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W a t e r LIFE


C Ch ha ar rllo ot tt te e H Ha ar rb bo or r a an nd d L Le em mo on n B Ba ay y K ee pi ng B oa te r s & Fis he r m en Info rm e d S inc e 1 9 97

P r o d u c e r s o f t h e K I D S C U P To u r n a m e n t

October 2009

Sea Grant Bay & Sound Scallop Search


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The Vicious Eel

The Fish House

Stone Crabs

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Back in season Oct 15 Page 22

What始s that sticking out of this protected Goliath Grouper?

w w w. W a t e r L i f e M a g a z i n e . c o m

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Always FREE!

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DIRECT 941-235-5648 TOLL FREE 877-218-6552 NEW CONSTRUCTION Never lived in. Schroeder custom built home. Double door entry into great room with lots of appeal. Beautiful 10ft window in dining rm, kitchen white wood cabinets, corian, breakfast nook overlooking large back yard. Room for pool. Split bedroom plan, walk in closet, garden tub & shower. Large laundry. Home is all tiled except for carpet in bedrooms. $149,900 Call Ellen 628-6954 FRESHWATER CANAL Look no more, sellers will look at all offers!!! Priced at todays market value, you will love the spacious living area. The living room opens to dining, kitchen and family florida room. Walk out sliding glass doors to an open patio and nice landscaping to the fishing dock and wide canal. A day of fun in the sun boating or go for your morning walk to the beach complex and enjoy florida living. Sit on your patio and enjoy that morning coffee or fish from your own dock. This is florida living!! Sellers are giving the new owners a $5,000 allowance for new inside paint and carpet of their choice, this way you choose your colors. $152,900 Call Ellen 628-6954

LIKE NEW waterfront home! This 2/2/1 home with over 1200 sq ft was completely remodeled before Charley. Just minutes to the harbor by way of the beach area. Concrete seawall with 2 docks and 6,000# boat lift. Bring your fishing pole!! 12x25 lanai outdoor carpet. All floors are porcelain tile. Beautiful wood cabinets and new appliances. Cultured marble bathrooms, one with jacuzzi. Glassed walk-in shower. All new plumbing and electrical, new roof in 2001 and new a/c. There is nothing, and I mean nothing to be done to this home but move right in. If you have been wanting good boating, good fishing waters, this is it! $199,900 Call Ellen 628-6954 ATTENTION! Key west style beauty you'll love. Two story with full length front porch with dormers and 2 car detached garage with a/c 14x25 bonus room or 4th bedrm over garage.,Built to 160+ mph wind code. Impact resistant glass in doors and windows. Concrete plank siding, metal roof. Upgrades include 2 a/c plus wall unit in bonus rm. Hardwood floors, tile in baths, wood cabinets, granite tops, stainless steel appliances. Six inch base boards and crown molding, walk in closets in every bedroom, sitting room at top of stairs. Huge walkin closets length of bedrooms upstairs. And the list goes on. New construction home, sold as-is. $239,900Call Ellen 628-6954


BANK OWNED HOME. Attention investors, renters in place and would like to stay. This is a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath home with pool. Features 2,904 sq ft! Volume ceilings, formal living and dining room, plus large family room with sliders to pool with fountain, huge lanai the length of back of home. All rooms are oversized. Kitchen has wood cabinets with granite counter tops, side by side refrigerator, glass top range, microwave, recess lighting, built in desk area off breakfast nook and breakfast bar, 2 a/c's, and more. Upstairs features 4 bedrooms and 2 full baths. Huge walk-in closet in master bedroom which is 14x16 and bath with deep garden tub, separate shower and dual sink. $189,900 Call Ellen 628-6954

DEEP CREEK CONDO 2nd floor unit, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths in The Pines at Deep Creek. Everything in this condo is new, and ready for move-in. All floors are tile, including the Lanai. Motivated Seller. $64,900 Call Ellen 628-6954 CUSTOM BUILT HOME with pool and lots of space, 1,958 sq ft under a/c! Living and family room. Cooks delight kitchen with maple wood cabinets, granite counter tops, glass top range with microwave. 9x6 laundry room and 20x20 garage. Split plan, large master bedroom and 8x9.6 walk in closet! Dual sinks and walk-in shower all tiled. Walk in the front double doors to tile entry and niches, bull nose corners and many upgrades. You need to see to appreciate the quality in this home. $165,900 Call Ellen 628-6954

CANAL HOME-Great heated pool home on oversized corner lot on Fordham Waterway. Newer items as windows, reinsulated, roof, cabinets, counter tops, a/c, duct work, Six fans.Grapefruit tree, mature oaks, on nice canal. New pool heater, cage and diamond brite. Home features 3rd bedroom, can be converted back to a 1 1/2 garage with inside laundry room. 2nd bedroom with built in bookcase has extra room for office or this could be an in-law suite. Master bedroom with walk in closet. A great kitchen, all new with island bar, pantry, glass top range, side by side ref, microwave. Florida/family room has two 8 ft sliders overlooking pool & canal. $139,900 Call Ellen 628-6954

Ellen McCarthy Broker Associate

19700 Cochran Blvd • Port Charlotte, FL 33948



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2009 L e t t e r s t o : Wa t e r L I F E @ c o m c a s t . n e t

Dear WaterLIFE I found your colum about the St. Pete Open Spearfishing tournament (Sept 09) a bit over the top. I am a native of the Sarasota area and have been spearfishing these waters for 20+ years. I am also a trained technical diver with more than 20 logged dives over 200 feet. I've never participated in the St. Pete Open, but I follow the tournament every year and am always amazed at the catches. I appreciate you giving the tournament, and the sport of spearfishing some publicity. In the article you state that you did three dives to 165 feet over the period of just one day. If that was truly your dive profile for the day I am surprised that you survived. You did not mention what kind of gas you were breathing, but even if you only stayed on the bottom for a few minutes that profile would be pushing the limits on any gas, even tri-mix. You also detail a struggle with a large amberjack on the bottom-it is common knowledge

that working hard at those depths causes an incredible amount of nitrogen loading in the bloodstream. It seems a miracle to me that you did not take a bends hit because, from the article it appears that you disregarded most of the rules of deep diving. No dive training association in the world would condone such a dive profile. You go on to talk about large bull sharks following your crew in the water, and yet you continued to spearfish on the same spot. Even non-divers can recognize the irresponsibility in this. As anyone who watches "Shark Week" knows, bull sharks are very aggressive and unpredictable. To shoot and struggle with large, bloody fish while bull sharks are in the

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vicinity is simply asking to be attacked. Finally, you mention several times your "Junior" participant on the team. Are you kidding me? You let a minor do three dives to 165' and let him spearfish with sharks in the immediate area? In my opinion this is unbelievably reckless. I realize big fish tournaments like the St. Pete Open encourage people to push the limits. I also know that many participants in the tournament dive very deep, beyond the suggested limits. I'll concede that the tournament has a great record of non-injurys but that still does not make it right. No fish or tournament prize is worth dieing for. The diving that you detail in the article was blatantly irresponsible, and went

Magazine inc.

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e-mail (preferred) Mail: 217 Bangsberg Rd. Port Charlotte, FL 33952


Not affiliated with any other publication Vol IIX No10 © 2009 Water LIFE

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

From: the Spearfishing messageboard: Andrew G. White hasn't entered the SPO (St. Pete Open) for obvious reasons. One dive a day and fear of sharks isn't going to cut it. Adam and Carl DO have the training to safely accomplish the dives described in the article and they planed out the details weeks in advance. I don't know how you can get more responsible than that. I don't know what training angencies Mr White refers to, and he has nothing to back up the statements. Jim Joseph NAUI Technical Course Director, owner of FantaSea Scuba Port Charlotte Link to your website from ours ... advertise in Water LIFE

Water LIFE i s the o ffi ci al publ i cati o n o f the Charl o t t e Harb o r Reef As s o ci at i o n, the o ri g i nato r o f the Ki ds Cup To urnament and the pro ducer o f the Do n Bal l Scho o l o f Fi s hi ng .

