Living for the Present: Pleasures of the Avid Boater

By Chris Forman WXCW, Channel 6 & Vice President of SWFMIA

Twenty-six years ago, my wife and I took residence in Cape Coral, on the water to become year round boaters. Snow shovels, ice scrappers and winter coats became a thing of the past. What we discovered very quickly was the boating paradise that lay in our backyard.  In over two decades and  having owned several different styles and sizes of boats, one thing has never changed, when you leave the dock the fun begins.

Heading north up the Caloosahatchee River, there are several nice restaurant choices at Marina Town in North Ft Myers and the Downtown River District in Ft Myers.  A day comprised of a little lazy fishing (we’re not that good…doesn’t matter), cruising and a late lunch stop or early dinner seems to erase the stress of the work week.  We often joke that the cost of boating is way less than the couch doctor, yet they have the same affect.

Heading down the river there is JK’s Riverstop at the Cape Coral Yacht Club. It’s bathing suit casual and full of boating friends you just haven’t met yet.  Fun for kids and families, the picnic table laid back patio is a fabulous vista for a sunset and an ice cold drink and burger.  Also down river are the The Joint Restaurant and Rumrunners at Cape Harbor, where casual outdoor or inside fine dinning await in a relaxing waterfront atmosphere.

Just a 30 minute boat ride south from home is Sanibel Island, a routine stop on Sundays for a swim with our floaty-toys, some Jimmy Buffet on the stereo and a picnic lunch on the back of our boat.  Anchoring in waist deep water makes life easy and the view of the Gulf and lighthouse never gets old.  It’s a great rendezvous spots for other boating friends.  There is a no wake anchoring area, clearly marked by white buoys, that runs the length of the white sugar sand beach.  My wife loves shelling and this area of Southwest Florida is heaven.

Estero Island, or Ft Myers Beach, as it’s commonly known, is also an excellent destination for lunch or dinner by boat with numerous boater friendly stops for the simplest of fare to full elegant meals.  Several boating facilities and fuel stops are convenient as well.

Heading north up Pine Island Sound lies the barrier islands of Sanibel, Captiva, North Captiva and Cayo Costa with beautiful beaches that seem to go on forever on the Gulf of Mexico side.  Inside the sounds lies some of the best fishing grounds in the country.  The channel is well marked and easy even for the novice boater.  The fishing for snook, trout, snapper, redfish and dozens of others is plentiful.  It’s a haven for the serious sportsman or a fun day for easy fishing for mom, dad and the kids.

The Gulf side of North Captiva and Cayo Costa has thousands of my footprints in the sand.  It never grows old for me, the hazel colored water and soft sand beach is where my toes belong.  These islands are only accessible by boat, are home to waterfowl, a light tackle paradise and perfect for an afternoon snooze in the sand.

Summarizing for those of you who have yet to venture out by boat or don’t get out too often … even decades later it’s still fun, therapeutic and the stuff family memories and stories are made of.  It’s the wind in what’s left of my hair, the sound of the water, the sheer pleasure of just driving my boat and my wife getting to read her book. So maybe we’ll see each other on the water next Saturday?  I know I’ll be there. — Chris Forman.

 

Sinking of the USS Mohawk

By Bob Sofranko, Caloosa Dive Club, www.diveclub.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some pictures of the recent sinking of the Mohawk that I took about 30 miles out in the gulf from Sanibel Island, FL.

This will be our newest artificial reef. It will be used by lots of sea life as well as those interested in fishing and diving in the not too distant future. We had planned to dive it a couple of hours after sinking but the charges dislodged a lifeboat and a large stack which will take some underwater repair before it will be safe for future diving. Just as well as sea life will take up almost immediate residency.

There is much interesting history of this ship built in 1935 and used in many ways in the war effort. The final weather report from the Mohawk was used to finalize plans to launch the June 6, 1944 Normandy invasion.

It was a memorable day.

