Water LIFE C Ch ha ar rl lo 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
Keeping Fishermen and Boaters Informed since 1997
The Don Ball School of Fishing
August 2013 Originators of the Original! Page 4
What A Month!!
Up River Page 18
A Q U AT I C A
Page 12 Scalloping for Dinner 7th Grade Classes Start This Fall Page 22
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Fun Summer Fishin始 Page 6
Inshore & Offshore Headquarters
Above the Waterline LETTERS
For 11 years the front page of this publication has proclaimed ʻKeeping Fishermen and Boaters Informed Since 1997ʼ. Then, last month, the other boating and fishing publication in the area began proclaiming to be ʻThe Original since 1997,ʼ so whatʼs the difference? There are two different but similarly named boating and fishing publications in the area, and we started and named them both! My wife Ellen and I started the WaterLine section for the Charlotte Sun in 1997 (it was my idea, I even named it WaterLine) so the Sunʼs new claim for WaterLine as “The Original since 1997” is not totally inaccurate - itʼs just that they donʼt tell their readers the whole truth, that we are the originators of their product, and that we left 11 years ago. The real fact is, their current ʻoriginalʼ staff is on their fourth or fifth try at being ʻoriginal.ʼ We quit developing the WaterLine publication and moved on after being told to “Dumb it Down” by a Charlotte Sun who was an expert in that field. “Readers donʼt need all that (manatee) information.” he had said. That was the last straw for me. I have always believed readers need every bit of information they can get, especially when they are intentionally being mislead. Michael Heller, Publisher
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Not affiliated with any other publication Vol XII No 8 © 2013
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Photography: ASA1000.com Senior Editor: Capt. Ron Blago Charter Fishing: Capt. Bart Marx Port Charlotte: Capt. Billy Barton Punta Gorda: Capt. Chuck Eichner Real Estate: Dave Hofer Inshore: Fishinʼ Frank Offshore: Capt Steve Skevington Offshore: Capt. Jim OʼBrien Kayaking: David Allen Circulation: Robert Cohn Office Dog: Molly Brown
The annual Pirate Invasion water-fight at Fishermenʼs Village, last month, provided a chance for everyone to get wet.
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Mark Cornelius from Homestead, FL holds a true black grouper, caught with Capt. Joe Millerʼs Fish Galore Offshore Charters, out of Venice, in mid July. Photo by Glen Ballinger See page 8
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“Like a good day on the water”
My Former Favorite Fishing Shirt By Michael Heller Water LIFE editor My birthday is this month and if you don’t know what to get me, I need a new fishing shirt. Here’s why: Saturday, July 6 started out as a fine day to be on the water. It was going to be another hot-one, so I put on a lightweight pair of shorts and my favorite old blue Columbia seersucker shirt. I was just going out on the boat to fish so I didn’t have shoes on. I fished around the top of the harbor, flipping a gold spoon wherever I stopped, but with all the freshwater from rain the area was fishless. Around noon I cruised over to Laishley Park to check the boat ramp for pictures. For the last several months I have been working on a brochure for the City of Punta Gorda. I had most of the pictures done by that Saturday, but I still lacked a picture of the Interactive Fountain in the park. As I entered the marine, I could see there were kids playing in the fountain, so instead of heading to the boat ramp I tied up at the floating dock, grabbed my camera and walked across the hot asphalt to the fountain. The fountain pulses jets of water into the air, off and on, over and over, and the kids were loving it. Parents sat around the sides watching their kids. The light was good, I had a nice background with the river behind, so I walked onto the fountain surface to cool my feet and I began taking pictures. I was there for 5 or 10 minutes when a voice came from behind me. “What are you doing?” It was a man’s voice. It didn’t sound friendly. I’m taking pictures for a brochure for the City of Punta Gorda, I said, reaching into my back pocket for my wallet and producing my ID and my business card. He didn’t care. “We don’t want you here, taking pic-
tures of the kids, get out of here,” he told me. One mother was close by and listening. I gave her a business card too, told her what I was doing and then I left. I had just gotten onto my boat and was heading out of the marina when another man called to me from the shore, “Hey, can you help us? ”His voice was friendly. The man was Kevin Stiles and he had his son with him. Kevin explained they had two crab traps off the seawall, and that the tide had taken them out too far to retrieve. “Sure” I said, hop on. Kevin and I talked about how father-son projects like fishing and crab trapping are great for kids. I told him about our Don Ball School of Fishing. We were having a good conversation when my phone rang. It was the Punta Gorda Police Department. “We need to talk to you,” the officer said with a not so friendly tone. “Kevin could tell something was wrong by my expression. “Problem?” He asked. ‘No it’s just the Police, they think I am a sexual predator, that’s all.’ There was a silence. Then I told Kevin what had happened and we both laughed. Back at the dock the police were waiting. I entered into a conversation which included my perspective that all of Laishley Park is a public park and I can take pictures of what I want, whenever I want, unless it is otherwise posted. The officer’s perspective was that I should have asked first. Was I doing something wrong? Did I break the law? I asked the officer, but he didn’t answer. Then he told me there was a Code-Red alert the day before in Punta Gorda, for a man who had molested a 14 year old. ‘A man your age,’ the officer told me, with a
The Interactive Fountain at Laishley Park
demonstrable frown. I was taken a-back, a little. I told him who I was, about how I have been working with kids for the last 13 years in the county school system, how I am cleared by the state sexual predator database every year and how silly this whole thing was. In the end he agreed and let me go. Motoring out of the marina I looked down at my bare feet. My shorts were a little frayed around one cuff and the airy blue seersucker shirt, although my favorite, had really seen better days. Maybe I should have introduced myself first, I thought, but somewhere deep inside of my old journalistic-self, I still resisted that notion. The next day I dressed differently and went back to the park with my wife. We talked to the parents, no one had a problem. I shot some more pictures. At home that night I posted a short story and a picture on my Facebook page. Hollis, an old friend and fellow newspaper photographer from 30 years ago commented on that post. “It’s a different world, Michael” Hollis wrote. I thought about that. Hollis was right. So I need a different fishing shirt.
