Saturday, February 26, 2011


Home in PC
High of 84 today

Regular readers of the blog will remember that last month my son Ryan came to visit for a long weekend and managed to land the family's first Snook fish.  A pig by snook standards, measuring about 32" long and weighing about 10 pounds.

Today after over 3 years of trying, I finally joined the Snook club.

This morning at 6:40AM, on my backyard dock, I cast a 1/4 ounce Badonkadonk pinfish lure toward this fella and he hit it hard. He ran across the canal, taking my 10lb test with him. I pursuaded him back toward me but he decided to take the show with him beneath my boat lift. I took advantage of that and walked the dock, reeling in line as I approached him. That's all it took to land him. I had to take a chance and set the rod in the holder, in order to run up to the house and wake up my very understanding wife out of a dead sleep.  I risked coming back to find an empty line but it worked out for me.  He was still there.  As for my wife...

She was delirious but supportive and took the picture to keep this from becoming just another fish story. The first is always special. I'm happy to say, he was released alive and well.

Snook are currently endangered and out of season due to a record setting cold snap in December, 2010, when we uncurred 10 days of 28* temps.  Thank goodness that'sall over.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Home, but headed to Sarasota for work today
High in Port Charlotte, 83*

I mananged to changed out both the boat side and trolling motor side electrical plug and connector for the trolling motor.  I'm awaiting the arrival of a new ordered marine battery charger to install, so that the 3 trolling motor batteries can be plugged in each time I return to port.

I hope to have the actual trolling motor installed by this weekend.  Weather is warm and the waters here are warming.  I'm anticipating the best Spring of fishing I've had since moving here.

My soon to be 15 year old called the other day and is looking forward to coming to visit this summer, after school.  He wants to stay for 3 weeks.  He actually said he's leaving his Xbox video game in Arizona so that we can spend more time together.  That made my day.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
High of 81

I went back to work today, working the island of Longboat Key.  After work I came home and did some Messing About the boat.  I bought a big trolling motor and have to change the connector plug.  I opened up the panel where the trolling motor plugs into the boat and found a little corrosion on the receptacle.  I went to the local Key West dealer and purchased a new connector and receptacle for $22 total.  I came home and tried to crimp the new plug on the trolling motor.  As luck would have it, I screwed up the 4th of 4 crimps and have to wait and buy new crimp connectors. 

Tomorrow I work the Venice area, which is closest to home.  I should have time to do some more boat work when I get home.  I want to get the trolling motor finished so I can fish it this weekend.  I leave Monday for business meetings in California next week.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Click on any picture for full screen image


Home in Port Charlotte
High of 82*

My friend from Arizona, Mike, joined me for a day of Messing About in South Florida today.

Launched at 550AM to a beautiful, smooth as glass, Charlotte Harbor.

Made the run from my house to Boca Grande Pass at 30 knots, feeling like I was flying on air instead of planning on water. Harbor water was 70*, air temperature was 55*.

Spent the day in the Gulf, trolling north, 3-4 miles off shore to 300-400 feet off the beach, in depths varying from 10' to 30'. No hits. Gulf water was 63*.

Visited Gasparilla Marina and took 45 gallons of marine grade fuel at $4.23.
We were now enjoying air temperatures near 80 with no detectable humidity.

Back to the Gulf and trolled north to Stump Pass. Took advantage of my shallow draft and snuck through less than 2' of water. Entered Lemon Bay and enjoyed water color that reminds me of the Bahamas. Drift fished casting lures and later anchored down for a while. No fish.

Spoke with my new friend, Big House, by phone and compared notes. He was in Charlotte Harbor on his boat and was experiencing similar results. We were too far apart to meet up today but I look forward to doing so in the near future.

By 430PM the calm had given way to 15MPH winds and still enjoyable 2' seas. Trolled South in the Gulf in depths of 30' back to and through Boca Grande Pass. Saw a fool with a pedal boat in the middle of shark infested BGP.

The new (to me) Key West 196 Bay Reef boat performed flawlessly. The Yamaha 150 outboard was the perfect power plant. To have a boat that can go skinny diping in 12", yet give complete confidence 4 miles off shore in a light chop...yeah, I'm happy with the boat.

By the time we arrived home we had logged over 90 miles on the day. Even though we were skunked by the fish, it was one of the best days I've spent on these waters.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Home in Port Charlottes
55 at 5AM wakeup, High of 81 for the rest of the week

I've been on vacation since last Friday.  Our close friends, Mike and Jaci, are visiting from Phoenix.  We spent three night and four days in the Florida Keys.  In Islamorada,, Mike and I did a little fishing from the seawall of the hotel.  I hooked a small Barracuda; my first.  After landing it, I realized I'd forgotten my pliers and had nothing to remove the hooks from his razor teeth filled mouth.  I enlisted the help of Mike to control the fish while I tried to remove the lure hook but it was buried into the fish's jaw.  Several times I returned the fish to the water to keep him oxygenated and alive but we just couldn't get that hook out  (admittedly, I was a little gun shy after having had a lure stuck in my thumb in November 09).  I'm not one to practice "kill and release" but we had few options.  I had a knife with me so we decided we'd have to cut the hook out of his mouth.  It took us over 5 minutes to get the hook out, all the while having the little fella out of the water.  By the time we were done, so was he.  I figured the many sea gulls in the area would get him so at least there'd be some creature who benefited from the Barracuda's misfortune.  I tossed him into the Atlantic and he floated motionless in the crystal clear water.  He didn't turn belly up but I thought nothing of it.

