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Water LIFE Charlotte Charlotte Harbor Harbor and and Lemon Lemon Bay Bay Keeping Boaters & Fishermen Informed Since 1997

The official publication of the Charlotte Harbor Reef Association

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Offshore Page 16

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Pier Review Page 6

AJ Tagging Page 14

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Don Ball School of Fishing: Apex Predators

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By Mi chael Hel l er School Director Every year, as part of our 8 week program we ask the FWC stop in at each of the five schools and make a presentation to our students. The exact nature of the presentation is left up to the FWC personnel who appear. All this is coordinated out of the FWC field office in Murdock. The FWC staff who makes the presentations are field and lab workers from the Murdock facility. Most of the presentations to date have centered around the stock sampling that the Murdock office does every day in Charlotte Harbor. Chrystal Murray and John Hadden are two of the people in the water pulling the huge nets and recording the fish one by one. Part of the sampling includes examining the stomach contents. Chrystal and John induce warm water, pumped into the fish to make them regurgitate. They explained all this in an AV presentation to the class and then came the fun part. Chrystal and John had bagged up the stomach contents from snook, flounder, mullet, mackerel and a slew of other fish caught the day before and brought it all to class, iced down in labeled plastic bags. In their power-point presentation they had explained the food chain from the ‘Trophic Levels” perspective: Level 1) Pri mary Producers (organisms that make their own food like plankton, seagrass, algae and leaves (in our area, mangrove leaves). Level 2) Pri mary Consumers (those that eat the primary producers) like mullet, barnacles, oysters, shells and clams. Level 3) S econdary Consumers (those that eat the primary consumers) like sheepshead, crawfish, crabs, shrimp and pompano. Level 4) Apex Predators (those that eat both primary and secondary consumers) like largemouth bass, snook, redfish, spotted sea trout, sharks, cobia, Spanish mackerel and Gulf flounder. “To catch fish you have to know what they are eating,” Chrystal told the class. The students donned rubber gloves, poured the stomach contents into trays and dissect them to see what was inside.

Students then identified the stomach contents and listed them on a Trophic Levels and Food Web form Chrystal and John had made up for the class. Then the students looked over the results and decided what bait or lure was best to use to catch the different species at this time of year. This was the essence of our Be The Fish approach to teaching kids about fishing. Think like a fish (or like a fish eats in this case) to catch fish. John and Chrystal went way over the top in preparing for this class and it was greatly appreciated by the students, teachers and parents in the room. Chrystal and John had our kids sitting with pencil and paper figuring out fishing. That’s a big kudos for the them and for the FWC. Billy Barton, the teacher of the class at Punta Gorda and I left the building together after the last student was picked up. We were marveling at how good the kids were. No flying cobia stomachs, no half digested sardines sailing through the air, no mushy touches, not even a messy table. It just couldn’t have worked out any better. Thanks again, John and Chrystal.


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Clockwise from top Left: John Hadden and Capt. Billy Barton help the students examine the contents of different fish stomachs This is the contents of a riverr snookʼs stomach John shows how pliable and tough a cobiaʼs stomach is Adam Barth and Kyle Comstock figure out the Trophic connection Chrystal Murray gives an animated explanation of predators along the food chain Barnacles and shells from the stomach of a pompano Breelen Olson and Savanna Romer look at a pinfish from a Spanish mackerel stomach


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Inshore & Offshore Headquarters

Water LIFE Magazine inc.

(941) 766-8180

Michael & Ellen Heller Publishers


Mail: 217 Bangsberg Rd. Port Charlotte, FL 33952


Not affiliated with any other publication

Vol X No 11 漏 2011

No part of this publication (printed or electronic) may be copied or reproduced without specific written permission from the publisher.

Contributing Editors:

Photography: Senior Editor: Capt. Ron Blago Charter Fishing: Capt. Bart Marx Port Charlotte: Capt. Billy Barton Punta Gorda: Capt. Chuck Eichner Commercial Fishing: Kelly Beall Sea Grant: Betty Staugler

Real Estate: Dave Hofer Inshore: Fishin始 Frank Offshore: Capt Jim O始Brien Diving: Tommy Davis Kayaks: David Allen Sailing: Bill Dixon Office Dog: Molly Brown

on the COVER

As the weather turns colder and the fishing slows down the local tournament season comes to an end, but problems continue Page 5

A non-native giant tiger prawn was caught Sept. 19 in East Bay near Panama City. The FWC is asking fishermen to report sightings of the shrimp, which have been found off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. Editor notes* These look delicious! FWC photo

More Monkey Business


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Commentary By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE editor You gotta figure, when you post something on Facebook it’s going to get out. Employers look at your Facebook postings, spouses look at them, friends and even adversary’s look at them. If it’s on Facebook it’s out there. So when Terry Brantley, a former weigh-in official at the Flatsmasters Tournament, and now a tournament angler, posted his photos the day of the Tampa Flatsmasters event, I got to see them the next day. One photo showed 7 fish in a livewell. Brantley should have known better. Later, when I asked him, he said he was just “fooling around,” that he had hoped to “stir up some comments” and that the photo was in fact from another day and from a charter trip when he had 5 anglers on his boat. “All those fish were released alive,” he told me, adding that “one of the fish was a trout.” In tournaments, the FWC requires no more than two fish in a livewell and the well must be 2.4 cubic feet or 18 gallons

minimum. So posting a photo like that, so it would look like it was taken at the tournament, doesn’t do good things for the Flatsmaster’s Tournament image. If the picture he posted, with 7 big fish in one small livewell, was just a ‘cool picture’ of ‘some nice fish,’ as he told me, his idea of cool is not the same as mine. Cool, when it comes to tournaments, is doing the right thing, not stirring up controversy, depicting violations. Last month, at one of our 7th grade fishing classes in Punta Gorda, one of the 12 years olds asked me why I stopped running the Kids Cup Tournament. Seventh graders are pretty grown up. I explained the Kids Cup took money to produce and that it was more important to me to continue our 7th grade classes than run a tournament for kids who were already fishing. And there is too much ‘monkey business’ going on with tournaments, I added. Monkey business was all I said, but a conversation immediately broke out on the boys side of the room. “Yeah a lot of cheating,” one of the students said and a discussion, with examples, followed. Here was a room full of 12 and 13 year olds in Punta Gorda and they already knew all about tournament cheating. These are the kids we are teaching the Ethical Angler concept to, apparently just in time! Most seventh graders don’t know the word ethical, so I explain it as akin to do the right thing and even when no one else is watching. It is important, I tell the kids, because it takes ethical anglers to make the fishery regulations work. The FWC can’t possibly watch every part of the water, so anglers are trust-

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No Monkey Business Here - Flatsmasters Elite angler Capt. Tadd VanDemark in his 300 Hp Skeeter blows by Team Alaska Wild Salmon 250 HP Pathfinder piloted by Capt. Steve Griffing in the Flatsmasters Elite tournament last month. If you look carefully you can count all 18 fishing rods (3 per angler) as the two boats are aligned momentarily.

