Saturday, June 25, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
Highs in the low 90's, chance of storms every day, lots threaten...not many actually rain on us.

I went fishing but got shut out today.

I didn't want to burn alot of fuel today because we have more guests coming next month and I'll need it for them. I normally buy my non-ethanol marine fuel on the street at the Marathon station on PC Blvd & US 41 but was so tired after my week in Boston, I didn't feel like humping jerry cans, 5 gallons at a time. I drove through the Marathon and saw their price last night was 3.99 and decided to get gas on the water at Fishermen's Village. MISTAKE! $4.64 per gallon today. I only bought 10 gallons to get me through the day.

My boat holds 60 gallons of fuel, so 65 cents times 60 gallons is $39 per tank savings. That's like 10 gallons free! I've bought the Marathon fuel many times and can attest to it's quality. In my last boat I had a problem with ethanol so I won't use it ever again.

Anyway, back to my fishing report. I stayed up on the north end of the harbor. I started in Rocky Creek at 8AM. There was great water flow coming through, 3 hours before high tide. I anchored down in 2' of water at the mouth of the creek. I alternated between casting a Skitter Walk on 10lb mono, 15lb floro leader, and a Zara Spook on 30lb braid, 30lb floro leader. After 30 minutes with no strikes I pulled up my anchor pin (if you haven't seen the shallow water anchor pin called "Stick It", as a $100 alternative to a $1500 power pole, you should check it out) and I trolled about 100 yards into the creek anchored down next to the mangroves. I started casting the Spook across to the flat on on opposite mangrove shore.

I wasn't there 5 minutes before I felt something biting my leg. I looked down and was HORRIFIED to see hundreds of mosquitos covering my entire body. I am pretty sensitive to the noseeums and skeeters but I'd gotten used to them being an occassional pain in my ace. This was nothing I could stand. Keep in mind, it was 9:00AM and there was a decent 10 knots of wind blowing. Not the usual conditions you would expect to find skeeters hunting in, although it was 77% humidity. I've been to this spot 3 times before and only got lit up there right at sundown.

I quickly pulled the anchor pin and fired up the Minn Kota, fleeing for my life! I got back outside the creek and tried to pin down again there, but there were so many bugs on me and the boat, I had to fire up and get running to blow them off. No, I didn't have any spray or lotion to put on me. I've never been lit up like this in the daytime, so I don't keep deet or anything on board. I don't think it would have helped this assault, anyway.

The winds had picked up to 15 knots and thunderstorms were looming so I wanted to stay close to home. I went over the Charlotte Beach complex and trolled around there. Seeing numerous pilings lined up with white stripes on them made me wonder what these were for. I wanted to anchor down and cast toward the beach but wasn't sure what these pilings were for. I called the Sheriff's Marine patrol and was told this was a swim zone, no boats allowed. I asked them how a boater would know this, with no signs posted, and was told that the Charlotte County public works is responsible for the signs. And this answers my question, how? I got out and got legal, nontheless. There must be 8 pilings marking this area, without signage. I finally found ONE sign, right next to the fishing pier. I used the trolling motor to work this area from my bow seat but couldn't even find a lady fish to bite.

I spent the next few hours just trolling the mangroves north of the beach complex, in Alligator Bay. It was fun to find all the 2-3' water I could navigate and I tested many a spot by anchoring and casting toward the mangroves but got no hits. I also threw a Badonkadonk Pinfish lure for a while but got no interest. I did see a huge stingray (skate) come next to the boat. I didn't want him to bite anyway. Incidentally, none of the mangroves around Alligator Bay held any bugs. One little cove had a lot of fish activity but none would bite. I know they weren't mullet jumping because living on a canal, I'm pretty much an expert in identifying jumping mullet. These fish were not jumping, they were striking at the top of the water, or doing little flaps in one spot, without leaping. They had white bellys and some had grey bodies and some had black bodies with white bellys. I don't what they were except not hungry for hard plastics.
So at 1:30PM I called it a day and headed in. I used my trolling motor, at 2.5 knots, to traverse the canal back home, taking over an hour but it was so peaceful and quiet. I never got any of the rain that threatened all around me for most of the day. The breeze kept the temperatures from getting too miserable. I got more use out of my trolling motor than ever before, saved lots of gas and, while I never found the fish, I found out where they aren't.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
On Vacation from work for a couple weeks

I took my son, Billy, out fishing in the Boca Grande Pass.  The ride out was a little bumpy with some 10-15 knot winds but it wasn't miserable.  He hadn't been on the water with me since the summer of '09 so I wanted to be sure this was a good experience.  We had lots of good fresh live shrimp on board for bait.  I rigged him up with a spinning reel he sent the bait to the 34 foot floor below.  It didn't take 5 seconds for him to exclaim, "Jeez, I think I have one already!"  I saw his pole bending at the end and coached him how to bring it up.  Sure enough, he had a little gag grouper on the hook.  After a quick release he was baited up again and BAM, he gets hit again.  The began a series of catching and landing 6 groupers and snappers in what seemed like no time at all.  He quickly learned the joy of calling out, "Fish On," just like his Dad.  We were drifting the pass and fishing depths between 30 and 73 feet.  Above is a photo I snapped of a decent gag grouper he caught and released.  (Grouper season closed June 1 and all were successfully released alive).