By Bobby Vitalas Water LIFE Pier Fishing Snook are a lot of fun to catch because they give an awesome fight. This snook was caught at the Venice Jetty, (south side). The snook has the most distinctive body shape, with large fins and most of all, he has a prominent black stripe running the full length of the lateral line. However, snook fishing is out of season, so you have to throw them back in the water. I catch and release. The time I caught this snook was in the morning, from low to high tide. Most of the time, I love using artificial lures. Most of the time I cast instead of walking my lure. I have been trying this lure for a while and it does allow me to catch fish. I have caught 4 snook in a 2 week period. To find these snook, fish in the deep pot holes. I have been using the Berkley Gulp saltwater 5 inch jerk shad (color is pearl white). The good thing about Berkley Gulp is that it comes with its own strong scent, but you have to keep it closed in the bag so it does not dry out. The jig head I am using for the jerk bait is the D.O.A C.A.L short shank 3/8oz. to 1/2oz. weight. The color is a
white head. If the water is calm, I use the 3/8oz. weight. If the water has a current, I use the 1/2oz. weight. Most of the time I use the 3/8oz. weight. For those people who use bait, there are many types of bait you can use to catch snook with. The most common bait is pilchards, mullet, or live shrimp, all of which are very productive. If you want to catch bait at the Jetty, people are using small casting nets. Note: Just watch for the rocks in the water, you don't want your net to get hung up on them. The hook I suggest you use is either 2/0 or 3/0 Owner circle hooks. I am using 30lb. test SUFIX ADVANCED SUPER line (BRAIDED) as my main line. For my leader line, I am using 3 feet of 25lb. test Seaguar 100% FLUOROCARBON LEADER line, which is invisible in the water. Due to using light tackle, and when I am fishing at the Jetty on the rocks, (and I
have a big fish on my line), I reel the fish in as fast as I can without breaking the line off: otherwise the fish will go down into the rocks which will cause my line to break. When tying your leader line to your jig head, I suggest you use the RAPALA knot because it will create more action out of the jig. So, have fun catching snook.
You Can Help!
Every year we ask for your financial support to continue this program. Won始t you join the merchants and businesses below in helping the 2013 Don Ball School? Your logo will appear here next month and it will be printed on the t-shirts that all the students receive. AND If we have your donation (and size) by September 1 you始ll get a free t-shirt for yourself!
Simply fill out the online sponsor form and donate through the Pay Pal link or mail in the form with your check. The kids will thank you for it and your name/logo will appear here!
It Wonʼt Be Long Now! AUGUST 2013
By Fishin’ Frank Water LIFE Baitshop Snook is South Florida's ultimate inshore game fish. Snook can be caught year-round and you don't need a boat. Snook comes back into season September 1, and I am ready! Are you? Snook are one of the coolest fish ever. Sold as cat-food in the 1930's until some dumb Yankee came down and filleted one... then it was game on! Yes, snook was called a soap fish at first, because if you cook a snook with the skin on, it tastes just like it did when your mom washed your mouth out, not exactly the taste, but close. In those days it was common to gut the fish and cook it whole, fishing was not so much for sport as for food, and why waste the bits around the bones? You’d just chew careful and pick through it. How many of you remember you parents giving you bread to get a fish bone out of your throat? Oh yes, those were the days! I don't eat fish I don't fillet myself, because of those days. Ole Line-sider is a snook nick-name because of the prominent black lateralline that goes from cheek-to-tail down each side of the fish. Another cool nick names for the line-sider is racing mullet. Racing mullet is one of the names used by people who take them with a cast net, which is highly against the law, so when they caught them, they weren't illegal snook, they were racing mullet. But getting back to the stripe, and this is so cool; as we all know, most fish have scales, solid little plates that overlap each other and cover their bodies to protect them from harm. The neat thing about the black line on the snook is that each scale covering the black line has a small hole in it and that hole has a small oil sack connecting it to the body of the fish, making it an ear drum. I would estimate that a Snook could have more than 100 ear drums on each side of its body. You would think that because of this, hearing or sensing vibrations in the water, would be a snook's primary sense. No, I would have to say it is their eye sight. Yes, they can see like eagles. This is one reason many people go snook fishin at night, it is dark and their keen eye sight does not help them. They rely more on their hearing at night. You would think that between the excellent hearing and eye sight that would be good enough, but no, snook also have the same or better sense of smell than a blood hound. This is what makes snook fishing so interesting, You can be standing right on top of a snook, drop a bait right on his nose, bounce it up and down and they just look at you with that Forrest Gump stare and you can see them thinking I am
In the picture here you can see a Snook I caught at Laisley Pier on a Bomber 15 just by trolling it along the pier. I was taking the place of the boat to pull the lure along. Remember to hold your rod tip way out from the pilings so the lure just passes as close to the piling as possible without hanging up.
not a smart fish, but I ain’t that dumb. Hey buddy, I can see you standing there. Try the trout they will fall for that, but not me. So a good rule of thumb is, if you can see them, they can see you, and even if they don't move away, they most likely won't bite either. It takes a fish about 15 minutes to forget, so if you blunder up right on top of a school of snook, back off, get real quiet for 15 minutes, then start to fish that school. The best thing about a snook is they will readily go after lures, jigs, soft plastics, buck-tails, hard lures like mirror lures, spoons, crank baits, (lures with a lip), Rat-L-traps, top water Poppers or a walk-the-dog action like you get with a a Zara Spook. I don't think there is a lure a snook won’t eat. Snook can be caught on shrimp which I have done hundreds if not thousands of times, or in spring time white bait is the ticket, or whole lady fish or mullet. For years I would never have used a fish under 16 inches for bait, of course I was looking for big snook, Pier fishing for snook with a lure can be easy. If no-one else is on the pier, cast your lure out about 15 feet, then just start walking at a slow pace. Start practicing with your Bombers, Mavericks, and Rat-L-traps. Remember to keep your snook cool on ice, until you fillet it. And if you have snook fillets at home, don't keep another one until you have eaten the first one. Don't waste a snook on freezer burn! Eat fresh fish, live healthy and don't waste. Frank can be reached at: 625-3888 or at: Frank@ FishinFranks.com
As with the one in the other picture, this one was caught on a shrimp I was walking at the Port Charlotte Beach Pier. Yes, a shrimp, on a 1/2 once jig head set about 6 inches off the bottom and just slowly, very slowly, walked up the pier and back. Big snook, like this, will hang out right under your feet. Note all the photos Poloroids, like this one, on the ceiling at the bait shop, before Hurricane Charley.