Lee County Fishing Report with Captain Terry

By Captain Terry Fisher, Fish Face Charters

(FT. MYERS BEACH TO CHARLOTTE HARBOR) Summer weather patterns are here in full swing with warm temperatures more times than not followed by a string of thunderstorms. So long as there is not lightning, I welcome the cool breezes that they produce from time to time. The only downside is that the wind usually picks up, presenting some casting discomfort until they subside or go away. One thing for sure is that an early start will keep you out of the afternoon heat and usually produce better strikes and more fish action than being in out there in the heat of the day.

This should be a good week to get out there and try your luck as the tides will be bigger with stronger currents in many areas. My last few charters are yielding a good variety of species from St. James City to Bokelia on Pine Island Sound. I have been working the passes for Snook, the Mangroves and oyster beds for Reds and the flats for Sea Trout. Small Threadfins have been my best producers for live bait, even though they have been smaller than I like. The ‘summer’ shrimp have been very small, but to offset simply place 2 on a hook!

Flounder have been good on a redheaded jig using Gulp Penny or White color 3” Shrimp. The Mangrove Snapper like them as well with both of these species being caught relatively easy around and on structure at 3-4ft. depths where the current is moving.

Off-shore activity is good when the wind permits using cut baits such as mullet, squid, Pinfish. Fish over structure and chum. Try dragging some ‘Stretch’ or other brand of lures while searching out new spots. When you get a hit; mark the spot, land the fish and investigate the bottom for any opportunity to anchor and fill your cooler. Try trolling the you baits on the outgoing tides around and through the passes as well.

If you have any questions, give me a call at 239-357-6829/239-471-7332 or email me at fishfacecharters@yahoo.com. Check out my website for additional reading and information at www.fishfacecharters.com

Moore Haven Lock Reopened to Navigation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has reopened the Moore Haven Lock to navigation after completing installation of the Manatee Protection System (MPS) July 14.

“Installation of the Manatee Protection System was completed three weeks ahead of schedule, allowing us to reopen the lock on Okeechobee Waterway to navigation,” said Al Bruns, project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District.

Work was initially scheduled to begin May 14, but was postponed twice after taking into consideration the concerns expressed by local business owners, recreational boaters and residents about  the lock being closed during the height of boating season and the resulting economic impacts.  The work, which began June 11, was scheduled to take approximately eight weeks to finish, was completed in approximately five weeks.

Installation of the MPS is part of the Manatee Pass Gates project.  The primary goal of the project is to safeguard Florida’s endangered manatees at water control structures and navigation locks by modifying these structures with a MPS. Using a set of acoustic transmitters and receivers, the MPS detects the West Indian manatee and prevents the gates from closing and harming the protected animal.

Additional information on this and other navigation notices impacting the Okeechobee Waterway can be found at the following website: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices/tabid/6072/Article/480023/summary-of-2012-public-notices-issued-by-jacksonville-district.aspx

Additional information on the Manatee Pass Gates project is available at the following website: http://bit.ly/MPG_USACE.

 

Lee County Fishing Report with Captain Terry

By Captain Terry Fisher, Fish Face Charters

(FT. MYERS BEACH TO CHARLOTTE HARBOR) Yes, the fishing is improving since my last report. The Snook are still the easiest to target on the beaches and in the passes as well as on the last half of the higher tide in the Mangroves. The stronger the tide, be it outgoing or incoming, the better.  I suggest targeting deeper cuts and points as the fish are looking for relief from the heat. When you spot your quarry or have the intuition one is lurking around, make four to five repeat presentations in the target area. If you do get a ‘swirl’ or ‘slap’ at the presentation (especially if one is using artificial lures) odds are in your favor that they may not resist other opportunities. However, after you have caught a couple of fish from a school or made several passes, they get wiser and it is probably to your advantage to move onto another spot.

Likewise, the Redfish (‘Red’s’) will move up in the Mangroves on a high tide and in the deeper cuts as well until they move out just at the flats as the tide subsides. Based on my recent charters and other reports the ‘Reds’ seem to be more concentrated in the upper part of Pine Island Sound.