We don’t just count the people we reach, we reach the people that count

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against everything that is taught in dive training. Breaking the rules and getting away with it is plain luck and should absolutely not be condoned or glorified. Shame on your publisher for printing that article. Andrew G. White

Contributing Editors:

Photography” Senior Editor: Capt. Ron Blago Charlotte Harbor Tarpon: Capt. Mark Bennett Port Charlotte: Capt. Andy Medina Gasparilla: Capt. Chuck Eichner Offshore: Capt. Steve Skevington Commercial Fishing: Kelly Beall Sea Grant: Betty Staugler Real Estate: Dave Hofer Inshore: Fishinʼ Frank Diving: Adam Wilson Kayaks: David Allen Sailing: Bill Dixon Office Dog: Molly


Captain Bob Dekeulenaere shows a goliath grouper caught on a hook and line. The fish had the tip of a spear sticking out of its side. Capt. Bob removed the spear tip and released the protected fish.

on our WEBSITE:

Fishing Resource Guide: Everything you ever wanted to know

Don Ball School: Class Report

Artificial Reefs: Projects and progress lat/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: Tournament Information.



Fresh O2 for Everyone

By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Editor On September 22 the FWC issued a Warning to the Flatsmasters Tournament, the FWC also said: “Although there was reason to believe that a violation did occur there was insufficient evidence to prove a violation occurred beyond a reasonable doubt.” Thus ends the four months of accusations and rebuttals surrounding a video of the Flatsmasters release boat giving away what appeared to be three live redfish to two men on another boat, instead of releasing the fish. This was a difficult story for me to report because it involved a number of people I know pretty well. Some of them are still not talking to me, but in the end I hope they see there has been some good that has come out of this. This all started with a May tournament where I pointed out and photographed an excessive number of dead fish. At that time I noted that the lack of oxygen lines for the weigh in bags. That kept fish in a small quantity of hot water without any fresh oxygen. The trout died first and when the big breeder snook rolled over I felt it was time to say

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something in print. I didn’t mention any names, but the people involved knew. Last month, at the Flatsmasters event in Punta Gorda there were plenty of oxygen lines. One team even brought a small oxygen bottle up on the stage with their fish. This is a great pro-active step for tournament fishing. Oxygen is a no brainer. Tournament anglers had that figured out five years ago. This team brought their own O2 bottle on the stage Now, I see bottled O2 on numerous boats - some we shouldn’t cover things up. even recreational. The FLW tournaIf a law is broken the perpetrators need to be made an example of. ment has had O2 lines at their That’s how change comes about. weigh in for several years. This is I guarantee you this isn’t the first good technology and it is good it is time tournament fish were given spreading. The tournament anglers away, but it will probably be a need to keep their fish alive. Dead while before it happens again and fish carry a penalty. that is a good thing. Tournaments should be a vehicle Tournaments have to lead the way to help the FWC manage the fishin innovation and management, othery. Accurate information from erwise tournaments themselves could anglers can be an important part of be managed right out of the fishery. resource management. That’s why

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Air stones for the individual weigh in bags go a long way to help keep Flatsmasters Tournament fish alive.

More Than They Bargained For

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S peci al to Water LIFE By S teve Hoyl an Sea Breeze Newspaper San Leon Texas Two weeks ago a group of four men, Steve Hoyland Jr. with friends Bruce, Ken and Erik, set off on an overnight offshore fishing trip from San Leon Texas. They left at noon on a Tuesday and went about 120 miles out into the Gulf. They were having a great night of fishing, catching big snapper, grouper, ling and kings. About 3 am, two of them went down below to catch some sleep. The two remaining on deck were catching fish and drinking beer, enjoying the warm tropical night air. All at once, Bruce got a big run on his line. This thing went all around the boat and took more than 20 minutes to bring up to the surface. When they got it up to the surface, they could not tell what it was. It looked prehistoric. Steve Jr. put a gaff in it and the two men dragged it aboard the 33 foot boat. As soon the big creature hit the deck, it went crazy, attacking them. It was an eel over 6 feet long, weighing close to 100 pounds. It had a mouth full of sharp teeth and was extremely pissed off. The eel was later estimated to be 60 years old. Bruce said it came at him and Steve Jr. like an anaconda, rearing it’s head up and striking at them like a rattlesnake. It was highly agitated and quite

energetic. In the midst of thrashing around, the creature fell down below onto the floor between the two sleeping men, Erik and Ken. When they heard the thud and turned on the light, the eel raised its head right above Ken’s face. Erik rolled over and grabbed his 9 mm pistol. Steve Jr. started yelling. “Don’t shoot the gun in the boat! We’re 120 miles from land!” Next thing you know, all four fishermen were on the deck and the gigantic eel had sole possession of the bottom of the boat. The four needed to work up a plan of action, so they drank beer while considering a strategy. It was determined that Steve Jr. would distract the eel – because he had drank the most alcohol and believed he was bulletproof. He opened up the sliding door down below to see what the “monster” was doing. As the door opened, the eel came up the two steps biting at anything along the way. The four brave men then ran to the

wheel house like women and slammed the door shut. They never did identify which one of them screamed like a girl. Inside the wheelhouse, they started calming down and decided they would drink a couple more beers. Then they hatched a new battle plan. Steve Jr. went out on the deck to get the beast’s attention. The eel attacked and Steve Jr. climbed up on top of the captain’s chair. Ken threw a blanket on top of the giant eel while Erik and Bruce beat the hell out of it with a steel gaff and a large ice chest lid. After the creature was finally subdued, they put it into a large ice chest, and closed the lid on it. The four brave sailors all got themselves a beer and were laughing at the situation when the lid of the ice chest was suddenly knocked off and

the eel sprang out onto the deck and resumed his attack. Bruce stated that the eel was clearly out for vengeance. The four men each picked up something and the fight was on again. After beating the creature with gaffs, ice chest lids and fire extinguishers, they once more subdued the massive carnivore and put it back into the ice chest. This time, they tied the lid down and put another ice chest on top of that one. Eighteen hours later they returned to the dock and started unloading the boat. None of them was anxious to open the lid to the ice chest, in fact, they did “rock, paper, scissors” to determine who would pop the lid! Above is a picture of Bruce Gordy with the eel that he caught and bravely fought in that epic and desperate battle for control on the high seas.

We are a water based community where gatherings like last monthʼs Redneck Yacht Club anchor-up, near Dog Island in Gasparilla Sound, are not uncommon

and 2009. Punta Gorda milked it for every penny it was worth and it turned out to be worth plenty. Unfortunately, when Charlotte County decided to get into the minor league baseball business last year the county gave up a portion of its hotel bed-tax revenue to pay for the baseball deal. Bed tax money is


Tentatively identified as an American Congor Eel, these animals have been known to attack divers and swimmers. They are nocturnal hunters and have rows of sharp teeth.

Can We Afford to be Number 1?

