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W a t e r LIFE


Charlotte Harbor and Lemon Bay

Keeping Boaters and Fishermen Informed Since 1997

Producers of the

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

September 2008


Still Plenty of Tarpon

Flood Barriers for Phosphate Mining? More and More Sawfish

PETA to Purchase Sea World?

Spearfishing The St. Pete Open

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

Always FREE!

Water LIFE

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Mr. Heller, The one sided tone in your recent article in Water Life Magazine comes as no surprise given your prejudiced approach at the hearing for a 29% reduction in Ramp and Pier hours. First, understand the proposal to reduce the park hours was not mine; it came from Parks & Rec. We do need a plan to restrict overnight activities of non boaters and non fisherman from the park from 9pm-6am. Non boaters and non fisherman are about 85%-90% of the problem. The law currently prohibits those particular people from entering the park but it is virtually unenforceable without a cop there full time. Full time police are too costly as is the cost of 500 police visits to the park annually. Another plan needs to be worked on. I assumed the joint committee meeting would have the interest and broad spectrum thinking to tackle a real problem. Several solutions have been bantered but not one committee member at the hearing would acknowledge the park noise or remotely suggest any remedies. Shameful. Your publication has failed to do the research on facts about the Beach Complex and the issues at the Park. Look at the following facts. Virtually every county along both coasts of Florida do not allow unlimited 24 hour ramps or pier activities. Charlotte County is the exception not the rule. There are reasons why parks are closed locally in Naples (Collier), Sarasota and Manatee counties as well as in Punta Gorda. 24/7 clearly draws undesirables. LOCALLY, THE WYSTERIA RAMP IS CLOSING BECAUSE OF THE NOISE. By denying there is no late night noise at the Beach Complex does not make it go away. The Wysteria residents were well organized in their opposition and they are to be commended for shouting louder than the mob. December thru February we had 4 different (homeless) people living in their cars in the park. You did not know because you likely are not there in the middle of the night.. 5 other Charlotte county ramps near by in




non-residential areas would still be open to service boaters with virtually no inconvenience to anyone. Your challenge to me on the fact that over 500 police visits to the park in 12 months shows your journalistic skills have failed. Your inability to make a few calls to get the information is amazing. As a journalist I would look harder. I was directed to the information on the 2nd call. Your challenge to me in public was grand standing and made for good controversy. “Mr. Yancey what address do you live at, what number is it?” You are unacceptably biased for a journalist. Your claim to my loss of credibility on drunken kayakers is YOUR view. The drunken kayakers happened and what makes it disgusting is of the 4 times, underage children were with them twice. No kayak lights, open alcohol, screaming and yelling. You made light of a serious incident. It is in the police record. Read about it. There were 6 separate people with me at the hearing. Only 2 of us spoke out (pro proposal) because of the mob mentality in the room. (your article said I was the only one to speak for proposal--you were wrong) The other 4 people were not interested in being subject to the harassment that went on. Parliamentary procedure was not adhered to in the meeting. I would describe it as an unprofessional “kangaroo” affair. The spot light you referred to was an after midnight boater who pulled into the ramp with blaring music that woke all the guests in the house and the neighbors. They broke about 20+ beer bottles in succession in a metal barrel. Polite crowd you represent. YOU DO NOT KNOW THE FACTS. We did our research before moving in and were assured by the county the park was closed from 9pm until 6am. Please, no more airport jokes. Not one question was asked of me from the committees after my presentation other than to ridicule my 1 year residency. No one wanted


the facts about the noise. Actually I have owned property in Florida since the early 80ʼs. What really was never revealed due to time and mob constraints is that 85% of the problems are the park drive-bys throughout the night. The stereos, fights, drinking, peel outs, drug deals, dope smoking and loud trucks. All are clearly illegal but not stoppable under the current rules. A proposal to gate the park and require payment prior to entry would virtually solve the issue. I was not given the courtesy to offer the solution. Candidate Ray Cowen (his wife) and Bob Norton who live on Colleen and spoke against the proposal both live on the back side of Colleen. Cowen does not live across from me, you reported it incorrectly. Cowen is furthest from the noise and Bob Norton (lives on the back side) a bit closer but he has hearing aids. Ray (lifetime state beauracrat) was pandering to the fishing vote by suggesting only fisherman helped him clear his house after the hurricane. Go ask his neighbors who helped him clear his mess. Your statement alleging lines of boats would spill into the streets if the ramp was not open all night is just wrong. Do your research like a real journalist should. Check the boat ramp at 9pm each night maybe 2 boats and at 11 pm usually 0 boats, and 2 am you find 0 boats, 4am 0 boats etc, THERE IS VIRTUALLY NOBODY THERE AFTER 9PM, go check it sometime. After 9pm there are just partiers, drive bys, drinkers and druggies. You should be open minded to help fix the problem that exists, it is all over the county not just this park. Bill Cameron, Sheriff Candidate was the lone outside rational voice with a potential resolution to the park problems. He suggested closing the fishing pier after 9pm and only allowing vehicles with trailers in the park after 9pm. Interesting that you did not print that in your article. Itʼs about being fair and balanced and this is another example that your article was one sided. John Yancey, Port Charlotte

N O W G E T W A T E R L I F E O N L I N E F R E E A T: W W W. C H A R L O T T E H A R B O R M A G A Z I N E . C O M



Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor Magazine

Michael and Ellen Heller Publishers

(941) 766-8180

TOTALLY INDEPENDENT Water LIFE is not affiliated with any other publication Vol VII No9 © 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:

Adam Wilson brought this photo back from the Gulf last month while they were exploring the underside of a weedline for fish

on our WEBSITE:

Electronic Edition now available on line for FREE Sorry but we no longer offer mail in subscriptions go to

This Monthʼs Edition: Send a link to a friend Realtors: Links to advertisers

Tide Graphs: For local waters

Weather: Links to favorite weather sites.

Artificial Reefs: Lat. and Long local reefs

Manatee Myths: Read the original plan to create sanctuaries and refuges, as spelled out by the United Nations in 1984

Kids Cup Updates, Fish Tracking and Tournament Information.



Water LIFE




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Numerous Rare Sawfish in Charlotte Waters MAGAZINE



Kids Catch two in one weekend, others caught thereafter

Screaming Reels

I got interested in this subject and poked around to find other anglers and their stories. My first stop was at Fishn’ Franks; if they don’t know no one will. While I By Capt. Andrew Medi na was in there one of our friends, Greg Whaley from Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor Harbor Heights, was showing off some pictures. What I Late last month my nephew, Cody Bollinger called found interesting about his photos were, yet another and said he and his friend had caught another sawfish. He sawfish. This one caught by his son Jacob Whaley, an told me that was their second one. If it was anyone else I 11 year old angler. His fish was caught just on the north would question that, but Cody and the boy that was with side of I-75 bridge in an area we call Bay Marsh. It is a him are growing up like most of us charter captains did shallow bay with a mud bottom surrounded by the grass, – river rats, I believe, is the technical term. Both Cody with one deep cut to enter. It was another three footer and Amin spend most of there time on the water. I have and while I was talking with Gregg, he said a half hour been fishing with Cody since he could walk. I met Amin after catching that ‘saw’ they had seen a much larger one when he participated in the Don Ball School and since in the same bay – probably a nine or ten foot fish. The then have fished both of three footer Jacob them in the Kids Cup. Their caught was on a Numerous catches and sightings of juvenile word is credible to me. piece of white bait. Normally I would just Greg went on to sawfish by the public have been reported in think it was dumb luck. We tell me that his the Charlotte Harbor area. There have been used to catch sawfish back in brother Geoff caught 75 encounters in the Caloosahatchee River, the late 70’s and early 80’s, two ‘saws’ in one but I have not seen a lot of and 39 encounters in the Peace River since week in the early them around in the past few part of July, around January 1, 2008. Scientists have captured years. I asked Cody the Bird Key in the and tagged almost 100 sawfish, including 8 scoop. Maybe they figured lower Peace River. in the lower Peace River since May. out some fishing-thing I did Since there were so not know. Were they actually many sawfish being targeting sawfish? The caught around the answer was ‘no.’ They really had no idea, both times. Harbor I called Florida Fish and Wildlife Research The first fish was caught the same way the second Institute and I found some interesting facts: The nose of was – while the boys were fishing for redfish. First on the fish (the part with all the teeth) is called a rostrum Hog Island, just on the Myakka river side. They saw it and is easily entangled in fishing gear and nets. The sawswimming in a foot of water and, later it ate a cut piece fish is in the ray family and was a popular trophy ‘back of ladyfish. The second fish, a week later, came from in the day.’ Unintentional overfishing caused them to Alligator Bay just across from the Port Charlotte Beach become less commonly seen during the last century. complex. Since 1992 the small tooth sawfish is listed on the The boys were in one of my favorite redfish holes endangered list and is protected by law under the United fishing for reds, throwing cut lady fish again, when they States Endangered Species Act. caught the second one. Both fish they said were about 3 Today, small tooth sawfish are seen primarily in an feet long. Both fish were released without harm. Could area from Charlotte Harbor to the Florida Keys. Only a the boys have found another use for ladyfish? We know few sightings are reported elsewhere. Smaller sawfish – redfish like it, but sawfish? 3 to 6 feet – are typically found close to shore. Larger

