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W a t e r LIFE


Charlotte Charlotte Harbor Harbor & & Lemon Lemon Bay Bay

Keeping Boaters and Fishermen Informed Since 1997

Producers of the

Still are Tarpon Page 8

K I D S C U P To u r n a m e n t

October 2008


Trout Have Arrived Page 10 Stone Crabbers Page 20 Sailing Page 6

Wolverton Trip Page 19

Back to Wade Fishing Page 6

w w w . W AT E R L I F E M A G A Z I N E . C O M

X-Treme Page 18

Always FREE!

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PETA Responds to Water LIFE Article



WAT E R L I F E M a g a z i n e

Dear Water LIFE I just read your "Totally Insane" article on PETA's offer to buy Sea world. Where did you get your facts on PETA exterminating over 10,000 animals and dumping some in dumpsters in North Carolina? I am curious to know more about this kind of behavior. Please advise. Michael Hillerman Punta Gorda Editor notes: please see the following letter

Dear Editor: Please allow me to respond to Capt. Ron Blagoʼs staggeringly misleading article about PETA (September 2008 issue). There is a world of difference between providing unwanted, castoff, and suffering cats and dogs a peaceful release and capturing and then imprisoning marine mammals in tiny tanks and forcing them to perform silly and even dangerous tricks for the sake of a laugh. The fact is that PETA stepped in when asked by a law enforcement officer to stop pounds in North Carolina from killing cats and dogs in horrific ways, including gassing then in a crude box, letting them drown when the facilities flooded, and shooting them through the head. In the case that Capt. Blago misreports, the court determined, in a unanimous decision, that PETA relieved cruelty, not caused it! Euthanasia will remain a tragic consequence of the cat and dog overpopulation crisis until people do their part by spaying and neutering their animals and acquiring them from animal shelters rather than pet shops and breeders. PETA works every day—through educational campaigns, by sterilizing animals in our mobile clinics, and by subsidizing spay/neuter surgeries at private veterinariansʼ offices—to reduce the numbers of wonderful dogs and cats who end up homeless. We canʼt solve this crisis alone. Sincerely, Daphna Nachminovitch Vice President, Cruelty Investigations Department, PETA

Photos Via email IKE AFTREMATH Left: Fish found in a fence in Orange, East Texas after the storm passed Below: The Kemah Boardwalk & Lighthouse District was a major amusement, resort and boating site, located about 25 miles north of Galveston.

N O W G E T W A T E R L I F E M A G A Z I N E F R E E O N L I N E A T:

W W W. WAT E R L I F E M A G A Z I N E . C O M

Monthly Electronic Edition of this Publication now available on line for FREE We are sorry, but we will no longer accept new mail in subscriptions. Also visit:


Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor Magazine

Michael and Ellen Heller Publishers

(941) 766-8180

TOTALLY INDEPENDENT Water LIFE is not affiliated with any other publication Vol VII No10 © 2008 Water LIFE

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

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

Contributing Editors:

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

on the COVER:

Marty Hullihen with a tarpon caught on a trip with Capt. Chuck Eichner, last month

on our WEBSITE:

This Monthʼs Edition: Send a link to a friend RealEstate Whatʼs happening NOW!

Fishing Resource Guide: Everything you ever wanted to know – almost Don Ball School: Classes in session

Artificial Reefs: Projects and progresslat/long for local reefs

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



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Hey Look Us Over! Water LIFE




Almost as Good as Fishing


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BY Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Editor My boat’s been in the water twice this month. A couple of hours total that’s all. It’s hard to be living the ‘Water LIFE’ when you’re not on the water.

Here’s My Fi rst Excuse for Not Fi shi ng

First, I got a call wanting to know if I could take a photographer out in my boat so he could take pictures of some local sailors. The photographer was from U.S. News and World Report magazine, I was told. Hmmm I thought, I wonder what they are up to? So I said sure and the following Saturday I picked up a photog with an armload of cameras. We hit it off. The little boats that the local sailors brought out were the only thing that could move around in the light air. I knew where to be and I put him in position for some pictures. You want to take a ride up the river I asked later, and I told the part about ‘old Florida’ and the big ‘gators’ and we were off. We talked about cameras and computers and what programs he used and I milked him for information about the story he was working on. It was The top six places to retire in the USA. Punta Gorda is in the top six, I can tell you that much, he said. He also said he didn’t know what the order wast.




It’s got to be a boost for the local economy. At least we’re not known for Hurricane Charley any more, we joked. The last time Punta Gorda was the best place for anything was in Money Magazine’s top places to live back in 1998. So, I guess, the old ‘best place to live’ ten years ago is now ‘the best place to retire,’ today. Time marches on. S econd Excuse

I don't really have any on the water stories to relate this month because I've been busy learning the ropes of our Don Ball School of Fishing program. The Don Ball School of Fishing was started in Punta Gorda eight years ago by my friend Jerry Jensen. Since then the course for 7th graders has graduated almost 800 kids. It costs $10 and during the course of the eight week class all the kids get a nice Shakespeare rod and reel, a good canvas tackle bag filled with useful lures and stuff, a pliers, a dehooker, and so on. And they get a workbook; The Fishing Resource Manual. The workbook is a compilation of valuable local fishing information. Everything from hooks and lures to whitebait and scented soft plastics. Where to fish, how to fish, tides, knots, you name it it’s in the Fishing Resource Manual. If you want to see the manual visit our new website: Going to the schools and talking to the

A U.S. News and World Report magazine photographer takes a picture of Dennis Peck sailing on the river. The magazine has picked Punta Gorda as one of its 6 top places to retire.

kids about the fishing class is almost as much fun as going fishing. After much school paperwork and several background checks we joined the 7th grade lunch period in the cafeterias. We did this at each of the 5 schools we offer the program in – a week of lunch time displays where we set up our table with all the stuff for the kids to see. Lots of the kids knew about the course already, they had either heard from their friends or they remembered from last year. New kids came by out of curiousity. There were some questions about the Kids Cup and I told them the sponsor money from Laishley Marine, Palm Chevrolet and Fishin’ Franks in the Kids Cup

Tournament payed for the school fishing program and all the stuff. Kids come up and look at all the things on our table. Soon, the one question we hear most is asked: “We get all this stuff for 10 bucks?” And I say ‘all of it,’ and inevitably someone else will ask "all of it – even the rod?' And I tell them ‘yes, even the rod.’ The rod is spooled up and ready to go. It’s not a toy. It's what you want to fish with here, now, I tell them. Our motto for the school is Be the Fish, think like a fish to learn where the fish are. Be the fish, to catch the fish. The kids can relate to that and for me that’s almost as good as going fishing.