Serious As A Heart Attack PAGE
We have seen numerous quality fish pictures from Glen Ballinger, month after month. Glen isn始t a captain, he始s just a serious recreational angler. We asked Glen what it takes to be a serious angler:
By Glen Ballinger Special to Water LIFE Making the fishing experiences you have memorable and exciting is the main goal. You have to dedicate time and energy to learn how to be safe on the water, both for yourself and the others on board. I had some experience fishing in the Keys with my father as a boy and then I traveled and fished in numerous places until I moved to Venice, Florida about 10 years ago. I spent the first two years going out on my 29'-foot boat and occasionally caught red grouper. Not normally limiting out and keeping to within 20 miles of shore. There were a few grunts and perch. I used a lot of squid. Back then I was trying to find areas to fish, more than specific way-points or ledges. This was OK, but not what I do now, at all. I was fortunate enough to develop a friendship with an awesome fisherman named Joe Miller. He has been fishing here for 25 years and he is both a commercial and recreational charter guide. I chartered with him a few times and realized there are all kinds of fish off Venice that I never caught or even saw before! Mainly Joe targets: red grouper, gag grouper, mangrove snapper, red snapper, large porgies and amberjacks. When you work on catching those species then others will occasionally hit your line, which is a bonus. You have to find specific areas to fish that hold these fish - AJs are on artificial reefs and large ledges. For red grouper find areas and keep looking for new areas or spots- Once you fish red grouper out they don't fill back in like all the others, so the No.1 rule is don't keep going back to your same old red grouper hole. Gags on the other hand are normally found with large mangrove snapper. Learn to use your depth finder and be able to identify what type(s) of fish you are looking for. Only anchor up for gags and mangrove snapper, don't drift. Be ready for the gags to bite and be prepared to battle them for the first 10-feet. Many large gags are lost because the fisherman is not prepared All the photos on this page were provided by Glen and does not have the proper tackle like 50-pound test Ballinger. The message said: Went out 180-190' Limline and 80-pound leader. Use live bait or sardines for ited out on grouper. One was a Kitty Mitchell grouper. gags and use lighter tackle for large mangroves snapThe true black grouper on the cover this month is pers. Gags move around and will repopulate a ledge also from Glen. or depression each year. AJs are a little easier if they are there. For amberjack go to an artificial reef that is in 100' of water or deeper. Drift flat lines with blue runners or large pin fish. Oh that takes me back a bit- you have to master how to and where to catch live bait - most use sabiki rigs tipped with squid. Finding key areas to catch live bait is extremely important. Get friendly with other captains that fish where and as far out as you do. Compare notes. Share ideas. If you want to cut off some time just book a few trips with a competent captain like Joe. It will save you years of work. Enjoy the great opportunity of fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. It has been very rewarding to me.
Gulf Council Adjusts 2013 Red Snapper Quota Sets Fall Recreational Red Snapper Season
In a special July meeting of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council the Council voted to increase the 2013 red snapper total quota from 8.46 million pounds (mp) to 11 mp. The Council also agreed that, if NMFS determines that unused recreational quota is available, a supplemental season will open October 1 and run continuously until the quota is met. Preliminary estimates indicate that the supplemental season will be approximately 21 days long. However, this estimate will be reevaluated when the June recreational landings data become available in mid-August. Gray triggerfish and greater amberjack are open for recreational harvest in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters as iof Aug. 1. The commercial harvest of gray triggerfish also reopened Aug. 1 In future years, it will close June 1 in state and federal waters. Recreational harvest of greater amberjack also closes June 1 in state and federal waters. When the gray triggerfish season reopens, new bag and trip limits will also be in effect in Gulf state and federal waters. The recreational bag limit will be two fish per person, per day, and the commercial limit will be 12 fish per trip. Gray triggerfish have a unique spawning behavior that makes them vulnerable during the peak spawning season, usually during June and July. Male triggerfish coax females to nesting areas, where they all care for and guard their eggs after spawning. Closing gray triggerfish during their peak spawning time and implementing a recreational bag limit and a commercial trip limit should help rebuild the gray triggerfish population. The minimum size limit for gray triggerfish in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters is 14 inches fork length. The minimum size limit in Atlantic state waters is 12 inches fork length. The minimum size limit for recreationally caught greater amberjack in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters is 30 inches fork length. In Atlantic state waters, the recreational size limit is 28 inches fork length. Recreational anglers may take one greater amberjack per person, per day.
Mole Skink: New Pawn in the Environmental Game AUGUST 2013
ON THE LINE
By Capt. Ron Blago Water LIFE Senior Staff “One of the other laws that is requiring a great deal of focus for this congress is the Endangered Species Act, which was authorized by Congress nearly 25 years ago. This law has done more to keep environmental lawyers in business than it has to recover species or to balance the needs of average Americans.” Rep. Hastings-Chairman of the House committee on Natural Resources Just as I predicted, the Center for Biological Diversity(CBD) has sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for not doing enough to protect four Florida species including the Florida Keys mole skink. I don't know much about the creature other than it lives in the southern keys and is pretty rare. And that it has been protected by Florida authorities since the early 80's. The CBD has sued because they say the skink may become extinct because our government is not doing enough to prevent the two major threats to the skink; development by humans and sea rise due to global warming. The CBD, with headquarters in Arizona and a new office in St Petersburg, FL; was founded by three ex-Forest Service workers that were fired in 1989. It seems that their goal now is to embarrass and get revenge on their former employers. The CBD selects obscure and understudied species throughout the country and files a petition to have them included on the Endangered Species list. Once the petition is received the Federal authorities have only 90 days to respond with a management plan. If they fail to do so the CBD gets to sue them for not
doing their job. The CBD has flooded the Fish and Wildlife Service with petitions in recent years, making it impossible for the FWS to do a sound scientific study of any of these species. In 2010 the CBD filed petitions to protect 404 southern aquatic species under the Endangered Species Act, and this was at a time when the FWC already had 757 petitions in the pipeline they were working on. The CBD may love animals, but they seem to love law suits more. Filing law suits has been very profitable for the CBD. The way the law currently works is that if the CBD wins a suit, the government must pay their legal fees. The CBD has sued government agencies over 460 times and have won 86% of them. The government has had to pay out over $3 million in legal fees. This has pretty well made a mockery of the Endangered Species Act and has taken away time and money from those who are really trying to help endangered species.
Hauling off more dead manatees from the Indian River Lagoon last month. Red Tide got them. The manatee is protected because of a lawsuit much like the mole-skink lawsuit. The Save the Manatee Club had sued the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Then they settled out of court. The Wildlife Services ʻsettlementʼ included restrictions on boaters. By settling out of court the process for effective public comment is subverted.
The dark freshwater release from Lake Okeechobee mets the green salt of the Gulf last month offg Sanibel as the Army Corps. lowered the level of the lake.