Jacob Whaley with the sawfish caught on the east side of the I-75 bridge. He's 11 and can brag about something that a lot of other older guys can't lay claim to... he has caught a sawfish!

sawfish – up to 18 feet in length – are found in the deeper Gulf waters. Juvenile sawfish use Charlotte Harbor as a nursery. When the young fish are born they are about 2 and half feet in length. They double in size in their first year which means all the fish the kids caught in the 3ft range were within a year old. The sawfish’s growth slows during the second year of life. The rapid growth of these fish keeps the predators away when they are young. Sawfish are a species we as anglers really need to pay attention to. We need to be careful when returning these fish back to the water. If you catch one or see one, please note the time, place and size and notify the FWC at 941-255-7403 or at

Capt. Andrew Medina can be reached for charter info at 456-1540 or on the web at



Water LIFE


Why Not Wall in Phosphate Mines?

BY Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE Editor Last month the environmental lawyers from EarthJustice filed a lawsuit to contest permitting for a new phosphate mine at Horse Creek on the Peace River. In related happenings a couple of interesting things came together for me last month as well. First, a guy who distributes travel brochures around the state said there were tons of foreign visitors in Florida this summer. The pattern, he said, is they arrive in Miami to see South Beach then they drive to Orlando for the ‘theme park experience’ and then they drive to .... are you ready? Everglades City, to take an airboat ride into the swamp and see the Florida wildlife. “Airboat operators down there are having their best year ever,” he had said. Another interesting thing happened when I did a spot on local talk-radio promoting our Don Ball School of Fishing kids program that starts next month. In the last minute of the show a listener called in to ask me what I thought about phosphate mining and septic tanks and and the effect they have on the watershed. I told him, in my opinion, they were very bad things and that phosphate mining could be a real disaster if all that acid laden phosphate sludge got washed into the Peace River again. I said there’s not anything we could do if something happened at the phosphate mines. That hung with me: Not anything we could do. Then another interesting thing happened. I got a call from Shannon Gadbois from Thomas Ryan Associates. They own a build-

ing on Marion that had some serious flood protection installed when TS Fay was approaching. Shannon called me in response to a question about the lengths his company went to, to protect their building. He told me the devices were ‘flood gates’ and that all the new buildings in downtown Punta Gorda must now have some sort of FEMA approved flood protection. Flood gates, he said, were preferable to a raised foundation since (in nice weather) passers-by were less likely to walk in to a store if they had to climb steps. So later, I looked up ‘flood gates’ on the Internet. What I found was a revelation. Flood gates and flood walls are being used in many areas nationwide. The citys of Davenport and Grand Forks and the Red River Valley, areas that were all hit so hard by flooding, are now showcases for new ‘flood wall’ technology. I saw one city had even completely surrounded its garbage dump. It seemed like after they had a problem they all figured out the answer. A light went on in my head. Phosphate mining is our garbage dump, our problem area and the environment is what tourists want to see. So why wait until there is a disaster? Why not surround the phosphate mines with a flood wall now? We have to figure there is going to be high water at some point. After TS Fay, the Peace River climbed to flood stage. With a little more water we could have had a phosphate disaster right then. Or worse yet, they could have decided to release water from a storm flooded mine back into the Peace River. We can’t let either

of those things happen. If we want to be known for our pristine estuary, its rivers and all the living things here, then the County should be promoting our Harbor and wildlife with billboards on I75 and going to extremes to protect it right now. That’s what we elect these guys for. Could Charlotte County team up with DeSoto County and mandate a reverse flood protection ordinance that would require phosphate mining operations to be surrounded by a barrier-wall capable of holding back a 100 year flood? That ‘metal-wall technology’ exists today. Money will solve this problem and phosphate mining is very profitable. So if they whine that it’s too expensive (which they will) then the county tells them they just can’t dig. Protecting the environment must be included in the cost of doing business and I think the Feds will support us. Mandating a pristine estuary should be a nobrainer, especially in an election year.



Above: DeSoto County workers take water samples from the Peace River twice a month, but if they found something ʻphosphateʼ bad what could we do? Below: One of the new flood gates in Punta Gorda. There is another flood gate photo on page 9.

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Water LIFE

Locating Fish on the High Tide

By Capt. Chuck Ei chner Water LIFE Charlotte Harbor Summertime on Charlotte Harbor means high tides and good fishing. The angling challenge with the extra high tides of summer is where to find the fish. With each incoming tide redfish, snook and trout meander their way into the feeding grounds. Starting from the lower tide phases, gamefish will warily make a trek into the backcountry. The middle tidal phases can be difficult because the fish are spread out over our expansive flats. As the flow of tide adds inches to the water depth, the range of exploration expands. The expanding waterline floods mangroves, oyster beds and weedy bottom that previously were too shallow for safe feeding. Savvy anglers need to position themselves to take advantage of the incoming water. There is indeed a certain strategy that needs to be employed. My strategies have mainly come from extensive hours of not catching to fish to narrow down short scopes of time where and when the fishing is hot. In short, many fishing spots have short windows of time where the fish are either passing through or positioned in a feeding mode for a length of time. There are incoming tide spots and outgoing tide spots and a rare few are both.

Incomi ng VS Outgoi ng Ti de- If you consider that fish are migrating with the rising tide to feed then it would seem that they would be hungrier and more aggressive on the incoming. Conversely, on the outgoing tide the fish have already been feeding and are gearing up to migrate back out of the shallows as the tides recede. Which fish is going to be more aggressive, an incoming tide fish that has been led by the dinner bell of the high tide or the outgoing tide fish that has been feeding for hours and is heading out? Most anglers I know love the incom-




ing tide. Obviously, this is because they catch more fish on the incoming tide. For the high tides of summer I prefer the top of the outgoing tides, but the last 2 hours of incoming are pretty hard to beat. Perhaps some anglers are just better at understanding the predatory instincts of redfish and snook on certain tide phases.

The next question is where do fish go on high tide. Generally speaking they follow their food source of baitfish, crabs and shrimp. The shallow water mangroves are the sanctuary for baitfish and young frey of our predator species. On the low tides they are safe, but on high tides they are in the feeding grounds. I believe that the extra high tides of summer provoke the baitfish and crabs to expand their range deeper into the backcountry as the tides push in. These forage species are also in pursuit of food and feast on small micro-organisms and fresh submerged aquatic vegetation that only becomes accessible on the higher tide phases. Gamefish will follow their food source. The angling difficulty is that fish suddenly have many more square miles of feeding grounds. My strategies are relatively simple: Move further into the backcountry with rising waters, choose funnel areas that modify water flow and look for shoreline irregularities that will allow gamefish to position themselves to ambush prey. It sounds simple enough but it requires patience. There are so many great looking spots when the bushes are flooded. A few thi ngs to l ook for are:

 Mangroves with indentations that are flooded on high tide and void on low tide (preferably next to deeper water).  Mangroves that have adjacent oyster beds.

 Mangroves with obvious current flow.

Miles Meredith and Eric Carstensen had no problem locating fish in the big water following TS Fay last month. The Cape Tool and Tackle team weighed in this 7.22 pound red at the Charlotte and DeSoto Building Industries Association tournament, the eventʼs biggest fish . Other winners were: Trout – team Kinetico 3.80 pounds, Snapper – team Blind Squirrel 3.78 pounds and Ladyfish – team Ken Rite Construction /Banks Engineering 2.28 pounds.

 Creek channels leading from the backcountry.  Mangroves that contain hard banks.  Baitfish activity of any kind.

 Mullet jumping or swirling.  Oyster beds.

My fishing techniques are basic. For artificials, high tides are the perfect time to become a “bassmaster”. Cast spoons and weedless soft plastics in rapid fire fashion and cover lots of water. This is a great time to work a topwater bait as well. Bait fishing requires more patience, but is hard to beat. Fish pinfish or cut bait on the bottom and hang on. The most important key is to make accurate casts with your bait tight against the bush. A cast two feet from the bush is usually a waisted cast as gamefish will usually not stray far from their water flushed sanctuary.