Back to the Shallows

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By Capt Robert Moore Wat er LIFE S t aff The last time I went flats fishing was April 28 of this year. Since than I have done nearly a hundred trips and all were fishing in deeper water, mostly for tarpon. So tarpon season coming to an end, I decided it had been long enough and invited a couple of friends, Gene Kingery and fellow guide Angel Torres, out for my so called reunion back to the shallows. As the sun began to rise our first order of business was to catch live bait. The process of chumming and throwing the net went pretty good. Actually, when you throw in the fact that Gene and Angel did all the work, it was an exceptionally pleasant experience. The one aspect that I had forgotten when getting bait on the flats is how trashed the boat gets with all the grass.That’s something I didn’t miss for the last five months. With the livewell pretty much full of frisky white bait and pinfish we headed over to a mangrove shoreline close by. I wanted to do some wade fishing as well, so Gene dropped Angel and I off and took the boat several hundred yards down the mangrove shoreline. It didn’t take me too long to get back into the swing of making good casts up along the mangrove shoreline. I like my bait either right on the edge of the branches that are hanging in the water or up under them. I slowly walked down the shoreline pitching baits. It felt good and it was relaxing to be back on the flats. The water was cool, the shoreline was alive with activity such as mullet and small baitfish. I knew it was only a matter of time before I hooked into something. The first fish I hooked was a redfish. I must admit that he may have had my bait longer that he should have. I never felt a thing, just my line moving parallel to the shore. I knew I was rusty, but to completely miss a pick up? The four pound red gave me a great fight and after several minutes I had released my first red-

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fish in over five months. During the next three hours the three of us fished pretty much every inch on that shoreline. Redfish was the main catch with an occasional small snook and jack crevelle mixed in. Angel and I came upon a small creek with the tide moving out pretty good. For a while, every time we made a cast into the mouth of the creek we caught a nice redfish. They were obviously hanging out and taking advantage of the moving tide to bring them breakfast.



Then the falling tide reached a certain point at which the fish just seemed to be less and less interested in what we had to offer. Our morning of flats fishing produced some really nice fish. It was hard for me to believe it was five months since I had fished on the flats. Just think, I’ll be saying the same thing about tarpon fishing in six more months.

Capt. Rob Moore can be reached at:



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Hat Trick

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By Capt. Chuck Ei chner Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor Marty Hullihen and I were once contenders in major bass tournaments. We shared some incredible top finishes and lots of memories. His discovery of me through the internet was one of those magical things that comes along only a few times in life. Marty is now a famous fish and big game taxidermist and a wilderness big game hunting guide. He also takes horseback trips into the wilderness outside of Cody Wyoming for trout. An interesting person to say the least and a talented fisherman. I invited Marty down for a fishing trip and to show him Charlotte Harbor. A few weeks later he was knocking on my door. The prior day I had searched out a few fishing holes so that I could put him on fish with ease. Marty greeted me at 6 a.m. wearing his black Stetson cowboy hat and boots. The weather forecast was for 95 degrees so I insisted he borrow one of my hats, a fishing shirt and pants and take off the cowboy boots. “The Stetson has to come,” Marty proclaimed. He pinched it tighter to his head as we pushed the Maverick up on plane. The first order of the day was to catch ladyfish for bait and then bottom fish for reds. At about 7 a.m. we saw white birds dipping and we shut down to catch some ladies. When the wakes settled from shutting the boat down, we spotted tarpon rolling and dipping all around us. As luck would have it we didn’t have a single rod rigged so I reached for the nearest lure- a rusty Mirrolure plug with 2 trebles. A tarpon rolled and Marty shot a cast his way. What an incredible start! Marty made a few jerks with a ladyfish grabbing the plug before the tarpon. I told Marty to swing the fish into the livewell and dehook it. But the thrashing fish did a

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back flip and impaled one treble hook deeply into Marty’s knuckle. A moan from the back of the boat clued me to trouble. I assisted my good friend by taking the fish off the hook and handing him a wicked chunking knife. Marty is a tough cowboy type so he preferred trying the quick rip method on the hook but soon gave way to cutting. He refused to go back to the dock and cut the dull rusty hook out. By the time we got our composure back the tarpon were gone. A single jig replaced the mirrolure and a well full of lady’s were captured for bait. Our next stop was in Turtle Bay but there were 3 wade fisherman on top of the oyster bar we wanted to fish. Undaunted we ran to Useppa where I found a sweet little honey hole the day before. With bright sun and high skies we used the trolling motor to search for that small patch of oysters which had literally hundreds of redfish the day before. Problem was, we found about 10 similar spots in the same area that were obscured by cloudy conditions and a north wind the day before. We cast top water plugs and peered patiently into the shallows. Fish after fish mashed our plugs; mainly trout and snapper, but no redfish. I couldn’t believe the hole that was so obvious the day before was so invisible. Marty on the other hand could care less, he was banging fish. Two hours later we made a move to a shallow-water bar and pitched out cut bait. It didn’t take long and Marty had his first redfish. We managed redfish, small gag grouper and snook from this spot but when the catfish bit we moved on. Setting up on a shallow point we worked our top water plugs covering lots of water. Several fish rolled up on Marty’s plug so I stuck the power pole in and set out a bait. Two fat redfish blessed my line and then Marty’s line went off with drag screaming. A major battle ensued . This redfish had to be in the 30




Itʼs my lucky hat, Marty said and then he proceeded to prove it

pound class. About 15 minutes later a huge stingray surfaced and the line was cut. The ray must have also spooked the reds because the bite went stone cold. Another spot change was in order so we shot over to the east side of the harbor. Marty clung to the black Stetson like his life depended on it….it was his lucky hat and went with him everywhere! Fishing through high heat and humidity the hat stayed on. Our luck continued as we flailed small snook in the 22-24 inch class. Then, after chumming up lots of bait our lines went out again. The water started boiling with fish and our lines were singing! Marty had a small jack that fought like a ten pounder. The next fish could not have been anticipated. A huge swirl erupted about 20 yards to the starboard side of the boat and Marty shot a cast in that direction. His line went streaming off in a hurry and a tarpon leaped into the air. Without instruction Marty bowed to the tarpon 7 times and exclaimed “I have been watching how to do this on TV for years”,

Yeeehawww! Skillfully, a young tarpon of perhaps 25 pounds was brought boatside on light tackle and 10 pound test line. Upon grabbing the jaw the hook literally fell out! Perhaps the luckiest fishing trip for late summer I have ever had.

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



Water LIFE

Mote Snook Shindig Catch & Release Tourney this Month

S t aff R eport Snook anglers, this is your personal invitation to participate in the 10th annual snook shindig, a research-oriented catch and release tournament designed to evaluate the effectiveness of our snook stock enhancement program at Mote Marine. Mote and FWC are partnered in advancing this as a potential management tool in Florida. All proceeds from this event will be directly used in the stock enhancement research program at Mote. By attending this event you will be able to share some of Mote’s exciting research findings accrued from over 10 years of intensive research on snook. Date: Friday Oct 3 - Saturday Oct. 4 Location: Mote Marine Lab, City Island, Sarasota. Sign up and more info at Informati on about the program.

Currently, Sarasota's wild snook stocks should have hatchery-reared snook in 10 different year classes (or age groups) ranging in size from 10 inches to over 34 inches. All released snook were tagged with coded-wire tags (a small magnetic internal tag with a code on it) and elastomer tags (an externally visible tag). Mote uses the collective data from these tournaments as a representative of the localized snook hook and line fishery, and to monitor the progress of stocked fish over the years. Mote has also been tagging wild snook over the years from a variety of habitats. Tournament recaptures of wild and hatchery snook give scientists feedback on growth rates, habitat preference and movement patterns.

