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Parts of the November 2006 edition of Water LIFE are unavailable at this time.



Water LIFE

Capt Steveʼs Offshore Report

November 2006


AJ s from the wrecks on both sides and, in the center photo, a nice triggerfish.

By Capt S teve S kevi ngton Water Life - Fort Myers Beach If you were to ask any south Florida angler worth his or her salt what their favorite lure would be, you would more than likely get a number of responses. However ask those same anglers what lure they would want if they could have only one, and they had to survive on a deserted island using only that one. The answer now would be unanimous, a red and white buck-tail jig. This lure has been around since before most of us were even thought of. There are 60-pound snook out there right now warning there grand children

about the dangers of such a tempting morsel. I can remember more than one offshore trip that consisted of me throwing a 4 oz buck-tail all day long. Red and gag grouper, Spanish mac’s, bonita, kingfish, barracudas, cobia, amberjack, even sheepshead, all caught on that poor little buck-tail. This past Sunday, on a backwater charter, I got a chance to try this with a paying customer. The idea was to see how many different kinds of fish we could land in a four hour period with just a red & white buck-tail. There were some contributing factors to this idea; the first of

which being that my favorite bait shop on the way to the ramp was closed that morning. But that’s not here nor there. We started out slow, but by the end of our outing we had one snook, one redfish, two trout, a large needlefish, five or so jacks, two catfish, and too many ladyfish to keep count of, plus five or so snapper, a 21inch flounder, a lizardfish, a pufferfish and a small black drum. Needless to say my faith in ole’ reliable was reinforced. The following day I ran a half day offshore trip and decided to go ahead and press my luck a little further, so I broke out those old red and whites and started dragging them behind the boat. Well, long story short, four hours later were back at the dock with our limit of nice Spanish mackerel, that’s 60 fish for four people. And to make even more of a believer out of me, we had two bonita and a small kingfish. It’s just really hard to beat those old tried and true lures and techniques. All

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this month is a great time to dust off those old buck- tails and kingfish spoons. Fish are all over the place right now. Spanish macs, small kings, and bonita are all up and down the beaches. Kingfish are just offshore and any moment now there going to show up in force. Amberjack are piled up on the wrecks, I haven’t seen any real ‘big ones’ yet, but another cold front or two and the tackle busters will be out there waiting. You can reach Capt. Steve at 575-FLAT or at 276-0565

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Volunteers needed to help map mangrove shorelines November 2006

By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Publisher We were talking about growing mangroves from seed. “It wouldn’t take that long,” my friend Capt. Ron Blago said pointing to a mangrove tree in his back yard. That thing sprang up five years ago and look at it. I Looked. It was taller than me. It is becoming increasingly clear, we will need to buy, grow or transplant red mangrove trees to replace the shorelines vegetation killed by hurricane Charley. If we want to buy trees Nova Southeastern University’s School of Oceanography in Ft Lauderdale specializes in raising mangroves for sale. “We have many mangroves available here for replanting elsewhere and I'd be happy to provide them at a significant discount to Charlotte County if they will pick them up. Our plants are about 7 feet tall and a bit root bound. They are leafy and should transplant ok with care and a stake to keep them upright till they develop more prop roots,” the program’s director, Dr Richard Dodge, said. If we want to grow trees we can look

Water LIFE

to the CCA. In the Bahia Grande project (which revitalized a section of the gulf-bordered southern tip of Texas) the Coastal Conservation Association reported planting 1425 mangrove seedlings. Those trees were sprouted from seed pods supplied by the state and grown by local school children. The CCA will help with information. And if we want to transplant trees there is a woman in Tampa who is the emanant specialist in transplanting mangroves. Tampa’s not far. But before any new growth can begin there has to be a baseline study done to record a frame of reference. Botanists need to look back as the progress moves ahead. Jamie Boswell a researcher for the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) is now asking fishing and boating clubs and individuals to provide volunteers to help map the shoreline of Charlotte Harbor and Lemon Bay. They need boats with GPSs to help record the current shoreline conditions before the re-planting can begin. If you or your organization can help out contact Jaime Boswell at


Above: Mangrove seed pods floating in the tide at Port Charlotte last month. Right: Nova Southeastern University has shown mangrove farming will work. Bottom: The nut like seeds of white mangrove. and the banana like red mangroves proliferate by floating on the water into places where they can take root. These seeds were on the beach at the Port Charlotte Beach Complex, last month.

CHNEP: 239-338-2556 ext 230 or email at In the future, area boaters might also be able to help plant trees or assist with other phases of the restoration. One stumbling block for which we could not get a definitive answer was whether the old dead trees must be removed or if new trees can simply be planted in their midst. Evidently there will need to be a lot of experimentation before a project of this magnitude gets

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Screaming Reels:


Think big, maybe 40lb line with 60lb leader Capt Andy Medi na Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor In November a couple of things come to mind. Stuffing yourself with turkey till you can’t move and cold fronts that will make some boating days a little less enjoyable. And last, but not least, the fish in the canals. There will be The new MirroLure 17 MR, a shallow swimming baitfish imisnook in every canal, under tation that snook currently seem to love. the bridges and up river. that swim by. The lure of choice, or at This is the time of the year I get the least my choice, hands down, has to be boats ready for next years tournament the Bomber AXS104. It is a big red and season, so I find my self doing a lot of white plug that trolls very well in this canal hopping. Growing up here in the situation. If your gonna buy one, ask BB years (before boating) I found a lot of Robert at Fishin’ Franks – he knows places to fish for big snook from shore. exactly the one you want. Another good As the cold fronts come down from plug is the Yozuri Crystal Minnow, this the north, and with the Houdini like is a reflective lure with a blue head. Both antics of the bait fish – blink and they baits have produced fish for me in the are gone – you can still get bait in past. November. Only thing is, you may have You might have heard me talk about to put a lot of effort into it. We can usu- this before, remember to choose your ally still net bait at the markers, and tackle carefully. Don’t bring 10-pound some other places that I can’t mention, test. It just won’t work. It will only cost (everybody has at least one secret bait you a couple of lures. Think big, maybe spot). 40-pound line with 60-pound leader. When the snook enter the canals and Landing these fish can be tricky, if you creeks off the harbor, their primary food don’t want to make the long walk to the source is finger mullet. Anybody who beach. knows me, knows I’m all about the finOther good places to try are under the ger mullet. I love fishing with them. bridges along US41. A lot of anglers Finger mullet is a pretty easy bait to net drive right past the chance for one of the up. You can find the little frisky critters big girls that visit the damns and spillall around shore lines and boat ramps, ways along the road side this time of but as the water cools you will not year. Look at the picture on the opposite always want to throw the net and get page. wet. It’s cold and I don’t do cold very And down the road is the El Jobean well, so this is when the artificial bait Myakka bridge and pier. The wee morncome into the game. ing hours have produced a lot of slot size There are a couple of good places to fish. Try to fish these areas the first try your luck, and get some exercise night the cold front hits. I think it has with artificials. One is the 41 bridges. something to do with feeding patterns. North or South bound it really doesn’t And pay attention to lights. Any dock, matter. A snook is a snook and they will pier or bridge that is lit well enough to be there. And if you’re saying how? I’m produce a shadow line will have snook gonna’ tell you. It’s simple, just like hanging in that shadow line waiting for trolling baits from a boat, except you’re an easy meal. feet are your motor. Hopefully all this will help you land As you’re walking on the sidewalk of that healthy linesider this fall. the bridge, don’t be afraid to walk with a Take a kid fishing and be safe. line dragging a lure behind you. Snook Capt. Andrew Medina can be reached at are structure oriented fish and the bridge (941)456-1540 or on the web at is structure. The snook sit around the concrete pilings waiting to ambush baits

Water LIFE

November 2006

New Abandoned Vessel Program Rolling Out in Charlotte County

By Betty S taugl er / S ea Grant Special to Water LIFE Charlotte County funded a new program that benefits all of us this year. Complete with staff and funding support, the County will unveil its in-house abandoned vessel and year round wet/dry boat amnesty program very soon. Derelict vessels have been an ongoing concern in Charlotte County. It took a catastrophe however to make us realize that a system that’s not working during the good times, is surely not going to save us during the not so good times. This realization led to a Sea Grant initiated effort to find something that would work. The problem stemmed from the rules that govern the identification and removal of derelict and abandoned vessels. In the water, a vessel could only be declared derelict by FWC; however, funding for FWC to do so was removed in 2002. There was a provision that empowered local law enforcement to remove a vessel under certain situations, but it was so vague that our local marine officers were not clear on how to interpret it and therefore not comfortable using it. On the land side the rules that govern abandoned vessels changes based on whether a vessel is on private or public property. These vessels are usually handled through the County code compliance office, but it’s a long cumbersome process. In late 2005 I made some calls to see if there was interest in forming a committee to look at finding a way to streamline the process. Everyone I talked to was willing to come and came consistently. We all knew it was important, and it was the right thing to do. The committee consisted of those individuals who were already involved or would likely be involved if the County had its own abandoned vessel program.

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This included, the County’s Code Compliance Office, Natural Resources, Budget, Landfill, Attorney’s Office, The Sheriff’s Marine Unit, FWC Division of Law Enforcement, The University of Florida’s Conservation Law School, and Florida Sea Grant. Our goal, was to develop a County administrative code that would empower the County with the authority needed to identify a vessel as abandoned so that it could be removed in a timely manner. In addition to this goal, the team desired to develop a year round wet/dry boat amnesty program that would allow vessel owners to turn their unwanted vessels over to the County for proper disposal so that they do not become abandoned in the future. Through our combined efforts, support from Lee County’s Marine Science Division who had just gone through a similar process, and some State rule changes in this year’s legislation, we accomplished both goals. The program will be housed within the County’s Natural Resources division. An Environmental Specialist/Code Compliance Officer will be hired to implement the program. Funding support was obtained through a West Coast Inland Navigation District grant. The rules that define a vessel as abandoned or derelict are contained within the Florida State Statutes. Any vessel Charlotte County removes must meet the criteria of the definition. The process will be very similar to that of an abandoned vehicles left on the side of a road. It will be red tagged for a period of time during which an attempt will be made to identify and notify the owner. If the owner cannot be determined or is unwilling to take control of the vessel, the vessel will be removed. Removed vessels will be staged at the County landfill until the case is closed, and then

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An abandoned vessel is retrieved from Coral Creek

it will be destroyed. If an abandoned vessel owner is identified, they will be held responsible for removal and disposal costs. Failure to pay can result in a vessel owner’s registration privileges being revoked (both vehicle & vessel). The amnesty program should roll out once the program is staffed. This program will accept recreational vessels up to about 27’. A staging area at Springlake Park will be used to remove vessels from the water. Other water based locations will be determined on a

case by case basis. The amnesty program will require hazardous waste items be removed from the vessel, but will in turn accept the vessel free of charge. This program is a big step in the right direction for many reasons including public safety, coastal resource protection, and preserving the aesthetic beauty of Charlotte County’s waters.

Betty Staugler is the Sea Grant Agent for Charlotte County. She can be reached at (941) 764-4346.