There are some other considerations for high tide fishing. The huge influx of

freshwater will create extra current flow particularly on the outgoing tide. Fish may position themselves to take advantage of the extra water flow and the groceries that flow out with it. With huge rainfalls you may have to consider the varying salinity. If the water becomes too fresh, then baitfish may avoid the area as well as what your fishing for. Lastly, super high tides that are wind driven can be the kiss of death for fishing. Extra flooded waters give the fish way too much room to roam however the lack of tide flow that usually comes with it does more to shut down the bite then the extra water. Fishing is always about being in the right place at the right time. A bent rod is the sweet sign of a well chosen spot and another great day on Charlotte Harbor.

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



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Water LIFE


Dark Side



Night Fishing Offshore

By Capt. Stev e Skev i ng to n Water LIFE Offshore When most boats are heading back into the dock from a long hard day of fishing we’re heading out into the Gulf. Our day has just begun, it’s 6 p.m., night fishing in southwest Florida is one of the best kept secrets in the fishing world. Snapper fishing, and shark fishing – night fishing off Fort Myers offers a great deal of opportunity for species that are nocturnal feeders and just don’t bite as well during the day. For yellowtail snapper, we are using real light tackle with 10-15 pound test line. Yellowtails aren't really big fish. They range in size from 1-3 pounds and occasionally bigger. We like to use a small hook, 2/0 being about the biggest, but I prefer smaller. Fresh bait is a must. Yellowtails love cut baits such as sardines, shrimp and squid. They also love to eat cut ballyhoo chunks, whole live greenbacks and even artificial jigs. The fresher your bait, the better your chances are for them to eat your hook, instead of the guy fishing next to you. Don’t use too big a chunk or it is difficult for them to get it into their mouth. Light line and light lead (1/4 ounce lead sinkers are usually more than enough weight) are what you want to use for yellowtail. You basically want to drift your line back in the current with the chum, as if your bait was a piece that came out of the chum bag naturally. They are mid-depth feeders when your chumming so you don’t have to be all the way down to the bottom. You just have to be in the chum trail. Yellowtails hit hard, so you’ll know when you get a bite from one and you’ll be able to tell it’s a yellowtail when you’re fighting him. Yellowtails are a blast to catch, and when you get into a school of them, you can catch them one right after another. They are both a ton of fun to catch and DELICIOUS! Mangrove snapper live in shallow water, sometimes in only 1-to 2-feet of water around the mangrove trees in the shallows. They also live around the pilings of docks, piers and bridges. We catch

the ones out in the gulf on the wrecks and the reefs. You fish for mangroves a lot like yellowtails, same types of baits work for them as well. Live shrimp is a great bait to use for mangrove snapper fishing. With light tackle you will get the best bite, but sometimes they get pretty big and will eat larger baits as well. Whenever your catching yellowtails, there are probably some big mangrove snappers lurking nearby, so be ready to catch them. Occasionally we catch a few other fish while on our night time fishing trips. Cobias, that migrate through the Fort Myers area in the fall and winter months, aren't’t caught every night trip, but we do catch a pretty fair amount of them. Cobia swim in schools and when you catch one, be ready because there very well may be a few other nice cobias swimming with him. Cobias are excellent eating, and make great sushi or steaks on the grill. You usually catch one when you least expect it, so you never know when one may jump on the line, and make your night! Groupers are another fish you can catch when snapper fishing offshore. They live on the bottom in the reefs and typically swim and eat with the snapper. Gag grouper, red groupers and scamp groupers are the species we most commonly catch out of southwest Florida. Groupers are notorious for eating your bait and then swimming right back into their hole to digest their meal. Once they get back in their hole, the chances of you getting him out without breaking the line are slim to none. That’s why, with grouper fishing, you have to get him off the bottom as soon as you hook him. If you think you may have a grouper on the line, put a little extra drag on the line and make him or break him right off the bat. If you can get him off the bottom just a bit, then loosen your drag slightly and fight him up. Give it a shot, you may like the Dark Side of fishing. Capt Stev e can be reached for charter at (941) 575-3528 or at



TOTALLY INSANE By Capt. Ron Bl ago Water LIFE Senior Staff Buried behind the headlines of the Olympics and the presidential campaigns was a press release indicating that PETA (people for the ethical treatment of animals) has been at it again. It seems they have made an offer to buy Sea World. To give you some background information- Sea World is currently owned by Anheuser-Busch (this Buds for you folks) and is in the process of being taken over by InBev a Belgium beer company, for a cool $50 billion dollars. PETA figures the new owners might want to get out of the tourist entertainment business and concentrate solely on brewing beer; and may be willing to sell off one or all of the Sea World’s. PETA has sent a letter to the president of InBev stating that they have an anonymous donor who is willing to put up enough money to buy at least one of the three Sea World’s. PETA has always had a reputation for holding great publicity stunts. Everyone remembers the throwing of blood on people who were wearing mink stoles and breaking into medical labs and releasing research animals and my personal favorite; naked models and actresses walking down the street protesting animal fur. I also remember PETA showing up at a local kid’s fishing tournament and carrying signs that said,"Hooks Hurt" and "Fish have

Water LIFE

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PETA Offers to Buy Sea World and Set the Animals Free

Feeling Too." But PETA also has a darker side. In 2005, two PETA employees were arrested while dumping the bodies of 31 dead animals in a public dumpster in North Carolina. It seems that PETA had an arrangement with the Virginia humane society to take puppies and kittens off their hands and find good homes for them. It appears that wasn’t as easy as PETA thought. It turns out that 75-percent of all the animals they picked up, they euthanaized in a few days. The State of Virginia, where PETA has their headquarters, estimated that PETA exterminated over 10,000 animals between 1998 and 2003. Now that my be in poor taste for an animal rights group, but it’s not illegal. What got them in trouble was how they disposed of the bodies. I guess PETA figured it would not be good publicity to stack up a pile of dead puppies on the curb and wait for trash day; so they had their employees load the carcasses into the company van, and go across the state line to North Carolina and start dropping them off in trash cans along the way. Now that’s their idea of ‘ethical.’ Anheuser –Busch estimates that their entertainment unit is worth about $5 billion which is a pretty steep price tag for an organization like PETA that only brings in an average of $20 million a year in donations. Maybe there really is an anonymous




donor who is willing to put up that type of money or perhaps it was some guy they found in the tasting room at the local Bud brewery who, after 12 free Michelob’s , promised to give them anything they wanted. Publicity stunt or not, some of the PETA followers are taking this seriously. Debbie Leahy, a PETA Director said "This could be the end of the injustice at Sea World, where orca’s and other dolphins are imprisoned in tiny tanks and forced to do silly tricks for dumb people." PETA’s plan for Sea World is to re-train these sea creatures so

that they can be released back into the wild. I’m sure that after a lifetime of free food and the best medical care available, they can hardly wait to go out and make it on their own in the wild – kind of like Paris Hilton being forced to go out and get a job. I guess PETA doesn’t realize that for a long time now people have been going out and rescuing injured sea creatures and bringing them to marine sanctuaries to be healed – and the name of this place is – duahhh -Sea World. PETA plans to get rid of all the exhibits and replace them with "virtual displays" kind of


like video games. I’m sure it will be just like being right there when Shamu jumps up and splashes everyone in the front row. I’m so excited about that prospect, I just might send PETA a virtual donation. Whether this is a hoax or not only time will tell, but if PETA does take over Sea World and you take the family there for some virtual fun, remember, when you stop for lunch, think about those poor puppies in Virginia before you order your Flipper Burgers or Manatee Mac Nuggets. I wonder if Budweiser would give me a good deal on a used Clydesdale.

This is from a listing of new grants available to state “The Florida agencies: Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is establishing a new initiative called the Marine Resource Conservation Partnership (MRCP). The MRCP seeks to improve marine resource protection by implementing non-regulatory saltwater recreational outreach and education programs. The FWC will purchase t w o boat s for use by v ol unt eers t o m ake non-t hreat eni ng, one-t o-one cont act w i t h boat ers t o prom ot e boat i ng safet y , resource conserv at i on and i nform at i on on rel at ed subj ect s. If successful, the program will be expanded to other coastal counties.”