Gray Snapper and Flounder bites have also been good in the back country and they are tasty as well. The Sea Trout seem to always be active and I have had recent success with some Permit and Pompano on the sandy flats in about 4-6ft. of water. The bait and tactics that I am using are both live and artificial depending on the time of the day. I prefer artificial in the early morning hours and live/cut baits during the daytime.

Charlotte County Fishing Report with Frank

 By “Fishin” Frank of Fishing Franks Fishing Store in Port Charlotte

Charlotte Harbor fishing, Is truly great right now.  Even though the Peace River went from a running depth of 1.5 foot to 9 feet in less than 3 days, it seems to have excited a chain reaction feeding event.  Sharks, Tarpon, and Spanish Mackerel are thick throughout the Harbor.

The trick to these fish are last half of the incoming tide and the first half of the out going. Why you might ask?  That brings in cool salty water from the gulf, the rivers running full are flushing a huge amount of bait & other foods.  So when the tide is coming in, the fish are feeding.  Cut bait Mullet, Catfish, Lady Fish all very good right now. The reef at Alligator creek and the middle hole are both holding huge amounts of fish right now.

So go out have some fun in the summer heat, the weather is not all that’s hot, so is the fishing.

Fishin Frank

941-625-3888
http://www.fishinfranks.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lee County Fishing Report with Captain Terry

By Captain Terry Fisher, Fish Face Charters

(LEE COUNTY/FT.MYERS TO CHARLOTTE HARBOR) – Since tropical storm Debbie (‘Debbie’) I have had five (5) charters, including a Tarpon charter last Monday, only to report it is very slow going. My fellow Charter Captains are all reporting the same. I took my Tarpon charter client, Mr. Frank Mellusi from New Jersey, out to Boca Grande Pass to see if the Tarpon had returned only to catch a nine foot (9’) Nurse Shark.  It appears the Tarpon may have moved up towards Tampa, as I only spotted a few rolling on the strong out-going tide and my fellow captains not seeing many of them around the beaches or other passes.

Moreover, ‘back country’ has not been producing satisfactorily as before ‘Debbie’. Baits have been hard to find and the shrimp are very small. However, I have been having most of my success in the early morning hours with artificial baits before the scorching heat. The Snook seem to be the easiest to locate and catch on the last half of the incoming tides, while the other species are hard to locate due to the higher water tides created by the full moon and aftermath of ‘Debbie”. However, the water is clearing up and as the water levels get back in place and the white bait returns, I feel the bite will improve.

Anyone who wants to go fishing should get excited as the balance of the month of July should prove to be very successful. So get out there and have a good time’ as the winds are calm, making for a ‘great day on the water.’ If I may be of any assistance give me a call at 239-357-6829/239-471-7332 or email me at fishfacecharters@yahoo.com. Check out my website at www.fishfacecharters.com.

Fireworks on the Water

We keep telling you that Southwest Florida is just about the best place for boating in the U.S.  To help prove that point, why not get out on the water and enjoy your 4th of July Fireworks from the water.  The view is always the best from the water side.  You get the fireworks themselves and usually some great reflections off the water as well.  You don’t have to fight traffic and parking issues.  And you don’t have to lug coolers and chairs all over the place. There are plenty of options for a great evening on the water.  Here’s a list of waterfront fireworks we came up with.

  • PUNTA GORDA –  Punta Gorda will hold its annual 4th of July celebration at Laishley Park, 100 Nesbit Street on July 4, 2012 from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m  Fireworks begin at 9:00pm
  • CAPE CORAL – Red, White & Boom is held at the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge on Cape Coral Parkway.  Fireworks are scheduled to start around 9:30.
  • FORT MYERS –  Fort Myers Freedom Fest –  Downtown at the River District.  Block party starts at 6PM with fireworks at 9:30  off the Pavilion next to the boat ramp.  Free dockage (space available) will be provided at the City Yacht Basin.
  • FORT MYERS BEACH –  The Fireworks will commence from the Pier at about dusk.
  • SANIBEL – Fireworks will be at the end of Bailey Road near the Causeway Bridge.  Fireworks will begin at dusk.
  • NAPLES – The 4th of July Fireworks display will be at the City Pier beginning at 9:00PM
  • MARCO ISLAND –  City of Marco Island 4th Fireworks display at Residents Beach – 130 South Collier Blvd.  Fireworks begin at 9:00PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlotte County Fishing Report with Frank

