So far 2020 has been a rollercoaster, especially in our region famous for its tourism and hospitality. So how are things going on our coast as reopening progresses? We reached out to members of the local Marine Industries Association to get the inside scoop on how businesses are responding and rebounding. Here’s what they have to say in their own words… Read more “SILVER LININGS FOR LOCAL MARINE BUSINESSES”
I love ‘Summer-Time’ fishing in our estuaries with the high summer tides and southerly winds. The waters have been very clean and clear this month, especially in the northern half of Pine Island Sound and Matlacha pass. The passes are always beautiful on the incoming tide which forces the fresh rainwater back up the creeks and rivers for 3 to 4 hours, twice a day. Our waters are unique in as much as we have Diurnal Tide Flows, allowing two high tides and two low tides a day. Every 12 hours the tide rises and falls providing opportunity to fish shallow haunts on the 2 incoming tides as well as providing plenty of oxygen on the outgoing 2 tides to fish the passes and flats.
Old Florida isn’t always a thing of the past. Part of it is just off Channel Marker 60.
One of the great joys of Southwest Florida boating is discovering all the hideaways and hidden gems scattered along the coast and its inland waterways. Every once in a while, you find the mother lode. In our case, it was Tarpon Lodge and Restaurant and nearby Cabbage Key.
The underlying purpose of our trip was a planning meeting/retreat with an important client—incidentally, one of the largest boat manufacturers in the world. We wanted to get away from the distractions of our respective offices and, since boating is our business, why not find a classic boating destination that would help us relax our minds and get re-grounded in the process.
Tarpon Lodge was a perfect choice since it is secluded and quiet, yet kept the outside world comfortably accessible—little conveniences like WiFi can not be undervalued. The waterfront hotel was built from a vintage lodge originally used as vacation home for a couple from Philadelphia in 1926. The lodge and stilt building are home to relaxing, airy rooms with its four-star, upscale restaurant below serving lunch and dinner daily.
As there is no dedicated meeting facility, the lodge’s resourceful staff created one for us—blocking off part of the restaurant’s patio breezeway where we set up shop for our two days of brainstorming. When the urge to fish overtook us, a quick stroll to the adjacent docks—where our boat was tied up—provided a welcome diversion.
Having limited luck wetting a line, mouthwatering sustenance was just a short hop away at famed Cabbage Key in the form of the quintessential Cheeseburger in Paradise. It was here tropical storyteller and songwriter Jimmy Buffett was inspired to write the song of the same name decades ago. And not much has changed. If anything, the count of dollar bills blanketing the entire ceiling and walls of the restaurant (estimated at $100K) has increased, but little else—a fitting homage to the “If it ain’t broken…” adage.
The path between Cabbage Key and Tarpon Lodge is home to another piece of living history—a group of stilt fish cabins in Pine island Sound. Built some 80 years ago, the fish cabins — many of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places — are a legacy to the area’s past (pre-World War II) when fishermen netted fish by hand and stored their catch in the fish cabins (then fish-company-owned ice houses), where boats later picked up the harvest and carried it to nearby Punta Gorda. They are now owned by various groups and used primarily as getaways for local recreational anglers.
So if life takes you anywhere near channel marker 60 in the Pine Island Sound Intercoastal Waterway, consider yourself lucky. It is home to a cluster of historical gems not commonly found.
The above installment was an account of a meeting retreat between pearl brands and their client, Bayliner Boats. To learn more about pearl brands, visit pearlbrands.com.
Last September my 1st Mate Vicki and I took off on a ‘whirl-wind’ of a vacation to explore, compare and write about our experiences and adventures fishing and boating the waters of Italy. We started in Venice where other than the ‘shoe leather’ express, the only way to get around is by boat. To my knowledge, Venice is the only place on earth where unique modes of water transportation play out in day to day living for residents, workers and visitors alike. Everyone and everything; (residents/tourists/workers and clothing/wines/foods) to mention a hand-full, are brought to the market, businesses, pensions, hotels, homes, apartments and cathedrals by a vessel of some sort and Vicki and I were no exception.