Fishing hours are limited to “lines in the water” no earlier than 7:30 p.m. on Friday, October 3rd, after check-in at the Captain’s Meeting. Catches will be processed by taking the snook to weigh-in stations with the related angler ID number and log sheet. Weigh-in stations will be open from Friday, October 3rd at 7:30 p.m. until 12:00 p.m. noon on October 4, 2008. Fish must be taken to a weigh-in station prior to that time to be eligible for the tournament.




Fishin Franks




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Trout are Hot Bite

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By Capt. Andrew Medi na Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor All I know is that right now fishing is fantastic throughout the harbor, but this month you could start to see some changes. Redfish continue to school up and eat just about anything they come across. I think these fish are already in their winter pattern. I have caught a lot of big fish outside the bars. There have also been big schools in the Burnt Store area on the bar. These fish are eating so well in hopes of putting on fat. I think the fish know that the bait will thin out come winter time and they will have to change their feeding patterns. I pulled up to one shore line and threw out some chummers out only to have it look like a Fry-Daddy bubbling. My customers have been catching redfish, until they are tired of catching them! This feeding pattern will continue until the tides switch to a winter pattern, then you will see extreme low tides and the fish will start tailing for small shrimp and crabs. This is the time of the year I favor the best. If you really want to catch redfish,

get out of the boat and wade. Slow your fishing down. Give the bait plenty of ‘soak time’ on a shore line. These fish are also responding to cut bait very well. Lady fish can easily be caught all along the east side and we all know what happens when you put out a ladyfish steak on a shore line. Snook fishing this year has also been incredible. There are plenty of slot size snook around. These fish have been able to be chummed up fairly easily and will jump on a nice white bait or finger mullet quickly. For you anglers who like artificials, the Bomber Long A in green and white has been doing well around the lights at night. And another great producer has been the Zipp’n Ziggy by Cultiva. This is a top water lure with great action that mimics a bait fish great. We have been doing the best with this lure in the early morning. Redfish and snook just pound on this top water plug. I have also noticed a lot of flounder showing up in the harbor. Most of the fish I have seen have been caught while

Call the Captain! $9



fishing for other species. They are not an everyday catch, but are great-eating bonus when you do catch one. Just remember there is a minimum size of 12-inches on flounder. For the hot bite this month I’m going to say trout. Fish of all sizes are here, and willing to eat. There are just hundreds of them. Some days it’s the trout that will save a fishing trip. You can pull up on a flat and catch the limit quick right now. A live shrimp, or a D.O.A, under a popping cork is all you need. The use of Spanish mackerel and


Call the Captain!

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Call the Captain! Commercial Lot Fire Sale $169,000! Zoned CI in the heart of Punta Gorda. On a ½ acre off of Taylor Rd. A rare bargain!

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Pirate Harbor Steal!, 100 feet of Concrete seawall, Dock & 5 min. to Harbor on great canal.

Call the Captain! Fantastic Country Home - Oversize 2002 luxury 5 bedroom pool home, pond shed, circular drive No deed restrictions $380,000

mangrove snapper as bait was going to be my main topic this month. I think the law’s not written clearly enough. Depending on who you talk to, some people say “it can’t be used that day.” Others think you can use it for bait “as long as it’s included in your daily bag limit,” but when I called the main FWC number in Tallahassee they told me “no fish that has a size and daily bag limit can be used as bait.” Capt. Andrew Medina can be reached for

charter info at 456-1540 or on the web at

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Call the Captain! Wide Waterfront View, 3 min. to harbor. Custom stilt, extremely fancy, elevator, pool, 3 car garage,summer kitchen. Nothing like it in Punta Gorda $659,900

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Bridges- 20 Minutes To The Gulf! Only $199,900 in Punta Gorda, new seawall, lot with fill and ready to build



R Re ea all E Es st ta at te e N Ne ew ws s PROVIDED BY: Dave & Marlene Hofer RE/MAX Harbor Realty (941) 575-3777 Recent area news i tems

1. The Punta Gorda Airport will start construction on a control tower to open in 2010. The FAA will pay $3Mil for construction plus $50K/yr to staff the tower.

2. Direct Air, another airline startup company from Myrtle Beach will start service to a few obscure airports up north (Niagra Falls, Kalamazoo, Worcester, Toledo & Allentown). If they're still in business, for $99 you might be able to fly directly to and from these spots starting November 22.

3. The civic development group sponsored by the City of Punta Gorda was formally dissolved. Council finally determined it to be pretty much ineffective and redundant with the efforts of Main Street Punta Gorda and the Chamber of Commerce.

4. The 63 room boutique hotel, The Wyvern, is scheduled to open November 1, just in time to provide lodging for guests of the Convention Center which will begin its operations later that month.

5. Colusa Bank will start building its new bank at the corner of Aqui Esta and Rt 41 in mid October. The building will consist of 12,500 square feet on two floors.

6. Boston Culinary Services will be awarded the catering contract for the Event Center. The county's bidding criteria included a requirement that the vendor supply approximately $150K in dishes & utensils as part of the bid. Irate local small vendors were precluded from bidding based on this capital investment. Because of the exclusivity of the proposal, smaller event promoters, using volunteer labor, will be charged a fee by Boston making it unlikely to be of any practical interest to them.

7. Punta Gorda's Aqui Esta bridge and drainage improvements should finally get started toward the end of the year. 8. With the Punta Gorda Parking Garage having just broken ground, the

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Military Heritage and Aviation Museum offered to take all of the 17,000 planned commercial space off of taxpayer's hands for $600K. The City Council somewhat politely listened to the proposal to buy what the MHAM referred to as a "white elephant" before rejecting an offer for property that will easily cost taxpayers more than $2 million to create.

9. The renovations for the Charlotte County Sports Complex should be complete by January. The County is investing $10 mil as a partner with the State and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Cal Ripken's Class A Vero Beach farm team will also call the Charlotte County location home.


The national housing industry continues to dominate economic news world wide. It's important to understand where we are headed nationally before we can begin to understand where our local market is headed. Local concerns about popular misconceptions about why our market is so sluggish (hurricanes, insurance costs, real estate taxes, etc.) pale in comparison to the failures of the backbone of our mortgage finance industry, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and now mega insurer, AIG. Without getting into a long boring discussion of the nuances of "mark to market" accounting, suffice it to say that evaluating mortgages based on what they are worth if you had to sell them today, has caused these companies to fail. In the long run, taxpayers should reap huge financial benefits by simply having the treasury insure liquidity to AIG. The housing economy will eventually benefit from treasury's, yet untold, solution to the housing crisis.

In the meantime, the shutdown of new construction and steepening builder discounts is continuing to absorb the excess inventory that is at the heart of this problem. The chart dramatically shows the excess construction activity of 2004-2006 and the precipitous decline of inventories relative to demand. July saw a drop from 4.3 months to 4.2 months of inventory. Historically, the market has functioned normally when inventories run between 3.7 and 3.0 months supply. At our current pace, we should be there before year end. It is only then, that we will see stabilization of supply and demand in metropolitan areas, after which Florida can begin to recuperate.