By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Publisher Stinks to be TDC. Right now, with its budget being cut, the Charlotte County Tourism Development Council (TDC) could be too cash poor to support the Redfish Cup when the Cup comes to town in 2010. And if the date we heard is accurate there might be a wedding scheduled that day as well. Now, Money Magazine has chosen Port Charlotte as Best Place to Retire and the TDC is no-doubt trying to figure out how to capitalize on that, with no budget. Money Magazine has said: “Few affordable places in Florida offer that kind of access to the water, even now.” What better promotion could there be for our soft real estate market? Local realtors should be jumping at this opportunity. We saw the same scenario several times in the past with Punta Gorda. Money Magazine voted Punta Gorda Best Place to Live in 2002, 2007



what used to make the TDC budget work. The story in Money Magazine reached 1.9 million readers. To promote itself and grow future tax revenue Charlotte County needs to follow up. Perhaps cutting the TDC budget will not turn out be that cost effective after all.

The marina in the photo at the top of the magazine page, above, looks a lot like the Kingfisher Fleet dock at Fishermenʼs Village in Punta Gorda, not Port Charlotte. Right: The October edition cover



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Offshore with Capt. Steve

Capt S teve S kevington Water LIFE offshore I don't know if it's the economy or the lack of boats on our offshore waters, the tighter restrictions from fishery management, or just a real boom in the fishery itself. But the grouper fishing is the best I can remember in the last 13 years. Almost every spot I stop on is just covered with huge red grouper. In fact, my wife has been keeping




score and tells me that we have had our limit of grouper on the last seventeen charters. I don't see any of that changing in October and with any luck the kingfish will also make a big showing sometime this month. When the kings show up, just dragging a spoon behind the boat is all you'll need to do. We have been catching our share on live bait's, with big kingfish being taken on top

of some of our favorite wrecks. The snapper bite has been on fire with Boca Grande just full of the tasty and feisty mangrove snapper. Some of the shallower ledges, in as little as 25 feet, are full of mang's as well. They have been hitting the live shrimp best. The bigger amberjack have gone somewhere, and if anyone knows where please call me. Where ever they went, I know they will be back this November in a big way. On the way to offshore wrecks, 50miles out or more, there are yellowtail snapper and a few big mutton snapper. My friend's tell me they are still catching some nice dolphin out there too, but I haven't been out that far in a couple weeks. Capt. Stev e operates out of Pineland Marina. He can be reached at: 941-575-3528 for fishing information or to book a charter

Redfish Cup Update

The 2009 Redfish Cup season came to a close in September with local anglers on four of the top five teams, but, in the end, it was the Louisiana team of Kevin and his father Cajun-Phil, Broussard that went home with the $50,000 Top 5 Results Team Total 1 Paul Jueckstock - Manny Perez 13.67 10.92 24.59 2 Mike Friday - Danny Latham 12.32 11.55 23.87 3 Jeff Totten - Ozzie Lessinger 10.44 13.03 23.47 4 Bo Johnson - Mike Del Duca 9.63 12.79 22.42 5 Kevin Broussard - Phil Broussard 12.34 9.98 22.32

On the final day the Broussards said they focused on shallow areas and continued moving up as the water got higher, using Saltwater Assassin jigheads and plastics on a weightless popping cork. The key, they said, was varying the length of the leader, between 16 and 28 inches, based on the water depth.

ON ESPN2 TV This Month:

Saturday Oct. 3 Saturday Oct. 10 Sunday Oct. 18 Sunday Oct. 18 Sunday Oct. 25 Sunday Oct. 25

8:30 am – 9:00 am ET 8:30 am – 9:00 am ET 11:00 am – 11:30 am ET 11:30 am– 12:00pm ET 6:00 pm – 6:30 pm ET 6:30 pm – 7:00 pm ET

Thanks to:


Chalmette, LA 2 Chalmette, LA 3 Biloxi, MS 1 Punta Gorda, FL 1 Biloxi, MS 2 Pensacola, FL 1

for providing baits for the Don Ball School of Fishing class of 2009



October Inshore Screaming Reels

By Capt. Andrew Medi na Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor In October the weather will start to change, kids will trick or treat and morning air temperatures begin to get a bit cooler than what you have gotten used to in the past couple of months. You will start to notice water temperatures dropping a few degrees, and fish starting to react to that change. Redfish will start to school up and roam the bars in large packs. There has been a lot of great redfish action on the bars, if you keep a close eye on the tide, and catch the water in the first two hours of the falling tide. The fish have been pushing up on the bars around Burnt Store and Turtle Bay. This offers good wade fishing possibilities. Whether fishing artificial or live bait, you will certainly get your shot at fish. We have been throwing an artificial bait called Reaction Strike, a soft plastic that mimics wounded white bait perfectly, and triggers a bite, on the falling erratic motion that the bait is designed to make. Cut bait is another option for those who like to anchor up and work less. Great fish have been taken on cut ladyfish or crab. We have

Water LIFE


also been throwing a large shrimp under a popping cork, in search of trout... and coming up with some real nice redfish. This technique is an all time favorite and produces great results. Speaking of trout, it seems like someone opened up the trout gates, and flooded the Harbor. The east side of the harbor, the flats have been producing a lot of nice trout for those throwing sub surface lures, my personal favorite has to be the Mirrodine in green and silver. Snook will soon make their way up rivers, creeks and canals. This time of the year gives the angler a whole new perspective on snook fishing. The water will clear up, as our rains start to slow, and the salinity levels start to rise. This is producing some of the best sight fishing opportunities the Harbor has to offer. Start looking for larger snook along islands, or in deeper pot holes between islands. The old expression: “putting on February fat” pertains to snook also. The fish will gorge themselves if given the opportunity. I love fishing top water baits on the flat, and I have remained ‘old school’ thinking the Zara Spooks produce some of the best-of- the-best linesiders. Top water bite to me is some of the best action you can get while snook fishing. Dock fishing for snook will also be on fire; try throwing Rapala X-raps, this lure is great for this situation and allows

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Reaction Strike bait exhibits a falling eratic motion and looks right at home in the bait-shop net.

the bait to get to the fish. Live baiters will also be rewarded with lots of bait throughout the harbor and it looks like bait should be here for months to come. A lot of anglers overlook the fact that snook will eat finger mullet, I think that is because it is right in front of their noses all the time. Most of my larger snook have been taken with finger mullet. Finger mullet is a bait that is here all year round, and is easy to come by. When fishing for snook, remember the slot size is 28 to 33 inches. Often you have to weed through oversize or undersize fish to get a keeper, so proper handling is a must to insure a healthy stock.

We have been starting to catch a few flounder around the Harbor. Shrimp around a pot hole is always a good bet for the flatties. October is one of the very best months in my book to get a Charlotte Harbor Slam, one snook, one redfish, one trout. This may sound easy to do, but believe me when I tell you, catching a legal slot limit of these three fish is a task. Even pro-anglers have trouble getting it done, but October could give you a good shot. Capt. Andrew Medina can be reached at (941)456-1540 or on the web at, to book a trip or fishing info.