The Adriatic Sea plays ‘host’ to yachts, cruisers, fishing and pleasure boats. Unfortunately, the huge cruise ships have been allowed to frequent Venice over the past few years and they have ‘flooded’ the islands piazzas, gallerias, sites, shops, caffes and eateries with countless tourists, taking some toll on the serenity of the place. The Riva de Biasio (The Grand Canal), Venice’s main thoroughfare is busy with all kinds of boats; taxis, police, garbage, ambulances, construction cranes all sharing the canal in relative peace, somewhat reminding me of a busy weekend at the ‘Miserable’ mile on the Caloosahatche River.
Venetian (Italian) merchants, business owners, workers, (including gondoliers) and tourists alike, basically will utilize any of the following types of water transports to and from Venice and while on the island:
1) Water Taxis (expensive, high speed boats);
2) Vaporettos (moderately priced private/public system water buses);
3) Traghettos (basic Gondolas used for crossing canals);
4) Gondolas (expensive, ‘up-fitted’ Gondolas used for romantic or private intimate water tours).
The Water Taxis and Vaporettos also service the ‘outer’ islands, of eastern Italy, such as Murano, Burano and Torcello; not dissimilar to Island Girl Charters from Pineland Marina servicing N. Captiva, the Tropic Star out of Bokelia to Cayo Costa, the Banana Tour Boat out of Tarpon Point, Lady Chatwick of Captiva providing a service to merchants, workers and tourists. The Adriatic Sea islands of Venice, Murano, Burano and Torcello (to name only a few), remind me somewhat of the islands and flats around here.
There is only one main ‘Farmer’s’ Market on the island of Venice. It supplies all of the ‘outer’ islands as well. It is an extensive meat, poultry, vegetable and seafood market offering a delightful assortment of foods from many areas of Italy and beyond. Unlike our area land and sea markets, this is the ‘only’ shop around, with crustaceans and fishes from the Adriatic Sea as well as from fresh waters and lakes of the Dolomites and Italian Alps.
‘Tuscany’ (Central Italy), was our second stop. We ‘enjoyed’ touring the wine country in a vintage Fiat 500 prior to hiring a fly-fishing guide, Gianlucca Orselli, of Florence, Italy. Gianlucca is one of four terrific guides of a Fly Fishing Shop located in Florence. He grew up fishing the Arno River (which runs through the middle of Florence). He suggested that we fish the Lima River, close to the towns of Lucca and Pisa. He agreed to pick us up early one morning at a location close to our pension. Along the way we saw the old castle walls surrounding Lucca as well as other historical sites, making the ride worthwhile. Once in the mountains, the views were as picturesque as those of Northeastern Georgia. The river and its feeder creek views were comparable to places we’ve fished in Colorado and other western states as well. There is not nearly as much demand for fly-fishing guide services in Italy as there are here in the United States, but after spending the day with the guide and experiencing the time on the river, I believe that there are lots of growth possibility.
On the way up the mountain we made a brief stop for a breakfast Panini at a quaint roadside ‘caffe’ before moving on. We were getting excited by now and could not wait to get to the stream. About a half hour (1/2hr) later the guide stopped at a ‘post office’ like building, beside a bridge to purchase licenses for Vicki and I. Shortly thereafter, we put on waders and began the uncomfortable trek down the banks of the Lima River. There were two (2) other rivers that I had considered to fish, but this river was within an hour and half of Florence (where we were staying). It offered more moderate runs and required less stamina, allowing Vicki the opportunity to fish with more ease and take in the beauty of the scenery that surrounded us. This river has the reputation whereby most all beginning and intermediate ‘Italian’ anglers learn the basics of fly-fishing.
Our guide was friendly, very personable, brought us lunch and wine as we relocated to another area upstream. We worked hard to catching ‘Rainbows’ and ‘Browns’. Vicki is pictured in a beautiful ‘mountain’ river setting, as am I, with guide Gianlucca. The fishing was not as productive as we had hoped, but we would not consider trading the experience of being together on the ‘Italian riva’, in such a beautiful and exotic setting. We returned late that evening with memories of a lifetime, hoping to do it again someday.