ed to do the right thing ... even when they are alone out on the water. Tournament anglers, I tell the kids, should be role models, not scoff-laws. When Brantley and I talked I reminded him that we wanted to see a redfish hatchery established in Charlotte Harbor and that tournament anglers would be involved in the program, so tournament image and ethics were very important. Before I talked to Brantley I had sent the 7-fish photo to the FWC, using the new ASK FWC feature on their website. Ask FWC is a great concept - the answers come back quickly. Here is my communication with them: Water LIFE: I have attached a livewell photo from a tournament angler. I would like you to look at it and tell me if there is any instance where what is shown might be legal. I'd also like to know how many redfish you count. FWC RES PONS E: Can you send me more information on the tournament. I need to look and see if they have a permit. Looks like 6 or 7 fish. Water LIFE: The photo was posted on a Flatsmasters tournament angler's Facebook page. I can not access the page because we are not friends. It was from one of their tournaments this fall. I'm

pretty sure they have the culling waiver, but that's not the issue. The well is clearly too small to hold more than two fish (by waiver regulations) So is there ANY instance where a tournament angler or a recreational angler could posess 7 reds in his well legally? ANY you can think of? FWC RES PONS E: None. Even in a release boat this would not have been allowed (unless the live well is bigger than it looks in the photo). The minimum live well size is 2.4 cubic feet or 18 gallons, and no more than 2 fish can be in the live well at any time. The recovery tanks are required to have a minimum of 14 gallons of water per fish held in the tank. Water LIFE: OK, so now the guy says this wasn't in a tournament. Would those fish be legal in a recreational setting? FWC RES PONS E: Legal. There is nothing that says his clients can't keep their bag, whether in the live well or on ice. As long as those were in the slot. Inshore guide with 5 clients.... Water LIFE: Do those dots at the end of you post mean you are skeptical about the ‘5 clients’ (excuse) like I am? FWC RES PONS E: I'm taking the 5th.

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Walkinʼ the Pier for Snook Page 6

By John Emi l Special to Water LIFE One night I was on a fishing pier with a few friends fishing for snook. We were using the typical live shrimp on Trollrites casting out and reeling in slowly working both sides of the pier. No one was producing any strikes. Vinny, who is a night time regular on the pier had his rod in his right hand holding the rod over the rail and walking one step at a time with the pier railing like he is on a tight rope for a circus act. Out of curiosity, we ask him what he is doing and he said, “I am walking the dog." Vinny loses 3 fish in a matter of 15 minutes and then catches his legal keeper. We caught on to the trick of getting some bites and then catching a few keepers ourselves. It's a silly name for a fishing tactic but it is very effective. You use a basic sliding sinker rig, slide your line through a oneounce egg sinker and tie on your leader. Your leader will use a 14 to 16 inch piece of fluorocarbon 30lb or 40lb test. One end is tied on a small black barrel swivel and the other end to a small black or brown "size 1" hook. Not a 1/0 hook, "size 1." You must use live shrimp because dead or cut baits will not be effective. Hook

your shrimp through the head starting underneath the shrimp's head going out through the top by the horn. Let's start off in the middle to get a visual and then from point A to point B. When you look over the pier railing straight down at the water, look for pier pilings. Let's say you have a piling to the left and a piling to your right. We will start at the piling to the right and that will be point A. Drop your rig down on the bottom next to the piling on your right. When it hits the bottom you hold your rod over the rail in your right hand with the rod tip down. Place your index finger on your line and lift the rod tip up just a little. Imagine that you are lifting your sinker off the bottom just a few inches. Slowly walk one step at a time to the next piling with the shrimp as if you were trolling that shrimp at super slow speed just at the edge of the pier. Walk slowly from piling to piling. Once you get to the next piling point B; reel up, go to the other side of the piling or flip the rod to your left hand and walk back to point A. Using this technique you can cover the whole pier. You can use the same technique using a ½ ounce Trollrite with your shrimp. There are a lot of snook swimming under the pier in the dark looking out

into the light waiting for prey to swim by. You’re just walking the dog. That’s exactly what it is. This may be used on both sides of the pier north and south. If you get hung up on the bottom just walk back the other way and gently pull up at an angle. What I would do when using medium to large shrimp on a ½ ounce Trollrite is start casting out and reeling in slowly working the surf area hard. If that doesn’t produce any results, I would drop the trollrite with the shrimp next to the piling and start “walking the dog”. If you take a shrimp and cast it under the pier and let it sit and wait for a fish to eat it, you’ll be waiting all night. You will get better results by working the pier starting at the surf and working your way up toward the end. You


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try casting out the shrimp and if that doesn’t work, quickly move on to “walking the dog”. With these two tactics you can cover the outside and inside of a pier and catch redfish too. When “walking the dog” and you get a bite; slowly raise the rod up. Don’t jerk it hard. I remembered times when I would start at one piling and when I got to the next one; had to reel up. I would slowly raise my rod up and there would be a snook following the shrimp. I would drop my arm so the rod tip goes down and the shrimp would sink. The snook would turn and suck it in. It’s crazy to see them coming out from under the pier. For more information on snook tactics on piers go to John’s website at

Red Tide Over, Fish ON!


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By Capt. S teve S kevi ngton Water LIFE Offshore Fishing the last few week's has been somewhat different to say the least. The red tide we had, beating us up at the start of October, seems to be over-with. And here we are in the midst of the fall mackerel and kingfish run,... and we are catching our fare share, but the interesting thing about these last few trips is the variety of fish that have come boatside. Big kingfish and Spanish macs as well as ladyfish, bonita, bluefish, bluerunners, and jack, have all graced us with their presence and appetite. And that's just the fishing offshore to about twenty feet of water. Out just a bit further we are finding a few more nice kingfish and tons of keeper sized gag grouper. It's no secret that the gag grouper season is only open till November 15. They know they will get a break soon, but don’t forget you can still keep two keeper sized red grouper at least till the end of this year! When your dead serious about boating a bunch of gags, try trolling a lure down at least 35-40 feet, this is especially productive when fishing in clear water, to about 50 feet deep. On the offshore wrecks, the BIG amberjack are back, and they are hungry – almost anything they can fit in their mouths will be swallowed up. From the next few week's, all the way through the winter, these bruisers will be gracing the back-deck of my boat. The daytime snapper bite seems to be picking up a bit. They are chewing real good on the 60-65 foot ledges now as well as are some really nice triggerfish and lane snapper. For the really big snapper, try a chum

The tyke with big kingfish is my little girl Emily. She reeled that fish to the boat all by herself. It hit a squid spoon in just 15 feet of water right up on the beach!

block and flat-line combo on top of a deep wreck, 100+ feet. Remember to book your Gag Grouper trip before the fifteenth of this month! Capt. Steve Skevington can be reached at Paradise Charters at 941-575-3528 for information

No Cash Prizes

First Place, Guided, Live Bait Division: 3950 Points: (left to right) Chris Crossin, Capt. Bruce Jackmack and William Sullivan

S t aff R eport Fourty five teams paid $750 each to fish in the Conservancy of SW Florida’s Red Snook Charity Tournament. One hundred and twenty three anglers participated. The event along with some serious contributions, and auction and other fund raising aspects generated $110,000 for the fishery and the environment. When we asked if there were any cash prizes for the winning teams the answer was: “Cash prizes? Why no! This was a charity tournament.”