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On The Line

Spoons Fishing with Capt. Ron

By Capt Ron Blago Water LIFE Senior Staff Well it’s just about redfish time in our area and although redfish can be caught year round, the peak of the season is Sept – Oct. That is when redfish school up in the bay and harbor and make their run offshore to spawn. During this time the fish have only one thing on their mind and that is to eat as much as they can before they head out to open water. Early in the morning and late in the afternoon, it’s not uncommon to find large schools of redfish chasing bait in the grass flats or feeding on crabs and shrimp right on the oyster bars. Years ago when I fished Sarasota Bay, the popular method to get reds was to wade off the Ringling Flats or Long Bar with live shrimp on a popping cork. Wadding was the secret. You could fish without spooking the fish; something you can’t do in a boat no matter how quiet you are. When I started to guide I soon found out that it was nearly impossible to talk your customers out of the boat to stand in the water so I started to fish docks for redfish. I remember one day Capt Walker showed me how fourinch grunts, hooked through the tail and thrown head first under a dock would

Water LIFE

catch really big reds. When I moved to Englewood, I found it hard to find large schools of reds on a regular basis. If you knew where they were you could go get them, but I found myself spending a lot of time and gas looking for phantom schools of fish running up and down from Catfish Creek to Turtle Bay. One day I was working in a local bait shop when an old timer came in and asked what kind of spoons we sold. I told him we had the Johnson Sprit and the Silver Minnow which were the most popular sellers back then. We even had a small spoon with a treble hook that Cotee Jig was selling at the time. He said he was not interested in those, but he pointed to some gold spoons that were in the back of the display case. These were the cheapest spoons they ever made. They came from some place in Tampa and were nothing more than a piece of gold plated metal with a treble hook and a small piece of red plastic. These thing were so cheap if you left them out in the air, they would rust over night. The spoons were about 79-cents each so I asked him how many he wanted and he told me he would take them all. If I remember correctly he bought about 40 of them. Now when someone buys that many of anything you just got to know what he has in mind. So I asked him why he need so many. He told me that each year he and two buddies come down and



At $7 this Red Ripper isnʼt one of the cheaper gold spoons.

fished the West Wall for redfish and all they used were these cheap gold colored spoons. He told me he threw them as far back into the mangroves as he could and cranked them out as fast as he could. I said ‘don’t you lose a lot of spoons that way?’ and he answered “sure we’ll lose’em all, that’s why we buy the cheap ones,

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but we catch an awful lot of big redfish so we figure it’s worth it.” The spoon is probably the oldest fishing lure there is and it works as well today as it did for the guy who first cut off the flat part of an eating utensil and put a hook on it. Spoons have some real advantages. You can cast them a mile which is a big help if you are trying to locate fish in a strange territory. You can work that spoon slowly on the surface of the water until you get a strike. You can fish a spoon on the surface, down deep or even cast it into deep structure to locate fish. Let’s face it, they don’t break or wear out. If you wash them off at the end of the day, they will last forever. When compared with the cost of live bait or the cost of plugs or jigs; spoons have great value. Over the last few years manufacturers have tried to improve the spoon. They have put feathers on them, attached plastic tails to them and offer them in different colors and textures; but the old standby gold colored spoon work as good as it always has. If there is one tip I can give the new spoon thrower it’s to use a swivel or a loop knot between your spoon and your leader. This will allow you to get that slow fluttering motion and help prevent line twist. Now is the time to get out there and spoon feed some redfish. Capt Ron can be reached for questions or charters at 941-474-3474

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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. New construction is all the rage in downtown Punta Gorda these days. The Sunloft multi use building, with its built-in parking garage, is beginning interior work. Site work began this month on the new city owned parking garage site, despite the unfortunate construction sign. Last time we checked, it is NOT a felony to squander $11 million taxpayer dollars that we don't have on something we don't need. Hopefully, the new hotels (Sheraton and Wyvern and soon- to-come Hilton Garden Inn) will bring much welcomed traffic to the area. No, don't expect any of those new tax dollars to help out homeowners, they are earmarked for the parking garage!

come up with a partial shell solution. They will pay down the debt by $30 million through the use of reserves and eliminating other capital projects from the budget. This has been a strategy that has worked well in the past by private industry... other than for those companies that needed liquidity and funds for capital investments.

Water LIFE


P a g e 11

5. HMA, the owners of both Peace River The Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerceʼs building installed these metal flood gates to hold back the high water anticipated in TS Fay but the waters never came. The new SunLoft Marketplace across Marion Ave will install similar protection. FEMA Hospital and Charlotte mandated flood protection for downtown Punta Gorda weʼll likely see more of these contraptions installed around town. Regional Hospital has submitted an application to move its open heart demand of new household formations! facilities out of Charlotte and into Peace At almost the exact same time, specuRiver. Citing the need for more room lators, now feeling the effects of rising for expansion, as the reason. Charlotte interest rates, flattening construction will presumably become less profitable The question on everyone’s mind today prices and a rising stock market abruptly and more likely to be sold by HMA. is “when are we going to get out of this left the party. housing slump?” 6. Punta Gorda will host its first Since then, builders have all but Before we can make an educated guess weekly open air "farmer's market" downstopped building and inventories have as to the right answer, we need to get a town on October 4. Probably not welbeen liquidated at below cost. At the grasp on what caused the problem and come news to the vendors trying to current pace, inventory levels should be what are the variables that can lead to scratch out a living at the existing market back to within the “safe” range of 3.7 2. Punta Gorda's Laishley Park will solving the problem. on Cooper Street, but a good use for months of demand by early 2009. (Note, officially open the Whalley Stage on we distinguish “demand” from the more Right off the bat, let’s make one thing Herald Court and downtown businesses August 28 with a free concert by local traditionally used “supply” to describe clear: It wasn’t subprime loans or irrehoping to see shoppers come back to the celebrity, Jim Morris. The Whalley faminventory – at today’s low level of sales, sponsible borrowers and lenders that area. ily donated the funds to build this new the number of months of homes available “caused” this bubble, they were the Local l y: Although prices continue canopy, saving taxpayers the burden of based on today’s sales pace is meaning“effects” of the bubble. The cause was to decline at a rate of more than 1% per building the originally planned bandshell an overly stimulated interest rate environ- lessly high). After this inventory has on the site. month, volume of sales reached a 3 year ment that led to widespread speculation in been absorbed, prices should gradually high last month. Representative of the 3. The object of new height limit return to inflation adjusted mid 2003 price the new construction industry by small national inventory reduction, 50 of the easing, the Mercabo condo project in levels. investors. 336 recorded sales in our study were bank Placida has been mothballed. Another Government S ol uti ons In the normal course of events, rising owned or controlled. casualty of the stagnant housing market The Fed, for years applauding the innovareal estate prices in the existing home and hesitant second home buyer. tive new mortgage products brought to market are totally connected to the alterStatistics are intended to assist in analy zing native cost of replacement of those homes the market by unregulated Wall Street 4. Charlotte County's debt for the trends in supply and demand and not to indi"hotshots", has quietly thrown in the in the new home market. Traditionally, acquisition of Murdoch Village's 3,000 cate specific mark et v alues. Ending inv entory is not alway s beginning inv entory plus towel. This, little publicized, chart home builders across the country would vacant lots stands at $93.3 million listings minus sales since many pending shows an alarming trend by the Fed to build homes in expectation of selling to (including $5 Million lent by the State). listings are held ov er from month to month, invest its portfolio in the mortgage pools bona-fide home buyers that were being some listings ex pire and are withdrawn and, In an attempt to diffuse the mushrooming therefore, do not appear as sales and new of comatose banks to provide liquidity to created from the pool of new household complaints of the daily interest cost to listings includes price changes. the banking community. formations. Homebuilders could turn carry this debt, the Commissioners have over product and raise prices as long as The Homeowner's Act of 2008 will go the supply of new homes remained at a into effect on October 1. Will it help? reasonable level. From 1963 to 2003 The new law provides FHA type refinancthat range stayed consistently between 3 ing of existing mortgages, normally at ( 9 41 ) 62 3- 39 91 and 3.7 months of new household formaFree delivery anywhere in Florida lower rates than the existing mortgages tions. Beginning in last half of 2003, require. So, it provides relief to those email: Includes powder coat and builders became excessively aggressive as who have been "collaterally damaged" by mounting poles a perfect storm of super low interest rates, the home financing meltdown. But, it rising real estate prices and a crushing does not offer ANY relief to investors or bear market in stocks caused neophyte those with second mortgages, home equispeculators to enter the market. Not ty loans, etc., which, of course, is the only did builders appease that artificial vast majority of the problem loans today. demand but increased their inventories in It provides negligible relief to cash the expectation of continuing demand. strapped lenders who can get their loans Inventories continued to expand exponenpaid off, if they are willing to accept 85% tially until mid 2006 when they stood at of the market value of the property. an absurdly high 5.8 months of housePlease v isit us at hold formations. In other words, to v iew any av ailable properties from Venice America had more than 300,000 more to Burnt Store Marina new homes than it needed to meet the