Our third stop, the ‘Italian Riviera’, is where Vicki and I left part of our hearts in exchange for a ‘place in time’. The Cinque Terre is part of an Italian National Forrest located in the northwestern part of Italy on the Liqurian Sea. The rugged coastline is treacherous, fascinating and incredibly beautiful. The water is beautiful and as deep as the steep mountain declines indicate. Five (Cinque) towns (villages) make up the area as known above. The beaches are not of pure sand like we know it here in SW Florida, but more like small pebbles, dark and earthy but it works. The towns are built on mountain ledges with steps up to each mountain side dwelling. Facilities for fishing and boating are ‘old world’, existing basically for local fishermen that make their livelihoods on the sea, together with some water taxis and small site-seeing boats. Only a limited number of recreational fishermen on private vessels were seen close to shore. Salted Sea Bass, fresh Anchovies, saltwater shellfish (mussels, and clams) along with fresh pesto, pasta, basil and pizza made up our diets. Naturally, wine became the drink of afternoons, evenings and nights.
We chose the quaint ‘town’ of Vernazza, Italy as a ‘base’ and stayed at the harbor for three (3) nights, rented a 20 ft. boat (only one of two offered along that stretch of coastline as the other was in use as a shuttle by the owners) for two (2) days to explore the waters along the coastline. Fishermen with small hooks on long ‘Sabinki’ like lines fished the waters of the five (5) villages of; Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia,Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare.
There were reports of Yellow Fin Tuna swimming along the rocks as close as 300 yards from shore. Unfortunately all we could do was wish for adequate equipment and bait to troll (next time I will take my own ‘breakdown rods’ and reels). Facilities such as repair, gas, oil, dockage, and moorings are limited. The distances to ports of calls are much farther away, requiring more preparation and caution. Assistance from the Italian Coastguard, Marine Policia are scarce. In case of emergency; count on yourself!
‘Ports of call’ may vary as to who may enter by vessel, where to enter and where one may moor or ‘tie’ up and anchor (we simply imposed). Vessels must be anchored from both bow and stern due to currents, wind and limited space. There are no signs with instructions, just local knowledge. For example, we were warned by the owner of the boat we rented, that only ‘locals’ were allowed to enter the harbor at the ‘town’ of Manarola or face a big fine from the Policia! Pulling up to a gas pump or restaurant on the water is non-existent with few exceptions of a long boat ride to the ports of call of Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino to the west or La Spezia to the east and south in waters that may turn nasty with little notice. The safety and modern conveniences that we enjoy are no doubt the reason we get so many European tourists and property owners here in SW Florida.
We concluded our Italian ‘holiday’ with a moderate shopping spree at Santa Margherita Ligure followed with lunch at a harbor side restaurant in Portofino to experience ‘lifestyles’ of the ‘rich and famous’. We took pictures of fishermen prior to departing for France, via Monaco that evening, with memories we will cherish for a lifetime. We found that government regulations, types of tackle and equipment for fly-fishing and salt water fishing at these European destinations share a lot of commonality with us here in Florida. There are numerous exceptions however. Anyone interested in traveling the areas may feel free to contact me at www.fishfacecharters.com and I will be happy to share suggestions for boating, fishing, tackle, accommodations, eateries and sightseeing. This is Captain Terry Fisher and 1st Mate Vicki saying Bon Voyage as we head to Turkey, Greece (which just opened recreational fishing in the Aegean Sea to foreigners this year) and the southeastern seaboard of Italia this September to continue our fishing and boating adventures!
Well our new hoodies are a welcome addition this morning with the temps at 60 degrees. It really was not that cold, but when it was 90 yesterday, it takes a couple of days to get used to it.
Fishing side of the report: Redfish are at the 41 bridge, the north end near the high line wires. This is going to annoy Austin – he has had those Redfish to himself up to a couple of days ago when a group of guys found them and yesterday a tournament boat found the school. Storm swim baits 3 or 4 inches and dark color, brown or purple. Jig them with about a 12 inch lift to the tip of your rod. If you are a bait guy, shrimp tail hooked is your best bet. Use a Carolina style rig, hook a 24 inch leader and a swivel with a bullet weight in front of the swivel. Putting a bead between the weight and your swivel is a good idea. Let the shrimp sit for a minute, then give the rod a sharp jerk up again no more than a 1 foot lift to your rod tip. This will lightly crack the sinker into the bead into the swivel, making a light cracking sound. Let the Redfish know your bait is there.
Snook are doing well here also. Again the Storm or the Berkley swim bait 4 inch for the Snook (any color as long as it is dark). Use an upward jigging motion, but you need to be very close to the pilings of the bridge.