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Srtaying Productive – In the Heat of Summer
By Capt Billy Barton Water LIFE / Charlotte Harbor Well guys and gals, July definitely lived up to its reputation of being hot and wet didn't it??! One would think naturally that being a native Floridian would help out a little bit with tolerating this humidity, but I'll tell you first hand, I don't think you ever get used to it – all you can do is tough it out! Shade on the boat sure helps, and obviously bringing lots of cold water out with you is a must. If you don't have shade on the boat, the best way to stay cool is actually to keep yourself covered up. Wearing some light colors and a lightweight breathable type of clothing really helps the comfort factor. I wear long sleeves, pants, and a hat every day. I have people ask me often if I'm hot in what I'm wearing. My answer is usually ‘yes I'm still hot,’ but the truth is, I'm cooler than I would be if I was in shorts
Plan it Out By Capt. Chuck Eichner Water LIFE Punta Gorda Fishing
The heat of August presents fishing challenges across the United States. For Florida, it is quite likely the most consistent month to see 90 degree plus temperatures on a daily basis. Most anglers think that fish are lazy and bottom fishing with cut bait is the only consistent way to catch fish. Add to that, that live shrimp are essentially non-existent, pilchards and threadfins are extra small and the saving grace becomes the pinfish. Pinfish are in every grass bed on the Harbor. Most anglers ignore the prickly spiny pinfish preferring the more glamorous flashy silvery baits. As it turns out, I would bet that more pinfish are eaten on a daily basis by everything that swims in the Harbor then are any other baitfish. They wiggle with reckless abandon and when presented properly in the right fishing holes you will get your arms yanked off! So the next question is what do you fish for and where do you fish? Easy for me, after years of chasing everything that swims. Redfish, snapper and goliath grouper are my focus this month. Yes, goliath grouper are a protected species, but you can fish for them and in August they are in very predictable locations. The one place you will find all three is in the Punta Gorda canal systems. Punta Gorda boasts the deepest canal systems in the area with some locations reaching 20 feet of water. Add to that, there is good current flow as the canals present a
with a short sleeve shirt on. Am I getting through?? Hope so, cause I'm ready to get on with the fishin’. Have you noticed how dark the water is up here in the Harbor? This happens every year. We call it "black water." The Peace and the Myakka Rivers are the reason behind our Harbor having its tanic color all year round. When we get into rain season, all of that fresh water that we're getting has to flow out of these rivers with the tides. All of this runoff, and brown water give our Harbor that "black water" look in the summer. Some of our fish don't tolerate the fresh water so well, and will push out closer to the Gulf. Most however, will adapt and catch what salinity they need on the incoming tide. The influx of fresh water up here doesn't, by any means, hurt the fishing. If anything slows the fish down during the day, it would be the
labyrinth of connecting, intersecting waterways where tides flow in and out each day. Perhaps fishing canals sounds a little boring, but guess again, because this is very, very sporting for the light tackle angler. Here’s how you do it. Purchase some ¼ to 3/8 ounce red and chartreuse Hank Brown jigs which boast a small profile and extra strong hooks. With a live-well full of various size pinfish, enter the canal systems, utilizing your trolling motor and starting from the mouth. On a stout backcountry rod rigged with 30-pound leader, cast the jigged pinfish against seawalls, riprap and docks letting the jig fall on a slack line. Once it hits the bottom, work it back with the current maintaining bottom contact. Goliaths are lined up in these canals along with redfish and snapper. You can expect to hook fish you can’t handle, so a light tarpon rod is also good to have handy. When you locate a school of snapper, scale your tackle down, goliaths and redfish will rock your world in a hurry burning drag into docks and rocks, thus the alternative heavier outfit! The best bite is on the outgoing tide which is perfect for the summer months because the backcountry fishing gets slower and slower with the loss of water on the outgoing tide. Before you leave for the day, plan your fishing adventure. If your day starts with an incoming tide, go fish the mangrove bushes on the highest tidal phases of the incoming. A pinfish on a small hook with a small split-shot 10-inches above it, suspended 2 feet under a cork, is all you need. Your cast needs to put the cork against the bushes. Redfish will not play
heat. The dark water up here tends to take in a little more of the Sun’s heat than the water closer to the Gulf. This changes our approach a little bit when we are fishing. Think about it like this; when you're
hot and uncomfortable, do you feel spunky and energetic? Or do you feel like getting into some shade, or somewhere cooler and just taking it slow? I know my answer. Here comes the point that I'm trying to get across – just like us, the fish aren't as comfortable this time of year. They're
Capt. Chuck with an inshore Goliath grouper. These fish grow up in the Charlotte Harbor Estuary and one this size should be heading offshore soon.
with the pinfish, they will crush it with a jarring visual strike, then it’s your job to keep him out of the mangroves! Now the tide has turned and the water is leaving the backcountry so it’s time to
head north to Burnt Store Isles or Punta Gorda Isles. You can start fishing as soon as you enter a canal or idle until you see a deep pocket or deep corner. My favorite three species love deep corner pockets on
hot. They want shade and they want an easy meal. They don't feel like working their fish-butts off trying to chase something down during the heat of the day. They are more likely to chase something down in the morning, or before dusk than they are when it's a heat index of 110! Fish lose a good amount of their vision in the dark water so they are working more with their sense of smell than an outgoing tide. Be sure to make plenty of bottom contact and vary your jig weight and color. If you have previously thought of canal fishing as boring you wonâ€™t in August! Letâ€™s add three other bonus fish you can expect to catchsnook, jacks and flounder all on the prickly pinfish. And a 50-pound goliath grouper is a real possibility if you are lucky enough to have your heavy rod in hand when he bites. Me? Usually I am under-gunned when the monsters come-a-calling. Capt. Chuck Eichner operates Action Flats Backcountry Charters and can be reached at 941-628-8040 or go to www.BackcountryCharters.com
by what they can see. A fast moving, free- lined piece of whitebait doesn't tend to work as well as an injured pinfish just laying there on the bottom wiggling a little from side to side. A piece of cut bait, or a live shrimp could also be the ticket. The water temperature is cooler the deeper you fish... remember that! Also remember that a big green fluffy man-
grove bush protruding 20 feet off of the shoreline looks like a nice shady place for a fish to relax and enjoy an afternoon fish-picnic! Fishing in this heat isn't all that comfortable, but it can still be pretty darn productive so long as you take the right approach in the dark water that comes with the heat every summer. I hope everybody's having lots of fun
and catching a bunch of good fish! If you're finding that your success isn't exactly what your looking for, then try taking another approach. Remember you gotta think like a fish to catch fish! Good luck out there, my friends. Capt. Billy Barton operates Scales N Tails Charters. Phone 979-6140 or email him at : email@example.com
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AQUATICA Har vesting Scallops
at Homosassa Springs
By Michael Heller Water LIFE editor With a mask and flippers itʼs easy to float across the surface and look down into the lush seagrass beds off Homosassa Springs, north of Tampa, to spot the scallops. “Usually scallops are in groups of two or three,” Russ Holliday, operator of Native Sons Scalloping Tours said. “Look in the thinner seagrass,” he added. At our first stop, pickinʼs were slim. The tide was ripping out and the water was silty from the flow and from the hundreds of other boats, but it didnʼt take long to get the hang of it. I was tagging along on a charter trip with Doctor James Sensecqua and his wife Andrea, from Fort Myers. They had never scalloped before and we were all coming up with scallops. Part of the key is not to disturb the silty bottom so you can find the second or third scallop on the same breath of air. Once you resurface it gets very difficult to relocate the same spot in the thick grass. And donʼt think scallops are sedentary victims. They see you coming and using their muscle they can emit a squirt of water to jet propel themselves away from you. Unfortunately, they only have one squirt, so they donʼt get far. They will clamp down on your finger too, but itʼs not a very firm ʻclamp.ʼ After a while, I found that I had my best luck locating scallops where the pinfish were grazing. After our second stop we took a break and Capt. Russ cleaned a few scallops which we ate on the spot. They were sweet, firm and with just enough natural salty taste. “Some guys bring hot sauce with them when they scallop” Capt. Russ told us. Scalloping captains, like fishing captains, seem to save their best spot for the last stop and on our last stop, right out of the boat, I found two before I resurfaced, and more on every dive. All in all we spent about 4 hours on the water scalloping and brought back about four gallons to the dock. Scalloping continues until the end of scalloping season on September 24. Everyone recommends going on a week-day. Native Son Charters charges $75 per person for 4 person trips and provides masks, fins and underwater mesh bags to put the scallops in. Their website www.scallopingflorida.com has all the information. According to FWC regulations, a salt water fishing license is needed to harvest scallops, on a charter trip the license is provided. There is a daily bag limit of two gallons of whole bay scallops or one pint of meat per person; vessels with multiple people aboard are limited to 10 gallons of whole bay scallops or a half-gallon of meat per day.