A me r ica s C us to m Ga te C o m pa n y

Outlook for the Housing Industry

Page 12

Water LIFE




The Gulf of Mexico Project By Capt. Frank Ci urca Special to Water LIFE When I first arrived in Charlotte County in early 2004, I immediately began fishing the canals, rivers, and estuaries leading to the Harbor. It just so happened Capt. Frank that a close friend was sharing the boat during that first week, Capt. Norm Bartlett. Capt. Norm is a top fishing guide from the Chesapeake Bay and South Florida. He is an outspoken critic of poor water quality in the United States’ largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay. The thing that stands out from those first fishing trips was a noticeable algal bloom or red tide, which many of the residents had been aware of for years. We also noticed additional algae blooms in the smaller canals and creeks leading to the Harbor. Surface water can become enriched by nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus compounds

from agricultural runoff or sewage, leading to algae blooms, and a process that is called eutrophication. Charlotte County has approximately 300 miles of navigable canals, with an estimated 25,000 and 100,000 adjacent properties, many of which use onsite sewage treatment systems, otherwise known as a septic tanks and drain fields. There are currently over 40,000 septic systems which serve residents, and many commercial businesses in Charlotte County. With a large number of septic systems, it is reasonable to assume that in addition to fertilizer and storm water runoff, septic discharge has a potential to impact the waterways of the County. Studies have indicated that effluent from a septic system’s drain field can migrate to aquifers (underground rivers) and leach into adjacent surface waters. Due to the close proximity of thousands of septic systems to canals and waterways, there became a need to determine if there was an environmental impact. A grant entitled “The Gulf of Mexico Project,“ was obtained by the Charlotte County Health Department (CCHD) from the U.S. EPA and a mini grant from the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program to augment



funding. The grant will supplement the Managed Septic System Program currently being implemented by the Charlotte County Health Department. The program requires a 5-year permit obtained from the CCHD for each septic system utilizing a septic tank and mandates that each tank be pumped out and inspected during the same time frame. Preliminary data has indicated that a significant number of septic tanks are failing due to structural defects and age. Tank repair or replacement should assist in reducing impact of septic discharge on the waterways. Per the grant, principal investigator Brettany Cook of the CCHD is currently investigating various canals that may be receiving septic discharge and migrating into Charlotte Harbor’s watershed, and eventually into the Gulf. By sampling and analyzing the waters of manmade canals throughout Charlotte County for multiple parameters associated with septic system discharge, such as (Fecal Coliforms, Enteroccoccus bacteria, as well as Caffeine, and the Human Polyomavirus), specific canal systems may indicate an impact by septic system discharge. Currently, sampling is on-going with results very preliminary and non conclusive. However, there appears to be an increased concentration of parameters tested to date (although not statistical) in the area designated as Spring Lake. Areas like

Water LIFE

Spring Lake, which are older and more established, might also show higher numbers of failing septic systems, then in more recently developed areas. Further testing and analysis will be performed to determine if there is a definable link between septic tank discharges and migration to canals in the area. I am often able to speak to residents along the waterways of Charlotte County. Some who have lived in the area over 30 years, have noticed a decline in the water quality of the canals where they live. One gentleman told me he never had to leave the canals to catch fish 30 years ago, but now has to go many miles and not catch as many. In future months we will look at other environmental issues affecting Charlotte Harbor including a more in depth study of septic and aerobic treatment units and their operation, as well as the Managed Septic System. The results of the Gulf of Mexico project will be discussed after the project is finished and the samples evaluated. Many thanks to Scott Schermerhorn, Facilities Supervisor, CCHD, for the information on the Gulf of Mexico Project.

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:

Page 13






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Water LIFE

Sea Grant News from the Far East:

Page 14

By Betty S taugl er Sea Grant / Water LIFE Last month I had the opportunity to go to Indonesia as part of a U.S. delegation from the Florida Sea Grant program. Our objectives were to: 1) Participate in the 4th Annual NOAA Capacity Building Workshop, in which NOAA hopes to expand its remote sensing capabilities in the Indian Ocean by partnering with the Indonesian Navy for ship time. The Indonesian’s in turn are looking for assistance in developing a mechanism to get remote sensing information (in particular – early warnings for tsunamis) out to its rural communities. 2) Sign agreements between three of Indonesian’s public Universities and the University of Florida, which will allow graduate students to study abroad and researchers to work cooperatively. 3) Assist the Indonesian Sea Partnership Program (the equivalent of the Sea Grant Program) in developing its long range priorities and with program implementation. Some of you may remember that earlier this year, four members of the Sea Partnership Program came to U.S. and visited with me in Charlotte County. This was my first trip to Indonesia. Indonesia is a nation made up of thousands of islands with 33 providences (states). If you were to lay a map of Indonesia on top of a map of the continental U.S., the island nation would span the entire U. S. continent. My time was spent in the cities of Jakarta, Bogor and Bandung on the island of Java and in Makassar on the island of Sulawesi. Indonesia has experienced an incredible amount of coastal habitat loss due to pollution and destructive fishing practices (reef bombs and poison). Pollution is a function of the large population (Jakarta is the 11th most populated city in the world) and the nation faces an incredible amount of poverty. Up until recently when Indonesia became a major player in the global seafood market, fishing was primarily conducted to put food on the




‘ I’ v e ac t ual l y ac qui re d a t as t e f o r l i t t l e e y e b al l s ’

The view from my room at the Hyatt...yes that is all litter.

table. Because of the demand for exportation, it has become more challenging for the local fishermen who are providing food for the families. Indonesians are accustomed to eating seafood every day and they waste nothing. Fish that we would use as bait fish are all eaten. In fact, I cannot tell you how many times I looked down at my rice or noodles to see hundred of little eyeballs from tiny fish (maybe a half inch to an inch) staring back at me. I’ve actually acquired a taste for little eyeballs and a whole host of other foods, many of which remain very much a mystery. The language, by the way, is Bahasa, of which I know almost none, so picking from a menu was pretty much close your eyes, point and hope for the best. Going to the universities was an incredibly humbling experience. Their premier universities have very little in the way of resources (no real lab equipment to speak of). Floor tiles were


Right: A local catch

cracked, elevators didn’t work and electricity in some cases was reserved for the evenings. Despite their challenges they are doing some incredibly cool things. They took us to see is a coral reef restoration project. The research is taking place at the Hasanuddin University Marine Station, located on a tiny island 12 miles away from Sulawesi. The project involves building structures out of steel and then plugging the structures into low voltage electricity. In their water, this causes a chemical reaction creating limestone which forms around the steel. The limestone is very hard and provides substrate to which breeder coral is attached. The resulting coral grows much faster and are capable of resisting warmer water temperatures. Another small island is being converted from a community that uses intensive fishing to one that relies on sustainable farming. This island is learning how to raise sea cucumbers. Sea cucumbers are

sold, primarily to China and for $10 each, thus providing a healthy new income source for the island community. The small island visits were really a highlight of my trip. It was obvious that the island’s inhabitants do not see many foreigners. The children, dressed in their school uniforms came out for high fives and pictures. Even the island chief came to welcome us. The experience was rewarding…the memories unforgettable. Betty Staugler is the Sea Grant Agent for Charlotte County. S he can be reached at 941-764-4346.

We ʼ v e M o v e d !




By Capt Robert Moore Wat er LIFE S t aff Ladyfish has become a very popular bait here in Southwest Florida. Although they offer us no food value, there is a long list of fish species that would disagree. Ladyfish are a very bloody and oily fish that put out a great scent. The first species on the list of ladyfish lovers would be the tarpon. During the late summer months tarpon will cruise the back bays and harbors looking for schooling ladyfish. Usually when the ladyfish go into their feeding frenzy on the abundant schools of bait frye (that are up and down the coast). Tarpon will take an opportunity to dine on them. They will also eat a ladyfish dead, soaked on the bottom. Next on my list would be redfish. Taking a perfectly healthy 10-14 inch ladyfish and cutting it up into 1 inch steaks is a probably one of the best baits you can offer a redfish. The first key to fishing with cut ladyfish is to not move it. It’s simply a dead cut-bait you throw out and let the scent do the rest. If you are working a mangrove shoreline and pitching baits up under the branches, not much will work better than cut ladyfish. Snook will rarely turn down a fresh cut piece of ladyfish as well. Some of the biggest snook caught on my boat every year comes from cut ladyfish while fishing for reds. I also try never to go offshore without a couple ladyfish. Moreover, chunked ladyfish will be devoured by most offshore bottom dwellers such as grouper and snapper. Catching ladyfish is usually an easy task. They will