Well I have a mountain of work to catch up on, I will give more reports as they happen. Check out our new on-line store. That is what I hope to help pay for the internet reports and Radio Fishin. Yes I do have to make money as bad as it sounds.
The Cape Coral Cruise Club enjoyed the beautiful Naples Boat Club for their September cruise on the 16th, 17th and 18th. Fourteen boats signed up for the cruise but two had to drop out – one for a mechanical issue and one for an emergency home repair issue. This is the third year in a row the September cruise has been to the Naples Boat Club, which speaks volumes about its helpful staff, great amenities and convenient location to Naples shops and restaurants.
The 12 boats that participated were “MOONLIGHTER”, Cruise Leaders Lee & Benda Jetton with members Mike & Brenda Stewart aboard – “PANACEA”, John & Mary Brehm – “Y KNOT”, Phil & Pat Kryger – “WHATEVER”, Jim & Edie Limbright – “SURFACE INTERVAL”, Bruce & Sue Longman – “DESPERADO”, John Lynch & Elise Vinnoy – “BULLFROG”, Mac and Bobbie McEwen – “HAR DEE II”, Hal & Dee Moss – “C R SIDE”, Bob & Carol Peterson – “SEMPER PARATUS”, John & Pati Queen – “SUNKISSED”, Phil & Lyn Quick – and “HAPPY OURS”, Gary & Kathy Taake.
The winds and seas were almost perfect on Tuesday for the cruise down the Gulf of Mexico to Gordon Pass and on to Naples Boat Club. After docking, it was time for enjoying the pool with its waterfall, cards, a game of pool in the beautiful Clubhouse, or just relaxing aboard. At 5:00 pm it was time for happy hour with snacks in the Clubhouse, followed at 6:00 pm by a catered dinner of Chicken Stir Fry with rice, oriental salad, rolls & butter and a variety of different cakes for dessert. After a long cruise from Cape Coral, the catered dinner meant that none of the ladies would have to cook and could join in the fun after docking.
Wednesday was a morning and early afternoon open for shopping, exploring Naples, breakfast or lunch aboard or at a nearby restaurant, enjoying the pool, or games in the Clubhouse. Although there had been some rain, at 2:00 pm the sun came out and everyone met in the swimming pool for a Yellow Rubber Duck Race. First the men, and then the ladies, were divided up into two groups of 6 in the pool. Each person was given a yellow rubber duck. The object of the game was, on a signal, to drop your duck in front of you and propel it to the other side of the pool only by pushing it with your nose or blowing it. After two runoffs, the winners were determined.
The first prize winner for the men was John Queen, who won not a yellow duck but a bottle of Grey Goose, and second place went to Mac McEwen who won, in a Victoria’s Secret bag, not skimpy attire but a key with a small knife hidden inside. On the ladies side, first place went to Edie Limbright, who won, fittingly enough, a bottle of Ugly Duckling wine, and second place went to Carol Peterson who won a pair of scissors. Everyone who participated had a barrel of laughs and were good sports to participate. Prizes were awarded at happy hour.
Following happy hour at 4:30 pm, the entire group, joined by members Steve and Nell Winner who had driven down, walked to downtown Naples to the Mangrove Café for a $35.00 special of 2 dinners with salad, bread, and a bottle of wine. Everyone reported a great meal with fast and efficient service. Hats off to the Mangrove Café for a wonderful dining experience.
Thursday morning was again a free morning and early afternoon to enjoy Naples. Some members enjoyed Tin City, breakfast at the Cove Inn, shopping, games, or playing pool in the Clubhouse. As before, rain was a bit of an issue, but dissipated at 2:00 pm for the second yellow rubber duck contest at the pool. In this contest, no one had to get in the pool, as everyone drew a card with a number on it. Each yellow rubber duck also had a number painted on it matching the numbers drawn. Then, all the numbered ducks were dumped into the pool at the waterfall end and were pushed by wind and current to the other end of the pool. Some ducks floated straight to the other end, some did a U-turn, some floated to the sides and one even went into the pool scupper. Everyone cheered on their duck until winners were declared.
The owner of the winning duck was Bobbie McEwen who won a box of Double Dog Dare wine. The second place duck was owned by Jon Lynch, who won a set of funnels, and the third place duck was owned by Lyn Quick who won a pair of scissors.