By Capt Ron Bl ago Water LIFE S enior Staff There was hardly any rain that fell in Englewood in the month of October. It amazes me how we can go from flood to drought in three weeks. The good news is that the water is crystal clean and the fish are biting. Most of my fishing friends are saying that this has been the best fall fishing in the last 20 years. Not much red tide in the area to report. You have to feel sorry for the local media this fall. No hurricanes to report on. Red Tide just about disappeared in the local area. If it weren’t for the elections, they would have nothing to complain about. Things are so bad for them that the local paper had a headline recently that blared: No Red tide in Local Waters. So where did it go? I haven’t been doing a lot of fishing lately, but I did get a chance to go out with my friend Capt Bob Szymanski on his boat for a few hours last week. Now the goal was to find a few redfish, but the water was low and slow, not ideal fishing conditions. We stopped and fished a local dock that usually holds snook and reds, but this day it was all sheepshead, not those little one pounders you expect this time of year but those 5 and 6 pounders you get in February and March. If these fish are any indication of the season to come it could be a record year. I told my friend the taxidermist to get ready to mount that 10 pounder I’ve always wanted to catch. I haven’t had a fish dinner in a while so we kept

November 2006


a few sheepies for food. I fried them up for fish sandwiches just the way I like them. They were delicious. Sheepshead sometimes don’t get the respect they deserve for their fighting ability or table fare. In my opinion for eating quality, I rank sheepshead just below black grouper and mangrove snapper. By the way I don’t eat snook anymore although they are delicious. Snook has become almost a religious, philosophical and environmental thing for me. I seem to get a lot more enjoyment from just catching them and releasing them. It drives my fishing partners crazy. That’s probably the real reason I do it. The hot new area in Lemon Bay is north of the Manasota Key Bridge. With the dredging of Stump Pass this Jose santiago with his first redfish, a 7.5 pound tournament quality fish that summer, more clean water then ever Photo by Jeff Caulkins measured 26 inches with the tail pinched. before is washing in and out of Lemon Bay. The fish seem to be heading further around the 20 mile mark. The cooler the water the closnorth than they used to travel. One of the best-kept er to shore the grouper will be. Remember, a lot of secrets is the public boatramp on the West Side of the stone crab traps are offshore now so keep your eyes Manasota Key Bridge. It gets very little use, even on open. There is nothing worse than getting a crab line weekends. You can put your boat in the water and catch tangled around your prop. The good thing about the all the snook, redfish and trout you want within a half- traps is that the tripletail will be pressing their noses mile of the ramp. right next to the crab trap floats. Offshore fishing is picking up with a few kingfish being reported. The fall kingfish run hasn’t been much Call Capt Ron with y our fishing questions or to book a to brag about yet, but it should really get in full gear charter at 941.474.3474 between now and Thaksgiving. Good catches of grouper have been reported from boats going out

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The Big Girls are Here! November 2006

Water LIFE

Staff Report Capt. Andy Medina told us about a photo he had of 14 year old Cody Bollinger with a big snook. “We took it last month,” Andy said, So we drove over to Andy’s house and got the picture. Andy estimated the snook at 48 pounds. It was taken from a local in town canal. This fish may have been an IGFA class record for Cody who would qualify as a junior angler, but it was not measured or weighed. The fish was caught on 20 pound line using a mullet head for bait. Cody was one of the top five finalists in the 2004 Water LIFE Kids Cup.


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Water LIFE

Trolling the Canals

Page 12

By Fi shi n Frank Water LIFE Port Charlotte Cold and windy. Water temperatures dropping. What does all this mean? Snookin’ is what it means, but this time try something a little different – like putting your boat in at the ramp on Edgewater and going up the canal not out. Head up the canal towards Midway. but don’t go all the way. Turn right just before you get to the bridge at Midway and go into the canal. You can see the bridge from U.S. 41. Start fishing under the bridge. Use an electric motor to continue fishing up to the dam. The spillway dam is 300 yards up the canal from the bridge. That stretch will usually hold plenty of snook. One of the best ways I have found to fish this spot is to tail hook a live shrimp and toss it against the bridge pilings. I let the shrimp sink slowly while I let out just a little line. After catching fish here I slowly work up to the dam and cast the bank. The snook will lay up into the weeds along the side like a bass. Try not to get any closer to the dam then you have to in order to cast. The farther back you are, the less chance of spooking the fish. Pl an B. If you start into the canal and a boat is already there, head back out towards the bridge on Midway. I start fish-

ing right where the canal narrows down for the bridge, casting both sides. If you are freelining shrimp, I would add a No.5 split shot 12 inches up from the hook. The water here is deeper and the narrow waterway quickens the tide, so to keep the bait in the strike zone a #5 split shot will help. Once I have caught fish there I cast the pilings of the bridge and just for luck I cast the left side a few times when I am through the bridge. If you have not had enough fun yet, keep going up the canal. Holding to the right side, you will see another canal cutoff to the right. This is usually very shallow so be careful. It also holds a lot of fish. If you can get under this bridge the snook fishing here is great. Number 16 Bombers are my lure of choice. Yes, the big ol’ Bomber has always ruled this canal. Big fish: big baits. If you get this far, you can fish all the way to the pipes at Forest Nelson. Thi s i s a test: What should you be doing while idling through the canals ?? That is correct: trolling a number 15 axsig bomber, Yo-Zuri 3-d fingerling ... trolling something. The canal systems hold trout, ladyfish, jacks, of course snook, small goliath grouper ... all these and many more can be caught while trolling.