Please v isit us at to v iew any av ailable properties from Venice to Burnt Store Marina


P a g e 11

Punta Gorda始s post hurricane downtown is starting to look great, but word on the street is the fashionable Turtle Club restaurant will not reopen and is, in fact, for sale.

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On The Line

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C u r r e n t E v e n t s Fishing with Capt. Ron

By Capt. Ron Bl ago Water LIFE S enior S taff I have to admit I’ve been pretty lazy with regards to fishing this month. I guess the older I get the less enthusiastic I am about fishing in the hot Florida sun. In my younger days I fished early in the morning and then again at night. Now I like to sleep at night and wake up late in the morning. I guess I’ll leave the hard fishing to the younger guys. I realized how slow thing were for me when I had to cut the grass growing under my boat, a sure sign of not enough fishing. I still take my canoe out for a few hours of fishing mostly because it’s less of a hassle then launching the boat, and I live across the street from the boat ramp! I seem to catch enough fish canoeing. If there is one boating group that has benefited from the high cost of gas and the uncertain economic times it’s the canoe and kayak crowd. I see more and more of them on the water all the time. People tell me that fishing has been pretty steady with redfish being the most targeted species inshore. Whitebait and shrimp are working pretty well. I see a lot

Kyle Watkins and Jesse Smith landed this 30-pound redfish while fishing the docks at Gasparilla Pass. The fish was brought in on 10-pound-test-line

of people wading the mangrove shoreline in Lemon Bay looking for redfish. Some folks are having good luck using top water plugs, fishing at first light, working the schools of reds that are chasing schools of bait over the grass flats. Don’t forget the gold spoon when you are trying to find the fish. Some nice size trout are coming out of Lemon Bay by people using poppin’ corks with small pinfish or grunts as bait. Some of the largest trout are caught in


September and October. You don’t catch a lot of fish this way, but the ones you do catch are big. Mackerel, bluefish and pompano are being caught near the passes. Jigs and spoons work well for the macks and blues. Pompanos like jigs and shrimp. The talk offshore is of an early kingfish run this year. Already small kings around 6 lbs are being caught from Boca Grand Pass up to Sarasota. Large schools of bait are near shore. As the water cools down the action will heat up with the larger kings being found. Good numbers of mangrove snappers are being caught at the artificial reefs near shore. Charlotte County thanks to our Sea Grant agent, has a new artificial reef under construction outside of Stump Pass. (The numbers are on page 14). It’s good to see fishermen’s tax money being used to improve the sport. Half the Skyway fishing pier has been closed to the public. It’s not the north or south end. It’s the east side. If you remember, the old Skyway was actually two bridges one to carry traffic north and one to carry traffic south. After the center section was knocked down the remaining portion was turned into the State’s largest fishing pier. It was fun to drive your car out on the pier and start fishing. People would bring campers and stay for a few days fishing. Now the pier is starting to show some signs of wear and tear, so the State has decided to close the east portion to the public. This means we just lost half the pier and it makes the west portion the only part you can fish on. I think it’s just a matter of time before the whole place becomes off limits to all vehicles. Capt Ron can be reached for questions or charters at 941-474-3474





• Patented Double Rail for Ultimate Strength & Safety • Mold and Mildew Resistant • UV Protected • Fire Resistant • Maintenance Free • Quick Release System for Easy Removal

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T h e J e f f S t e e l e R e e f i s U n d e r w ay

Sea Grant News

By Betty S taugl er Sea Grant / Water LIFE A New Reef i s Born In between the rain bands of Gustav, and what were at times pretty rough seas, the new Captain Jeff Steele artificial reef received its first deployments. Five barge loads of concrete were deployed the last week of August and first couple days of September. The concrete, all donated, came from a variety of sources and included concrete culverts, junction boxes and power poles. The center of the reef deployment is located at 26 55.825N, 82 35.900W. Although it was a pretty tight deployment, winds were blowing steady to the Northwest and our deployment reflects that. In late September Roger DeBruler and Captain John Sturm conducted a dive sur-

vey of the deployment. Roger will be compiling the map data into an electronic map format that will soon be available on the Sea Grant website, but in the interim just know that from the center the best structure is to the Northwest. Visibility conditions during Roger and Johns dive were about 20 feet, not spectacular by any means, but good enough to get a feel for what types of fish were beginning to congregate on the reef structure. Roger reported seeing lots of smaller sized fish including several red grouper, yellowtail snapper, threadfins and tomtates. One large barracuda was also seen being chased by a school of smaller fish.

Kids Cup Redfish Tracking Report

In April of this year, Sea Grant, Mote Marine Laboratory, and Progress Energy tagged twenty Water LIFE Kids Cup Redfish with acoustic transmitters to



learn more about them upon their release. We have been following these fish for the last several months through the use of underwater listening units that are deployed around Charlotte Harbor. We received a lot of data on our fish in the first month after the tournament and then most of them moved out of range of our listening units. Two fish however have been pretty active within our array. Those fish are #s 17 and 7. Fish #17 was originally caught in the Bull Bay/Gasparilla Sound area. This fish showed up at Alligator Creek shortly after the tournament and stayed in that area until early August. Our last recording for #17 was August 7th around 7:00am. Fish #7 was originally caught in Pine Island Sound. This fish passed our recorder located in the PGI Rim canal on May 2nd. We didn’t hear from it again until June 12th when it showed up at Alligator Creek, sticking around until August 12th. On August 30th, at 4:45am it was once again picked up in the PGI Rim canal. Two other fish, #s 34 and 59 also showed up recently. Fish #34 was originally caught near the tip of Bokeelia. That fish hung out at Fishermen’s Village for about two weeks after the tournament and then disappeared on April 29th around 7:00pm. We did not hear from it again until August 30th when it was recorded on our receiver located by Ponce Inlet. On August 31st and again on September 9th it passed our receiver located in the PGI Rim canal. On September 11th, #34 left the PGI canal system through Colony Point. Our last recording was at 3:15pm. Fish #59 was originally caught in the Bull Bay/Gasparilla Sound area. This fish left the tournament release site and headed to Ponce Inlet showing up on May 2nd. It then went back north showing up at Bass Inlet and Colony Point on May 15th. We didn’t hear from #34 again until July 29th when it showed up at Alligator Creek where it stayed until August 2nd. After leaving Alligator Creek, this fish reappeared at our receiver



in the Rim canal on August 15th and again on August 30th. Our last recordings for this fish were on September 11th when #59 was picked up by five of our receivers. The first recordings occurred at Ponce Inlet from 10:20am until 10:45am. #59 then headed out Colony Point at 3:00pm and swam into Bass Inlet where it was last recorded at 4:00pm. Our underwater receivers were all downloaded between September 10th and the 15th. Our next download will be in November. Stay tuned to see who’s been where in the world of Redfish Tracking. Betty Staugler is the Sea Grant Agent for Charlotte County. She can be reached at 941-764-4346.


Fish # : 15 Date : 8/30/08 Site : Jug Creek Pine Island Status : Harvested Fish # 15 was originally caught in grid C4 (Cape Haze Point/Turtle Bay). This fish was one of our acoustic tagged redfish. We left a message on the angler's answering machine to see if maybe, by some remote chance, he had the tag. We will let you know if we hear anything more.