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Greater AJ Tagging in the Gulf November

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By Betty S taugl er Water LIFE / Sea Grant The University of Florida Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences in partnership with Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries are working on several research projects relating to the life history and management of greater amberjack in the Gulf of Mexico including age and growth, reproduction, movement patterns and release mortality. As part of this effort greater amberjack have been caught, tagged and released from Louisiana down to the Florida Keys. This specific effort has two goals: first, to study the seasonal pattern and rates of movement of greater amberjack in the Gulf of Mexico and second, to determine the potential mixing rate of the Gulf of Mexico greater amberjack stock with the South Atlantic greater amberjack stock, especially in known spawning areas off southern Florida. Amberjacks (and a number of other jacks) are tagged on the left side of the dorsal fin with a yellow externally anchored tag. Researchers record the specific location and fork length of all fish released, along with capture information (depth, hook type, hook position, injuries, etc.). When time permits, they also sex the fish using nonlethal methods and they collect some pectoral finrays for aging and genetic analysis. How can anglers help? - To determine the timing of any seasonal dispersal or migration patterns of Gulf of Mexico greater amberjack, it is important to get the tags from recaptured fish back. If you catch a tagged amberjack please note the following: 1. Tag Number – this is a four digit number printed twice, once at each end of the tag. 2. Date and Location of Capture (The more accurate the location, the better. A GPS location is preferred) – Knowing the capture date and specific location of any recapture greater amberjack allows researchers to determine movement rates and distance moved. This also allows researchers to determine if male and female greater amberjacks, and the different ages of fish, are moving in different areas or during different times of the year. 3. Fork Length – Measured to the closest 1/8 inch (or mm). Getting accurate fork lengths from recaptured fish allows researchers to calculate the growth rate of individual fish. 4. Other information that helps,

but is not absolutely necessary, includes weight of fish, fishing depth, fishing gear used, whether the fish fought well, condition of tag site (does it look healed and healthy) and whether the fish is a male or female. Knowing the sex helps to confirm the non-lethal sexing of the fish when it was released by researchers. The information is very helpful, but the information is useful only if you are sure of the sex of the fish. Additional information contributed by anglers adds to researchers’ general knowledge of amberjack and the tagging project. For example, released amberjacks have been recaptured on the following day and reported as fighting well and with no redness at their tagging site. This indicates that the fish recovered well from the previous day’s tagging (feeding and fighting) and that the tag was inserted correctly (no bleeding or tissue damage around the insertion site). Please return the tag with your name, address and phone number to D. Murie, Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, University of Florida, 7922 NW 71st Street, Gainesville, FL 32653 OR call 352-273-3601 to report the tag. After reporting, expect a call back; UF researchers always call to confirm the recapture and inquire about some of the additional information described above. Fishers returning tags with date and location of recapture (minimum requirement) will receive either a baseball cap or a travel mug with the study’s tagging logo on it (indicate your choice). All recaptures are also entered into a quarterly random draw for a $100 cash prize, and an annual random draw for a $500 cash prize. For more information visit: ex.htm

Betty Staugler is the Florida Sea Grant Agent for Charlotte County. She can be reached at 941.764.4346 Sea Grant is part of the Univ ersity of Florida IFAS Ex tension

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Real Cost of Manatee Protection


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This is the Ruiz family enroute to Punta Gorda from the Beach Complex area. This may have been the last tube-crossing of the Peace River this year as in mid October the winds came up and the temperatures went down.

On the Line

By Capt. Ron Bl ago Water LIFE Senior Staff You can divide people into two groups; those that see the glass half full and those that see it half empty. When it comes to manatees in Florida, people tend to divide themselves into two classes; those who feel that manatees are so precious that we should do everything

we can to protect them and those that feel that the manatees are doing a good job of taking care of themselves and we should just leave them alone. I must admit that I am in the ‘leave them alone’ camp. There is nothing like hard economic times to get people focused on money; where we spend it and where we waste it. In my opinion, we have wasted most of the money spent on manatee protection for the last 30 years. Before you try to burn me at the stake, hear me out. Thirty years ago the estimated population of manatees in Florida was less than 1,000. Since we actually stated to use aerial surveys in the 90s we have spotted over 5,000 manatees in the state. I think that by any scientific measurement, you have to admit the manatee appears to be in better shape now than it was 30 years ago. The question is why has the population increased so much? Is it because of all the manatee protection regulations put in place or is it just Mother Natures way of controlling the environment? Let's look at what we have done to protect manatees in Florida. First off we had them declared “Endangered”. This gave the state and the federal government the power to control waterways and coastal development. It is widely believed that if there was an accurate population count back in the 70s, the manatee would not have qualified to be on the endangered list. The irony is that back in the 90s, as the population of manatees steadily increased, the states scientific experts recommended that the manatee be removed from the endangered list. After 5 years of study and millions of dollars wasted; in what some call the worst case of political cowardice ever, the state defered the decision to de-list the manatee to the federal government. We also named 13 counties in need of special Manatee Protection Plans and put in thousands of miles of manatee slow zones – none of which has resulted in any measurable decrease in manatee mortalities. Even though success can not be shown, the state is still trying to

require other counties to develop a Manatee Protection Plan, with Charlotte County being next in line. This will result in another layer of bureaucracy that local counties will have to pay for. I believe in the “if it's not broke-don't fix it” rule. If the manatee is already protected why have more rules and more cost? Manatee protection measures now include the mandatory installation of protection devices on all locks and flood control devices in Florida. The cost of these devices will add millions of dollars on the backs of taxpayers. Each year there are only a few manatee deaths due to these gates. Is it worth all that money to try to lower that number? Considering that the biggest causes of manatee death are from natural causes; namely cold and red tide, I just don't see the benefit in spending all that money. In my opinion the biggest threat to manatees comes from the people who are trying to help them. The warm water discharge from power plants is a classic example. As power plants switch over from coal and oil to natural gas they produce less warm water discharge. Manatees congregate at these power plants in the winter, rather than migrate to the south as nature intended. Everyone has known about this problem for 30 years, but have refused to address it. Now that we have over 5,000 manatees, these warm water discharges have become like refuge camps; leaving the manatees open to disease and starvation. So far the states answer to this problem is to require the power plants to artificially produce warm water for these discharges and of course they allow the power companies to pass the cost on to the consumers by way of our electric bill. If the state doesn't find a better solution than that, I'm afraid they may be loving the manatee to death. It seem to me that both man and manatee would be better off if we just started cutting the funding for manatee protection. Capt. Ron Blago can be reached for comments or questions at:

Flounder in Charlotte Harbor


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By Fi shi n’ Frank Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor Back in the 80s and early 90s, flounder was a regular catch here. In fact, the Gulf flounder record was broken here 3 time, by 3 guys, all with the name Allen. That’s justifiably weird! But in June of 1995 we had 18 inches of rain in 2 hours and it continued to be rainy for the next few months. The brown Bill Hamilton had a big Charlotte Harbor flounder for dinner freshwater run off extended six miles out into the jig head, at least 1/2 once or more and Gulf. Plants like seagrass died because no work it with a lifting motion of the rod sunlight was able to penetrate the water. tip. Let the jig head bang the bottom. A No sun light, no plants. small cloud of sand should be kicked up Since then, we had a two year drought each time the jig head hits the bottom. and much less over all rain. Given the Hey, wake up mister flounder, lunch is fact we have no rainy season anymore... right here. only a rainy-er season. Now today, 16 The east or west bars have flounder on years later, the flounder are back. them right now. As well as the inside Eco-nuts blamed boaters for the shore of Boca, north of the Phosphate destruction of habitat, but it was nature Docks. I am hoping to wade the flats in herself which caused the demise of our front of Ponce, this week, to see if any grass flats. Why do scientist continue to flounder have found a home there. think 20 years behind. Wake up, you eco Surprisingly, the flounder have been nuts and smell the 2000s. We get our cof- reported hitting good under the 41 bridges. fee from Starbucks now. One last thought is when you fillet a In spite of that little rant, it is fair to flounder, you get 4 fillets from each fish. say Charlotte Harbor has a good populaStart by making a cut along the head tion of flounder now, for some reason or on one side, then slice down the lateral another. Exactly why, only a deity could line to the tail. Slowly work the meat off possibly answer, but the fact is the first on oneside then the other, from the flounder are back. cut you made lengthwise down the fish. Some tried and true methods for catchThen turn it over and do the same thing ing them in shallow water is float which to the other side. keeps the bait a few inches off the bottom This sounds complicated but it is a or a poppin’ float to wake up the flounder simple T shaped cut. If you have probso they see and attack the bait. Either is a lems call the store and I will help you good way to go. But in the deeper waters, through it. Good luck to you! and by that I mean over three feet, a jig Frank can be reached at Fishin Franks head tipped with a live shrimp will get 625-3888 or at them to eat. Make sure you use a heavier

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Big Bites in the Harbor

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By Capt. Chuck Ei chner Water LIFE Punta Gorda The new and full moons of every month influence the world in many ways. On land, I have known people that get a little weird around the full moon – some might call them lunatics. On the water, moon phases influence the aquatic world in ways we often don’t understand. Generally speaking, I don’t like to fish around the full moon because the fish are often very fickle - a fancy expression for I can’t figure out how to make them bite. The new moon however, I find produces energetic fish and better fishing. And with this comes extra strong and extra high and low tides. I found myself venturing out alone one day after the new moon in late October. I was interested in catching numbers of fish because most of October was windy, raining or both and I was definitely getting the jitters from the lack of fishing. A super low tide with the first of the incoming was perfect and I zoomed towards Cape Haze where I met with small seagulls dipping the surface. Three casts and 3 ladyfish in the livewell for later was a good start. With a slight ripple on the surface I broke out my trusty Zara Spook, equipped with a hand tied feathered treble hook with red and white hackle. Twitch, twitch, twitch as I ‘walked the dog’ was my cadence but after 15 minutes my ol’ fishing wrists started complaining. But my fabled last cast met with an incredible mash, splash and ripping drag! I was way out gunned, using a simple bass fishing bait casting reel and began chasing the fish with my trolling motor.


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With hopes of a 5 foot cobia, a massive 50-70 pound blacktip shark came into the air from only 4 feet of water, his face looking at me and the white of his belly and pecs painted in black twisting in the late morning light. But the incredible fight was short lived when the hook broke. Once again the new moon and the ever incredible Charlotte Harbor had spoken to me in a way only a fisherman could understand. I only wish I could have shared this moment with someone else as it was quite the spectacle.

The tide started screaming in and I switched to a plastic leadhead swimbait. Luck was with me and several nice trout chomped my plastic morsel as my day continued to produce fish. Catching my share of trout I ran over to a sandbar that was rolling with mullet and put out a chunk of ladyfish on a hook and sat it in a rod holder. Fooling with my phone I relaxed on a weekday where it was hard to spot another boat on the water. Wham, my rod buckles and drag is a screaming and I can’t even finish my text message. No problem here and I commence to winding in a fat redfish that couldn’t resist fresh meat. To keep things interesting, I ran into

Bull Bay to explore some flats in pursuit of reds and snook. Casting spoons, swimbaits and other assorted lures I went nearly 30 minutes before hooking a redfish. A snappy fight from a 22 incher and I continued into waters I don’t normally fish for reds. Mullet were side by side on the edge of a flat where it dropped to 2 feet. They were twisting and turning as the current rushed in. Yo-yoing a swimbait with a redhead I convinced several nice redfish to break out of the huge school of mullet. These reds would attack the bait and nearly swallow it. As the day went on I added a small jack to the creel as well. With exceptional fishing nearly everywhere I fished, I somehow felt redeemed for the month of October that I felt I was boxed out of due to bad weather. There was not a single snook on this trip which is the telling sign of what the harsh winter of two years ago did to our snook population. I would have expected to

You will have to wonder what lure this fish ate”, as you canʼt see it, because he ate it so deep

catch 15-20 snook in the areas I fished, but I caught none. On a brighter note, I watched several very nice size flounder slide over turtle grass beds, a location I would not have expected to see flounder. When spooked they would dive into the mat of grass totally undetectable. I may have to try to target flounder on my next outing!

Capt. Chuck Eichner operates Action Flats Back country Charters and can be reached at 941-628-8040 or go to his website at www.back country

Fish and More Fish November

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Page 13

Just another great month

By Capt. Bi l l y Barton Water LIFE / Charlotte Harbor Did everybody get their fishin’ in this month!? I hope so. I know I sure did! It has been one exciting month let me tell you guys if you haven't been able to get out there and get ya a taste of some sweet action, you really should! I'm sitting here at the computer and I have a little case of writers block. It's not because there was nothing going on out there on my boat. The problem I'm having is there was just way too much going on out there for me to put on just one page! The weather lately is keeping things interesting. I'm trying to figure out if we're still in hurricane season or not. It's a little weird when you go from a cold front one week and your temperatures are down in the 50s, to a hurricane the next. I bet the fish are confused too! One thing that makes this place so great is the constant migration of fish in and out of our waters as the year progress-

es. This isn't like fishing a lake and only being able to target large-mouth bass, bluegill, and speckled perch. Oh no! It's much more complicated than that! We have so many species of fish to target there are many different tactics to learn, and baits to use, and lures to try! This makes things a lot more fun and interesting if you ask me! You really never do know what you could hook up with in our waters. So you might be thinking right now "well what the heck am I going to target here this time of year?" Ah that's an easy one! The first thing I would suggest would be to leave your shark and tarpon gear at home and let it collect dust until about April. Don't get me wrong there are tarpon and sharks here all year round, however they just aren't abundant. Most of our local tarpon that don't migrate south are going to head up the rivers in the winter time. Redfish, snook, and trout are here all