Water LIFE



eat just about anything you cast to them, especially if they are feeding. I use nothing more than a bare Âź ounce jig head or gold or silver spoon. Often you will loose a lot of ladyfish before you actually get them into the boat. Be careful when you do, they can make one heck of a mess. The key for successful fishing with ladyfish is freshness. The fresher they are the better. I prefer to catch my ladyfish the same day I am going to use them to insure that freshness. Can you freeze a ladyfish and use it on a later date? The answer is yes, but you will lose a lot of the freshness and the texture will become much softer after if thaws. Anytime I use cut ladyfish I prefer to use a circle hook. When fishing the flats for redfish and snook I rarely feel the fish actually pick the bait up. Using a circle hook greatly reduces the number of times you gut hook a fish. Capt Rob Moore can be reached at:

Page 15

Capt. Rob Moore, son, Ryan and tarpon caught on ladyfish

Work begins on Jeff Steele Reef

By the time you read this work will have begun on the cap Jeff Stele Reef, 14 miles offshore in 65 feet of water. Over 500 Tons of culverts powerpoles and other material will be initally deployed. The work had been scheduled to begin on Aug 26 but wet geround and weather delays related to TS Fay slowed progress. Here are the numbers at the center: 26 55.800N 82 35.900W

30' Catalina 1989, single 25HP Universal Diesel. Comfortable cockpit, sleeps 6, full galley. Full bimini with dodger Rigged for single handling. $34,500

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

27' Sportcraft hard top, 1991. 270hp Mercruiser. Great fishing / cruising. Lift kept, enclosed head, sleeps 2. Make offer. $19,900

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

Page 16

By Adam Wi l son Water LIFE Diving This year’s St. Pete Open went off without a hitch. Almost every contestant weighed in a fish and it was great to see hundreds of divers be able to hunt the Gulf of Mexico without any incidents. Just goes to prove the safety of our sport when people dive within their limits and training. As planned, team WreckReation consisting of Carl Gill, Charlie Gill, Mike "Dago" Muscato, Paul Wagenseil, Heidi Schwarz and myself headed out late Friday night with the full moon to dive our newly found deep hole off Venice. Dropping down early Saturday morning visibility was choice as I could clearly see the rim of the hole 160 feet below from just under the surface. Although the vis had increased greatly since our last trip, the bottom temps are still in the low 70s out deep, a little warmer than last month, but still chilly for this time of year. We were swarmed by big amberjacks on our descent, but no one pulled the trigger. I know I was waiting to see what the bottom of the hole had to offer first. All of the big snappers we encountered from our scouting mission earlier last month were gone. Scouring the deep 5-15 foot high ledge I thought we would surely find a big lobster, but no such luck. The large resident goliath groupers may explain that, they do love crustaceans. About a third of the way around the perimeter of the hole a grouper shot out from the undercut limestone and instead of bolting, stared at me head on from twenty feet away. A shaft right between the eyes and he weighed in at 23 pounds and was our biggest grouper on the boat for the day. The lack of monster sized bottom fish was a little disappointing. Had we spooked them last trip or had someone else fished the area in the passing weeks? We did have a large commercial boat working around us that entire morning. The amberjacks were more cooperative and with our

Spearfishing in the St. Pete Open Water LIFE




time to surface at over 20 minutes they gave us as many shots as we were willing to take all the way up to 100 feet. These were good sized jacks, with most in the 50 pound range or even bigger. These are the kind of quality fish we usually see in the winter and I knew we all had a great shot at placing high in the tournament if we could each land one. Rather than pulling anchor and coming in shallow to let our less experienced teammates hunt, we took turns escorting each one down to where the big jacks were hanging, giving everyone a shot at these strong fish. Shooting big fish high in the water column presents a whole new danger clockwise from top left: Snorkeling a weedline in the Gulf, Jim Joseph of FantaSea Scuba and can be sketchy at best, in Port Charlotte with a 4th place 45 pound gag taken from 200 feet, one of the bigger but one by one we each bead- AJs, the winning lobster and Heidi Schwarzʼ 2nd place sheepshead. ed down on the size fish we felt comfortable handling and hole. On my last dive a school of stingrays each the size filled the fish box. of a large picnic table came in off the sand and swam On a side note, I have to give the Gulf Council over the hole. They didn't have any cobia behind them, credit for raising the minimum size limit of amberjack but just watching them fly effortlessly across the bottom to 30 inches and not taking away our one fish per perwas amazing. son. The smallest jack we Your hometown crew did great at the weigh- in took that day was 36 inchwith everyone placing high on the scoreboard. No top es and this seems to be a three fish for us older guys, but 2 teammates did stand new regulation we can live out above the rest taking home the coveted glass trowith. Unfortunately red phies. Heidi grabbed 2nd place in the women's division snapper season was closed and Paul took 2nd in the juniors division. I placed fifth early last month and the for a 52 pound amberjack. Jim Joseph of FantaSea looming grouper limits and Scuba, a big Open sponsor, just missed the glass with a closures aren't going to forth place, 45 pound gag grouper taken from 200 feet. seem so progressive when Competition in the St. Pete Open is tough. Some they take effect early next guys spend months putting together a solid dive plan year. just for tournament day. Some just wade off the shore or We spent more time under a bridge and shoot a sheepshead. Regardless of than we had planned your skill level, experience or preparation it's a great bounce diving down the tournament with the highest level of camaraderie in the anchor rope to take in the sport. If you have never entered a tournament but always huge amount of life wanted to, you must check out next years ‘Open.’ It is swarming over the sinkbound to be bigger and better than ever.



Iron Lake full of

By Fi shi n’ Frank Water LIFE Mentor What do you do when relatives come to town and it is blowing 15 mph out of the west? Head up river of course. The Peace River was picked as the back drop for several Tarzan movies so if you like ‘getting away from it all,’ go where Tarzan swam fighting fierce croc-a-gators. I swear sometimes, when I am up river, I can almost see Tarzan swinging from tree to tree. The Peace River does not start out jungle-looking, at first it is more like the Charlotte Harbor mangrove lined shores. It is not until you pass Harbour Heights that it starts to change. Palm trees line the shore, marsh grass fills bays with small creeks that run their winding way back for miles, the palms start giving way to the lilly pads and cypress trees. Slowly you notice vines crawling across trees and stumps, gators lying in wait, painted turtles and soft shell turtles slip into the water, wading birds nest whole islands. The other thing that is changing as you move up river is the bottom. It is no longer soft sand and mud, it is rock, sand, and fallen trees. These line the bottom, so go slow and stay close to the outside bends of the river. Snags, or sawyers as the old timers called them, drift down with the current. Watch the surface for rolling dips in the current, for these are tell-tale signs of a snag, When Robert’s (he works at the store, in case you didn’t know or have been on another planet for the last 10 years) Aunt Suzy, came in from California. Robert his nephew Taylor and I took Suzy on a trip up river to Iron Lake. It is a lake just off the Peace River entirely surrounded by

plecostomus Water LIFE

cypress trees. The mouth of the lake is known for tarpon fishing, so we headed up there first to try for a bronze king – tarpon are ‘silver kings’ at the Pass but this far up river tarpon are golden bronze because of the water color. Not finding any tarpon we headed into the lake. It was a bright hot sunny day with a wind out of the west. The lake looked like a mill pond, and all over fish were ringing the surface.


Thick hairs filter what goes into the fishʼs mouth

The fish were hanging in the water vertically, head up and tail down

Iron Lake is a left turn off the Peace River above Horse Creek The plecostomus has a large dorsal fin and sweeping tail

Every where we looked we could see a fish touch the surface and make a small ring. We were casting a small you-zuri on one rod and on the other rod a jerk bait, trying to figure out what kind of fish they were. When we finally got right over them we could see in the water that there were thousands of catfish. Robert took the landing net and held it in the water while we idled forward. They were so thick he was catching them in the landing

Kids Cup Tracking Report

Fish #30. originally caught on 28 Apr., 2007 and rereleased the same day at the 2007 Kids Cup Tournament at Harpoon Harry’s, Fishermen’s Village, Punta Gorda,

net. But they weren’t ordinary Florida catfish, they were different. This was a very cool looking fish with a large dorsal fin and sweeping tail, and what looks like a suit of armor. They were the South American plecostomus, probably released into the wild by people from their fish tanks. Now, after breeding for years, these fish are thick in parts of the upper river. They must create some problems for native fish, but this invasive species are primarily scum eaters.

was re-caught June 23, 2008. The fish was caught 1 mile south of Alligator Creek. The fish had travelled a distance of 4.07 nautical miles. When released in 2007

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Their mouths have fine stringy filters over them and they can suck the slime off of ... well, anything. So I guess you could say our day on the river was great, but the fish we caught ‘suck.’ The bright side of the story is these fish have been found in the stomachs of tarpon and snook, so we know they are being eaten by the game fish. It is amazing what you can find in the waters of southwest Florida.

Fishin Frank can be reached for questions or to book a guided fishing trip at 625-3888

the fish measured 552 mm but the length measurementwas not recorded when the fish was re-caught. The fish had been at large 422 days before being re-caught.