Fish # 30 Date : 9/6/08 Site : whorehouse point by Alligator creek Status : released w/tag This fish was originally caught in grid C5 (West Wall)


Water LIFE


Science, Politics and Reality

By Capt. Ron Bl ago Water LIFE Senior Staff One of the principles of the scientific method is to gather as much data as you can; make a hypothesis based on what your data tells you and then make a prediction of what will happen in the future. You are either right or you go back and rework your theory. You keep doing that until your theory is proven true or false. Politics on the other hand follows a different method. Usually a conclusion is formed based on the prevailing wisdom of the day; then there is the screening of data to allow only that information which supports your theory. Predictions are really made and future events are measured by who was right; and who is blamed for a failure to accurately predict the future. On the other hand, reality is the simplest of concepts – it’s what we are left with after all the experts have gone home. Take my favorite sea mammal, the manatee, for an example. For over 30 years the manatee has been the mascot of the environmental establishment not only in Florida, but also throughout the country. Scientist began to get serious about studying the population growth trends in the early “90s”. While data was still being collected and evaluated, politicians armed with the prevailing wisdom of the day (which was “the manatee was on the verge of extinction”) began to put into place regulations that slowed down boat travel, slowed down dock permitting and put hundreds of markers in our local waters to announce Manatee Zones. Over ninety-five-percent of Lemon Bay became a “Slow Speed – Minimum Wake” zone. In the mean time, scientist came to the conclusion



Water quality looked good in Lemon Bay in this 1998 pre Stump Pass dredging photo.

that the manatee population had been steadily increasing over time and recommended that the manatee be delisted from endangered to threatened. It looks like politicians set out to solve a problem that never really existed. Remember red tide? It was all the rage two years ago. The local papers couldn’t get enough of it. The pictures were of the dead fish and the interviews were with people on the beach who were sure they were showing signs of red tide poisoning. Tourists avoided the local area like the

Page 15

plague. After all, who wants to vacation in a place where the local headline is “Dead Zone Grows.” ‘The prevailing wisdom at the time was that red tide was caused by something man was doing wrong. Reality is, we still don’t know what causes red tide or how to stop it and probably never will. Now we seem to have another science vs. politics dispute in the works and it involves measuring the water quality of Lemon Bay. For years the people of Charlotte County have argued about the health of Lemon Bay and what effect the dredging of Stump Pass has had on water quality. Next year the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve will issue a report showing 10 years of water quality test results for Lemon Bay. Charlotte County has always had a reputation of being behind the curve when it comes to producing this type of data. You would think that with all the emphasis on environmental health, that there would be 100 years of data to lay your hands on and compare; but unfortunately all testing done in the past was either too short a duration to be useful; or was done in such a sloppy manor as to be virtually useless. What we do have are two different counties Sarasota and Charlotte both testing their respective parts of Lemon Bay. It will be really interesting to compare that data. This data may help answer a lot of questions people have been asking. What is the long-term trend in water quality for Lemon Bay as compared to other surrounding bodies of water, not just Charlotte Harbor? What effect has the opening of Stump Pass had on water quality? Did the removal of septic tanks and the hook up to a central sewer system in the Englewood area result in measurable improvements in water quality? Have we spent millions of dollars on water quality projects and received no measurable improvements? Get ready for a real political interpretation of scientific data.

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

32' Luhrs Tournament 320, 1992. Twin 340HP Marine Power 7.4 liter. Hard top to the flybridge and half top for cockpit area. REDUCED $10,000. Only $69,900

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

28' Bertram Fly Bridge Cruiser 1979 with 1995 twin 260 HP Mercruiser Bluewater IB's. Huge cockpit for fishing, diving and entertaining. Excellent condition throughout! $23,900

33' Wellcraft Coastal 330 Sportfish, 2003. Twin 350HP Volvo 8.1. One owner boat in turn key condition. REDUCED $119,900

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

32' Pro Line 3250 Express 1998. With Twin 2004 FWC Marine 330 HP motors . Priced right and ready for summer! Reduced $10,000 and still taking offers. $49,900

30' Maxum 3000 SCR 2000. Twin 220 HP Mercruisers, 5.0L. New bottom paint, lift stored, excellent through out. REDUCED! $49,900

30' Grady White 300 Marlin 2001 with Twin 225 HP Evinrude outboards. Very well equipped and very well maintained. True offshore fishing machine. $69,900

23' Wellcraft 238 Coastal 1996 Single 225HP Johnson Ocean Runner. Original owner, very low hours and lift stored. Excellent condition throughout! $15,900

24' Pontoon Starcraft 2005 Single 50HP Yamaha 2007. Engine only has 40 hours since new and she also has a brand new 2007 trailer. $15,900

23' Sea Fox 230 Walk-Around Cuddy 2002. 200HP Merc Saltwater.This Sea Fox is a great all around boat for fishing, cruising and overnighting. REDUCED! $19,900

30' Young & Grant Sportfishing, 1983. Single 350hp Caterpillar 3116 turbo new in 2000. This vessel is charter rigged and a proven tournament winner. REDUCED! $19,900

27' Contender Open Center Console 2006 twin 300HP Yamaha. Perfect condition, fully loaded, and ready for some serious fishing! $98,000

Must Sell

Jellyfish are abundant

Page 16

By Adam Wi l son Water LIFE Diving Hurricanes kept us on land a little more than I would like for the month of September, but we did manage to sneak out between Gustav and Ike for a shallow day. Starting out at the 30 mile sinkhole, I was surprised to find better than expected visibility, but not many fish. Usually down around the south side of the sinkhole, at about 140-150 feet, there are quite a few mangrove snappers hiding in deep crevices and undercuts. They just weren't there last month. Neither were the grouper or amberjacks. Most of the large structure we dived that day was completely devoid of life. We really thought the storms and rough Gulf waters would have had the fish stacked up on the big artificials. Surprisingly, it was just the opposite as the smaller patches of hard bottom and ledges were a different story. Every small break we dropped on was swarming with big mangrove snappers and some gag grouper too. Even in 70 feet we were seeing mangroves up to 8 pounds and larger gags. There was also no shortage of jellyfish everywhere we went last month. That will probably be the trend for this month as well as jellyfish thrive in the cooling waters. Ordinarily this is not a problem. Usually our biggest jellyfish visitor is the moon jelly. Although they can be incredibly abundant this time of year, they have very short tentacles and are easily avoidable. Rising exhaled bubbles from a slow ascent almost always clears a safe path to the surface so long as there isn't a ripping current. Now lets talk about one of the longest creatures in the ocean. I'm not talking blue whales or some kind of prehistoric shark. At up to 120 feet long it is the lions mane jellyfish! On our last trip we encountered not just a couple, but dozens or more that we could see while running and while we were in the water. Although in warmer water they are supposed to be smaller than their northern cousins, the average size of the jelly’s heads we saw were the size of a basketball, and some were conservatively close to three feet in diameter! These jellyfish look like a giant ball of snot and their tentacles trail off behind them with the current. Not all of the lions manes we saw had long tentacles extended, but one did, and they were much longer than our 25

