stay calm for long in snook fishing and already, a new crisis is on the horizon. On July 1, the regulations concerning how you measure a snook are going to change and this has caused another heated discussion on what affect this will have on snook fishing. Right now you measure a snook from the tip of its mouth to the fork of its tail – come July 1, the state says you will pinch the tail together and take your measurement (by the way, remember that snook season is closed on July 1). Now one of the obvious results in this change is that the 25 inch snook you caught is going to miraculously grow to 26 inches. This has some people very upset. State scientists have estimated that this new rule will increase the number of legal snook taken by 22-percent. That seems like a high number until you realize that out of the 2.6 million snook caught only 4-percent are now legal and increasing that number by 22-percent you wind up with less than 5-percent of the snook caught being legal under the new rule. Your odds got better, but you still probably won't be bringing a snook home for dinner. There might be a few advantages to this rule change that could actually help. I have to admit that there are a lot of 25 inch snook out there and thinning out the crop sounds like a good idea to me. Remember you can only keep one fish a day so if you choose to keep the new and improved 26 inch snook you are done for the day. The other thing to consider is whatever you do to one end of the scale, you change the other. So remember that the 34 inch legal snook now becomes a miraculous 35 incher and must be thrown back. I can hear the cries now.

May 2006

Water LIFE


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Water LIFE

May 2006


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Water LIFE

May 2006

Redfishing is not the same as fishing for Seatrout – just about anyone with a fishing rod can catch a bunch of sea trout

One of a few tailing redfish strikes at a soft plastic bait.

By Don Cessna Water LIFE Englewood Redfish like any game fish have habits that help insure their survival. They are a voracious predator and an adept forager. They feed on both live foods and carrion. They are a schooling fish and yet finding a single fish here and there is just as likely. It is a challenge to find them and a challenge to catch them. Redfish are very spooky types, often one mistake will send them off in a swirl. Fishing redfish is a practice of knowing where to look for them and figuring out when they should be there. We all know about looking for tailing fish and may have seen this activity. They look much like a bird-dog working an area hunting food, not very subtle, but it can be difficult to approach close enough to them to make a cast. Even when one is stealthy enough to


get close it is not unusual for a low flying pelican to spook them and ruin your stalk. Though there are spots that hold redfish fairly consistently, most of the time these fish frequent certain spots at certain times, in certain conditions. It is likely they can be found on a flat in the early morning then cruising a shoreline or oyster bar for a few hours, then loafing under a dock or mangrove tree line later in the day. Redfishing is not the same as fishing for seatrout – just about anyone with a fishing rod can catch a bunch of sea trout in short order. Redfish are a very challenging gamefish and are a test of skill, especially in a tournament forum. Those who enjoy fishing for reds each have their own preferences of what constitutes the best conditions to locate some fish. The enduring wisdom is that fishing the oyster bars and flats on a high tide is the

best time and place to catch these fish. The logic is that the higher water level floods areas where oysters, crabs and other crustacions live and makes them easier for the redfish to access, however I have always done better on a low tide, sometimes an extremely low tide. Fishing quiet shorelines out of the wind and any creeks and canals where there is a run of deeper water close by works for me. Mornings seem to be far better, the fishing slows as it gets later in the day. Another location which will likely hold redfish is the docks. Docks can hold active fish later through the day. I can not remember ever catching a red after dark, though certainly others do. The docks have been really hot lately. The problem however when fishing docks is if you do hook a fish then what? How do you figure on getting the fish out of there, especially, a fish as strong as a redfish? Mangrove shorelines are always one of the favorite spots to fish. The best mangroves are overhanging which means you need to cast way back underneath where the fish are. Bring plenty of extra bait and tackle as the magnetic mangroves will catch a bunch of tackle in the process. Most anglers will fish for redfish with live shrimp since they are easy to obtain, very versatile and can be used in most tactical situations. Shrimp can be bounced under docks and mangroves or tossed up on an oyster bar. With artificial baits the old standby has