Scallops need to be cleaned when they are brought back to the dock. “They get real mushy if you leave them in the shell overnight,” Capt. Russ told me. There are numerous ʻscallop cleaning businessesʼ around the marina and the docks. They charge between 3 and $5 to clean a gallon of scallops.Capt. Russ cleans his own scallops with his charters and his preferred tool for cleaning scallops is a butter knife. The idea is to hold the scallop dark side up (if you are right handed) and use the butter knife to gently pry the scallop open. The meat is closer to that one side. Scallops open much easier than clams or oysters. Once you can get the knife inside, slide it up and around the inside of the top of the shell, this breaks the membrane that holds the scallop together. If you simply force the scallop open, you tear the meat into several small pieces. Once open, use the butter knife to scrape out the scallopʼs organs (photo). It takes a few scallops to practice, but you get the hang of it pretty quickly. The caveat of scallop cleaning is that they are sharp-edged creatures. The locals have figured out that a couple of wraps of duct tape or black electrical tape around the thumb and forefinger and some tape around the palm help to preserve the skin on your hands when you are cleaning the dayʼs catch of scallops.
Scallopers Enjoy “The Best Year Yet”
By Michael Heller The calm of the lush seagrass covered Gulf bottom is very different from what is happening above the surface and onshore. On a good weather, average weekend day, over 600 boats head out of the marina at Homosassa Springs to collect scallops. “Ninety five percent of them are recreational scallopers,” professional scalloping guide Russ Holliday said, adding “There are four or five people, average, on every boat.” And just up the shoreline, at Crystal River, there are many more. “We only have one public boat ramp here, but they have four at Crystal River,” Holiday said. “The scalloping beds are closer-in at Homosassa than other spots so the pressure there is the greatest,” Melony Parker, a bivalve research scientist with the FWC told us. The Sunday I was there, last month, the line of scalloping boats easily stretched two miles along the outside edge of the scallop beds. Inside, between the boats and the Crystal River power plant, there were another couple of hundred scallopers. There was a very real danger with so many snorkelers in the water and so many boats moving around, some idling some on plane. But everyone survived... and seemed to be having fun. Many scallopers appeared to be familys. “This year has been the busiest yet. I donʼt know how much more the town of Homosassa can take,” Holiday observed. Parking is a nightmare, cars line the streets and swales and the big hotels are booked a year in advance for the scalloping season week – the season ends September 24 this year. During the week, itʼs not nearly so bad.” On shore, the commercial scallop cleaners are raking in the cash. “We did over $1000 last Saturday,” one cleaner said. The going rate for cleaning scallops is from $3 to $5 a gallon. A full five gallon bucket of scallops will net a quart size zip-lock bag full of clean scallop meat. Familys were arriving at 7:30 am on the day I was there, unloading their kids and nets and floaties and coolers. Looking around I saw almost every car and truck had several coolers on board. Under this pressure, how much longer will the scallop population survive? According to Parker “This year, in our measuring transect area, we counted twice as many scallops as we did last year, so for now everything seems to be OK, but at some point it (too many scallopers) could become a problem.” For now, though, everyone was smiling and thinking about dinner.
Big Fish Offshore with Capt. Steve AUGUST 2013
By Capt. Steve Skevington Water LIFE Offshore - live iPhone Report:
Fishing the last few weeks has been non stop, not only have we been blessed enough to be booked almost every day, but the fish are really cooperating. Huge catches of lane snapper, red grouper, barracuda and goliath grouper have all graced the Paradise with their presence.
The best part is, this whole next month should be lots more of the same!
From here, Iâ€™ll let the pictures tell the story. Like Paradise Charters on Facebook for up to the minute fishing reports and lots of pictures! Capt Steve Skevington Paradise Fishing Charters 941-575-3528
Real Estate News Provided to Water LIFE BY: Dave Hofer RE/MAX Harbor Realty (941) 575-3777 firstname.lastname@example.org www.harborparadise.com Recent area news items:
1. The Warm Mineral Springs resort was shuttered on June 30. Sarasota County and the City of North Port jointly (and blindly) purchased the property in 2010 with a 3 year management agreement with former owners. The foreclosure operator, Cypress Lending, declined the opportunity to extend its management term.
2. Punta Gorda city council has decided to postpone its plans to install a new drainage and sprinkler system in Laishley Park. Bids came in $50K above budget and couldn't be completed before the fall event season
fering of an additional real estate tax exemption to low income property owners. The new $50K tax exemption would apply to homeowners earning less than $27,590. Total cost to taxpayers is projected to be about $90,000 per year.
starts in September.
3. The City of Punta Gorda will collect the same amount of taxes as last year so millage rate is expected to decline by about 1.5% creating a modest tax reduction for the average property. Sarasota County will keep its millage rate the same generating 1.5% more in revenue due to increased valuations.