Water LIFE




A lionʼs mane jellyfish can have thin tentacles extending up to 120 feet making it one of the longest creatures in the ocean

foot Mako. We drove along side following the thin hair like strands, it seemed like we would never find the end. I shudder to imagine being wrapped up in their sticky stinging strands. The Gulf of Mexico is not listed as their normal range, but we all know what we saw with our own eyes, and not once, but dozens of times. One of their food sources is moon jellies, and they have been thick for weeks now. The good news is sea turtles love to eat many species of jellyfish, including lions manes, and last trip we did see more turtles than usual. This is why it is so important to not litter especially when well offshore. Turtles are notorious for eating plastic, thinking it is pieces of jellyfish, only to have their intestines blocked with garbage, which is usually fatal. There will probably still be an excess of brown river runoff out at least 15 miles this month, but as we enter the dry season it does tend to dissipate quickly. With a dry October, inshore waters will clear by the start of stone crab season on the 15th. Don't let the brown surface water stop you from div-

ing your favorite shallow spots. We found some of the year’s best vis under this brown layer last month. Out in 80 feet, the vis on the bottom under the brown water was in excess of 50 feet. The less dense freshwater that flows out into the Gulf will float on top of the more dense salt water creating two distinct layers. Dropping down, the brown water usually clears at about 30-40 feet. It may be slightly darker as the turbid surface water heavily filters the sunlight. It makes for an eerie and unusual dive similar to twilight, but in the middle of the day. Stone crab season will coincide with the full moon this month making for some strong tides. If you are heading out opening day watch the currents. There will be a good slack high tide window that Wednesday afternoon starting at about 2 p.m., but it won't last long before it starts to rip out again. The trestle and phosphate pier are always the most popular spots. If these areas seem to be too busy or are already picked clean, you would be surprised how well you can do just investigating smaller dock & navigation posts and rock piles from Boca Grande to Englewood.

Weʼve Moved!


Water LIFE



Mandatory Managed Septic Systems Improve Water Quality

By Capt. Frank Ci urca Special to Water LIFE Currently, there are approximately 45,000 septic systems in Charlotte County. Thousands are located adjacent or within close proximity of canals, creeks, rivers, and the Gulf of Mexico. If not operated properly, a septic system can have a potential health and environmental impact to fishing and also to the surrounding area, including swales, drainage ditches, as well as surface and ground water. Septic system operation involves two treatment steps. Wastewater from the house or business enters the septic tank (first treatment step), where heavier solids settle out. A septic tank contains bacteria from the human digestion system which reduces solids by a slow anaerobic (without oxygen) digestion process. A layer or blanket of sludge forms on the bottom of the tank. This treatment results in the middle layer of the septic tank containing some suspended solids, however it is clear enough to eventually discharge. During this time the force of gravity causes grease and other lighter-than-water particles to form a scum that floats to the top of the tank.The outlet then discharges effluent from below the scum layer of the tank into the drain field. Outlet filters or baffles located in the septic tank are designed to prevent sludge and scum from flowing into the drainfield. Most tanks in Charlotte County are sized at 750, 900, or 1050 gallons depending on the amount of bedrooms or square footage of the building or house. The majority of the treatment occurs in the drainfield or second treatment step of the septic system. Effluent from the septic tank enters the drainfield thru a distribution box or header pipe, and then flows into a series of buried plastic pipes with holes in it. The length and depth of a drainfield is based on the number of bedrooms, and square footage of the house as well as the characteristics of the soil and geology at the site. The soil then acts as

Wildlife thrives at the Venice Jetty.

a biological and physical filter removing disease causing bacteria, viruses, as well as toxic organics and compounds which are harmful to surface and groundwater. Microorganisms degrade bacteria & viruses that die in the soil, while chemical reactions from bacteria in the soil convert ammonia nitrogen to nitrates which can affect ground & surface waters. Studies have indicated that groundwater degradation has occurred in areas with a high density of septic systems. One reason for the degradation is that the capacity of the soil to absorb effluent from the tank has been exceeded or hydraulically overloaded. Another reason is when the

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effluent moves too quickly thru the soils not allowing the physical, chemical & biological mechanisms to affectively treat the effluent. Subsequently, throughout the State of Florida, the soil must be slightly limited or contain fine sand to a depth of at least 42 inches below the drainfield. The reason that you see newer houses built higher than older houses is that there must be at least a 24 inch separation between the bottom of the drain field drain lines and the estimated seasonal high water table. Prior to 1983 there was only a 6 inch separation. In the mid-80’s the citizens of Charlotte County voted down a proposal


to install sewer lines for most of the heavily populated areas of Charlotte County. In 1987 the County was sued by the Florida Dept of Community affairs for uncontrolled growth. Subsequently, Aerobic Treatment Units, or small wastewater treatment plants were required on all lots 10,000 sq. ft. or less. Most lots in Charlotte County fell within that category. The 1987 County Comprehension Plan required a managed septic program to be implemented no later than 2000. and in 2007 the Fl. Dept of Environmental Protection required that all septic systems in the area of the Manchester Waterway be managed after the waterway lock was removed. The old EPA’s Homeowner’s Guide To Septic Systems recommends that septic tanks be pumped out and inspected every 3 to 5 years “to keep your septic system in good working order”. Research has indicated that a system pumped every 3 to 5 years will prevent solids buildup and costly drain field repairs. The new Managed System in Charlotte County will require a septic tank be pumped out and inspected every 5 years. Homeowners now have to obtain a 5 year permit from the Charlotte County Health Dept for a cost of $115. Homeowners who had their septic tank pumped out prior to being notified only need to show proof of the pumpout. The County is currently managing 9,000 systems. Approximately 53 systems are being pumped weekly mostly because homeowners have chosen to avoid costly repairs. Inspections are ongoing currently and many septic tanks have been found to be defective. From a fishing perspective, let’s hope that the Managed Septic System program will result in improved water quality and fishing in the waterways of Charlotte County.

Capt. Frank Ciurca is an Environmental Specialist with Charlotte County Health Dept, a part time fishing guide and Outdoor Writer. He can be reached at:

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X-Treme Redfish Tournament Page 18

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1st Paul Lambert/Brandon Varney, 14.43 lbs $ 1110.00 2nd Bryan Ball/ Tyler Rice, 14.35 lbs. $ 480.00 3rd Rhett Morris and Ryan Magee, 14.34 lbs. $ 200.00

4th Justin Cauffman/ Jay Withers, 14.03 $ 130.00 They also had big fish 7.42 lbs. worth another $240.00

There were 24 boats in the tournament, and 18 of them weighed in fish. There were a total of 31 fish weighed in all were released alive.