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Bay and Sound Scallop Search

By Betty S taugl er Water LIFE / Sea Grant A total of 114 ‘volunteer scientists’ participated in a scallop search in Lemon Bay and Gasparilla Sound on September 12. The goal was to document scallop populations using standardized methods that would allow for comparison from year to year and site to site. In order to accomplish this, the entire study area was divided into one nautical mile square grids and each group assigned to a numbered grid. Thirty three groups total went out and thirty one grids were sampled. In each grid, volunteers looked for seagrass beds in which to conduct their surveys. Within the seagrass bed, they deployed a 50 meter transect (line with weights and floats attached). They then snorkeled the length of the transect looking one meter on each side of the line, counting live scallops along the way. Volunteers recorded transect location, scallop counts, seagrass type and density, and other pertinent information on data sheets. Depending upon location, volunteers completed two to four transects in their assigned grids. Volunteers surveyed 111 transects (11,030 meters square) total during the event and documented 94 scallops. Although 94 seems like a small number, there are a couple of important things to consider. First, the scallop populations in our area collapsed about 30 years ago, so the fact that we are seeing scallops even in small numbers returning on their own is a positive sign. Secondly, the search is not designed to record all the scallops in the water, just

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those found along Above: Searching at the mouth of Turtle Bay the narrowly defined Right: Snorkling further in transect. Obviously we are not seeing scal- Although not as obvious from the mean grid data, when looking at lop populations at sustainable levindividual transect data, the same els, but hopefully someday we will. trend was seen around Little The first step in knowing if we are experiencing gains or losses in scal- Gasparilla Pass. Densities in lop populations is to know what we Gasparilla Sound were widely dispersed. have and what we had. The Florida Fish and Wildlife A lot of people have reported seeConservation Commission collects ing more scallops in our local scallop information around the state waters this year. Bobbi Rogers annually using similar, but much from CHEC commented to me that expanded sampling methods. They this was the first year she ever sample in Pine Island Sound, remembers getting live scallops in seine nets during her wading trips at Sarasota Bay and Tampa Bay, but due to resource constraints, they canCedar Point Park. The Great Bay not cover every water body. This and Sound Scallop Search was a way to assess scallop populations in year’s scallop search was an important step towards establishing a a scientific way. baseline for conditions in our local By using standardized methods waters. The data provides important there is important information that management information for sciencan be gleaned from the data. For tists where no data previously existinstance, when looking at the mean ed. It also allows citizens to be a (average) number of scallops per 100 part of the scientific process. meters square (total number of scalThe Great Bay and Sound Scallop lops counted, divided by total meters Search compliments similar citizen square sampled, multiplied by 100 volunteer scallop surveys in meters) we find just under one scalSarasota and Tampa Bay. Taken lop per 100 meters square (.925 / m together these surveys indicate sq). Looking at the water bodies restoration of bay scallop populaseparately we see there was very littions may one day become a reality. tle difference in overall scallop denWhat about next year? Plans are to sities between Lemon Bay (.935 / conduct these surveys on an annual 100 m sq) and Gasparilla Sound basis. Scallops only live 12-18 (.918 / 100 m sq). Coral Creek even months and only through a long weighed in similar with a mean denterm survey effort will we be able to sity of .917 / 100 m sq). But, truly determine if scallops will perwithin the study area there were manently return. areas where scallop densities were The search was organized by Betty higher than others. Mean densities Staugler, the Florida Sea Grant Agent of each grid sampled showed higher for Charlotte County. She can be densities north and south of Stump reached at 941.764.4346. Sea Grant is Pass but not at the pass itself. a Univ ersity of Florida IFAS program.


Cape Haze

0 1 2-3 4-5 6-7 8-9 10-15

Chart: Interpolated number of scalops found per 100 meter square transect

No Let-Up on Tarpon October


By Capt. Mark Bennett Water LIFE Tarpon Yes, I am still tarpon fishing. I know it is October and the fall snook season has been on for a month, but I just can't help it. I love tarpon fishing too much to wait till next year. The tarpon fishing this past month was nothing short of spectacular. Calm early mornings with no other boats in sight means zero fishing pressure and lots of flying tarpon; it just doesn’t get much better. Lately there have been catchable numbers of tarpon in several places in our area. Down south in the Pine Island Sound I have talked to several people who have had success drifting and anchoring up fishing live baits on the flats. There have also been good numbers of fish also in our rivers, around the bridges and holes, especially at night. These river fish are often holding in a smaller area than the fish in the open water. That makes them an easier target to locate most of the time, especially on the windy days. I have been fishing the open water of the harbor as of late, working fish that are feeding on ladyfish, threadfins and small sardines. There are a lot of differences in the

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tarpon fishing late season and earlier in the year. This time of year the tarpon in the open water tend to be spread out a bit more than earlier in the season. Spread out, but still very catchable. You won't see the daisy chaining, milling prespawn social behavior. What you will usually see is feeding behavior. Fish busting on top, free jumping, fast rolling etc. The tarpon are constantly moving and feeding. One minute they are all around your boat, then the next there is not a fish in sight. Unlike earlier in the season when boat traffic and fishing pressure often dictates the movement of the fish, this time of year the bait often does. Figuring out the movement of the bait, where it is holding or how it is moving on a given tide, is often the key to finding and catching late season open water tarpon. Stealth will pay off this time of year.


I have noticed with the lack of boats fishing this time of year, that some fishermen tend to run their outboards a little more. A few even getting up on plane or idling fast to an area they saw a bust or free jump, only to be greeted by nothing. These fish are moving in small groups or clusters and the boat noise will often put these fish down and make them move. Often, the best way is to stay patient and use your trolling motor to get close. Although they are quiet above the water, the modern four strokes are still very noisy underwater.

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One popular misconception about late season tarpon fishing is that the tarpon are smaller than those earlier in the season. That is not true. I am here to tell you there are some Daddy Rabbits still out there. We have had several over 150 pounds during the last few weeks, including an 86- x 42-inch monster. Till next time, keep the line tight and bow when they jump, Capt. Mark Bennett can be reached to book a trip, for comments or questions at: or (941) 474-8900 Photos by Jeni Bennett

DIVING Page 12

Water LIFE




with Adam Wilson

By Adam Wi l son Water LIFE Diving October is always an exciting month. The subtle transition of summer to winter becomes very apparent this month. The Gulf water begins to clear and the temperature starts dropping slightly too. Schools of cobia will be moving south soon and stopping by our local wrecks, giving us a shot at some fun shooting and great eating. Speaking of great eating, stone crab season opens on the 15th and is just about the most fun you can have underwater. It is almost the west coast’s version of lobster season. The deeper wrecks have had great vis and plentiful amounts of fish all summer, and that should only get better as we transition to winter. Almost every wreck past 100 feet has had healthy schools of permit, small African pompano, big almaco jacks, and absolutely huge rainbow runners. The rainbow runners typically come in as you are heading up. Before I leave a wreck, I always get a line shaft set up to be ready for anything encountered mid water. Runners can be tough targets as their bodies are long and slender, leaving a narrow profile to hit. If you manage to

Adam Wilson, Lisa and Hunter

land some, they are delicious. Probably some of the best local fish for sashimi you will find. In shallower has really been where it’s at for a while now. Unless you are trophy hunting, running deep hasn’t been necessary if you’re just looking for some groceries. For whatever reason, there have been a lot of quality fish inside of 70 feet. Big hauls of gag grouper, mangrove snapper and hogfish have been the norm all summer. Don’t be scared by the coffee colored surface water. The less dense, fresh-river runoff floats above the Gulf’s saltwater. The vis on the bottom is usually much better than at the surface on the shallow reefs. A recent trip to the new Capt. Jeff Steele Reef was downright surprising. In just a few months the reef is really exploding with life. Already it is swarming with juvenile snappers, sheepheads,