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Water LIFE




Above: Three Sunfish boats fall into line while running downwind towards the U.S. 41 Bridge

By Bi l l Di xon Water LIFE Sailing On August 23rd and 24th the Charlotte Harbor Community Sailing Center hosted the fall season kick off regatta for the west coast sunfish fleet. Due to remnants of TS Fay, conditions for small boat racing were challenging to say the least. The regatta started Saturday morning with check in from 9 a.m. till 11 and skippers meeting at 11:15. First race started at 12 noon. Five races were run in conditions from flat calm to 30 knot gusts, all accompanied by very strong ebb tide currents caused by rain upriver. Former local sailor Rick Pantall spent so much time in the water next to his boat, that at the Saturday night cook out he was presented with a set of Schwim Flugels. Sunday was a better day, but the current was still strong, causing several boats to drift over the start line early. 4 races were run, the 9 total allowed one throw out. Winner was Fred Hutchinson of Ft Myers. Second

was Bob Harding from Naples, Third Dave Hillmeyer from Sarasota. Top woman was Donna Hillmeyer in 4th overall. Top local sailor the aforementioned Rick Pantall at 5th. At an after race planning meeting, it was decided that 2 day regattas were more expensive than the group wanted. For the rest of the year, emphasis will be on one day events. Three more sunfish regattas will be held in our area. Dennis Peck, CHCSC president announced an undated fall event will feature sunfish and be open to Optimist Prams. CHCSC will also host its annual Valentines Day Massacre, also planned to be open to the Opti Class

boats. Englewood Community Sailing will host a regatta the weekend before Easter that many of our local sunfish racers are expected to attend. Bill Dixon can be reached at:




By Davi d Al l en Water LIFE Kayaking Everyone who kayaks in southwest Florida, and well beyond, has heard of Dick Pfaff. Dick has done more to advance kayaking and to introduce more Floridians to kayaking than anyone I know. From his workplace at Economy Tackle in Sarasota, Dick has ranged far and wide, teaching beginners to paddle correctly, advising them on the various types of kayaks to purchase, helping organize local kayak clubs, and he always makes himself available to help solve an especially knotty problem. He regularly joins our local club on picnics or special outings and is an enjoyable paddling companion. The Kayak and Wildlife Festival, held annually at Port Charlotte Beach Park, is one of his passions. This year he received the Eco-Tourism Award from the Visitors Bureau for his outstanding effort. But while many of us know the "kayak side" of Dick, most of us are unaware of his other talents and accomplishments. Dick was born in Toledo, Ohio and grew up in the surrounding suburbs. His first love was photography, and as a young adult, he moved to Dallas, Texas and enrolled in a local college to pursue that career. To support himself through college, he worked as an auto parts salesman, a second career he followed for a number of years.After graduating from college with a degree in photography, he moved to Colorado and worked as a photographer and also in auto parts. Dick left Colorado, returning to his home in Toledo for three years, then he moved to Sarasota in 1991. He continued in photography and selling auto parts, but his life took a new direction when he bought his first kayak; a used, 16 foot

Water LIFE


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Romany. Dick started to work part time at Economy Tackle selling kayaks and equipment and holding Kayak Demo’s. As he got more into kayaking, Dick improved his own kayaking skills taking British Canoe Union (BCU) training courses which are among the most challenging in the sport. He eventually attained a very high 4 Star Ranking in kayaking and instruction. He also took instructions from Derek Hutchinson, a HOW LOW WAS IT? As T.S. Fay moved south and east of Punta Gorda the wind shifted around and came out of world-class kayaker the north, blowing the water out of the harbor. Seen here is Ponce De Leon inlet an hour before the low tide that from Britain, and is morning. certified as an openwater instructor by the American Canoe Association. With these credentials, Dick was now working full time at Economy Tackle and photography was merely a sideline. He has helped build the kayak business at Economy Tackle from a relatively small operation to one of the best and most knowledgeable shops in Florida. His friendly demeanor and willingness to help others has made him a special friend to many kayakers. He always says that his main interest is getting people interested in kayaking and helping them get the right equipment to further their enjoyment of the sport As I mentioned earlier, Dick is a regular visitor to the Port Charlotte Kayakers picnic, moonlight paddles, occasional meeting and many other events. We always enjoy having him join us whenever his busy schedule permits. 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!

HOW HIGH WAS IT? We saw these JetSkiers launch at Lettuce Lake and then caught up with them here at Hwy 760 bridge. They were headed up the Peace River to Zolfo Springs. “There is enough water for us to make it all the way,” one skier told us. “I hope it rains like hell,” he added and it did. The river was at 12 feet above normal that day, almost at flood stage. Of interest was the SkiDoo to the right which was a supercharged model capable of 70 mph. Only problem is, the owner said, “it burns 16 gallons per hour at high speed.” Thatʼs similar fuel consumption to a 200 HP outboard on a 20 foot fishing boat!

2008 JOHNS ON OUTDOORS Key Paddl es po rts Deal er – Eas t Co as t

Commercial Perspective

By Kel l y Beal Water LIFE, Peace Ri ver S eafood The life of the Florida Lobsterman what could be better? Getting top dollar for your catch, being on beautiful blue waters daily, the taste of the salt air dancing around you...sounds pretty good huh? It's about half a million dollars good because thats what it’s gonna’ take to get started on this dream endeavor! Let me break it down for you. First you have to have your SPL (salt water products license) with your RS (restricted species) endorsement as well as your C (crawfish) endorsement. That just cost about $200. Then you have to purchase tag certificates. This is where it gets costly. The market price on tag certificates is between $60 and $80. That is just the tag. The trap is gonna cost about $45 dollars. Of course, you would have to find someone to purchase the tags from and then you have to pay a transfer fee of $2 per tag as well as a surcharge fee of $5 or 25% of what you paid for the tag whichever is greater and that money goes to the commission. So that leaves you spending about $150 per trap. Did I mention you need to get a couple thousand traps to make it worth

Water LIFE



while? That's just the traps and tags, now add another 100 grand for boat and gear. Then after you spend all that cash it’s still a gamble whether or not it's gonna be a good year! The amount of money the lobster fisherman has to put into his business is just incredible. In 1995 the Legislature amended Chapter 370 of the Florida Statues to establish the Florida Spiny Lobster Trap Certificate Program to promote stabilization, efficiency and resource protection in the lobster fishery by reducing the number of permitted traps. Reducing the total number of traps should increase the yield per trap and therefore maintain or increase overall catch levels. The transferable trap certificate program started in 1992. At that time there were 3,696 people who held trap certificates. The landings for lobster in 1992 were 4.8 million pounds. At that point there were 825,170 traps involved. Fast forward to 1998 and the landings were 5.9 million pounds with 544,000 traps. At that point there were only 2,158 certificate owners. You may think it's strange that less traps caught more, but remember everything in nature is cyclic. The landings in 2006 were 4.75 million pounds. I talked to a buddy of mine last night and he said this year is a banner year. The guys are doing really good. The market price to the fisherman is $6.75 a pound and their catching anywhere between 500 and 1200 pounds a day. They run about 2000 traps and let a trap sit for about 4 or 5 days. Hard work,

great pay, but always a gamble. Huge conservation measures have been established to protect this amazing species. These measures include a prohibition on taking egg bearing females, size limitation, and a prohibition on taking females with a "V-notch" on their tale (which basically means they haven't bred yet and soon will). Lobsters shed their hard shell which allows them to grow and to mate. Mating occurs soon after the shed when the female shell is soft. They can have 5,000 to 100,000 eggs depending on her size and she will carry these eggs for up to a year and then attached to the underside of her tail for another 10 months. These baby lobsters will shed about 10 times the first year of their life . Then after that the shedding frequency decreases. They will ulti-


mately shed 25 times over the 5 to 8 years it takes to reach sexual maturity. Remember this when your enjoying those delicious lobsters. They've gone through a lot before reaching your table. Most lobsters are harvested at about a pound but they can grow to a weight of over 50 pounds! So you're not a millionaire but you still want a taste of the good life. Not to fear you can take a couple of days off and go down to the keys to dive for lobster recreationally. You just need a saltwater fishing license with a crawfish permit ($15.50) The two day sport season is always the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July. The bag limit is 6 per person per day. Regular lobster season begins August 6 and ends March 31 at mid-night. No gear that could puncture the shell is allowed in your possession during the hunt. You must have a measuring gauge on you at all times. The carapace (main body, eye to beginning of tail) must be at least 3 inches. Always measure them before putting them in your catch bag, anything in your catch bag is considered in your possession. And for the love of God - stay away from the commercial traps, it's not only a felony to mess with the commercial guys traps, if the fishermen catch you you're gonna wish you got caught by the law instead! Be respectful, be happy and be safe. Enjoy Florida Seafood and don't forget to stop by our fish market and restaurant on Hwy 17 in Punta Gorda.