November 2006


Hereʼs another canal snook, courtesy of Capt. Angel Torrez

Many people do not like to fish canals because you have to go slow place to place, but why should the fishing stop just because you are moving? Tourists come from all over the world to troll for dolphin, and up north for walleye, why not get in on the fun here? A trolling tip for you: spoons are great fish catchers, however when trolling a spoon it will twist your line into a knot inside of 5 minutes. A lure with a diving lip will track straight and not spin underwater while pulling. A secret weapon for canal trolling I have used many time is a 333 D.O.A.

shrimp with a 24 inch leader made of 30pound fluorocarbon with a swivel – and on the rod side of the swivel put a 1/2 once egg sinker. This is a great canal trolling rig if the sinker is placed correctly. The sinker must be able to ride against the knot so the tag end of the knot has to be cut close. To test your rig to see if it spins let out 10 feet of line and hold it out from the bow of the boat at trolling speeds and you should be able to see it tracking. See ya on the water and good luck. Frank or Robert can be reached at Fishin

S c u t t l e B u t t

Sometimes Unsubstanciated ... but often true!

Where Were the People from Parks and Recreation? When the DEP’s regional rule development public meeting was held last month only one agency was missing. Representatives from Lee County, the City of Fort Myers, Collier County, Naples, and Punta Gorda were there. The Charlotte Marine Advisory committee was there, Sea Grant agents from all three counties were there, but there was no sign of anyone from Charlotte Parks and Recreation. This is relevant because it was a workshop on rules change legislation for public boat ramps, marinas and mooring fields, which are all Parks and Rec’s line of responsibility in Charlotte County. Perhaps their attendance was not required because they already know it all. Redfish Cup. Although no official announcement has been made yet, a staffer from the new Laishley Park Marina has confirmed that the weekend of May 4-5 has been reserved for the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup. Kids Cup If the above item is true, that would mean the Water LIFE Kids Cup would be held on April 29, 2007. New for the Kids

Cup in 2007 will be a ‘boat trials’ competition. Christmas Presence Also on the Laishley Park Marina subject: we were told the boat ramp at Laishley Park would be open before Christmas – December 21 specifically– if all goes as planned, which is asking a lot, but could happen ... maybe. Dredging Plans have been approved and a map showing the areas of concern is on the drawing board at this time for a county wide dredging project. Based on a study begun before hurricane Charley, and then revitalized earlier this year, the areas are prioritized based on boat traffic and vessel size. No mechanical details or timeframe are available yet. Clean Sweep We’re glad they are back open. This month Fishermen’s Village will receive the County’s second Clean Marina designation from the DEP. With a dredged out marina , new docks, new pilings, new pumps, new lines and new hoses and a new well trained staff, how could they not be clean? Fish are Scared Capt. Danny Latham has given up the construction business and gone back to being a full time fishing guide.

Pending Records November 2006

Charlotte Harbor FISHING GUIDES Water LIFE

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Throughout the year the IGFA?s World Records Department processes hundreds of applications from across the globe for a wide range of fishing records. Here are highlights of recent catches that are now before the world records com

By Pete Johnson – IGFA Special to Water LIFE

Hoping to set a personal goal of catching 20 records as a smallfry, 10 year old Heather Michelle Harkavy, of Coral Springs, Fla., U.S.A., landed a 14.96 kg (33 lb 0 oz) permit (Trachinotus falcatus) along with a 4.76 kg (10 lb 8 oz) goliath grouper (Epinephilus itijara) in the Florida Keys to complete her goal. The current female small fry Jr. angler record for a permit is 28 lb 8 oz caught August 15, 2000, in Bimini in the Bahamas. If the goliath grouper is approved, Miss Harkavy will fill a currently vacant category.

Rebecca Reynolds-Wright, of Hollywood, Florida, U.S.A., landed a whaler shark (Carcharinus spp.) weighing 5.55 kg (12 lb 4 oz) in 15 minutes fishing Big Pine Key, in the Florida Keys. She used 1 kg (2 lb) class line and is hoping to beat her own current record of 5 lb 4 oz set Feb. 22, 2004 in Flamingo, Fla. A potential new all-tackle record is pending for Hideki Nakai, Hokkaido, Japan who landed a Bering wolffish (Anarhichas orientalis) weighing 12.3 kg (27 lb 1 oz). It took Nakai, who was jigging near Uotoro, Hokkaiso, five minutes to land the fish. From Australia Scott Coutts, of Karratha, landed an ox-eye tarpon (Megalops cyprinoids) weighing 1.70 kg (3 lb 11 oz) in ten minutes fishing Dam Pier Harbor, Australia. He hopes to also land the presently vacant IGFA record for the catch.

Fly-fishing for Artic char Ilya Scherbovich of Moscow, Russia, landed the species (Salvelinus alpinus) in 27 minutes weighing 3.4 kg (7 lb 7 oz) on 1 kg (2 lb) tippet while fishing Mamoth River, Taymyr, Russia. Scherbovich has the potential of breaking the 23 year old record of 6 lb 12 oz recorded Sept. 1, 1983 in Labrador, Canada.