Plenty of snappers everywhere. These fish are on the new Capt. Jeff Steele Reef

red grouper, sea urchins and tons of bait. This reef was installed with great care and precision, not just carelessly dumped. The rubble is evenly spaced, with just a few fin kicks needed to explore from one piece to the next. This spot is going to prove to be as popular as the Palm Island ferry over the coming years. We should all take the time to thank everyone that worked so hard to make this project a reality. With stone crab season almost here it’s time to go over the gear list of things we haven’t used in a while. If you are going at night, flashlights are pretty obvious. I like to carry a powerful main light and two smaller backups. A catch bag is also crucial. Claws can still pinch for several minutes after being snapped off. I found this out after forgetting my bag once and shoving my wetsuit full of claws! I like to be slightly over weighted to

help combat strong currents often common with crab habitat. Along this line a steel claw is also nice to hold yourself in place. An old spear shaft works well if cut to about a foot long and then bent at the last couple of inches to form an L. I drilled a hole in the long end of my steel L and attached a claw gauge with a split ring for measuring. Claws need to be 2 ¾ inches along the bottom, or nonhinged side, and the bag limit is one gallon per person or two gallons per vessel, whichever is less. With the growing popularity of stone crabbing, FWC has been present around Boca Grande on opening night checking for dive flags and fishing licenses. Like lobster season, if you just want to eat the tasty crustaceans, it’s cheaper and easier to support our local commercial fisherman and make a trip to the seafood store. It’s really all about the hunt and a good time with your buddies. It’s hard to beat a mixed bag winter day of grabbing some stone crabs with the morning high tide and running out to a shallow reef to shoot some sheepshead and snapper in the afternoon. I found this Atlantic partridge tun in 130 feet. Online research showed these guys reach a maximum size of 158mm or about 6 1/2 inches. this one is dead-nut 7 inches.


Water LIFE


Circle Hooks

According to Fishinʼ Frank, circle hooks donʼt come out of your skin like a standard J hook. Frank gave us this photo of a customerʼs hand. With a circle hook stuck in your hand, the old trick of using a loop of leader to pull directly backwards to extract the hook doesnʼt work. The problem with extracting a circle hook is, by design, the tip curls around toward the shank. More often than not with a circle hook you will have to see the ER doctor who will cut the shank and work the barbed end all the way through ... before stitching you up.


We have seen a ton of nice snook pictures so far this season

Snook under the bushes, top photo Cudas on the near shore wrecks, bottom.

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Capt Ron

Page 14

By Capt Ron Bl ago Water LIFE Senior Staff There are a lot of different ways to catch a fish; and everyone has their favorite. Just look at anyone’s tackle box and you will see a strange assortment of surefire lures that are guaranteed to catch fish. At least that’s what you thought when you bought them. If the truth be told; most of the stuff in your tackle box doesn’t work. As a guy who at last count, is the owner of eight tackle boxes, I have a pretty good grip on what looks like it can catch fish and what really can catch fish. Live bait works and when you first start fishing in salt water, that’s what most people use. Whitebait, shrimp, pinfish, crabs all have their uses. Even chunks of ladyfish, mullet and lowly squid will catch fish when nothing else will. The trouble with live bait is you have to get it and keep it alive. You also have to have a pretty good idea where the fish you are trying to catch are hanging out and hopefully they are hungry enough to want to eat your live bait. For a lot of fishermen, live bait fishing is too easy. They want more of a challenge, more sport. That’s where the artificial lure comes in. To trick a fish into taking a bite at something that’s not even real; now that’s the true sport of fishing.

Water LIFE

Jig Fishing 101

When it comes to artificial lures, you can divide the universe into plugs, spoons and jigs. Everyone has their favorite and for me it’s the jig. It’s pretty hard to come up with an accurate definition to describe a jig but I will take a shot at it: A jig is normally a two part fishing lure made up of weighted hook called the jig head and a tail portion that is permanently attached to the hook, like a bucktail jig; or a tail that can be slipped over the hook and replaced when needed. The jig has four main advantages: They’re cheap, simple to use, fast and effective. Most of the jigs used in inshore fishing are relatively light, in the 1/8 to 1/2oz range. Offshore jigs go up to 8oz or more. The first jigs I used in Florida were the bucktail type. As a matter of fact the largest fish on my wall is a 44 inch snook caught on a red and white 1/2oz Combs Dude which was quite popular back in the 70s and early 80s. The bucktail jig is still popular but has been over taken in recent years by the new plastic tail jigs. When I was first starting out you had the choice of the Bagley Salty Dog, the Stingray Grub, the Trout-Tote or the Tandem rigged Love Lure. They all worked well, but had poor action in the water. We sometimes put small pieces of shrimp on the hook; a process we called sweetening the hook, in



order to get the fish interested. The first real improvement came from Cottee Jigs in New Port Ritchie. They made a jig head with paint that wouldn’t flake off and a tail that would stay on the hook. They still make a good product. After them came a whole flood of companies that offered jigs and tails. Bubba Jigs, 12Fathom, RipTide and the famous DOA shrimp. DOA even offered their CAL Jigs which I was told stands for cheap ass lures. The assortment of colors offered for plastic tails is amazing. The latest thing in jig technology is the chemically scented product. These tails have a fish attractant right in the tail and they are getting close to being as good as live bait. Products like the Exude and the Gulp are becoming the favorites of the professional redfish tournaments; and a lot of the pros swear by their favorites – sometimes I wonder if they are getting too good. In the hands of a skilled angler these lures are deadly; in the hands of a regular fisherman they are a waste of money. I can see a time in the future when they will be outlawed, at least in the professional tournaments. If you are just starting to learn how to


use a jig, stick to a limited selection of a well known manufacturer; your local bait shop should be able help you out with a few selections. Keep it simple, get a few lessons from someone who knows how to use a jig. Technique is more important than color selection. There are plenty of local guides that will give you instructions on jig fishing if you ask. Capt. Ron can be reached for comments, information or to book a guided jig fishing trip at


This new football jig is designed to lay on the bottom and ʻflagʼ the bait upward.

Water LIFE

Dragging A Line



By Capt. Chuck Ei chner Water LIFE Inshore The fascinating waters around the gulf islands and Charlotte Harbor holds countless varieties of fish. Part of my recreation is discovering new ways to fish and of course, new spots. The majority of our fish make migratory movements at different times of years and intercepting them is the key to a bent rod. Fundamentally, fish travel deeper waters when moving from place to place. In essence, channels are fish highways and understanding how to fish them is easy. Perhaps sometimes the hardest part is recognizing a channel. The channel of Boca Grande Pass is easy to recognize however a subtle channel through a flat is not as obvious. The most obvious channel in our area is the Intracoastal Waterway known as the ICW. Quick map study will show there are countless intersections where other channels meet the ICW. Intersections provide the opportunity to intercept fish that are traveling from multiple directions. As you ride around Charlotte Harbor, Peace River, Pine Island Sound, Matlacha and Lemon Bay you will be able to visually see channels cut to marinas, home developments and natural channels to and from backcountry areas. The easiest way to fish these is what I call “dragging the line”. Basically, calibrated drifts utilizing the wind and current to move your boat in the direction of an intersection. A trolling motor can also help to position and move in the desired direction. This is not high tech fishing but covers water fast and exposes your bait to a huge variety of fish. Right now there are redfish migrations taking place around the harbor. They are inhabiting deeper water areas near the beaches and ICW right now on their way too and from the Gulf. Most think that hot red fishing only happens on the flats this month. Add to that just about every other fish that swims will be passing through these same thorough-fairs and you are going to have action. Drifting

with a bottom rig and cut bait will result in lots of action and sharks, goliath and gag groupers, redfish and black drum will definitely be part of the fun. Needless to say less desired species will make themselves know but will add to your species list. Shrimp fished on a drifted bottom rig will see snapper, sheepshead, grunts and a multitude of species. A real bonus this month will be flounder, whiting and pompano as they will begin showing up near the sandy beach areas. Dragging the line in the middle of the water column will bring about other species such as mackerel, kingfish, trout, jack crevale, snook and tarpon. A simple leader and hook with a barrel swivel for a sinker stop is all you need. Vary your sinker weight to present your bait at different points in the water column or use no weight at all. Live pinfish or whitebait are hard to beat. On most boats you can easily drag the 3 lines and sometimes four. I typically use 4 rods and will drag the line with two on the bottom, one in the middle and a fourth line with a float to present the bait near the top. Position your boat so that it will drift through a channel heading towards an intersection. A narrow channel is easily covered in one drift. Wider channels may require multiple drifts to cover the bottom. The key areas of each channel are the drop-offs on either side of the channel and the drop-offs directly at the intersection. Use your gas or trolling motor to bump your boat back and forth over any intersection. When you hit an area with fish on repeated drifts I will then go back, set up and anchor because honey-holes will definitely be found. The tackle you need is diverse because you never know what species will be biting. I often will use a 10#, 15# and 20# outfit while dragging the line. Of course, the big fish always hits the 10# line and on a recent trip I got spooled twice before physically cupping the drag allowing the line to snap. We never knew what type of fish it was but it hit like a freight train and never stopped running! On this