Fishin Franks

US 41

Lobstermen Page 20





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SCUTTLEBUTT Sometimes Unsubstanciated, But Often True

Permit Discharged President Bush signed into law "The Clean Boating Act of 2008," which gives recreational boats a permanent exemption from the discharge permit. Pressure Relief If the Feds were concerned with the well being of grouper or snapper stocks they can rest easy. $4 a gallon gas is doing more to reduce offshore fishing than anything the feds could have dreamed up. Pig in a Polk! On August 15, Polk County FWC received a complaint that several licensed alligator hunters had started their hunt early. An officer stopped the vessel to conduct an inspection. He observed a subject holding one end of a buoy line that was secured to a harpoon tipprotruding from a small wild hog that was swimming in the water in front of the vessel. The subject was charged with taking wildlife by illegal method, the pig was released.

Ethanol Woes Local service facilities are seeing a lot of boats with fuel related problems. Ethanol (added to our gas by the manufacturers) attracts water in Floridaʼs high summer humidity, eats fiberglass, aluminum and some rubber parts and breaks loose oxidation and crud in fuel sys-

Sediment after 20 hrs

tems. The solution seems to be better fuel filtration and an enzyme eating fuel additive like Startron. High tech new-era 4strokes and old 2-strokes all need 10 micron fuel filters recommends John Flowers of Dry Dock Marine in Punta Gorda. Of course the finer filtration (10 instead of 27 microns) means you will have to change the filter about every three months. Keep a spare filter and a filter wrench aboard, recommended Jeff at West Marine.

Crowds Panic as Flooding Threatens Ireland The email message that accompanied the photo at right said: This "award-winning" photograph of the recent flood waters rising in Ireland captures the horror and suffering there. The press never seems to print these photos in our news papers. Keep these people in your thoughts and prayers.”

The Deadly Dozen : Charlotte Harbor FISHING GUIDES Flooding Threatens Ireland


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Shark, Tarpon, Grouper, Snapper, Kingfish, and MORE!

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Res: 941-473-2150

Page 22


Water LIFE

good this month. September is the best month for them and then they will be done. By October they start into the rivers or migrate offshore. Look for ladyfish anywhere in the Harbor, there will be schools or single fish rolling. Charlotte Harbor: Redfi s h will be interesting. This Robert at Fishin' Franks month they start to school up, they are already doing that and we should be seePort Charlotte: 625-3888 ing bigger schools of them and better It’s gonna be a toss up between tarquality fish this month. October is the pon and redfish this month. Tarpo n best month of the whole year for redwill be hitting the l ady fi s h pretty fish, but September is pretty darn good too. You will look for schools of reds alone on the flats or schools mixed in with mullet there too. You have to pay attention. Some schools will be 20 some 300 fish. It will depend on the tide, moving water is the most important aspect for redfish. Look anywhere around Bokeelia. The Pine Island area is the favorable spot to look for them early when they are schooling up. There has been a big school of reds on the west side of Bokeelia on the bar there, in 3 to 5 feet of water. You have to approach real slow and look for them to ‘push.’ Those are fish in the 8- to 12pound range, good size fish, getting ready to move, but they will hang around for the next two months. Just off the inter coastal side of Cayo Costa Any top water lure thrown in the Michael Martindell threw a couple times with first light will work on them. The Zara an old piece of squid that he had gotten out of the freezer.. and hereʼs what happened. this Spook or the MiroLure, or soft plasnice snook was released alive. tics like Exude or Gulps. Work them

Fishing Report




really slow on a light jig head because reds can be kind of spooky. Shrimp and ladyfish chunks will work well for bait but by mid month pinfish will work the best, I’m sure. Juvenile pinfish will get to the 3- to 4.5-inch range and will be great redfish bait, but you will Miles Meredith and Eric Carstensen weighed in 6.97 and 7.12 have to fight off the pound redfish for a 14.09 total and the win in the Charlotte catfi s h. Catfish have Warriors Tournament in early August. With only 19 boats been everywhere. I am entered the tournament weighed and released an impressive 31 redfish. The event was a fundraiser for the schoolʼs athletic hearing guys are department. catching 10 to 15 catwant at least 20 pound leader. The slot fish for every one redfish they reel in. and bag limit on snook is tight and it’s I’m sure they‘re are a lot of guys with still pretty warm so be gentle with your stuck fingers right about now. fish. Take extreme care of any fish you Sno o k season opens this month. want to release this month, they are The better quality snook will be concenstressed by the heat. trated out along the beaches, early There are plenty of mang ro v e morning and night time will be the best s napper still around, they will be time to catch them. Live bait, small heavy in the passes and on the artificial whiting or pinfish will work great. The reefs. Shrimp is still the best snapper Placida Pier at night and Stump Pass in bait, but small pinfish or small whiteSki Alley are really, really good snook bait are also really good. The mangrove spots now. Sight casting the fish in the early morning is a really good way. Just snapper on the artificial reefs are the big ones, but they are there most at first be sneaky and downgrade your leader light, then once the sun comes up, they material, to say 25 pound, (no lighter if are all really the small ones. you’re throwing a $6 or $8 lure) you Continued on facing page


$99 /month!

Water LIFEʼs 1/8 page ad (this size) still


call 941-766-8180 This summer


If you want to reach boaters and fishermen...we are IT!



Fishing Report continued

In freshwater, the bl uegi l l and the bass have really

BIG-4 BIG-4 SHARK still plenty of small sharks like Atlantic sharpnose

turned on with all the rain. All the culverts and spillway dams are flowing and lots of nice bluegill are being caught right now.

Lemon Bay:

Jim at Fishermen’s Edge, Englewood: 697-7595

Water LIFE

Septemberʼs Target Species Species Septemberʼs Target

REDFISH bigger fish are showing up

SNOOK are in season this month and on the beaches

on the beach, a lot of guys are using mutton minnows or regular white bait or even dead bait on the bottom for snook, but you run the risk of getting a lot of the trash fish out there fishing the bottom. Lures like the Minnow Magic color baits or anything translucent are the baits for the beach because the little baitfish out there now are clear. The storm bait has been doing well at El Jobean, the wild eye shad, the bigger ones in the golden ‘bunker’ color are what I sell a lot of to the guys going up there. There are still scattered tarpon around up in the harbor and some in the pass but not as many people are fishing out there now. S napper & red grouper are still OK offshore. Grouper 14, 15 miles out, snapper closer in.

I’ve had some reports of redfi sh being good. That’s the biggest thing. They are starting to school up in Whidden and Catfish creeks and up in Bull Bay. Some guys are buying shrimp, some soft plastics for bait, but the majority are caught on live-bait. There are pretty decent trout reports, fish scattered in the deeper parts of the woods. Guys are catching some really nice trout on baits with a spinner prop on them, like a MiroLure 5M, the Skitter Prop,  September 8, 10,11 USCG or the Devil Horse. Anything with a Aux 3 Day Boating Safely prop seems to work, probably because Program, Lemon Bay Park, from 6:30 until 9:30 PM, $25 the water is dark an it leaves a bubble per person. Successful completrail. There are still a lot of mantion of this program will qualify grove snapper, in the pass and the the student to receive the deeper potholes throughout the bay. Florida Boater ID Card which is S nook are on the beach around the required for anyone under the Placida trestle and in the big pass. I’ve age of 21 to operate a power had pictures of guys with big snook boat of over 10 HP in Florida they have caught and released last week, 40 inch fish, pretty huge. Out

Page 23


Kids Fishing Sept 13 see calendar

TARPON are in the harbor for another month or so

Brandon Varney and Paul Lambert with 13.72 pounds had the winning fish worth $900 in the August XTreme Redfish Tournament in Port Charlotte. Derrick Jacobson and Bobby Bunkley were second with 13.56 and Neil Hampton and Ian Born with 12.43 were third. Big fish was Josh Rhodes and Rob Close with a 7.13 pound red worth $180

Calendar of Events


 September 13: Hook Kids on Fishing, program Fishermen's Village 1:00-3:30 p.m. To pre-register call 941639-2628

 Sept 27: XTreme Redfish Tournament, Port Charlotte, enter the day of the event, 4561540  Oct 18-19: Maverick Boats Flatsmasters Championship,

Punta Gorda, No entry fee 941637-5953

 Nov 8: North Port High Red & Snook Shootout 1 redfish & 1 snook on bait of choice  Nov 15-16: Darkside, Flatsmasters Night Snook Tournament 941-637-5953




and still




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Water LIFE Sept 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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