I caught and released a total of 8 of my own, including grouper, snapper and a catfish that stabbed me in the ring finger as I tried to release him.  It hurt pretty bad for a couple of hours but was fine by that night.  My buddy Jim reminded me to not even let them in the boat.

Billy and I also spent some time among the Tarpon fleet, watching the professionals catch 100-200 pound Silver Kings.  When we were at the mouth of the Pass, my fish finder showed hundreds of fish below in the 60 foot depths.  It was more targets than I 've ever seen on my finder.  For a few minutes I sent that catfish down as bait on a big rig but I released how congested the area was with dozens of Tarpon boats all seeking to hook up.  I knew if I hooked up, Billy would be put in the position of trying to manuver my boat away from the fleet.  That's something he just wasn't prepared to do so I quickly gave up on that idea.

We left the tarpon fleet and did a few more drifts through the pass, where Billy got his daily total of fish up to 11.  By 2PM he had his fill of sun and fun and we headed for the home port.  The winds and the waves were much more favorable in the afternoon and we ran about 30 knots most of the way back.

I still had plenty of live bait left so I dropped him off and headed back out alone.  I fished the shallow waters near home but had no luck at all.  I was hoping to land a Redfish or Snook but it seems I had left my good luck charm at home.  The seas turned quite rough by 7PM when I headed in and I was glad Billy wasn't with me.  I made it home at 745 and got everything cleaned up before sundown.  Once again, the boat ran brilliantly.  More importantly, I showed my son a great time and got him back safely from the sea.

Above is one more Billy caught; a Gulf Toadfish.  Weird looking specimen.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
67*, going to a high of 95

To say I've been busy is putting it mildly.  In the three weeks since I've blogged I have spent a week working on the road in Miami/Palm Beach/Stuart, spent another week in meetings in California, and spent Memorial weekend in Key West with friends visiting from Arizona.

Key West was fun, as usual.  This time my wife had the idea to rent scooters and see new parts of the island.  We had a blast!  We think that will be our new mode of transportation in KW for at least a day.  They only charge 50 bucks for a single seater or 65 for a double seater for 24 hours.  Parking is normally so hard anywhere near Duvall Street but there's all kinds of free parking for motorcycles.  We zipped around from place to place and really enjoyed it.  The bad news there was that our favorite singer/song writer, Michael McCloud wasn't playing because of a charity event going on at the Schooner Wharf bar.  Then the holiday traffic, on the way home on Monday, was insane.  It took us 5 hours to drive the 126 miles out of the Keys and we only saw one minor fender bender.  There were just too many cars for the road to handle.  After getting off the islands, it took us another 3 hours to drive to our house.  But everyone was patient and took it well.

My friend, Gary, and I went fishing one day while they were here.  We caught grouper, snapper and blue runner in the Boca Grande Pass.  The wind and the waves were pretty rough.  After a few hours in the pass we headed to the Myakka River cutoff and hid behind some mangrove trees to escape the wind.  We fished the flats in 2' of water, where I landed my first speckled sea trout.  All fish today were released alive.

After our Arizona friends left, my youngest son Billy arrived for his 3 weeks of summer with us.  I took vacation time from work to spend time with him.  I'm so relieved to have some time off the road.  It's been particularly hard on me the past 4 months.

I ordered a new palm tree pruner, as the one we had from Home Depot is only 12' long and doesn't quite reach all of our palms.  The new one is a commercial model and it telescopes out to 20'.  This will keep me from having to use a ladder, which can be very dangerous.  The blade is incredibly sharp.  I tried it out on a couple of trees and I must say I'm impressed.  I feel like Al Pacino, as Tony Montano in Scarface..."Say hello to my little friend!"  I have 27 palms to prune so my work is cut out for me. 

I plan on taking Billy out fishing at least a couple of times while he's here.  I want him to have the joy of landing a snook, like his brother and I.

The 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season is underway, as of June 1.  I will track and follow any storm developments here, as conditions warrant.  It's been 5 years since any major hurricanes made landfall in Florida.  Here's hoping for 6.

(the latest title page photo was taken last weekend in Key Largo, from the Hampton Inn)