year round. These guys are all here in the winter time in abundance (especially trout). There's plenty of redfish out there right now they are just everywhere, that's a fact! Remember to release all of your snook and trout, they are both out of season now. Trout just went out on the first, and will be coming back in on the first of January. Snook sometimes can be tough to get to eat in the winter. When they do eat they usually want an easy meal. If you are fishing with artificial for snook during our colder months it's good to use a very slow retrieve. They want a meal they don't have to work for. They tend to get lethargic when the water temperature gets down in the lower 60s. When it gets down in the lower 50s, that's when the weaker fish start dying. that's why they're out of season in the first place! If you didn't know, about two years or so ago we had a freeze which brought us a major fish kill in the harbor. Dead snook everywhere. Man was that horrible. It reminded me of red tide. OK no more sad stuff! Some other species of fish that are already here, and starting to show up are sheepshead, black drum, pompano, whiting, and flounder. All five of which are just great on the table. I'm talking about mild, white, flaky, not fishy tasting, not oily fish! Yummm! When I think black drum and sheepshead I think of boat docks and bridges. Those fish are fully focused on crustaceans. You're gonna’ find flounder, whiting, and pompano primarily while fishing on the beach or in the surf, however you can get into them in the harbor too. If you're trying to get into them in the harbor a good place to look is on sandbars. These fish all spend their lives finding their food in the sand, and they

too are all focused on crustaceans. All of the fish I just mentioned can be caught on live shrimp. Live shrimp is by far the bait of choice in our waters during the fall and wintertime. Frozen can be a good secondary choice if live isn't available. There are several different ways you can fish with your shrimp. Free lined, under a bobber, on a jig head, or just a small hook and a small split shot sinker. The best way to figure it out is by experimentation. Once you're confident in something, stick with it and you'll catch more fish. OK ladies and gents I think that's enough for me this month. Now get out there and go catch some fish and take a kid with you! It'll be the best thing you ever did. Fish on!

Capt. Billy Barton runs Scales N Tails Charters. For information, or to book a fishing trip, Capt. Billy can be reached at 979-6140 or at:

Get Back the Magic Page 14

By Capt. Larry E. Todd Water LIFE Ki ds Fi shi ng We have all heard the phrase ‘TAKE A KID FISHING’ and we have seen pictures of kids and all types of fish they catch, but no one seems to talk about the fun and pleasure there is in fishing with children. To me, this is a story that needs to be told. As a charter captain, I have taken clients of all age groups on fishing charters, but kids are by far more fun to fish with than anyone else. And not having any grand children of my own, I have always had a soft spot for kids. On all charters, a captain must be ready to bait every hook, make every cast and remove every fish from the hook for all of your clients and as Fishin’ Frank once told me,

that’s all part of being a charter captain. That is true, but with kids, it’s not work, it’s fun. I had a charter with 4 boys and one mother. The boys ages were 10, two 12 yr olds and a 14 yr old. And yes, with the help of the mother, we baited every hook and I did a lot of the casting and removed all the fish caught. The first catch of the day was a small bonnethead shark and the boys went wild. Even a small shark was a major event. The rest of the day, we caught a top-ofthe-slot snook, trout, snapper and our fair share of catfish. As it happens, we were caught by a quick summer rain. We were all wet and the youngest boy was visibly a little cold and I was talking about heading back in, when the same cold little boy caught a 25 inch redfish. He wasn’t cold anymore and the last thing the boys wanted to do was go home. All they wanted to do was catch more sharks. But time ran out and mother

pulled the plug. To me, the snook would have been the high point of the day, but to the boys, it was the shark. I worked harder on that one charter than on any other, but I also had more fun fishing with those boys than any other time in my life. On another recent charter, 10 year old Evan caught his first BULL RED. Even though he landed the fish with very little help from his mother, he had a major problem holding the 8 ½ lb fish while we all took pictures. Evan was all smiles, ear to ear. Steve (Evans dad) told me that his son ALWAYS out-fishes him, ALWAYS. (Note: Steve’s redfish was only 23 inches) With Evan, I showed him one time how to bait his hook and he took over from there. Evan is a true fisherman who wants to be a charter captain when he grows up and from what I have seen, he will make a good one. When not visiting here Evan also fishes offshore in his home state of Massachusetts. I live on the water of East Spring Lake and with the help of Robert from Fishin Franks, I try and keep the water around my dock chummed up for the kids in the neighborhood. They have an open


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invitation to fish in my back yard anytime. (But only with a parent or when I am at home) Depending on the time of year, the kids have caught snook, redfish, black drum, snapper, spadefish, goliath grouper and tarpon. None of the fish they caught would have made the record books, but every one of them brought big smiles to a kids face and, to me, that is worth all the records in the world. So, to all you Dads, Grandfathers and other fishermen out there, get back the magic that you once had. TAKE A KID FISHING. The smiles on their faces and the joy that it will bring you is priceless.

Capt Larry Todd owns Little Gator Charters. He can be reached at: 941-626-0810


2 0 11 With underlines in the blanks. Damn computer underlines it all. Sun Cat Nationals Nov 5, 6 sponsored by Gulf Coast Sails and others. Big steak dinner cook out and 2 days of fun on the water. Web site By Bill Dixon for Water LIFE Sailing more details Busy times. Also November Lots going on. 5, 6 Southeast Weather is great for Regional Sunfish sailing. Go! Do it! Regatta. No other Sail you boats! information at Shortly there will be this time. an opening at Contact Dennis WaterLIFE for a Peck at 456-8542 sailing columnist: for details. great boss, fabulous Nothing local working conditions, on the Flying big fan base. No Scot Web site. taxable income. Florida regional It's been a fun 6 regatta at Sarasota Snowbirds are Back! John and Mary years, but Mary, Sailing Squadron Walsh ready their boat for the sailing season Max, and I are Nov. 5, 6 going on our boat to Miami for the boat Contact Martin Holland at 286-0722. show next year, then heading north from Moonlight regatta Saturday November there to explore the Chesapeake Bay. 12. Info on the PGSC web site Plan to stay in Chesapeake till the October boat shows there. Back late 2012 Model sailboat racing Monday's and or early 2013 depending on weather. Wednesday's from 10:00-12:00 and 1:30Maybe I’ll send a few pictures. 3:30 and on Saturday's from 10:00-12:00. Fall series PHRF racing has started. South County regional Park off Cooper Next race is November 6 with a 1:30 Street. Web site p.m. start. Contact Pete Welch at

Small boat sailing is still disrupted by the construction of the Harbor Walk. Contact Dennis Peck at 456-8542 for the current situation. Bill Dixon can be reached at