Best of Luck To the 7th Graders

in this yearʼs Don Ball School of Fishing


Page 15

This redfish was dragging several lines. When caught it had two hooks in itʼs mouth

same trip we caught redfish, snook, small gags, a 10 pound goliath and of course, a few catfish all on cut bait. This is easy fishing once you get set up and circle hooks are preferred to prevent deep hooking. Often you can accumulate bait as you fish because ladyfish and pinfish will certainly be part of your catch. Sit back, crack a cold one with 4 rods out and drift along. There will be quiet periods and then there will be times when all heck breaks out. Recently, we had 2

rods go down and two of us were hooked up to nice fish. As the fight pursued our lines became tangled and when the first fish showed itself it was a 27 inch red with 2 hooks in its mouth! Dragging the line is full of surprises!

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

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By Bi l l Di xon Water LIFE Sailing



It is the first day of autumn as I write this: 90 degrees with lots of humidity, The real-feel is over 100. It may be autumn, but it’s not fall yet!

This fall the local sail-racing season offers several specialty races and a full series slate

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The Caloosahatchee Marching and Chowder Society’s Summerset Regatta will be held October 3 and 4 off Ft. Myers Beach – Two buoy races on Saturday and a single long race on Sunday. Skippers meeting Friday night, cocktail party Saturday night, awards banquet Sunday night. A link to the NOR and entry form can be found on the PGSC web site at Later in October, fall series races are scheduled back-to-back on Oct 11 and 18. I guess the tides will allow this, but it is atypical, so check your calendars.

The last event in October will be the Moonlight Regatta on Oct 31 – great fun racing in the dark, with a picnic and awards in the daylite Sunday Nov 1. Check the web site for the NOR and the entry form. November 7, 8 is the Picture of Beer Race, (the winner gets a framed picture!) this year to Matlacha. Series races back-to-back again on Nov 15 and 22. For December, your humble scribe is organizing the Holiday Regatta on Dec 12 and 13. There will be awards for decorated boats and costumed crews as well as a Reverse Start 8 mile race like the Conquistador. Sunday’s award banquet will also include a dessert contest with Juried prizes for prettiest and popular voting for best tasting dessert. NOR and entry are on the club web site at Dessert jury applications will be closely guarded. William Dixon:


Water LIFE


Curry Creek Paddling

By Davi d Al l en Water LIFE Kayaking Over the years, the Port Charlotte Kayak Club has launched and paddled from many different locations; a local beach, a river bank, a concrete ramp, a floating dock. But from a train station? What kind of paddle could that be? Thumping and bumping down the rails? What's the catch? Marine Park in Venice is located on the site of the old Venice Railroad Station. Built in 1927, the station was the last stop on the Seaboard Air Line Railway, and carried passengers until 1972. After that, the line was used by Ringling Brothers’ Barnum & Bailey Circus until the tracks became unusable in 1992. Then Sarasota County purchased the site and restored it. Sarasota upgraded Marine Park with a new boat ramp, and plentiful parking for cars and boat trailers. Located on the Intracoastal, across from Venice Island, Marine Park offers a beautiful view of both the waterway and the city of Venice so on a recent Friday, a group of PC Kayakers made the trek to Venice for a paddle up Curry Creek. Curry Creek, a tributary of Roberts Bay, was named for a pioneer family that settled in East Venice in the 1800's. In 2002, the 81 acre Curry Creek Preserve was established on Pinebrook Road. The Preserve has a kayak launch site, hiking trails and a picnic area, however we had elected to begin our paddle from the historic train station, closer to downtown. We arrived at Marine Park about 9 a.m. and quickly got our kayaks into the water. There were a few fishermen on the seawall, but otherwise the park was quiet. We pushed off into the Intracoastal and turned north. Both the current and the breeze

favored us and we were quickly into Roberts Bay. There the current turned against us.The shoreline of Roberts Bay is completely lined with homes, most with boats tied up at docks. It was only a short paddle to the Highway 41 Bridge, then to the old Seaboard Railroad bridge. This railroad right-of-way has been acquired by the Rails-to Trails Conservancy and converted into The Legacy Trail for both bicycles and pedestrians. On the east side of the railroad bridge, the Bay opens up and there are many channels through the mangrove hummocks, but most of these apparently open channels are lined with sharp hard oyster beds which flourish in the warm, shallow water. We have paddled through this area often enough to know that the northern fringe of the bay is deeper and generally free of oysters. Shortly before 10 a.m. we entered Curry Creek and headed east. There, the south shore has only occassional homes and RV parks clustered together, many

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Page 17


with docks and power boats. Between these developments are beautiful stretches of water, tall oaks with Spanish moss hanging from the branches. Even though the day is hot, we are under the trees and cool. Flocks of birds rest in nearby trees or challenge us to a race down the Creek. Shortly after passing under the Albee Farm Road Bridge and the Pinebrook Road Bridge we paddle by the Capri Isles Golf Course. We could hear the traffic noise coming from nearby I-75, and shortly we passed under the Interstate bridge. The Creek runs parallel to the Interstate for sev-

eral miles, to the intersection with North River Road, and then just a little further on it empties into the Myakka River, just above Snook Haven. We had had a 1.5 knot current in our face so the trip upstream was slow but steady: heading back downstream, the current propelled us to about 5-plus knots – Nice. Four hours of paddling and we were back a the Old Venice Train Station loading our kayaks for home.

The Port Charlotte Kay ak ers meet each Wednesday ev ening at 5:30 pm at Port Charlotte Beach Park . All are welcome to join us to learn about k ay ak ing. For additional information, contact Dav e Allen at 941-235-2588 or

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R Re ea al l E Es st ta at te e N Ne ew ws s PROVIDED BY: Dave Hofer RE/MAX Harbor Realty (941) 575-3777

Recent area news i tems: 1. The botanical garden proposed to be developed on Riverside Drive in Punta Gorda was approved by Charlotte County Commissioners. The Tetrault family will donate the 26 acre site to the County, then lease it back for $1/year. That plan allows the County to override residential zoning restrictions that would ordinarily prohibit this use without a variance. 2. County school budgets will come under more pressure next year as enrollment continues to drop. State educational funds, based on enrollment will shrink without much reduction in costs. This fall we have 1020 kindergartners entering the system while 1500 seniors are completing their final year in high school.


