Monday, October 31, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
Highs in the low 80s, lows in the low 60s

Saturday I participated in a bragging rights fishing tournament with some local guys who all met on the website  The website has online community bulletin boards covering most metropolitan areas of the US.  Much of the topics of discussion on the website is related to real estate and standards of living.  Members or posters, as they are called, post messages or ask questions and others comment.  One of the most popular topics on the Sarasota/Bradenton/Venice board, which covers Port Charlotte, is a topic called Fishing Charlotte Harbor Area.  This is where I met the guys who fished with me on Saturday.  The names below refer to their online screen names on city-data.

Despite the gloomy forecast, it turned out to be a terrific day to be on the water in Charlotte Harbor. I launched from my backyard canal, accompanied by my new friend WPC, at 6:30AM and throttled up through Alligator Bay at 7:05 in misty twilight and 72* air, 73* water.

We tied up at the Fisherman's Village courtesy dock at 7:15. WPC and I prepped our lines while waiting for Big House to arrive. He pulled up, fashionably late at 7:55, accompanied by a Great White Egret bird riding shotgun on his portside bow. I wish I'd have gotten that picture. Foxrivman met BH dockside and boarded. The fleet headed south, through the morning mist, to Boca Grande Pass. The water was as perfectly smooth. We ran 32 knots at 4500 RPM the entire way.

The fishing teams stayed in radio contact on the VHF radio and updated each other throughout the day. It was a blast that will only be better with more boats next time.  We missed the participation of our friend Harbor Hopper and hope to get more city-data members on board with the next event.

Over the course of the day we fished Boca Grande Pass, the sand bar outside of Burnt Store Marina, and Bull Bay. We worked in water ranging from 65' to 2'. We caught and released short gag grouper, mangrove snapper, ladyfish, a giant pinfish and too many catfish.

We were surprised to see both rolling and jumping tarpon in the BGP. Unusual to see that many in late October. We suspect WPC hooked into tarpon or big sharks when twice his 30 lb braid ripped off the spinning reel at a rate that left him powerless to do anything but watch it peel off down to the the mono below the braid.

The first run resulted in the angler getting back everything except his bait and catch. The second time resulted in the fish departing with a substantial amount of braid, leader line and hook. We re-rigged to 50lb line with 80lb leaders but never hooked up with those.

We made a detour to Burnt Store Marina, where we met Mrs. WPC and their real estate agent. WPC signed an offer sheet on a house in PGI and did his part to help the economy of Southwest Florida.

I did as well, burning 40 gallons of marine fuel on 77 nautical miles for the day.

Highlights of the day included numerous visions of bottle nose dolphins doing full aerial leaps, like a Sea World show.  I see dolphin rolling at the surface almost every trip out but had never seen shows like we saw Saturday.  The low point of the day occurred when I navigated onto a grassy flat and got the boat grounded.  But I was able to recover by raising the motor to full tilt, getting off the boat and pushing us to 2' of water.  We were back underway in two minutes.
The winds never created one white cap on the water, all day long. We made the right call by keeping our plans, despite the forecast of 20 knot winds and rain that, thankfully, never appeared. Forecasters are often wrong, but it usually works against boaters. For once, the wind blew in our favor.

Click on pictures for full screen image.

Winds were forecast to be 20 but stayed 5-10 knots most of the day

WPC, also known as Mike, an American living in Germany for 4 years, came to SWFL to fish and purchase a home. He and his wife made an offer on a home in Punta Gorda and plan on moving here in May, 2012.

Rain was in the forecast and daybreak had a marine layer of mist that reduced visibility to a half mile. The above shot was taken in the afternoon when the air had long since cleared. We never got a drop of rain all day.

The winning fish was this 35" blacktip shark, landed by Big House, also known as Jon.

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