8. Citizens Insurance will be raising rates by an average of 7% this year mostly due to sink hole claims during the past year The all metal trees in Laishley Park that stand as a monument to 2004始s
9. Charlotte County unemployment rate rose last month to 6.9% vs. 6.7% in April - still 1.8% below last year's level.
4. Mote Marine continues Hurricane Charley won始t need any irrigation, but a sprinkler system for to evaluate the viability of the park始s grass is in the works. building an aquarium in lage, Big League Dreams, the west coast downtown Punta Gorda. Taxpayers, no not In other news: The Punta Gorda Slip Knot developer of copies of iconic baseball just the restaurants and hotels that may Bar (formerly Slip Not) abruptly closed its parks, has decided to locate to Jacksonville benefit from this attraction, are fronting condoors less than a year after changing rather than North Port. North Port had sultants expenses. hands. given Big League Dreams a $450K deposit Mote expects to Sales Statistics: The disappearing disto insure that they would not develop andraw 400,000 visitressed inventory has generated average other park in Southwest Florida. Hopefully, tors per year, generselling prices of about 25% above last this deposit will be returned soon. ating 100,000 hotel year's levels. Price increases have been room nights. 6. Punta Gorda has been offered the ophighly variable depending on the price level portunity to acquire the traveling Viet Nam 5. Citing potential of the offerings with higher end non disWar Memorial. Taxpayers would have to competition from tressed prices have been typically 2-3% spend $400K for this monument. Ripken's baseball higher than a year ago. fields in Murdock Vil- 7. Charlotte County is considering the of-
Say Goodbye to July By Capt. Bart Marx Water LIFE Fishing Summer is here with lots of rain and plenty of heat. This is the time of year we plan to do major repairs on our boats while there is a lull in the season. Also this is when we get to do some other fishing. July was sportsman season for lobster, some of us like to go to the Keys or to the east coast to hunt for bugs, a.k.a spiny lobster. Some go to the east coast and Keys to fish for dolphin/dorado/mahi mahi, I have been invited, but have yet to make the trip. Fishing here is great there snook on the beaches and reds and snapper in the islands with an occasional snook bite. I have been still buying shrimp at Fishinâ€™ Franks and it has been producing some good table food. Getting offshore not as often but good catches of red grouper and lane snapper, that is some good eating right there. My two sons came with me one Friday and my youngest son caught his first permit it was 19.75-inches. Another trip out on the Gulf we made it out to 70' where we had some fun catching red grouper and lanes. A group of my Christian friends and I had a great time of fellowship in the boat and caught some nice fish. Another group from the northeast got into the reds and snapper. For some, it was there first time fishing in salt water and they had a blast. Dave and his son had a dual purpose trip for the sons graduation and starting college at FGCU. They wanted to focus on red fish and we were blessed with quite a few, they even had a double hook up, so sweet I almost did the red fish version of my snapper dance :). They had that family style competition, you know the father and son smack talk and all, biggest fish and most fish. It makes me feel good just knowing that they are catching that many quality fish that they can have that much fun on one of my trips. The best part of it all Dave caught a nice snook that was 24" and that made it a memorable trip for father and son. On another trip I went to Matlatcha to meet with my guests Capt. Frank and Maryanne. They caught some nice reds and a black drum and some nice snapper. Frank mostly fishes for bass in PA. They were here visiting family and wanted to do some
salt water inshore fishing. All in all it was a good July. August should be as good. My personal goal this summer is to catch an inshore slam on my fly rods. The full moon should be a great time to go snapper fishing. At night, when it is a little bit cooler,
find those places where you catch a few nice snapper in the day and go prepared with several different types of bait, greenies and shrimp and frozen whatever start with frozen and go to the live baits when things slow down. For those of you that would like to come along with Capt. Bart Marx of Alpha Omega Charters call 941- 979-6517 or email email@example.com And remember, singing drags and tight lines make me smile.
Go With the Flow
Staff Report The Peace River is flowing hard. According to the Canoe Outfitter’s web page on July 30: The Peace River is about 9'-8" above normal at our dock in Arcadia ...and we are open! Normal to us is when our floating dock is flush with the bottom step at the dock. We've been judging the level like that for over 40 years! A large area of tropical rain in the Caribbean was just approaching from the south at the end of July, so the river could stay up for a while yet. Paddling is excellent, so long as you’re going downstream. We had just run up the river to Iron Lake, clearly the flow in that area was still significant and, up there, several large trees were floating. We had hoped to see people sunning and soaking on the soft sandy beach where Horse Creek dumps into the Peace, but that spot was still submerged. Further downstream, back toward Punta Gorda, the small island and shore beaches were still accessible and by noon on this Sunday, most were occupied with cookouts and picnics. Here people were lounging chest deep in the river watching the day go by. On this day there were a lot of jet skis on the river. People paddled, skied and tubed to their heart’s delight. Kids swung from thick ropes hung from tall trees and dropped into the water, dogs swam, people tossed a football around in the shallows, guys fished, boats ran by and the morning unfolded into a Peaceful afternoon.
Paddling upstream, against the current, near the Nav-A-Gator
Hang on for the Ride of Your Life... on any weekend
Doozling above Horse Creek
On and in the water, near Island 17
Lots of Kudza vines, heading up towards the old trestle
KIDS N SUMMER N FISHIN’
By Capt David Stephens Water LIFE Inshore The summer months have to be one of my favorite times of year to fish. Other than for the abundance of big tarpon and snook, it has to be because this is the time of year when school is out and families come to Southwest Florida for vacation. Believe it or not, Disneyland does not attract them all, some want to come down and do a little fishing. As a young child growing up in Florida I had the opportunity to fish more than others. I knew when summer came I would have the opportunity to stay at my Granny and Poppa Stephen’s cabin out on Cayo Costa Island for a week. Of all the childhood memories I have, the ones I cherish the most were spent with my Grandpa Earl and my Nana Romel at Arbuckle Creek. Every summer they would take me and all my cousins, hook up the boat and head to the fish camp where we had an Air stream trailer set up along the side of the creek. My Grandpa loved to run trot lines for freshwater cCatfish. For y’all that don’t know a trot line, it is a long line that has hooks set a few feet apart, often with as many as 25-to 50 hooks. Most of the time he would go check the lines first thing in the morning or in
the middle of the night. On his night checks he didn’t want to wake me, but I made a pallet by the door so their was no way he was leaving without me – someone had to hold the lantern! Even to this day we joke and laugh about how he couldn’t get away without me in that boat. Those are memories I will never forget and as a guide, I do my best to make memories for the youngsters that I get the opportunity to take fishing. One of the great things about fishing with kids is I don’t have the pressure of catching 30 snook or our limit of redfish and trout. As long as I keep the rods bent the kid’s smiles keep coming.
On a recent charter I took one of my long time client’s girls fishing. This year Josh had rented a house in PGI for a week. I was little worried about the rain, so me and Josh went tarpon fishing that morning and after we got done (about 11am) I told him lets go top the well off with bait and have his wife to bring the girls to Ponce De Leon Park. After we had the bait we ran back, picked up the kids and went into the PGI canals and got set up on a seawall. I tossed out some chummers and jacks in the 3-to 4-pound range started churning the water. We set in that same spot and caught 4 to 6 different species until the building storms chased us back to their rental. After we got back, Josh put his arm around me and told me watching his kids laughing, screaming and jumping around with pure enjoyment meant more to him than any hundred-plus pound tarpon I have ever put him on.