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Water LIFE

3. Poor communication and burdensome restrictions appear to have doomed the Florida Homebuyer Program. Complementing the $8,000 Federal first time home buyer's giveaway, local housing authorities were to provide bridge financing to allow buyers to actually close on their purchases before funding was to be received from the IRS. Sarasota County received just 4 applications while the Charlotte County Housing Corp. has yet to get its first application for the $8,000 loan that is to be paid back within 18 months of receipt of the Fed's gift. After that, interest will accrue at 3% per year. It's hard to tell if having these loans available less than 60 days before the program is set to expire is keeping potential home buyers from this double dip opportunity. 4. The Punta Gorda Boat Club has agreed to share its sweetheart $1/yr lease with the City to build a new water sports center. The Boat Club has 12 years remaining on its leasehold at the west end of Gilchrist Park. Weiler Engineering will begin work on the design phase which will include floating docks and classrooms?.... not sure if they've thought THAT through. 5. The vaunted Punta Gorda parking garage opened this month. Downtown workers will enjoy the comfort of covered parking. Commercial tenants are still elusive, but hope is high in city hall that the high cost of this monster will not fall on taxpayer's shoulders. 6. 13% of all mortgages in America are now delinquent. Beyond just past due, 12% of Florida mortgages are in the process of foreclosure. 7. Charlotte County is considering the institution of a commercial overlay zoning district. This concept here is to have the authority make aesthetic decisions for future development of properties along Rt 41. A great idea with some real practical value once the time machine is perfected to bring us back 50 years in the past.



The lush Tetrault property on Riverside Drive in Punta Gorda is the proposed site for a 26 acre botanical garden.

Sales Statistics: North Port led the area for home sales as builders (and their lenders) continued to liquidate spec inventory. House inventories fell 15% in August alone and continue to be more than 50% below last year's levels. Expect to see heavy activity in the entry level homes for October as the $8,000 stimulus package draws to a close.

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Water LIFE



Lionfish A lionfish was reportedly spotted 20 miles off Englewood. This would be a very unusual sighting this far north. We have not seen a picture.

Fishermenʼs Village was awarded Large Business of the Year by the Northport Chamber of Commerce. They work hard at it. They deserve it.

Scam Officers Brian Cazalot and Justin Koble were working netting enforcement near Bokeelia on Pine Island. The officers observed a commercial netting vessel being operated without lights by an individual who had been previously arrested for netting violations. The vessel was later observed again on the east side of Charlotte Harbor. The officers attempted to stop the vessel and a short chase took place with the vessel fleeing to


the Turtle Bay area in Charlotte County. With assistance from a Charlotte County Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit, a search of the area was conducted, but failed to locate the vessel or its occupants. On September 7, the owner of the vessel filed a stolen vessel report with the Lee County Sheriff's Office and with assistance from Investigators Larry Jernstedt and Greg Stanley the operator of the vessel was located and arrested for the offense. Soft Plastic According to an article in International Angler Magazine, soft plastic lures stay in a fishʼs stomach forever causing weight loss and ulcers. They claim the life expectancy of a soft plastic lure is over 200 years. Is this true?

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is now being sold. It will disintegrates from the mangroves in a year. – From the same report as above.

Day Docks A representative from Punta Gorda was at the last MAC meeting and said they are still waiting for some of the permits to begin work on the day docks for the Crab House at Laishley Park Marina. Would that be the Army Corps Manatee Permit?


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Page 20

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Pick up a copy of Water LIFE at any of these and 120+ other locations. Water LIFE is not affiliated with any newspaper or other publication and is distributed at select locations around the state. These free ads to our loyal distributors rotate on a monthly basis. If you would like this publication for distribution at your business please call us at 941-766-8180

Water LIFE

The Fish House October


By Kel l y Beal l Water LIFE Commercial Fishing There is no two ways about it - the seafood business is hard. I know all you fellow entrepreneurs out there are saying "All small business is hard". Well, when my husband and I started our "small" business six years ago we had no idea the reality of how difficult it would be. We were just this small idea – a picture perfect scene – Jimmy will go catch the crabs and I will sell them. Then our little business got a life of its own, expanding at an unexpected pace. Fishermen coming out of the woodwork, more employees joining our crew, vendors calling, buyers wanting, customers ready to eat now.. the fishhouse had taken on a life and personality of its own and fast. Everything in the seafood business is fast. It's go-go-go all the time. After all, you are dealing with a perishable product, you literally have hours not days to move. One second you have nothing to sell, then all of a sudden a boat shows up with way more then you expected and you're hustling. You are selling your soul to move product. Promising future catches to anyone who will believe you. Then the next day you're waiting at the dock wondering where are the fisherman who promised you they would come if you took their product? So I come before you now to tell my story. The story of a fishhouse that couldn't wait. Our goal was to get established so no one could ever take our dream away. Was it the dream of riches? No, not really. It was a dream of a keeping a way of life alive before the masses could take it away. All over Florida waterfront fishhouses have become a thing of the past. We know the reality that a fishhouse can't produce the revenue it once did to support a waterfront property, so we settled. We wanted to have a place no one could take away, a place where Jimmy always could move his locally caught product. Look around you, how many places are really buying local? So we became Peace River Seafood a beautiful fishhouse inside an old Florida Cracker house on 2 acres of land on Hwy 17. It’s not on the water exactly, but we do have a lake to look at and instead of pelicans waiting for a free meal we have some goats out back. But we committed ourselves to having only Florida product on the menu. I speak at various events about Florida seafood. I joined the Blue Crab Advisory Panel. I try to get involved in anything locally that would showcase Florida Seafood. The enemy is still out there and he's not in a hole or serving Kool aid, the enemy is apathy. Just that attitude of taking the easy path, or I should say the convenient path. It's easy to go to some chain restaurant or grocery store and get some month-

old frozen junk because, hey, it's cheaper right? Not really. Not in the long or the short run. I want to be able to buy everything my fishermen can catch, I want them to stay in business. This summer so many good fisherman are staying home, not because they aren't catching, but because they are on limits! Crazy limits. A 200-pound catch of mullet will pay $100. That's if you're getting 50 cent. Some fishhouses are only paying 40. Now take your gas and wear and tear out. You can't afford to go out. The fisherman in our area during the month of September were on 200-pound limits because the product was not in demand. There are a hundred ways to cook mullet. If you're broke maybe you should go to the local fishhouse and buy some mullet – it's super cheap!! And it’s delicious and healthy. If you're too lazy to fillet, the fish house will even fillet it for you. You live in Florida, when in Rome..... okay! Well enough of my rant. Here's what's happeni ng now. It's the most exciting time of year for all the fishhouses around us. stone crab season starts October 15th. I can already hear the angels singing. It's our salvation time, time to get out of debt... if we catch. Let's pray the octopus don't come and chase our little stonecrabs out. Speaking of our wonderful stonecrabs did you know they are a renewable resource? That's right, we take their claws off put them back in the water and they grow them back. Not just once, but three times in their lifetime. So do you feel less guilty now? Good, but they’re so delicious I think you'd eat them anyway. How many cows can regenerate limbs? You have to get out there and enjoy the bounty of our waters whether its Peace River Seafood or Laishleys Crabhouse or Joe’s Stonecrabs or wherever, just make sure it’s from Florida. If you come to Peace River Seafood during one of the unloading times it's like Christmas if it’s a good catch and if it’s a bad catch, well, it's like taking a beating for nothing. Don't worry, we'll have plenty of stonecrabs this year. I’ve got my crabbers all lined up and they are biting at the bit. Let's support them so there won't be any limits on stones. Then right behind that delicious bite of the first stone crab of the season is run season for Mullet when every fisherman loses his mind. All the talk is ‘what's the price?’ More about that next month. Let's go into fourth quarter supporting the local catch and keeping the dream alive for the fisherman out there who still need a place to sell to. Come in an see us at Peace River Seafood on Hwy 17, anyone who is there can tell you the importance of keeping it local - keeping the all of us


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Above: Jimmy Beall, left withy wife Kelly taking orders on the phone. Did you know, in the US, 80% of the seafood is imported and only 1% of that is inspected?