 

 By “Fishin” Frank of Fishing Franks Fishing Store in Port Charlotte

June 28, 2012 – The water has turned black in the canals along the river, which is to be expected, after days of pounding rain, & wind which is like using a big stick to stir all the muck and methane from the bottom. This can be a really good thing if it helps to get some of the muck from the bottom stirred into the water and hopefully flushed out of here. The tides today are starting at a .7 going up to a 1.7 then back down to a .2 this build up and strong outgoing flush is just what we need. The water should be much clearer tomorrow, and the bite should be good for the weekend.

The gulf it is going to take a little longer to settle the muck out of the water, the waves pounded the shore lines and dragged tons of sand from where it was. Everything is going to change in the gulf, but by Sunday, if we do not get any strong winds between then & now, look for some great fishing. Gag Grouper opens this weekend the 1st of July and they have been on many of the near shore reefs. The best thing about Gags is they eat anything, Squid, frozen bait fish, Live fish, If you drop it they will eat. Inside the harbor I would check the reef at Alligator creek or at the Placida Trestle (live bait fish is going to be your best bet). If you are using dead bait be sure to bring chum, get the smell going, makes them hungry. Chumming for Gags inside is the way to make it happen.

Snook are thick in all of the canals, and the spillways are on fire. Any color lure (as long as it’s white!) are making the Snook crazy. Cast & get a hit. This is something you need to try now! Read this and get it together, it won’t last long, a real barn burner. Go to a spillway where fresh water flows into the Saltwater. Start at the top with your lure, Cast until you catch a Bass. Then the easy part, start casting the base of the Dam and catch your Snook. Same spot. Same lure. How cool is that!! Like I said, this is a limited time offer, when the water quits flowing over the dams, it is over. Go out have some fun, enjoy getting back outside, Be safe when walking up to the spillways.

Good luck,

Fishin Frank
941-625-3888
www.fishinfranks.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lee County Fishing Report with Captain Terry

By Captain Terry Fisher, Fish Face Charters

(LEE COUNTY) Summer weather brings out some of the best fishing opportunities our areas from North Ft. Myers Beach to Boca Grande Pass have to offer.

INSHORE:  Snook are everywhere along the beaches and in the passes of Sanibel, Captiva, North Captiva and Cayo Costa Islands feeding on schools of glass minnows and scaled sardines. Spinning casters, Fly fishermen/women are walking and stalking the beaches for an opportunity to land one of the most sought after gamefish for the pure excitement of the fight and bragging rights they provide. Spinning casters using artificials should find success using suspending twitch baits, small white bucktail jigs and X-Raps to name a few. Fly-fishers have had success with numerous patterns such as small deceivers and Clauser minnows. Be sure your equipment is up to the task. Spinning casters will want 15-20 lb line test and they along with the Fly-fishers should consider a 40lb Fluorocarbon leader. Remember to stay back away from the water for best results.

Those with flats and bay boats will want to try angling  close to the mangroves in Pine Island Sound as well as on the inside of the Outer Islands along structure on the last half of the incoming or the first half of the outgoing using whitebait for best results;

Redfish may be targeted in the same areas as the Snook on the first part of the outgoing tide using Pilchards, Threadfin Herrings or large shrimp on a 2/0-4/0 hook either under a cork or free line. As the tide subsides, move out to the oyster bars and troughs. Artificial baits such as, Gulp Shrimp (Penny color) on a 1/8 ounce redheaded jig, gold spoons and soft plastics should provide results. I prefer to fish the early morning or late evening hours for both Snook and Redfish, so long as the tide is moving. This provides the best opportunity to break out the top-water lures and experience vicious strikes from both species. My tackle preference for both Snook and Reds are somewhat similar being 7 ½ ft medium to medium power heavy rods w/extra fast action tips matched with Stradic 4000-5000 FI Shimano reels loaded with 20 lb braid tipped with 3 ft. 25-30lb Fluorocarbon leaders depending on the type of bottom and density of the structure I am fishing;