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Pot Hole Prey

By Capt Robert Moore Water LIFE S taff During the cooler months of the year (November thru April), I refer to them as ‘fishing the sand holes’ months. Our tides here in Southwest Florida are usually very low during the day and the predator fish we like to target will usually use a sand hole on a flat as the tide drops or rises for an ambush site. First let me give you my definition of a sand hole. Sand holes are a section of sand completely surrounded by grass on a grass flat. Southwest Florida has many miles of shallow grass flats amongst its shorelines and bays. Every grass flat will have patches where the grass does not grow. Some grass flats have numerous sand holes, some have very few. Some of the sand holes are as little as 1-2 inches deep up to 4 or 5 foot deep. You also have different size sand holes ranging from two feet in diameter to the size of a house. Redfish, Trout and Snook will use these sand holes as ambush sites for bait fish. They usually like to hang along the edges where the sand and grass meet. When I am searching for a grass flat with sand holes to fish I look for an area where there is scattered sand holes along a shoreline or bank. They don’t have to be right along the shoreline. They can be anywhere from several hundred yards away to twenty feet from the shoreline or bank. My preference is one scattered sand hole about every 40-50 feet apart. If you get to many sand holes scattered very closely together it becomes harder to target every single one. The actual depth of the sand hole compared to the grass around it is another important factor. I prefer sand holes that are 1 to 2 foot deeper than grass around it. This is usually enough

November 2006


Dr. Jeff Joffe a dentist from Punta Gorda with a 5-pound redfish caught in a sand hole using live shrimp.

water for larger and a number of fish to hold in. If the sand hole is the same depth as the grass I find you will find less fish. My trolling motor is my judge as to the depth I am fishing in as well. I go as shallow as I can with my trolling motor. If I can then run my trolling motor on a grass flat without the prop slurping water on the top and hitting the blades of grass on the bottom, that is the shallow depth I will fish sand holes. As for the size of the actual sand holes, I like to target scattered holes that are about the size of my boat or a little smaller. Again, if they are too big it is harder to cover the entire hole effectively with your bait. My technique of fishing sand holes is very simple. I will position myself up wind and try to approach every sand hole in total stealth mode. My hope is that the less noise I make the less likelihood

that the fish will get spooked and leave the sand hole. If I am using live or dead bait (shrimp, cut bait, shiner, etc.), I will hook my bait on an 1/8 ounce jig head. I will then cast just past the sand hole and reel it into the sand hole and let it sink. Try to never cast directly into the sand hole itself. This may spook any fish that are in the hole. If I am using artificial baits I do the same and cast several feet just past and work the bait through the hole. Remember to work your bait a good 10 to 15 feet past the hole for most fish will follow your bait before striking it. I also target along the edges as this is where most will lay to ambush their prey.

Finding the right grass flat with sand holes that will hold fish is not always that simple. But this time of year if you spend a day of fishing just targeting sand holes chances of catching fish, and lots of them, will greatly improve. Tight Lines. Capt. Rob can be reached at 637-5710 or at

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Water LIFE

Page 20

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4271 Pine Island Rd. 282-3232

Fatsmasters Final November 2006

S taff Report The best of the best. The top 40 teams pared down from 125, fishing for the championship ... on a crappy day. Perhaps the worst tide of the month. High at 6 am. with 20 knots of wind out of the southwest almost over the seawalls, but that didn’t matter. A front was moving through and when the sheets of rain came you couldn’t see the seawall or anything else. Then, by afternoon, when the tide was lower, the wind was out of the north at 25. Sidling a boat up to the weigh-in dock was not easy and by the end of day one, 9 of the top 40 teams didn’t make it to the weigh in dock at all. Some must have had fish, maybe one fish, not two, and they simply decided not to come back. It’s all or nothing when you are going for the top 5. In the end day one saw a 10.75 pound snook brought back by Jason Reynoso and Team X from JTM. The big red was Paul Lambarts 7.25 pounder. When the weighing was done a combined weight for one snook and one redfish of 17.3 pounds had Team JTM’s Team X at the top of the leader-

Water LIFE

On Saturday the water was rough – one boat at a time at the weigh in dock. Anglers sought what protection they could find from the surf to check or measure their fish. Right - Winners: Brad Brownʼs Moonlite Charters team and their big snook.

board. Then came day two. Front passed, barometer climbed, wind changed, water dropped. Fishing sucked. Actually it got worse for one team, Brain Harris and team Renegade blew

their engine and didn’t make it back, and they reportedly had two fish in the well. Jason Reynoso only had a red

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so he finished at 6.30. Rob Locke only had a snook so the Tropic Trailer team finished with a 6.36. In second place was Scott Bryant with a two fish total of 11.6 pounds and winning the Flatsmasters year end tournament and taking home the skinny water flats boat, motor and trailer was team Moonlite Charters with Capt. Brad Brown at the





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One Deck Finished ... This New House Part 18

By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Editor My life is upside down. I’ve had a month of eating and sleeping on a regular schedule. The heavy lifting, climbing and push-push-push of the past year has come to an end. My body doesn’t know what to do. My tendons are in shock. With all the local talk about increased taxes, millage and assessments we’re glad not to be done with our construction.We are at a conveniently awkward spot. We’ve moved into our new house under a temporary Certificate of Occupancy but we don’t have our final C.O because we’re missing hand rails at the stairs, a few ceiling fans (which figure into the energy calculations) and a few assorted light fixtures here and there. Our plans call for a small deck with steps at the hall door to the yard and a larger one off the family room. The bigger one is in progress, but the railing and the steps aren’t done. The smaller one has yet to be started. So I’m thinking...big taxes, a new assessment.... why rush? It’s not realistic to get all this stuff done by the first of the year anyway and if we roll over to the new year still under construction our taxes should reflect an unfinished house and should be (theoretically since this is still Charlotte County and anything can happen) based only on the land value of our property. Theoretically. In the meantime, I’m getting used to the deck with no railings. I just hope I don’t fall off it one night! That deck was the sole big project of the month. It took almost $1000 worth of pressure treated lumber. It’s a frame and ledger of 2x10’s bolted to the wall with 5/8 studs epoxied into the cement and stringers of 2x8’s spanning the length. Then 2x6 decking. It was a sim-

Water LIFE


November 2006

But too much else to be done before the first of the year.