Page 15

Fall Series # 3 action from last month


The Olʼ Fishʼn Hole

With Capt. Jim O'Brien

Water LIFE Englewood Hey ya-all, what’s with that red tide? Glad it’s gone now. Man over the last few fish'n trips, we had to run through it out of Stump Pass. It was supposed to be south of us, down around Sanibel, but we seen tons of dead fish floating out past 17 miles. Then with that tropical storm brewing down around the Caribbean, it looked like it was coming our way and would push the red tide back on us. I guess I forgot how bad it smelt, cause we hadn't had red tide for a couple of years. When we run our charters out, we had to shut the aeraitors off in the bait wells, until we got out in good clean clear water. The fish'n was still HOT out passed the red tide bloom. I got a couple of good stories to tell ya this month, but right now let's see what the other fish are doing. RED FISH have still been good so far in Lemon Bay. They’re eating live shrimp and cut bait (cut lady fish seems to be the choice) The back bay captains tell me there are a lot of reds on the east and west walls of Charlotte Harbor, also reds are being caught in Bull Bay and Turtle Bay BONITA and SPANISH MACKEREL were just off the beachs untill the red tide came in, now we’re seeing them out 18 to 25 miles but they are coming back in. We had them all around while we were fish'n. There were a few king mackerel being caught before the red tide showed up. It pushed them out to deeper water too. The

last 2 charters we had out we were still catching BIG mangrove snapper up to 22inches, but we haven’t been getting any lane, or yellow tail snapper. GROUPER The grouper bite is still HOT. Lots of red grouper running 22i- to 34-inches. The gags have been running a little smaller. Our last charter out we got 2 cobias, one BIG- UN and one small-un. The fish were stacked up about 1 to 2 miles past the red tide. Now we’ll have to see. The first charter we had was Glen Keaser and his son Kevin owners of Paradise Jewlers in Englewood and their friends Andy Franklin, Harvey Dove, and Steve Burchell. We went out 30 to 32 miles and limited out on grouper, we also put a lot of BIG mangrove snapper in the fish box, they run from 16- to 22-inches. (THATS-SOME- NICE-A-MANGS) We fished a few spots in the morning and caught a few fish, but around 1 o’clock all

heck broke loose. Rods was bending in the front of the boat and in the back of the boat. I was really exciting. We were using hand-size pin fish and my ol' stand by mullet with a squid head on it. Lately we have been using octopus tentacles with the mullet. Just use the tentacles don't use the body. When cutting the tentacles off, keep a few of them in clusters of 2 or 3. This acts as a double or triple scented teaser (believe me it works ) and them tuff ol'

octopuses tenticles will stay on forever. Glen Keaser has a nice red grouper, Andy Franklin is holding a BIG 33 in. red grouper Harvey Dove holding a nice mang Keviin and Steve are holding red grouper. My second story was last week Joey Timbrook called me and said he was staying in Venice. Him and a couple of buddies were down here from Missouri and he was getting married on Saturday October 16, so him and his buddies wanted to go offshore fish'n on Friday October 15. Now ol' Capt. here has put some things together, but not like this. The game plan was I get 3 more people to go fish'n with them, to make up 6, and then we would fish all day. I had to have them back by 4:30 because his buddies was taking him to Tampa for his bachelor party, then they would drive him back to Venice that night so he would be ready to get married

the next morning. WHEW !! I don't know how much Joey had to drink at the bachelor party that night. I hope he made it back to get married (leaving a bride at the alter isn't a good way to start a marriage)


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Know what I mean? HA!! The guys in the photo are Joey Timbrook, (groom ) buddies Mike Gonzales, and Alex Moretina also Chuck Edmonston, Gary Kirkham, and Mac Mc Donald. Joey caught the biggest fish a 31 inch red grouper and Gary Kirkham caught a nice 22-inch mangrove snapper. Every one had a good time. Now it’s time to get out of here for another month, If y ou hav e any questions or if y ou hav e a good ol' fishin’ story or a recipe for cook ing fish that I can share with our readers giv e me a call. To book an offshore charter with us aboard the Predator II call (941) 473-2150 AND BE SURE TO SNORT SOME OF THAT SALT AIR CUZ IT’S GOOD FER YA!


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Turkey Day with Grouper

By Capt. Bart Marx Water LIFE Fishing What is November? Already time for turkey, sweet potatoes, corn, and pumpkin pie ...wrong answer! How about grouper, scampi, tomato gravy with rice and cornbread. And then some key lime pie for desert. Thinking about the grouper season closing half way into the month just ruined the tradition we started last year, going trolling for grouper on Thanksgiving morning. Last year we started at eight o'clock and had four nice 23 to 25 inch grouper by noon. Then we went to our respective families and had Thanksgiving dinner just like any good husband, son or father would have done. But this year we have been bamboozled and legally cannot continue with our grouper tradition. But although the season won’t be open on Thanksgiving we can put some grouper filets in the freezer for safe keeping till then. The last week of October was pretty good for grouper in my book. I had a couple of trips that we harvested gag grouper up to 15 pounds four keepers one day and three on another trip – some really nice fish. There were reports of red tide but I only saw a few fish dead along the edges of the Boca channel on an earlier trip. We made it out to 55 feet of water both trips, west of Boca Grande Island. On one trip we had six anglers and first

thing we trolled the north channel of Boca where the birds were feeding. We caught some Spanish mackerel , blue fish, and lady fish. Then we ventured out to some natural bottom where we caught a few white grunts and some short grouper. We made our way to an artificial reef where we caught some very close to legal-size gag grouper. Then it was time to troll for grouper with some Mann's stretch thirty's with 50 pound suffix braid on a Penn 321 level wind and a Penn rod. With the thinner braid line you can bounce the lures at 50 feet and cover a lot of ground. Find some of your favorite artificial reefs and troll over them with a similar set up. As you do this you will find the proper distance to let your line out to get your lure close enough to the bottom to attract the grouper. If you catch a lizard fish you are doing good and the lure is close. If you

snag some of the structure of one of the reefs you are trolling, just stop the boat and let your line go slack and the lure should float up no problem. Reel in a few turns of line and resume trolling. This is to me the most productive way to harvest gag grouper without getting the boat trashed throwing the net catching bait and making all that mess. Pick a red and white lure as your first choice and any color chartreuse you can find as your second. I have a solid hot pink stretch-thirty that catches goliath grouper too. Even if you read this story after season closes, using these same lures you can catch cobia and kings – for the kings add some wire in front of your lures as the kings have teeth. Most of all this month just remember to be thankful for fam-

Page 17

ily and the time we have together in this life to break bread and share fellowship with one-another. If you have any questions about fishing give me a call and book your next fishing adventure or purchase a gift certificate for a family member to go. 941-979-6517 Alpha Omega Singing drags and tight lines make me smile.

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Real Estate News

Page 18

PROVIDED to Water LIFE BY: Dav e Ho fer RE/MAX Harbor Realty (941) 575-3777


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The three-foot wide plastic water line that will stretch from Harbour Heights to the Punta Gorda side of the river is about 100 yards along the way to its 1/2 mile goal. The pipe is being buried in the river bottom, the old bottom muck is removed and new clean fill is being used to cover it.

Recent area news i tems: 1. The Southwest Florida Water Management Department (SWFWMD) owns some 279,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land in Sarasota and Charlotte County. Starting next month, SWFWMD will be exploring the possibility of selling portions of those tracts to developers. The sites under consideration are not considered to be environmentally sensitive and were acquired at market prices from private property owners packaged with other tracts that were not suitable for development. Public meetings will likely focus on why these properties were acquired in the first place and why this government agency waited until private demand for them has all but vanished. 2. The Charlotte County landfill on Zemel Road south of Punta Gorda will soon be producing electricity from its methane gas generation. The County hopes to generate enough energy to provide electricity for 4,000 homes and produce $600-$800k per year in gross

income. 3. Although the new $4 Mil control tower at the Punta Gorda Airport was completed on August 3, the Federal government has failed

to adequately fund FAA needs. Among those needs not funded... the needed subsidy of airport personnel in the Punta Gorda budget. 4. The controversial proposal to build a swimming pool adjacent to the Laishley Crab House is on hold for the moment. Punta Gorda city council will be awaiting a cost benefit analysis before reconsidering the project. 5. Walgreen's will be auctioning off their site for a future store at the Southeast corner of Toledo Blade and Tamiami. The 1.87 acre site was originally purchased by a happy investor in 1980 for $7,000 resold 2 years later for 3 times as

much then in 2008 for $300,000. That buyer immediately flipped it for more than $2.3 mil. Our county assessor has been taxing the property based on his estimation of value of $162K. Charlotte County taxpayers should be infuriated that Walgreen's (and many others, I have noticed) have escaped the State mandate that property be assessed at 85% of market value.