Thanks to everyone who particapated in this yearʼs tournaments. We had a great year and look forward to seeing you all next year ... and for those of you going to the championship we will see you there! – Sheri

Brandon Varney and Paul Lambert with winning fish


By Bi l l Di xon Water LIFE Sailing An on the water memorial was held Sept 28 for Jim Joseph, long time club member, past commodore and fixture of the race, Jim will be missed by all who knew him. The Labor Day classic Summerset regatta was rescheduled and will be held Oct 4, 5. Details can be found on the cmcs web site at The moonlight regatta will be Saturday Oct 11, with picnic and awards Sunday the 12th. It will be open to all. Handicaps will be provided for boats without a PHRF rating. The fall sailboat racing series has started, but there is still time to sign up and qualify. Applications and sailing instructions are available on the PGSC web site at Race #3 will be October 19, 1:30 p.m. first start. Race #4 will be held October 26 1:30 p.m. Fall series ends November 23 US Sailing annual general meeting will be held at the Hilton in St Pete. October 15-19. First time admission for USSailing members can be free. Complete detailed schedule and admission details are available in the US Sailing web site at Highlights include: 1. Seminar on the rule changes occurring Jan 1, Wednesday October 15, 5:00 pm



2. National PHRF meeting Thursday October 16, 2:00 pm 3. VPP presentation by USS offshore office Thursday, October 16, 7:00 pm. Fall is here. As I write this it is noonish and less than 80 degrees. Forecast is for lows in the sixties. YEE HAAA. If only it would last, the water would cool down, ending hurricane fuel, and more sailors would come out on their boats. Get out! Go! Sail! US News and World Report says for boating and fishing, this is IT. Bill Dixon can be reached at:

2008 JOHNSON OUTDOORS Key Paddlesports Dealer – East Coast




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“Charlotte Harbor Lives up to its Reputation” says the Florida Outdoor Writers Association

By Davi d Al l en Water LIFE Kayaking On September 10 over 100 of the states top outdoor writers descended upon Charlotte Harbor to experience first hand the wonders and outdoors treasures of this area. The 62nd Annual FOWA Conference, sponsored by the Charlotte Harbor Visitors Bureau, was designed to showcase Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands as a premier sportsman and family vacation destination. The writers who attended this four-day conference had an opportunity to participate in a number of natural recreational events such as a fishing tournament, a swamp buggy tour, and a kayak expedition through the mangroves near Coral Creek. On Saturday, the FOWA hosted “Hook Kids on Fishing”, providing youngsters an opportunity to learn the correct way to fish and the importance of preserving the environment. The FOWA is very active in community outreach programs that give children a chance to experience the joys of being outdoors and experiencing nature firsthand. A full day of the conference was also devoted to “ Craft Improvement Day” where members improve their skills in sessions focused on travel and outdoor

writing and photography. And, as an added incentive to explore and write about Charlotte County, the writer who generates the best story about the area will receive a cash prize of $500. The stories will be judged by the Visitor's Bureau and announced in 2009 at the next FOWA Conference. The Port Charlotte Kayakers were asked to participate in a very small way: to accompany the writers on a kayak trip in the Placida/ Coral Creek area and to highlight the advantages of living and playing in Charlotte Harbor area. So early on Friday morning 23 writers and one kayaker boarded a bus at the Best Western Hotel in Punta Gorda for the trip to Grande Tours in Placida. Grande Tours provided all the kayaks, paddles, PFD and all the other equipment that all kayakers need. The expedition, of about one and a half hours, included a paddle through the Wolverton

Members of the Outdoor Writers Association explore the Wolverton trail in Placida

Mangroves, then a short run south through Catfish Creek, across the ICW toward Little Dog Island, and then the return paddle to Grande Tours. It was a perfect day for the paddle; an abundance of wildlife, sea birds everywhere, and we were even treated to two dolphins frolicking nears the old railroad bridge. Even the birds and fish were showing off for the writers, showing the Harbors best side After the paddle we were bussed back

to Fisherman’s Village for a tasty lunch at the Captains Table. One more chance to extol the outdoor virtues of Charlotte Harbor.

The Port Charlotte Kay ak ers meet each Wednesday ev ening at Port Charlotte Beach Park at 5:30 PM. All are welcome. For more information, contact me at 941-235-2588 or email to: You can check out our upcoming paddles and ev ents at: pck ay ak Then come join us!

Stone Crab to Open Oct 15 Page 20

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Commercial Perspective

By Kel l y Beal Water LIFE, Peace Ri ver S eafood Without a doubt the best part about October is the beginning of stonecrab season. It's looked forward to by the consumer as well as the fishermen. We are all starving to make some bank and stonecrab season is our chance to get ahead. Last years stonecrab season was so productive there are still thousands of pounds stocked up in freezers all over Florida. Many crabbers were put on a limit and were unable to reach their full potential. The fact so many claws are left in freezers is not just because of the plentiful harvest, but can also be attributed to a dwindling economy. Stonecrab is delicious and nutritious but is seen by many as a luxury item. Luckily, here at our market (Peace River Seafood in Punta Gorda – ed.) we were able to move all our product last year so this year we are starting fresh. You can count on getting fresh stonecrab on Wednesday night October 15th at our place. The first catch of the season always taste the best. Perhaps absence makes the

heart grow fonder, and that first bite into that delicious claw is like the kiss you get from your true love after being away for too long. And like love, I sometimes think that stonecrab claws should only be consumed by those who truly appreciate it. The stonecrab itself is unique. These tasty morsels are a renewable resource. Once harvested the claws that are of legal length (minimum 2 3/4 inches from joint to point) are removed and the crab is put back into the water. A stonecrab will grow back its claws three times in its lifetime. Stonecrabs are mostly harvested in

deep water, many stonecrabbers have their traps 3 to 10 miles offshore. The stonecrab differs from the blue crab in that it is not a swimmer. It crawls all over the trap and literally falls in the hole and is then unable to get out. We bait out traps with pigs feet and sometimes grouper heads. The stonecrabbers work incredibly long hours. Before season even starts hundreds of hours go into preparing the traps, gear and boat. They have to put tags on ever single trap and retie ropes that have rotted. Sounds easy, but it takes hours and hours. Then they put their traps out on October 5th to allow the traps to acclimate to the water. Ten days later, the pulling begins. Traps are not light. They are 60 pounds of plastic and concrete! No wonder those crabbers are in such good shape!

They work all day - I mean all day - not just the 8 hour work day. These guys go out in the wee hours of the morning and don't get back till 6 or 7 p.m. Once returned to the fishhouse we cook the claws right away and grade them out. Medium, Large and JUMBO. The market price at the start of season to the fisherman usually averages $9 a pound across the board but will increase in December when the demand goes up. I won't know market price untill the morning of the 15th. Because of all the frozen product in the freezers I fear the market price will start low this year. Hopefully we will see a comeback within our economy and those who feel ‘worthy enough’ for the stonecrab will treat themselves. Stop in for the royal feast and don't forget to support the hard working commercial fishermen!


Water LIFE



Sometimes Unsubstanciated, But Often True

Lucky Captin What were the chances of Capt Andrew Medina driving around Harbour Heights and spying his boattower, stolen from his yard in his Port Charlotte yard two months ago? “I saw this new Shearwater sitting on the ground in a Harbor Heights yard and there was my tower.” Medina said. “I knew something was up with a $50,000 boat sitting on the ground.” Medina called the police who arrested the man in the house. Both the Shearwater and itʼs motor apparently had the numbers ground off.