ple but tedious project, especially when you count the 700 screws, 50 pieces of decking and 7 big stringers that all had to be carried in from the canal side gate. Luckily we had a gun to put all the screws in. The deck connects the breezeway outside the kitchen with the dining room. It really opens up the flow of traffic – if flow really matters in a house with two people and one dog. Deck done, I hauled the scrap lumber out to the driveway. And then it struck me. We need a gate between the unattached garage and the wing wall off the house, why not use the remaining deck material? I had just enough. Sticking with the heavy-duty, overbuilt is better, theme of the whole house, a six foot high 4 foot wide 2x6 and 2x8 gate would be just the ticket. We stopped over at Crossties Farm and Garden supply out on Highway 17 and bought a set of pasture gate hinges with 3/4 inch galvanized threaded rods and huge hinge pins and brackets. You’d use these on a 10 foot wide gate with no problem. I got out the hammer drill and punched some 3/4 inch holes in the solid concrete wall and epoxied the studs in place and then cut and screwed a gate together while the epoxy was drying. I built the gate right where it would hang so I’d only have to stand it up, jack it up to the hinges and drop it on. That was a good idea! That sucker of a gate must weigh 200 pounds! My wife uses two hands to open it. She says it should not swing but instead should raise and lower on chains. We’ll call it the ‘Castle Gate. All we need now is a moat,” she said. “It’s ridiculously overbuilt.” I took that as a compliment. Inside, we stained the upstairs doors and painted the jambs.

Downstairs we’ve been living with a concrete floor in the utility room which doubles as the Water LIFE office so last month when Home Depot had a 20-percent off sale on carpet we had the office done. A steal at $230...installed. The carpet installers showed up one Friday morning and parked their truck in the street. Then two men lugged a roll of carpet up to the house. I wasn’t paying much attention when an agonizing ‘Arragaaahhhhh!’ yell echoed through the neighborhood. Immediately I knew what it was. The sound of a grown man scared to death by a little wooden snake. Back when we lived in New Mexico we collected wood carvings made by local artisans. One of the popular items at the time were carved tree roots, cleaned up and painted to look like ornamental snakes. Stores had them stockpiled by the hundreds, literally barrels full of snakes for sale. We unpacked some boxes last month and found one of our own carved wooden snakes. It was a little weathered and had lost a most of its hand painted vibrant coloring. Now it looked like a brown Florida rattlesnake. Its head was arched up and its red painted mouth was open. I put it on the front stoop, its bent body curled around a post. You can’t miss it when you come up the stairs. The carpet guy will attest to that. Looking back, the poor carpet guy could have dropped dead and it would have been my fault, but in the end we all laughed it off.

Back outside the last project of the month was my favorite. We had the front yard sodded and the swale area along the street contoured and sodded as well. We didn’t need a whole truckload of sod, only four pallets. My friend Doug from Shore Protection Seawalls had some extra sod from a job he just finished so I made the call and he had his guys come over and sod the yard. As you can see in the photo above the grass is green and the old bougenvilla we dug up from the back yard a year ago, left laying in the dirt for a month and then replanted, is doing well. You just can’t kill those suckers. And yes, I know I’m going to regret it when I have to prune that thorny thing, but right now it’s in bloom and it looks great. Lastly, the county came by and passed our final right-of-way inspection so when we get our bond money back I can

November 2006

Water LIFE

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Directly on the Intracoastal Waterway facing Sanibel's Ding Darling Preserve. CBS 3bedroom, 2 bath pool home on large cul de sac lot. Deep water canal runs along east side of property with dockage, 25,000# lift, jet ski docks and davits. One of a kind. $1,390,000

Key West Syle home on Pine Island. Gulf Access waterfront. Oversized lot, wonderfull location, room for a pool. $499,900

Family compound - Two homes on oversized lots, two boat lifts, large boat house, boat ramp on canal that leads to Pine Island Sound and great back water fishing. Private setting. New 3/2 home $975,000. Older 2/2 CBS $550,000. Buy one or both ! Beautiful Pine Island Home on Back Bay. Community shares beach front on Charlotte Harbor. Private dock. 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, wood floors. Furnished. No condo fees. $995,000.

55+ Community with Gulf Access boat ramp and dock, club house, pool, storage. Safe, fun, easy living. $167,000.





Water LIFE

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Fort Myers Store Opens Nov 2!

D o u b l e B a r r e l Wa s p B o m b MAGAZINE

November 2006

By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Editor With the boat on davits right in the back yard it’s usually easy to go boating, but when I started to wash the deck last month, first one then several wasps came out from under the gunnel on the port side. Not long ago, after leaving my dock I had run out into the harbor and then powered down only to see a wasp or two coming out from below the port gunnel and rise into the air. My response was to power back up immediately and leave them buzzing, miles from home. But there were more wasps when I got back. in fact, I’d seen numerous wasps around the boat in the weeks prior. Now I’d have to really deal with them. I wasn’t about to lay on the deck, wedged between the console and the cap-deck and stick my head up under the gunnel to see exactly where they were. I couldn’t escape without being bit. I knew I’d need room to beat a hasty retreat before this confrontation was over. I rigged up a mirror on a stick and went out early the next morning before the day heated up and all the wasps got moving. What I saw was scary. A four or five inch nest OK, the photo is not real! We added the wasps covered with sleepy wasps and doton the computer, but this story is true. The waspʼs nest was up under the port-side gunnel, ted with white cottony areas of where the rod holder is. wasp larvae ready to hatch. Wasps are social insects that live in approach. colonies. They will readily sting if they I took a short 2x6 board and screwed perceive their nest or territory might be two lag bolts into one end, screwed just threatened. If they knew my intentions I deep enough into the board so the bolt could be in peril. faces would contact the spray buttons on There was no way I was going to a wasp-spray can. I indexed the bolts so lay down on the deck and spray wasp the ‘flat’ on the head would be square killer up in there and not be able to run with the button on the spray can. Then I like hell. What to do? screwed a block of wood a little further When battling wasps my usual down the board to hold the heels of the approach is to employ a P-51 style cans. attack. The WWII P-51 Mustang airGently I set the whole thing on the plane had wing mounted machine guns deck and then squeezed two cans of wasp that were each angled slightly inward. killer against the block. The two sprays That created a kill zone about 200 yards jetted up like fountains. Quickly, I used in front of the pilot where both guns my boat brush to slide the whole sprayconverged with maximum firepower. ing contraption under the gunnel right So when spraying wasps I like a can beneath where the wasps were. Then, of spray in each hand so I can direct the just to be safe, I ran like hell. spray to converge P-51 style out in Dead wasps fell to the deck. Later I front of me. That makes killing wasps knocked the nest down and threw it like a video game, and I usually find away. There were no survivors. myself shooting them right out of the Except for me. air. A sporting kill, if you will, except for the times I turn and run like hell. My approach to the underside of the gunnel would have to be different. This was close-in fighting, something new that would require more of a double-barrel shotgun than a machine gun