6. Punta Gorda will be extending the Aqui Esta sidewalk from Magdalena to Rt. 41. in the 4th q of 2011. Bidding will be completed for the linear park segment connecting Olympia and Cross. 7. Regions Bank will be closing their locations at Burnt Store Isles, Heron Creek and Kings Highway. In other news: September airport traffic at Punta Gorda Airport was up 95% over last September. Year to date traffic is up 65% S al es S tati sti cs: Nationally, July home prices were 4.1% below 2010 levels. Bank of America initiated a new short sale program. They will provide a cash incentive of between $5 & $20K for delinquent borrowers to give up their homes. Our area saw a modest increase in median sales prices in lots, houses, and condos. Active inventory continued to decline.

Charlotte Harbor crabber Johnny Jones spent the beginning of the lucrative stone crab season (open Oct 15 through May 15) hauling up blue crabs instead. “The red tide was so bad it didnʼt pay to go offshore (for stone crabs),” he said. Rain and wind at the end of the month brought red tide counts to zero in our area (but Sanibel still had some) and local crabbers went back offshore.


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Page 19

Myakka River State Park

By Davi d Al l en Water LIFE Kayaking Drive 8 miles east of Interstate 75, on SR 72, and you'll find the entrance to Myakka River State Park, one of the best paddling locations in southwest Florida. It's one of Florida's largest and oldest state parks, covering almost 40,000 acres of beautiful wetlands, hammocks and pinelands. Our club particularly enjoys the diversity of wildlife, especially the alligators and water birds which inhabit the park. On a paddle you will typically see ibis's, ducks, egrets, an occasional deer or bald eagle, and of course lots and lots of alligators. The park rangers can provide you with a list of over 250 species of birds and other wildlife. Of course the main attraction for kayakers is the 14 mile stretch of twisty, windy tannin-colored river that connects the Upper Myakka Lake and the Lower Myakka Lake. A low weir dam separates the Upper Myakka Lake from the river, and if the water level is low enough, you may have to portage around the dam. South of the dam, the Myakka meanders through a series of marshes, around several islands, some covered with sable palms, and as you proceed south you will usually see more wildlife and alligators.

South of SR 72, toward the Lower Lake, the river becomes much narrower with Spanish moss hanging from a canopy of trees. This area is designated a Wilderness Preserve and a permit is required to paddle through this section. The park rangers try to limit the number of paddlers to protect the habitat. There are more birds and alligators in the Lower Lake area and occasionally you will see a flock of rosette spoonbills. Several weeks ago our kayak club made the trip to Sarasota to paddle the Myakka. It was not the kind of warm Florida morning we had hoped for, but after re-scheduling the paddle three times in as many weeks, because of rain, we were just glad to be on the water. Myakka River State Park is one of our paddles we do three or four times a year, largely due to the abundant wildlife. It's not an easy paddle if the current and the wind are against you, which was the case on that Sunday. And it's easy to take the

NOT MYAKKA - An extremely low tide at Liverpool on the Peace River, last month, showed the bottom of the old brick pilings that once supported the loading dock for phosphate ore being moved by water to the freighters at Boca Grande.

Sto e Cr a n i n S ea b s NOWson !

wrong channel through the low marshes and get separated from the main group – several years ago our group got separated through the marshes, and didn't get back together until we reached the dam. It can even fool a GPS map because often the land separating the water channels is very narrow and is not picked up. This trip we launched from the lower parking lot, just a few hundred yards southeast of the Ranger Station at the park entrance. From this point, it's about 4 miles to the dam and another 3/4 mile to the concession area on the east side of the Upper Lake. It was a tough paddle against the current and it took us a little over an hour to reach the dam, but of course the return trip was a down-hill sleigh ride. Just point the kayak in the right direction and hold on. We were a little disappointed that we didn't see more big alligators on this day. They make for a good photo-op if you want to get close. The cold might have

been a problem. We did see several young, small, alligators (I'm sure the mother was someplace near) and a couple of 5 footers. It's not unusual to see upwards of 50 or so on a typical day, particularly in the lower river. We all enjoyed the paddle and seeing the many flocks of birds. The Myakka is always an interesting paddle. Try it! The Port Charlotte Kayakers meet each Wednesday evening at 5:30 PM at Port Charlotte Beach Park. All are welcome. For more information contact Dave Allen at 941-235-2588

Page 20

Water LIFE Distributor 始s Club


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You can always get a free copy of Water LIFE at these locations



4419 So. Tamiami Trail S. Venice 493-0025

Water LIFE Distributor 始s Club

You can always get a free copy of Water LIFE at these locations


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Maintenance Dept.


Sometimes Unsubstanciated, But Often True

Page 21

Bombardier (owns evinrude) has high hopes for market share of Learjet. Bombardier Aerospace plans to increase the market share of its Learjet line in the next five years. "We are investing heavily in that brand," said Guy Hachey, president of Bombardier Aerospace. Mercury Marineʼs new 150 hp 4-stroke outboard received an innovation award at the International Boatbuilders Exhibition and Conference (IBEX) in Louisville, Ky. who cited the motor for its light weight, fuel efficiency and performance. Mercury found a way to trim 24 pounds off their old 150 4-stroke.

NOAA Fisheries Proposes to implement Amendment 18 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region. It Seeks Public Comment through Nov. 21. If implemented, this rule would remove species from the management plan; modify the framework procedures; establish two migratory groups for cobia; establish annual catch limits, annual catch targets, and accountability measures for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia. In addition, Amendment 18 would set allocations for Atlantic cobia and establish control rules for king mackerel, Spanish mack-

Downtown Dallas... copper thieves were trying to pull a 13,200 volt live wire out of a conduit. They used a bolt cutter to cut the copper wire. If you're going to steal copper wire, make sure the power is turned off.

Evolution and manʼs relation with the sea.

erel, and cobia. Gasparilla Marina has new people running the out-haul and service part of their operation. The previous contractor retired.

FWC Officers on water patrol stopped a vessel on Lake Marion Creek to conduct a boating safety inspection. During the inspection, one officer noticed a line extending from the vessel into the water. After he questioned the occupant, the officer was told the line was an anchor line. But as

the officers pulled away from the vessel, a large, dead alligator floated up from beneath the subjectʼs vessel, attached to the line. The subject admitted to killing the alligator with an axe and tying it off to his vessel. Officers seized the alligator and charged the subject with taking an alligator without a permit.