At 4:30, happy hour with snacks was held in the clubhouse where the above prizes were awarded. Gary Taake prepared Oysters Rockefeller, and Phil Kryger prepared fresh caught fried Fish Bites to add to the snacks. Then, at 6:00 pm, everyone walked to the on-site Wharf Tavern for a group seafood dinner, highlighted by a $15.99 1 ¼ pound whole steamed Maine lobster dinner with fries and slaw. Once again, the Wharf Tavern made every bib attired member happy with lots of drawn butter to dip juicy lobster into. No one left hungry. Following dinner, the left over cakes were served in the Clubhouse along with a delicious Mango cobbler made by Edie Limbright. Those who still had room for dessert enjoyed the sweet feast.
Friday morning members left in small groups for the trip back to Cape Coral and Fort Myers. Once again, light seas with only occasional periods of scattered rain made for a safe and very comfortable cruise home. Thanks go to everyone who participated in the cruise, as a cruise cannot be successful without members participating. Thanks also go to the Naples Boat Club staff for their courtesy, assistance, and professionalism.
The Cape Coral Cruise Club is open to new members who own a boat with overnight accommodations and reside in the Cape Coral / Ft. Myers area. For membership information please contact Larry Mitchell at 239-560-2823. View a short picture video of recent Club activities and read additional Club information on its website, www.c-c-c-c.org. Like us on our Facebook page.
Just finished one of those long weekends that you really wish would go on for several more days (or weeks!). My family had the good fortune of being invited to spend a few days with friends at their house on Blackwater Sound in Key Largo. What a spot!
Sitting with a cup of coffee on the dock in the early morning, before the heat of the day kicked in, and looking out over the quiet sound while most were still sleeping off the night before, was just spectacular. Herons working the shoreline, frigate birds circling overhead and a school of about eight tarpon rolling and literally swimming by under my feet. I’m too relaxed to even think of grabbing a nearby rod. Maybe as you get a little older your focus changes but I could not help but think that those still snoozing were missing the most beautiful time of day (until perhaps we get to the sunset!).
This was not planned as a hard core fishing weekend and it was a little too windy for a run offshore with kids and wives but the beauty of the area is that there are always plenty of other fishing options. Before long Aaron, our host, my son Kyle and I were headed across the sound and through a beautiful mangrove canal into Florida Bay. Still pretty windy and not the greatest fishing conditions but for someone who doesn’t get to enjoy these waters on a regular basis, just being out and polling in the shallows along magnificent mangroves made the fishing somewhat secondary.
Aaron avoided beating us up heading home across the bay by a little longer run through a different mangrove canal, then across Long Sound and Little Blackwater Sound. If you are familiar with the 18 mile stretch of U.S. 1 from Florida City to Key Largo, these are the bodies of water you first see on your right as you approach the bridge at Jewfish Creek. From there we ran into Blackwater Sound, past Jewfish Creek (no we did not stop at Gilberts!) and back to the dock. Just in time for lunch and a cold beer.
Then we pile the whole gang into two boats and head back across the Sound to a great shallow anchorage and beach. Ladies, kids, dogs, cold beers, “boat” drinks and serious relaxation. As busy as that area of Key Largo can be, we were completely alone. Can it get any better than this?
Yes, it can!! Back at the dock, just hangin’ out when Aaron comes out with a block of chum and a bucket of live shrimp. Another 5 minute run across the sound to his “can’t miss” mangrove snapper hole. The wind was still getting in the way but the kids had a great time catching a load of little mangroves and we had enough keepers to chow down a little later on Aaron’s Key Largo smoked fish dip.
And just to close out the perfect boating day, how about fresh fish dip, the perfect rum drink, and as magnificent a sunset as you will ever see. I know it can’t get any better than that!
It really was a great day. Spending time with family and close friends is special no matter where you are. But as I write this I realize just how incredibly lucky we are to have these kinds of water so available to boaters in Southwest Florida. Yes, it was great to be in Key Largo, but the reality is, this kind of day, these kinds of waters, and that beautiful sunset can be found anywhere from Tampa Bay, through Sarasota, Fort Myers, Naples and the Keys.
Inshore, Offshore, Islands, Mangroves, Flats, Beaches. Big boats, little boats, new boats, old boats. Doesn’t matter. As long as it floats and can get me from here to there, count me in. Can’t wait ‘till that next perfect day on the water!