November 2006

Water LIFE

Real Estate News Recent area news i tems: PROVIDED BY: Dave & Marlene Hofer RE/MAX Harbor Realty (941) 575-3777

1. November's Charlotte County election is a partisan one so Republican candidates will be hard to beat. Twelve year incumbent Adam Cummings will likely continue to represent Punta Gorda in what is shaping up to be a very controversial period in our history. Richard Loftus appears to be leading Joan Fischer to replace the retiring Matt DeBoer. 2. The Punta Gorda City Councilman David Phelen resigned this week because of serious health reasons. The council will likely see two more new faces after the November election. Harvey Goldberg, representing Punta Gorda Isles, is running in favor of proactive community development vs. Tom Legros' campaign to emphasize EMT, police and fire safety growth. Charles Wallace will be vieing to upset the combative incumbent, Tom Poole. Fortunately, these new faces promise to address the multitude of reconstruction issues that are bogging down our communities. 3. Joe Suriol's Harbor Inn got a tentative green light from City Council. The developer is balking, though, over requirements to turn over a promised public easement along it's waterfront. IF it actually gets built, the public will be able to stroll all the way from the Charlevoix Condos to the Rt 41 bridge (and beyond, if agile enough to crawl under). Zoning ordinance apparently permits not less than 98% coverage of asphalt and concrete for City Center Zoning ... but piled not more than 50 feet high! Hopefully the new council will see the merits of trading away height limitations for increased open space. 4. After WCI became the second visionary to withdraw its redevelopment proposal for downtown Ft. Myers, that city is now planning on taking on this daunting task by themselves. While this proactive approach is refreshing, it's hard to conceive that a handful of politicians with no development expertise can pull off what highly experienced developers with Wall Street funding could not! 5. Reeling from the abrupt halt in enthusiasm for high end condominiums in Southwest Florida, Stock Development added Murdock Village to its growing list of abandoned projects. Apparently long term financial planning was not on their resume when they sold their hardware business and built a "Fifteen Minutes of Fame" real estate goliath a few years ago. The two com-

petitive proposals originally considered by the County from Kitson and Forest City are currently preparing updated offers. 6. FGCU landed five proposals to give them 150 acres of ground to build a new Charlotte County campus. Ansin's property between 41 & Taylor Road just south of Punta Gorda appears to have the most appealing location. This magnanimous outpouring of benevolence sprang, not from wealthy landowners desire to make a huge monetary sacrifice for the benefit of the community, but rather as a fee to make thousands of acres of their remaining holdings much more valuable. Our state mandated comprehensive plan limited the amount of housing that our county could ultimately provide. Each of the sites tendered are located in areas designated for agricultural use and ultimately, low density residential construction. The law permits the Transfer of (allowable) Density Units from one area to another. And if they aren't available to the developer from private sources, the county can SELL those TDU's to him for as much as $10,000 each! So, each of the three sites that are now under serious consideration stand to gain more than $60 Million in TDU benefits. They are all proposing to be given to them by the COUNTY so that the STATE can benefit from this land grant. The county may come to the conclusion that part of the Murdock site that now looms as a drain on our tax base for some time to come, would be the logical site for this project. The county would then be free to sell TDU's (not give them away) to developers for use in other projects and stimulate the evolution of Murdock Village. 6. Many of the state's property assessors, forming the Property Tax Reform Committee are meeting this month in Miami to evaluate possible recommendations for overhauling our property tax system. They will be meeting periodically throughout the next year to discuss the impact of making the benefits of the Save Our Homes amendment portable as well as raising the homestead exemption. 7. The City of North Port will be voting in November on a bond issue for a new $50 Million sewer system. This is a proactive measure to help insure the continued growth of the area. 8. Traffic flow in the Cape Haze peninsula will get a shot in the arm. Winchester Road will be extended south of Rt 776 to meet up with Placida Road three miles farther south. When completed, this $47.4 million project will provide easier four lane access to the I75 interchange at River Road. Other area devel opments i n the


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To Be or Not To Be? The former law office and florist (last on the right) on West Marion Ave.