The Park in NYC where the occupy Wall Street protest has been taking place is owned by the same company that owns Fishermenʼs Village.

This is a Mercury 2-stroke water pump. The rubber impeller spins in the cup and rides on a bottom ʻwear plate.ʼ The whole assembly runs on the vertical shaft of the motor.

S t aff R eport In Charlotte Harbor water pumps on outboards often go bad because of sand ingestion. When running through the shallows sand is picked up in the cooling water and the sand grinds away at the metal surfaces in the water pump as it is squished around by the rubber impeller. Even if you don’t run in the ‘skinny’ you ingest more sand here than offshore. The rubber impeller we took out of our 200 Merc, last month, was perfectly good, but the grooves cut in the pump’s wear plate let the water pressure drop significantly. And the same thing happens every year. An old Mercury mechanic once advised me: ‘You must change the pump impeller, the upper cup AND the wear plate every time,’ so that’s what I do. Parts can be $30 to $50 (depending) and it takes about an hour to do the job ... if the lower unit comes off easily and you know what you are doing. If you can’t do it yourself, farm it out, but do it regularly and be sure to change the gearcase fluid at the same time. Another probl em we stumbl ed on – l i teral l y. Last month we found the cure for a high speed stumble in our OB. This just started recently and only happened at WOT. As it turned out, the rubber fuel line 90-degree bend going into the fuel pump from the primer bulb side of the line was the problem. The bend was preformed and made from a different material than the rest of the fuel line plumbing. The section had become soft in the middle (ethanol laced gasoline would be my guess). At high speed, when the fuel was flowing fast, the soft bend would collapse, sucking in on itself, starving the engine and making it stumble. Let off the gas and all was OK again. This was a bugger to figure out and teaches the valuable lesson of hands on, feeling and squeezing hoses and lines, often, to check them for softening.

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November Fishing Forecast

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Charlotte Harbor:

Frank at Fishin' Franks Port Charlotte: 625-3888

There are S pani sh mackerel moving in now. There has been bl uefi sh at Captiva and in Captiva Pass and I’ve had one or two reports of bluefish up this end of the Harbor. There were bigger sheepshead on the close-in reefs before the red tide hit. We are assuming they are still there... if they are not dead. Pompano have been around the bars. It’s weird they have been in 4to 6-feet of water, which is shallower than I would have thought. When you see them, flip a bait to them, try a small jig tipped with shrimp. You can use a plain banana jig or a bucktal hook and a banana jig combo. This has been the best year since 1994 on fl ounder. We had a lot of rain in 1995 and it destroyed the flounder habitat in the harbor. Now the habitat is back and we have flounder on a lot of flat bottom. Flounder like a mixture of grass and sand. Now the balance seems to be back. We are using poppin’ corks to

keep the bait just off the bottom in shallow water. Redfi s h are in tremendous amounts in the Peace River, at Hog Island and in the Myakka River. They are mostly smaller fish, but there are a lot of them. Down the Harbor, around Bokeelia and Turtle Bay, we are finding the big adults, fish around 30 inches. When you find those fish it’s really on! There are a lot less fish scattered, they are more ‘in bunches’ now so when you find the bunch you’re good. The oversize fish are outside the bar and the slot fish are back under the mangroves. Bonnethead s harks are still doing very well from the Bayshore Pier. Hopefully, the cold front won’t slow it down. The fish are in 3-feet of water on the east-side sand bar. They seem to be hitting well on shrimp on the bottom - bottom for the bonnets is the expression we use. It doesn’t matter if you freeline or use a slip sinker, just a shrimp close to the bottom and BAM! The bonnetheads and fl ounder are in the same area. Put a shrimp down and see what you get.

Tri pl e tai l should be back almost any day. Bl ack drum are crazy now in the PGI canals, PC canals. Medium shrimp, sardines and blue crabs are the bait. Every 5th person coming into the store with a cell phone camera is showing us pictures of the Black drum they caught. To cook black drum marinate it like a steak. The meat is flaky and it holds up to the marinade really well. It’s a good fish to eat. Some people say they won’t eat black drum because of the parasites, but that’s mostly in the hot weather. Trout, red grouper, black drum and sailcats all have parasites. You see the vast bulk of them when the water is over 80- degrees. Once the water cools down, parasites are less prevalent and they are harmless to humans anyway. In freshwater, the crappi e are just starting to bite really good. Minnows are the bait of choice for crappie. The white and pink color or black and pink are the best choice beetlespin color for crappie. Fishing Report continued on facing page

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Capt Jim OʼBrien put these two offshore clients on plenty of grouper and snapper last month.


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w w w. Wa t e r L I FEma ga z i n e .c o m

The The BIG-4 BIG-4

continued from facing page

The size we sell most is 1/16 of an ounce. Gold or silver flashers don’t seem to make a difference it’s the tail colors that are important right now. As far as bass goes, the SPANISH MACKEREL In the passes and in the Harbor frogs are slowing down a little with the rain, but I expect they will start kicking again now and the bass will be more active. Light brown to green are the colors in the tube-baits and the stick-style worm in the same colors are what’s been knocking them dead. The only lure that gets away from the stick-worm is the Giggy-stick (in green) that’s another alternative. Guys are coming in and going crazy on them. Rain will improve the bass, cold will make the crappie go nuts. Throw the beetle-spins and worms to catch dinner. Shell Creek and Prairie Creek are doing ok, but the canals in town are what’s really pretty hot.

Fish Fish to to expect expect in in

SHEEPSHEAD Starting to show around Placida

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November November

POMPANO in the passes moving into the Harbor

Water Temps in the mid 70s

FLOUNDER In the Harbor on the sandy & grassy bottom

Lemon Bay:

Jim at Fishermens Edge, Englewood: 697-7595

It’s been windy and rainy, but the water is alive with fish again and there are all kinds of fish around. There are tri pl e tai l at all the crab pots, offshore. A lot of pompano down on the beach at Boca Grande. Guys throwing silly-willys are evidence of them. The S pani sh mackerel s are back after the red tide. There has been no word of ki ngfi sh action yet, but they have to be on the verge. With all kinds of bait around, the kings can‘t be far off. Watch for the birds diving. Mangrove, l ane and vermi l l i on snapper are out past 14 miles where the water clarity is beautiful. On the flats in Lemon Bay, with the low pressure and grey cloud cover, the fishing has been really good for those throwing hard body or soft baits. Gulp, shrimp and the cal-shads are catching redfi sh and some real nice trout and some snook too. One kid caught a 5.5 -pound 28-inch trout last week. He thought it was a snook or a big red, but when he got it close it was a big trout. He caught that on a chug bug. I’m getting guys coming in regularly for fiddler crabs saying they are getting sheepshead. Guys come in for their barnacle rakes to scrape the poles for sheepshead bait. The water must be cooling off or maybe it’s a moon thing but they are showing up now. There are some scattered fl ounder around the sand holes at the bottom end of Little Gasparilla and Boca Grande. Try the strip baits on a jig head. The jig size sometimes goes to 3/4-ounce to hold the bottom. The tide will tell you what you need.

Fishing right now:


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Water LIFE Nov 2011  

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