Trout are everywhere. Deep V, deck and pontoons alike can get in on this action on the grass flats of Punta Rassa and in Pine Island Sound. Use the same bait and equipment mentioned above only with lighter leaders (15-20lb), a light jig head on a 2/0 size hook positioned about 3ft under a popping cork on an incoming tide in 3-6 ft. of water. You will lose a few however, as the Spanish Mackerel attacks the bait. To help prevent this, go with a heavier leader or a small wire leader attached directly to your main line understanding that this may cost you a few strikes;

Mangrove Snappers are still around and can be found under about any mangrove structure. They love shrimps free-lined or under a cork so long as the bait lays close to the bottom or around the structure.

Tarpon are here but the reported catches have been off as well as the bite. I recently spoke with Mr. Bob Thomas, President of the Cape Coral Tarpon Hunters Club and agreed that June was not as productive as we had hoped. Attributed in part to the early warm waters of April and May and the seemingly early arrival of the Tarpon; the south and west winds have played havoc on the fishing. He reported that live bait fishermen/women are using Threadfins and Pinfish under a cork with the most success in the passes and around bridges. Dead bait fishermen and women are relying on catfish fillets, Spanish Mackerel chunks and ladyfish for the most part. Not a lot of Tarpon sightings of late in the Caloosahatche River. However, as the weeks progress the Tarpon should be showing up in the potholes of Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor. When the weather cooperates, I find the Tarpon off of the beaches of Ft. Myers, Sanibel, Captiva and North Captiva in 10-30 feet of water as well as in the passes. Early morning and evenings with tide movement are the best times to target these fish. My bait of choice are live large Threadfins/Pilchards, Pinfish and Mullet under a cork or free-lining. I use lighter tackle than most of my fellow Cape Coral Tarpon Hunters. I use spinning tackle that can handle 50-65lb braid tipped with 60-80 lb test 6-8ft Fluorocarbon leaders and a 6/0-7/0 circle hook. Be prepared to catch your share of sharks as well.

Depending on the weather and tide movements, fishermen and ladies working famous Boca Grande Pass are using techniques which include jigs as well as live baits (big threadfins, pilchards, crabs) with some success.

OFFSHORE: I have not spent a lot of time working the structures and wrecks offshore as I have concentrated my efforts on back country and Tarpon, not to mention that my new 21ft. Cobia Center Console Bay Boat is not designed for long trips on the Gulf of Mexico. However, some of my fellow captains report the following;

Red Grouper may be found anywhere from 10-20 miles offshore. They are eating cut Squid, Sardines, Pinfish when being heavily chummed. Fishermen going out 20 miles or more are catching their limits;

Red Snapper/Mutton Snapper are being found on structure in about 150 ft. of water are being chummed and being caught on Squid, Sardines and Pinfish as well. They are averaging anywhere from 5-10lbs for Muttons and 5-17lbs for Red Snappers;

Permit are closer to the shore line and are being found anywhere from 5-20 miles out on structure using live crabs, live shrimps and big chartreuse jigs tipped with cut bait and are weighing in anywhere from 15-30lbs.

In closing, there are numerous other species that will be caught both In-shore and off-shore. Simply pick your day to go and be safe. There are a number of reliable weather sources to go to for planning your next fishing trip. I basically rely on wunderground.com for marine forecast and my planning purposes together with the local news weather channels. If I may be of assistance on your next trip or answer any questions about fishing or boating the beautiful and bountiful waters of SW Florida (Lee County) simply give me a call at 239-357-6829/239471-7332 or email me at fishfacecharters@yahoo.com. Check out my website at www.fishfacecharters.com. I am for hire on your vessel or mine. My rates are posted on the web-site or may call on the phone numbers listed above. I am USCG License, insured with years of fishing experience. Customer satisfaction and helping you know the area and understanding how to catch more big fish is what I am all about.