If you get a chance to take a young child fishing, I highly recommend it. Trust me, it is an experience they will hold dear to their heart forever. Give me a call or send me an email. All charters are customized for you! Capt. Dave Stephens 941-916-5769 www.backbayxtremes.com
The Ole’ Fishin’ Hole
By Captain Jim O’Brien Water LIFE Offshore with Capt. Jim O'Brien Hey - Ya -All fish'n has been real good if you can get out between storms. If you're going offshore 30 to 50 miles out you have to pick your days those storms move in and the Gulf can grow some big waves in a hurry because of being so shallow. This last 3 to 4 weeks I have been fish'n with some of my fish'n buddies and we fished the Mohawk, a U.S. Coast Guard cutter, 165 feet long it rests in about 97 feet of water. We got out there at 8.30 a.m. saw the 2 mooring buoys, found part of the ship and started fish'n. We didn't know how the ship sat on the bottom so we chummed the waters and sent some lines down. We caught a goliath grouper, a big shark and some cudas was chewing through our gear. The toothy critters loved our baits. Well after fish'n for a while and catching everything that had teeth we looked up and 3 boats was heading our way. Well they came up and droped anchor and each boat had 10 to 12 divers. Since they sank the Mohawk last year it has a lot of fish on it. One of our friends had a diving party that dove the Mohawk just a couple of weeks ago. I have videos that were sent to me on my computer. In fact when Dana dove the Mohawk they also dove the Pegasus a 110 foot tug boat and then went to Fantastica and dove it. I'm a lucky man. I have videos of all the dive sites, WOW is that great or what? Anyway the Mohawk sits not far from Charlie and Pegasus and a few miles from the FPL double barges, but when we saw 30 to 36 divers getting in the water we opted to move.This is a real nice dive site - they come here from Boca Grande to Fort Myers, so we flipped a coin and went to to the Twin Barges. In my picture for this month our best fish we caught was a cobia. If you decide to fish the Mohawk make sure you get out there at first light cause the divers won't be far behind. Now let's see what else is going on offshore SHARKS - black tips and bulls are in the Harbor, in the passes and on most of the inshore reefs. Best baits are mullet, bonita and strips of barracuda
Mohawk Trip EMAIL:
TARPON - the guys are saying there thinning out a little but still being caught in the pass and on the beachs SNOOK - is still closed but should reopen SEPT. 1. Nothing but good things I'm hearing on the snook bite. Snook are being caught around devil fish key to the passes and some big - uns are being caught in Bull Bay,
dines and squid GAG GROUPER - finally reopened July 1st. They were biting pretty good inshore but I think they are moving to deeper waters offshore. If you can get out between storms, there was some nice ones being caught in 90 to 130 feet of water. Best baits live pinfish, spot tail grunts and squid SNAPPERS AND PORGIES - mangs, porgies and lane snapper are being caught in 40 to 100 feet of water. Best baits pieces of squid and pieces of sardines. One guy told me he uses small pieces of bonita and that's all he uses We had to cancel our Fish'n for Heroes Wounded Warriors trip July 14 . We had tropical storm Chantel coming at us, so the guys canceled and we’re going to try again to get them out soon. Fantasea Scuba in Port Charlotte provided this Mohawk photo from last month. PHOTO BY Darrell Meunier
best bait live pin fish and white bait AJ'S - greater amberjack will reopened August 1, and there sure hasn't been a shortage of these bruisers RED SNAPPER - closed on July 14 for another year RED GROUPER - are being caught at 15 to 30 miles out, the bigger ones in deeper water. Best bait mullet, sar-
AND REMEMBER, GET OUT THERE AND SNORT SOME OF THAT GOOD CLEAN SALT AIR C U Z IT'S GOOD FER YA ! ! ! To book an offshore charter with us aboard the Predator II call 941- 473-2150
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Sometimes Unsubstanciated, But Often True
Many Fish The day after America celebrated its independence, Chicago angler Johnny Wilkins, 46, took up his cane pole
and a massive cooler filled with bait and headed out to Lake View Nature Center to try to break the world record for most fish caught in a 24-hour period. Sitting at the edge of the Centerʼs large pond, he brought up bass, carp, and his target fish, bluegill, by the thousands. The current record is held by extreme angler Jeff Kolodzinzki, at a mind-boggling 2,649 caught in a single day. Wilkins failed to match that number, but still clocked in with 2,011 fish.
FWC asks public to report mink sightings - thatʼs the new FWC chopper, seen at Punta Gorda July 4. Mink are rare in Florida, and wildlife biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are hoping to learn more about this small mammal, but they need the publicʼs help to find out where it occurs. People can report evidence such as mink sightings, photos and road-killed specimens online. Adult mink weigh 2-3 pounds and measure about 2 feet in length. Fur can be dark chocolate or a light rusty brown. Sometimes there is a patch of white along the chin and under the throat.
acres of shoreline and restored 1.7 acres of existing mangrove fringe. They planted 11 acres of mangroves and 3.8 acres of spartina (commonly known as cordgrass) along the shoreline and on the islands.
Hereʼs One Now!
Oyster Busts (does not relate to photo above!) Officers recently concluded a five-day oyster detail in Apalachicola Bay. During the detail, 63 vessels were boarded and 159 harvesters were inspected. The detail yielded multiple violations of resource and boating safety laws. Four uniform boating citations were issued for boating safety and registration violations and two resource citations were issued for no saltwater products license and no Apalachicola Bay oyster harvest permit. Sixty-six boating safety warnings were issued as well as 26 warnings for resource violations. Restored Wetlands in the Lake Worth Lagoon. Workers filled deep holes with 1.2 million cubic yards of sand. Graded fill to wetland elevations, creating four islands and submerged land suitable for seagrass. Eliminated erosion and created a natural shoreline along 1.2 linear miles of the Lagoon. Removed exotic plant species like Australian pine, Brazilian pepper and seaside mahoe, from five
Red Tide Robot Summers in Puget Sound routinely see blooms of harmful algae or pathogens that threaten shellfish and finfish farms and water-based recreation. What if there was a tool that could provide an early warning of harmful algae and pathogens in Puget Sound? This summer, NWFSC scientists and partners Special ACS M109 tank canon silencer from are deploying a state-of-the-art robotic the warcraft innovators in the Federal Republic of Germany sensing unit in Puget Sound to do just that. Critical Habitat In accordance with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act, NOAA Fisheries released for public comment a draft proposal to designate critical habitat for threatened loggerhead sea turtles in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Members of the public can now submit comments on the agencyʼs draft proposal to aid in the recovery of this species.