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always been gold spoons. Jigs with either buck tails or plastic tails are also a good choice. Jigs can also be tipped with shrimp, but my personal favorite is a top water plug. Maybe I have a mean streak, but I just really get a kick out of teasing redfish. Reds have a mouth oriented downward for bottom feeding so it is more difficult for them to get a hold of that Top Dog and often it takes several strikes before they get stuck. Sometimes they attack the plug three or four times during a single retrieve. I always say that if the fish won’t hit my top water plug I didn’t want them anyway. Poppers and walk the dog type top water plugs work very well and also get struck viciously. Twitch baits and bait fish imitations offer a more quiet and stealthy approach. There are also manufactured combinations of plug and live bait rigs that have been around for years. Ah, maybe the best of both worlds. Chumming works well for redfish. Chumming can bring fish out from under the bushes, closer often than one is able to stalk. Here however arises a questionable tactic. Some anglers have taken to seeding an area, dumping bait where they will return to fish later. This is not fishing. This month, with the Kids Cup especially, adults should set an example with the spirit of s p o r t s m a n s h i p . Winning is never as important as just being there to compete. It will surely be exciting. GOOD LUCK TO ALL THE

Water LIFE

Page 30

Blue Marlin Gets Away Wahoo comes aboard

By Adam Wilson Water LIFE Contributor My friend Ralph Bellon and I have made good friends with Capt. George McElveen out of Bud Nʼ Marys Marina in the Keys. He runs the charter boat " Reel McCoy". We have been wanting to make a run to the Cay Sal bank for over a year now and have been blown out on two different occasions, but last month we had a go with winds out of the south east at 10-15 knots and seas hovering in the 3 - 5 foot range. We started fishing the drop off from 1,500 feet to 100 feet within sight of Dog Rock at 7 a.m. and within minutes had a real nice 30 pound wahoo in the boat. The day continued with similar results. The grand total was 8 wahoo up to 55 pounds a king mac roughly 20 pounds and some smaller


cero mackeral. But the biggest surprise of all was the last fish of the day, an estimated 12 foot, 500 - 600 pound blue marlin. The marlin crashed a black and purple lure and ran with the intensity of a freight train. She greyhounded south for about 100 to150 yards pulling off 80 pound test set with 35 pounds of drag like it wasn't there. The power of this fish was nothing short of incredible. It really did give you the feeling of not being able to do anything but hang on and watch. After about 25 minutes of back and forth, with the captain backing down, the mate was close enough to grab the leader making it a legal catch and eased the tired fish alongside the gunnel and grabbed the dorsal fin. We tried to get some shots but the fish caught a second wind fast and she was gone as quick as she appeared. Capt. George and the mate Geoffrey were both pretty excited. A blue marlin is a pretty rare catch out of the Keys, let alone a 500 pounder. I think Geoffrey summed up the excitement best " Oh My God, I touched It, I touched It !!"

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May 2006

May Fishing Report May 2006

Charlotte Harbor

Ro bert at Fi s hi n' Franks Po rt Charl o tte: 6 2 5 -3 8 8 8

With multiple tournaments there are going to be a lot of sore-lipped, disoriented redfi sh this month. For boaters, Pine Island sound and the Intracoastal all the way up to Lemon Bay should be the redfish habitat to fish. The baits of choice, as far as live bait goes, are shrimp, whitebait and pinfish. They are all working because the redfish are going from winter to summer feeding patterns and starting to gorge themselves. With the lack of rain, the water is very clear all the way into the harbor, so fluorocarbon leader is a must to improve your bite. Experiment with bait colors like pearl white and salt-and-pepper. Some of the more not-so-normal color lures have been working too. This is a great month for top-water action in the early morning and early evening. This is the time to look for the very large bull redfish moving into the passes and down along the beaches. S nook are getting ready to spawn and are a catch and release species starting May 1. If you are snook fishing, be really gentle with them and use circle hooks. Tarpon fishing is getting better every day throughout this whole month. The fish are already in the