works: The owners of the former Port Charlotte Raquet Club have aquired a portion of the Bal Harbor Plaza at the corner of Aqui Esta to construct a three story office/health spa. Dean's old South of the Border Restaurant will finally be torn down. They are adding a new patio with roofing and a/c misters - no need to move to Arizona, now! Two commercial property owners are duking it out in court over whether to rehab or demolish (sensibility and the city's first choice) the jointly owned former florist and law office on West Marion Avenue's restaurant row. The Pollard's are learning the hard way why you don't buy HALF of a building! Centerline Homes will be developing The Moorings, a PUD with 156 condos

and 654 single family homes on 300 acres near Notre Dame and Green Gulf in Tropical Gulf Acres. S al es S tati sti cs: Although volume is still down more than 80% from last year, speculative lot median prices rebounded into the mid $30's this month in North Port and Port Charlotte. House prices continued to retreat with volume dropping to 160 for the month, almost all of it below $225K. Condo listings swamped sales 900 to 12 east of the river. These statistics are intended to assist in analyzing trends in supply and demand and not to indicate specific market values. Please visit us at to view any available properties from Venice to Burnt Store Marina





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Water LIFE




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Pulling the Drag Offshore


By Capt. Chuck Ei chner Water LIFE Pirate Harbor Mixing it up on the high seas is what fishing is all about. Somehow an offshore fishing trip in the gulf always turns out to be an adventure well beyond the fishing and this trip was no exception. Imagine 7 long time fishing buddies venturing out on 2 boats to tangle with the big ones. Two are professional captains, 3 wannabees and 2 along for the ride. As in most trips there was a lot of excitement the night before with tons of preparation including making sandwiches, making chum, putting tackle together, etc. Leaving the dock we headed straight to the grass flats to chum for bait. Two hours later we had enough pilchards and pinfish to do the job and off we went. Five miles out we each set up on an artificial reef and began to chum. The first bites came quick and two 4-foot sharks were boated by Whirlwind Jim. Over time, fisherman have a way of coming up with names for each other and this day we had Bubba Ray, Red Belly, Frenchie, Whirlwind and Pete, Tim and Mark. Bubba Ray was next with a buckled meat stick that looked like a goliath grouper was hooked. A short fight

November 2006

ensued with the grouper finding its way back home. Several more bite-offs, one small grouper and the fishing slowed as the winds shifted from the northeast to the southeast. This shift swung the boats off the structure which in turn redirected the chum flow away from the structure, causing the bite to slow. Since shark and goliaths were the main catches we decided to change locations and run further offshore. A group decision was at hand as to where to go. There were boxcars, school buses, concrete culverts and a variety of spots that were discussed. All were a shot in the dark and we ended up fishing concrete culverts in 64’feet of water. Approaching a sunken structure simply by following your chart plotter to the lat/lon numbers is not as easy as you might think. Our approach was to circle the general location looking for the bottom structure and fish on the depthfinder. When the best bottom was located we pitched a marker on it and then anchored up tide taking the wind and current into account so as to position the boat upstream. Ideally, you want your chum to flow to the fish holding

continued on facing page

November 2006

structure with your boat a cast away. With the hook set, we began dicing and pitching fresh greenies and pilchards. Live ones were released and my first 3 casts ended up in a smoking bite, hard pull and a chomped off line. Whirlwind had the hot stick again and brought a 3-pound snapper in- we were off to a good start! Bubba Ray drifted a white bucktail with pinfish rider through the area and hooked up a huge fish. Burning drag and lots of pressure couldn’t break the stride and it was see-ya’ later. As the chum slick built up, kingfish made an appearance and the light tackle battles began. No big boys, but 10-12 pounders along with a nice mix of large Spanish mackerel. The fish box was starting to look impressive, but the bite would come and go as it often does off shore. Some anglers seemed to have more bites than others. Clearly there were less bites with a steel leader and in general less bites with braided lines. The goliath grouper and sharks could care less about the more visible tackle, but even the kingfish were discriminating at times. I am a true believer

Water LIFE

in using monofilament in clear water and I got more than my share of bites. I consistently tried fishing with only 30 pound leader and 10-pound mono for running line and as a result the toothy critters had their way with me. Finally resolving to put on a wire leader, I fished a free-lined pilchard and it got smoked by a king. Only problem was he bit above the 10-inches of wire. A quick retie with about 20-inches of wire, a free-lined pilchard and another king smoked the bait and my reel. As luck would have it, an ancient looking free-floating crab float drifted within range of my kingfish. The king did a loop-deloop around the crab line and now I was fighting 50- feet of barnacle encrusted line plus the fish. A small miracle for light tackle was had ... and the whole mess was brought boat side. Peering down into the depths we spotted a large tripletail under the crab float. First order was to gaff the


king and disconnect from the crab float mess. Then Pete dropped a pinfish to the curious tripletail, but it was ignored. With 4 anglers peering into the water a pilchard was dropped and the fish ate it! The tripletail fought its way boatside and into the cooler. The sun was setting and the fishing continued. Red Belly hooked and fought something huge!! This fish still remains at large. A few more Spanish macks and we were headed home. My brother, in his Grady White, decided to fish one more offshore spot. We were motoring through Boca Grande pass when Frenchie spotted rolling tarpon which I insisted were dolphin. Turned out he was right and we shut down and pulled out 4 tarpon sticks and pitched out pinfish and large pilchards. Tarpon were leaping, feeding and rolling –

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a prettier sight against a red sky with setting sun is seldom seen. Hearts pumping, lines out and tarpon boiling by the boat and we hear the crackle of the radio- my motor is acting up, I may need a tow! This adventure lasted 18 hours from beginning to end including great fishing, comradere and a slow quiet boat ride across Charlotte Harbor. The seas were calm, the beer cold and the peaceful ride with my brother in tow was time to reflect on the marvelous fishing we enjoyed.

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

Water LIFE Nov 2006  

Parts of the November 2006 edition of WaterLIFE are unavailable at this time. Here is what we do have!

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