Ten minutes later I commented to Mike that the fish was in a different spot in the water.  Mike passed it off as water current movements and said, "That fish sleeps with the fishes."  About five minutes later I saw the unmistakable signs of life as the Barracuda wagged his tail and breathed through his gills.  Mike and I shared a big high five as the minor miracle swam away on his own power!

The rest of our Keys weekend included seeing Scott Kirby perform at the Pier House and enjoying an 80s cover band, called the Juliani Brothers, play at Sloppy Joes bar.  We watched a gorgeous sunset at Mallory Square and followed it up 13 hours later with the sunrise over the Atlantic.  Mike and Jaci absolutely loved their first trip to Key West, as they celebrated 22 years of marriage on February 11.

Monday we arrived back in Port Charlotte, only to depart again Tuesday.  Mike and I drove to Deland, FL to pickup my new Key West fishing boat and bring it back home.  Wednesday, found a terrific trolling motor on the craigslist classifieds.  Mike and I drove to Naples to pick it up.  The seller, a 71 year old man, bought a top of the line, 101 pound thrust, saltwater trolling motor with auto pilot and remote control for $1,600.  He installed it on his boat and used it twice.  He also found great difficulty in manually pulling his anchor up from the water and decided to install an anchor windlass (electric winch).  When he learned the windlass would not fit on the bow with the huge trolling motor there, he was forced to chose.  He sold the 36 volt trolling motor to me for $700.  This thing could turn my new boat into an electric hybrid!  I felt really confident about buying from the man, as he lived in a high dollar development and seemed like an honest guy.  He also had his purchase receipt and all of the packaging/manuals for the unit.

Wednesday afternoon, the four of us joined two other couples (lifelong friends of Jaci's family from Michigan who now live in FL) for lunch at Fishermen's Village in Punta Gorda.  After lunch, Mike and I took our wives on the maiden voyage of the new fishing vessel, Messing About.  The weather and the wind were perfect and the boat performed flawlessly.  We trailered it back home because the old boat still sits on our lift.  The buyer is picking it up on Thursday.  Also Thursday, Mike and I will install the trolling motor and it there's enough time we will take the girls out for another cruise.  Friday should be all business, as Mike and I plan on fishing from sun up to sun down.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte

They say the two best days in a boater's life are the day he buys his boat and the day he sells it.
I experienced both of those days this week.  Readers may recall that I've been trying to sell my boat since November.  A combination of excessive equipment failures and frustrations with low bridges and high tides all led to the decision to part with the 26' walk around cabin.

Last Saturday a buyer came all the way from the Florida Keys to see it and buy it.  I received 88% return on my purchase price from three years ago.  Of course that doesn't count the thousands I poured into it in the last year but I'm very satisfied with my sale.

Ever since November I have been shopping for a replacement.  I really like Boston Whalers but so does every seller who's selling one.  They must, because they price the boats so high.  I just can't justify spending twice the price when the boat isn't quite twice as nice as a few of the other top brands.  I knew the style of hull I wanted was what they call a bay boat.  It's a modified V hull, with a pretty shallow draft, enabling one to access the shallow back waters of the rivers and mangroves around Charlotte Harbor, yet with a design that will handle a good chop in the water without risk of being swamped or capsizing.  Many manufacturers make bay boats.  One of the more popular and reliable brands in the South are Key West Boats.

In business since 1990 and still producing models today, Key West makes boats from 14 to 30 feet.  They mirror the Boston Whaler design of no wood, no rot, construction.  Hulls are made of foam filled fiberglass and composite materials, with stainless steel metals.  Their moto is "made by fishermen, for fishermen."  Their Bay & Reef models are very popular and as a result, limited in supply on the resale market.

Once I sold my old boat, I went into heavy research mode and settled on a 2003 Key West 196 Bay Reef that I found on craigslist.  I went to see it and brought a compression testing kit with me.  The Yamaha 150 horsepower outboard motor tested out perfectly.  It has 234 hours on the engine, is in very good shape and comes with a nice trailer.  The trailer will enable me to pull my boat off the lift in order to do maintenance.

I still have my old boat out back, while I wait for the buyer's Minnesota check to clear.  Once that does, I will release the Seamaster to her new master and I will bring home the new one.  Below are a few pictures I took at the sellers house.

Click on pictures for full screen image