Have You Seen this Fish? The shovelnose guitar fish (right) was last seen in Charlotte Harbor in 2003. Scientists would like to know if anyone has seen one since. Call Robert at Fishinʼ Franks 625-3888

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Punta Gorda Boatbuilder Moving Ahead with new Flatsboat and Kayak St aff Rep o rt Scott Steffe and his two man All Fiberglass Repair shop in Punta Gorda are building new boats. Their newly designed 15-foot, 50-pound, all fiberglass kayak has inside storage for 7foot rods, a toe steer rudder with enclosed rigging, and a self bailing cockpit with a one-way drain valve. It will sell for around $1700. “We’re taking our time, working on the flatsboat, this could be a good opportunity for someone who wants to make sure their new boat is set up the way they want it.” Steffe said. The sleek no-wood, 20-foot Sharpshooter carries a 7’8” beam, 2 wells and plenty of storage . It’s “right around $13,000,” as seen here, Steffe said.

The Deadly Dozen : Charlotte Harbor FISHING GUIDES

Go-Fast Boats A-Cominʼ A boating club from Fort Myers will burn a bunch of expensive 93 octane, coming north to Punta Gorda on Sat Oct 4. At about noon there could be over 75 boats stopping at Fishermenʼs Village for lunch.


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Page 22


Fishing Report

Charlotte Harbor:

Robert at Fishin' Franks Port Charlotte: 625-3888

Redfi s h are the best thing going without a doubt. Tarpon will be good this month, snook is already good, trout will pickup, but October is for redfish. Look for them to start schooling up real heavy all month, mostly in the southern end of the Harbor/Pine Island Sound area. Lemon Bay has been good, and between Stump Pass and the Boca Grande bridge redfish have been excellent. If you’re looking for schools of redfish look for schools of mullet because the reds will often be following them. The mullet stir up the bottom and move the little baitfish around and the redfish are opportunistic feeders so they root through the mess looking for crabs or bandfish. This month the reds will also be up under the bushes in the southern part of the harbor. There will probably be schools of redfish along the beaches and out to as much as 20 feet of water. Sometimes they will come to the surface and mill around. I don’t know if they are spawning or just hanging out, kind of suspended like cobia do. From a distance it looks like a big red mat. We get a half dozen reports every year about this behavior. Some big bull reds are out on the artificial reefs now too. They are feeding real heavy on pinfish right now, pinfish are a better bait than greenbacks this month. Shrimp will still also work on reds and a top-

Water LIFE



water like the Hedden Zara Spook or the Spittin Image lure in more natural colors. And soft plastics will work very well now too. This is the month to wade fish, it’s not too hot and not yet too cold. Sno o k definitely, of course, will be in the same locations as the reds, along the intracoastal and in the passs. The creeks, Whidden and Catfish, and Bull Bay, will see an influx of snook coming in from the beaches. They will be moving around a lot, so a spot that’s good today might not be so good tomorrow. When the first cold front comes in that will really push the fish in off the beaches. By then the rain will have subsided and the fish will move up the harbor as the salinity comes back. More and more fish will move with the salinity. There are a ton of 20- to 40-pound tarpo n around this fall. It’s been different. (usually there are fewer but bigger tarpon this time of year). They will feed real heavy until the end of the month. They will be feeding on ladyfish or the baitballs around the top of the harbor. There were still good numbers of tarpon in the

Capt Angel Torres made the two anglers to the left and the young lady above happy last month.

Big Pass and out along the beaches – right up until the last rain event at the end of September. Live shrimp, threadfins, the old reliable D.O.A Bait Buster and the Calcutta Flash Foil baits do the trick for tarpon. Not any reports of tarpon in the Myakka yet, but one good cold front and we’ll get fish moving in. Tro ut are here. You’ll see more as the temperature keeps dropping. The gulf is already down a couple of degrees. The flats and Turtle Bay have been really productive for trout. In Pine Island, try to stay in three to four feet of water. Fish mainly shrimp under a poppin cork or use the hard baits like the Rapalla X Wrap or a small topwater, they all work fairly well. The bigger fish will start to cooperate more as it cools off. There have been a couple of reports from Homasassa of ki ng fi s h that are starting to move down this way.


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Fishing Report continued


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Octoberʼs Target Species Species Octoberʼs Target

Oct 3-4 Snook Shindig Tournament Mote, Sarasota

We’ll just have to keep TROUT are showing up on the REDFISH are schooling and SNOOK are coming in from TARPON are in the harbor watching for the big smoker flats the beaches moving to the beaches until the first cold front kings. Offshore, small ki ng s , bo ni ta and perthe beach in the 20 foot depth range, and mi t have been around already. There have schools of jacks and l adyfi sh – a pot-pourri been a couple of reports of small do l phi n of activity. Maybe it’s because the hurricane and we are still getting the occasional report that went into the Gulf pushed some of that of small s ai l fi s h out past the Bayronto stuff down here. Guys are seeing tarpon mixed wreck. Mang ro v e and l ane s napper should in and some sharks. There has been quite a bit get ‘reel’ active now and live shrimp is the of action in the backcountry. Snook, trout and bait. Finally, sheepshead should start moving redfish. Schools of redfi sh, not the gigantic in soon. Look for fl ounder around the beaches schools, but good numbers of good size fish and on the nearshore reefs. Fishing closer to the and good action. Guides who had some trips outside edge of the reef, on the hard sand, you said there was smaller-snook action mostly in could find the bigger flounder. Try dropping a the sound. Not many people are going too far white curly tail Gulp on a yellow jig head to because nobody wants to spend any money on the big flounder. gas. A couple of guys caught decent trout working jerk baits or live-bait guts. There are some Capt Angel Torres shows off a healthy September snapLemon Bay: keeper trout in north Lemon Bay, not any 4 per pounders but nice fish. Jim at Fishermen’s Edge, Some guys are catching tarpon up in the Englewood: harbor, smaller fish I hear. 697-7595 Stone crab season opens on the 15th so Fishin has been pretty good, as far as the guys will be putting the traps in on the 5th. few people I am seeing say. The past week There have been a few cobia, maybe we’ll guys were fishing outside the passes because see more when the stonecrab traps are out. there were a lot of S pani sh and ki ngs along  Oct 3: Mote Marine Snook Shindig

Calendar of Events

Hook Kids on Fishing Comes to Punta Gorda Capt. Rodney Smith in conjunction with volunteers from Coastal Angler Magazine, Anglers For Conservation, Florida Outdoor Writers Association, the Florida Guides Association, and others brought his Hook Kids on fishing Event to Fishermenʼs Village last month. Each of the first 100 kids age 6-16, received a free rod &reel and tackle box.

Photo By: Gini & Dan McKain

Tournament. info at October 11: Bass Pro, Kids Day

Fishing, Archery, face painting, balloon artistry and the Mobile Adventures Rock Climbing Wall 11am to 3pm.

 Oct 18-19: Maverick Boats Flatsmasters Championship, Punta Gorda, 941-637-5953

 Oct 24: Seminar 5:30 p.m., West Marine, Port Charlotte, Inshore Tactics, Capt. Andrew Medina



Still Very Good

 Nov 8: North Port High Red & Snook Shootout Fishermen’s Village  Nov 15-16: Darkside, Night Snook Tournament, Flatsmasters, 941-637-5953



Water LIFE


Page 28

Water LIFE Oct 2008  

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

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