Water LIFE


REDFISH are under a lot of pressure this month

Mayʼs Mayʼs Target Target Species Species

TARPON are in the Pass and in the harbor

Harbor and in the Intracoastal, but not in the pass yet, probably because it’s so unusually dry and because there is so much bait in the Harbor. This could be an exceptional year for tarpon. They should be in the pass at Boca Grande any day and will stay there through late June. Live threadfins are the best tarpon bait right now. Catching threadfins is more productive on a sabiki rig than cast netting them. Sabiki caught threadfins seem to be more frisky. For artificial tarpon bait, the D.O.A. Bait Buster and MirroLure are the top two choices. S harks follow the tarpon and so the bigger bulls, lemons, sandbar sharks and hammerheads will be in the passes and in the Intracoastal waterway this month. Because it’s so dry and because the salinity is so high in the harbor there are reports of numerous large sharks being caught up in the Harbor. The most unusual species of sharks being caught now are the sandbar sharks in the harbor. The unusual part is that by now those fish should be in 60 to 100 feet of water so it makes me wonder what kind of changes are going on. Those are 6 to 8 foot sandbar sharks caught in the harbor. S pani sh mackerel are all over the harbor and they will be here

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Weigh in 5 p.m.

Friday May 12

Big Air Dogs 3 p.m.

Weigh In 5 p.m.

Saturday May 13

Cardboard Boat Race 10 a.m. Big Air Dogs 11 a.m.

Kids Cup Top-5 weigh In 1 p.m.

Final Redfish Cup weigh in 3 p.m.

n May 4 Learning Fly Fishing 6:30 p.m. West Marine, Venice 408-8288.

n May 6: Water LIFE Kids Cup Tournament at Punta Gorda, in conjunction with the ESPN Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup 766-8180

n May 6-7: Kayak & Wildlife Festival Port Charlotte Beach Complex. Kayak fishing tournament Sunday at 7:30 a.m.

n USCG AUX Punta

SHARKS are in the area and they are lively

throughout the entire month. If we get a lot of rain then they will move out of the harbor and be caught along the beaches and in the passes. With no rain, they should stay right here. Cobi a and small sharks will move way up into the Harbor this month making them a good target for the shore fishermen. Offshore fishing will slow down significantly this month unless you are willing to travel 50 miles or more or to stay out all night to do your fishing. All in all this should be a great month for fishing.

Lemon Bay

Ji m at Fi shermen’s Edge Engl ewood: 697-7595 There is so much bait, guys are talking about scooping it up with a dip net or a sandflea scoop. On the flooding incoming tides there have been a lot of fish around the piers. Inshore, a lot of snook, and trout have been around. As far as redfi sh, guys have had good luck with the Exude DART lures which put a lot of scent in the water. Some spoons like the Hobo have been really productive. The Hobo is a backwards spoon with the fat end on the front so it has a whole different action. Gulp and Exude crabs are working on redfish too because now there are a lot of


Thursday May 11

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Gorda, Americaʼs Boating Classes ABC Tuesday and Thursdays 7 p.m starting May 9th (941) 505-1290.

n May 11-13: Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup Tournament at Punta Gorda, Big Air Dogs and Kids Cup Top-5 weigh in at 1 p.m. See detailed schedule at left

n June 1: Hurricaneproofing Your Boat Tips and techniques West Marine in Venice.

SNOOK are all ovet the place and eating well

natural crabs here. It was a pretty good shrimp run we just had. Bait shrimp has been a little hard to get lately, but I’ve still been getting shrimp for bait every day. There are quite a bit of Tarpon in the Pine Island Sound and in the harbor by Matlachea. The fish are coming and going, but not that many have fallen into the regular routine and dropped into the pass. When I hear all the peeper frogs in the morning I know the temperature is right for tarpon in the pass and I’m hearing them now so it should start happening in the Pass real soon. We’ve got nice bluecrabs and pinfish in the shop and everyone is ready. There have been some cobi a around and some permi t on the inshore wrecks that are just off the beaches. Lately we’ve had quite a bit of activity with S pani sh mackerel , ki ngs and boni ta. A mile to 5 miles out fishing has been good. In fact, there have been some keeper gags still being caught further out in 75 feet of water. There are some pompano on the beach and whi ti ng along the shoreline. Bait everywhere and snook are

EVENTS 408-8288.

n June 3: Peace River Clean Up 10 a.m. from NavAGator Desoto Marina 627-3474 n July 23 Flatsmasters Red Plug Challenge Punta Gorda, 637-5953

n August 12-13: Redfish Nation Tournament, Jacksonville, Florida 888-698-2591 or

n October 7: Richest Redfish Challenge, ben-




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May 2006

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Water LIFE May 2006  

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

Water LIFE May 2006  

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