Below: Stone crabs fresh from our local waters are in season starting October 15

in business. Our vendors, our employees, our service providers, our banks, and countless others. Was it a dream of riches? No ...not really for us. Commercial fishing - it's not a sport it's a way of life.

Kelly Beall can be reached at 505-8440 for comments or information or to reserve some fresh or steamed crabs for pick up!

October Page 22

Fishing Report Charlotte Harbor:

Robert at Fishin' Franks Port Charlotte: 625-3888

October is just a wonderful month. Summer is over, the rainy season is ending and the fish are overlapping each other. Summer fish are leaving and winter fish are coming in. On your boat, you need a pole for trout, a pole for tarpon, a pole for Spanish mackerel and a pole for flounder. There is a mixed variety of fish out there, and you can never be too ready. Redfi sh is the predominant fish this month, statewide. In our area it is a little more unusual, in that there are a lot of ratreds around right now. We didn’t have much of a rat-red season in the Harbor last winter, but the little guys are around now. Most good redfishing is south around Pirate Harbor, Turtle Bay and over towards the Gasparilla Sound. The fish are in deeper water, 3-to 4-feet. Look for schools of 20 to 200 fish. Some will be pretty obvious. Look for a push in the water, look for

Water LIFE

anything rippling like a school of mullet. The redfish will be mixed in or right behind them. The mullet are stirring up the bottom and the reds are looking for things to eat. That’s when you will just see tails sticking out of the water. Cut ladyfish or sardines, live pinfish or shrimp, small soft plastics in the three inch range – those are the redfish baits right now. For snook, day fishing is better from a boat. The fish are in migration, leaving the beaches and starting to head into the Harbor. There are a lot of fish moving around. Just remember what is there today may not be there tomorrow. There is an abundance of snook in the passes and on the near beaches. Night fishing for snook at Placida and Englewood and Boca Grande are all good right now. The best bait for snook on the beach is live shrimp or pinfish and they will take a cut bait this time of year, even along the beach. We’ve been catching snook on sardines and chunks of ladyfish. Artificial- wise, Long-A Bombers in the greenback color are what we are selling a lot of. Top waters such as a Spook Jr and the Sebille stick-shad are also popular. Tarpon are still here and still in pretty good numbers. The few cool dips in the weather we had at the end of September should only make these fish feed more




heavily. On the new moon in October is when we often get a significant cold front – that is when they will leave. But until then look for tarpon in the schools of ladyfish around the Harbor. The tarpon are feeding heavily on the ladyfish right now. S napper are still really abundant. At any one of the reefs in the Harbor, in the passes and on the offshore reefs, snapper are still going strong like they have been all summer. The best bait for the bigger snapper seem to be the small, silver-dollar size pinfish. There are millions of little pinnies like that in the Harbor now so they are easy to catch for bait. Trout are starting to trickle into the area now. Trout are still in the 4 to 5-feet of water range. A shrimp on a popping cork, ar any artificial will work. A soft plastic on a jig head around the ICW and at Cape Haze could produce some good fish. Try the harbor side of Cape Haze just up from the point. Anywhere along that Pomp... and the Circumstances sandbar or between the Top: Capt. Bill Hoffmanʼs son caught this African Pompano bar and the shore in the on hook and line. We were 7 miles off shore. “I thought it was a rare catch for the area,” Capt. Bill said. grass should be good. Below: Capt. Ron Gauthier with another African ʻPompʼ from a S pani sh Mackerel little further offshore, taken with a spear. have gotten heavier along the beaches and they will start coming into the Harbor as the rain subsides. Ki ng mackerel stragglers are starting to appear offshore again. The bigger fish could be here soon.

Fishing Report continued on facing



Fishing Report .

Water LIFE

The The BIG-4 BIG-4

Fl ounder are out along the beaches. Those fish along the beach mean bigger flounMANGROVE SNAPPER: More der on the near shore reefs. and more and more Fish the perimeters of the structure for big flounders with a live shrimp on a jig head dragged slowly around the edges. Don’t be surprised if you see permi t or cobi a while you are out there. There are also still quite a few sharks around ... of various sizes. Way offshore, 40-50-miles you will find whi te marl i n, sai l fi sh and wahoo. Dol phi n and bl ackfi n have all been caught within the last week of September, but you have to get out to 145 feet of water depth to see the good action.

Fish to expect expect in in Fish to

TARPON: Still plenty of fish in the Harbor now

Lemon Bay: Jim

at Fishermen’s Edge, Englewood: 697-7595

Theer has been a lot of offshore activity. Boni ta, S pani sh mackerel , Ki ngfi sh, the guys are On opening night of snook season Kevin Sachkara catching good size 20-to 30-inch and a friend landed these 32.6-inch and 31-inch dol phi n a lot of them only 7 to 10 snook in Englewood. miles out. There have been big Support Habitat – schools of fish. And we have been seeing quite a bit of grouper and snapper – yel Cruise for Free l ow tai l and mangrove. In the in-shore area, tarCharlotte County Habitat for Humanity and King Fisher Fleet pon in the bay. S nook, trout and redfi sh are are teaming up to give shoppers also appearing – still way oversize fish in the redan opportunity to cruise for free. fish department in this area. Some guys have During the month of October any shopper who makes a purchase caught bl ack drum by the trestle at Boca Grande. of $50 or more at any of the three There has been some pompano around too. I am Charlotte County Habitat for starting to see commercial guys coming in to buy Humanity resale locations (Punta Gorda, Murdock or Englewood) the silly-willy jigs to hook and line pompano. The will receive a gift certificate good shark population is still on the beach and down by for a free sunset cruise departing the pass. Sharks are also at the deep hole at Turtle from Fishermen's Village. Available six evenings per week Bay, by Cape Haze point. The gol i ath grouper (Tuesday through Sunday). For population is running rampant. Guys catching AJs more information contact King at the Boxcars and at the Bayronto wreck hanging Fisher Fleet at 941-639-0969. chunk bait on a jig-head around the boat.

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October October

SNOOK: Coming in from offshore, moving up the harbor


REDFISH: Some are beginning to school up


C a l e n d a r o f E v e n t s





4265 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte

941 - 625-2700

 October 3: Charlotte Harbor Challenge, $300 entry, Redfish, Trout and Snapper plus Mystery Fish, Live Bait and wadding allowed. Weigh In on stage during the Utimate Rib Fest at Laishley Park. Benefits the Charlotte-DeSoto Building Industry Association and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Charlotte County (941) 625-0804  October 3: Vi rtual Fi shi ng Tournament to Benefit Captain Doug Hemmer, $25 per angler Sign up by sending your e-mail address to DREAMFISHTOURNEY@HOTMAIL.COM Additional information on Fishing  October 8: Boati ng S ki l l s and S eamanshi p RIGHT NOW USCG Aux, Flotilla 87, Lemon Bay Park, Englewood 6:30 PM. $40 for an individual and $65 for a coup Excellent or 941-697-9435 or Better  October 17-18, 2009 Flatsmasters Champi onship, Crab House, Punta Gorda  October 23-25: S nook Foundation Charity Tournament, $1600 for guided team, $200 non guided, Fishermen’s Village, Punta Gorda  November 12 to 15: Fort Myers Boat S how Send calendar information to:


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Water LIFE Oct 2009  

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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