The robotic sensor, called the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP), uses molecular probes to detect microorganisms in water by their DNA, and can provide scientists with near real-time information on our water quality before shellfish and fish are contaminated. Decision-makers like public health officials and shellfish growers can then use this data to help improve the safety of our local seafood, help protect the economic stability of waterfront businesses and the aquaculture industry, and alert water enthusiasts.
This year local mangroves are heavy with propugules that will drop into the water, float away, wash ashore, right themselves into an upright position and grow into a new mangrove tree. Thatʼs how it works!
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August Fishing Forecast
Frank, at Fishin’ Franks Charlotte Harbor 941- 625-3888
There are grouper, keeper size, in 60 feet of water, a lot of nice lane snappers and mahi mahi at about 35 miles. Snapper fishing, mangroves snapper and more keeper grouper on the nearshore reefs all the way to Boca Grande pass. The brown line of river/harbor water is the difference in fishing. The Peace River is still just under flood stage. Out 6 miles, there is a line in the water with blue on one side and brown water on the other. I’ve been seeing lots of pictures and people have been telling me of brown water right on the beaches. It’s just rain water. In inshore fishing the brown hasn’t seemed to bother the snapper and the redfish. A bunch of them are out there. Any place you find deep water on the east side
Tuning a Golden-Eye
Fishinʼ Frank – Let's talk about a great snook lure "made in the U.S.A." The Maverick Golden Eye. They are getting pretty good at making them, but you have to know how to tune their lure. Tuning a lure is easy once you know how. It is the metal piece / ring / on the front of the lure which is used to tune it. You bend it a 64th of an inch to one side to get the lure to track straight. You donʼt bend the split ring which hangs from the nose ring, but the nose ring it-self. A trick I have used to fish a deeper running lure in shallow waters to DE-tune it, making it run off to one side, so when you reel it, it will pop out of the water like a white bait escaping a predator. Then when I am done, I bend the nose ring back to where it belongs and it is normal again.
Two happy ladies from Paradise Fshing Charters
you’ll find redfish and snappers. The west side is a little more hit and miss. It should be better around Muddy Bay to the south, but one day fishing is the best you have ever had and then, the next day, you can’t find a fish. The 41 bridge is the land of the weird. We’re catching redfish up to 38 inches this year, at the bridge, the common size is 30 to 34. There have been some really, really, big ones and they are actually redfish, not black drums. Then you have some reds around Hog Island too. There is some bait down around Pirate Harbor, but bait is a little bit better toward Bokeelia and around Devilfish Key. Shrimp and cut bait are the bait of a choice up in the dark water. Dead shrimp is as good as the live ones – usually the shrimp die in the freshwater as soon as you put them down anyway. This is the time of year to fish deep. If there is any salt it will be within a few
Kevin Havercamp and his family with some nice Charlotte Harbor reds with Capt Dave Lowery.
inches of the bottom. Salt gets into the sand and it stays a little saltier in the last 5 or 6 inches of bottom, just residual salt. Tarpon have provided a little action at the bridge, first thing in the morning. The mouth of the Myakka has some tarpon at times, but basically you are hunting the harbor for them since you can’t see them with the brown water and the chop. The Berkly swim-baits or the D.O.A. Bait Busters are the lure. You may have to throw 500 times, but persistent casting means you will eventually find the fish. The captains that are catching fish have swollen hands from all the casting. They get results, but they work for it. There are still small sharks up in the Harbor, but not as many as at Boca. Sharks have been 2 to 10 foot bulls and lemons. Surprisingly, we are still getting good numbers – between the heat and the freshwater quite a few have already headed out
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into the Gulf. Big snook are moving back into the Harbor. They have done their spawn and are coming back to hang out for the winter. This year it’s not uncommon to catch oversize snook. Snook like the canals and the river. They don’t mind the freshwater at all. Time to dig out the Rattletraps and Mavericks and start working the docks. By the time snook season opens we are going to be inundated with big snook. In freshwater, Hula-poppers, top water for bass, are doing pretty good. There doesn’t seem to be a clear winner in the colors. A couple of people are catching exotics like pacu on minnows and beetle spins. I saw a picture of one pacu that had to be at least 6 pounds... maybe 8! Get up early, be at the boat ramp while it is dark and get on those fish first thing in the morning. Once 11 or 12 oclock hit, they are looking for shade, same as us.
BackBay Xtremes Capt Dave Stephens www.backbayxtremes.com
continued from facing page
The The BIG-4 BIG-4
Jim, at Fishermen’s Edge Englewood: 697-7595
Guys that are going out are having pretty good luck. Two guide friends, one at Gasparilla Island near the Pass, by the end of Boca Grande, caught some nice trout just when the tide turned. There are quite a few nice redfish and some small snook and snapper down by the pass. The water is pretty stained, people are saying it looks like an algae bloom. It was brown, but now it’s a nasty looking
Austin Stolpe fishes every single day. ʻMy kid is hooked on fishing, or catching as he says. Please give him some face time in your publication. Thank you from a proud and getting out-fished by his son, father!!ʼ Editor Notes*Great Catch Austin! Nice drum, but there are better ways to hold a big fish, ways that donʼt wipe off itʼs natural ʻslimeʼ.
TARPON Moving into the Harbor and Pine Island Sound
Fish Fish to to expect expect in in
GROUPER out in the Gulf in 60-feet of water
green, like a pool that went bad. You have to be fishing on the incoming, when the tide is more salty, the fish seem more lethargic on the freshwater part of the tide. The other guy, who fished in and around Cayo Pelau and Catfish Creek, caught snook and redfish. He was trying to teach a guy how to fly-fish but he couldnt cast out far enough, so they caught them on jigs. The passes have a lot of fish. There are snook in and around the passes, on the beach and also by the Phosphate Dock. I’ve also seen keeper grouper by the north end of the island. Fishing by the new bridge abutments from shore, where there is some good current and maybe some holes has brought bigger redfish and some nice gag grouper that are holding in there. There was some tarpon on the beach at the beginning of the month, but guys have been going up into the harbor, mostly throwing bait busters or bigger crabs. There has been quite a bit of good gags, red grouper and man-
SNOOK coming back in from the Gulf
REDFISH big redfish at the 41 Bridge and on the ʻwallsʼ
Gulf Temps are 86 o and climbing the Harbor is almost 88
Offshore photos: Capt. Billy Barton Shark photo: Capt. Bart Marx
grove snapper offshore. Most at the near-by reefs and out 45 or 65 miles. Sharks are still around. You can have a field day catching all kinds: shovel nose, scalloped, hammerheads and bull sharks, if you want to.
Offshore $160/person 8am-5pm
Capt. Steve Skevington
FISHING RIGHT NOW: Excellent!