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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Middle Charlotte Harbor

Fishing Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass by Hobie “Pedal” Craft!

by on Jun.18, 2016, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, Ft. Myers, Sanibel and Captiva, Middle Charlotte Harbor, Siesta Key to Boca Grande

 

 

 

pineisland

Charlotte Harbor “turns into” Pine Island Sound at an imaginary line drawn east from the mouth of Boca Grande Pass.  And for the most part, all the water in the upper half of the sound, as well as much of Charlotte Harbor, is moved by the action of that pass.  The lower half of the sound is affected by the pull of water from the Caloosahatchee River at Fort Myers and generally feeds into San Carlos Bay, to the south.  Matlacha Pass lies to the east of Pine Island and it’s water typically flows more strongly to the south on falling tides. What all this has to do with fishing is that the ebb and flow of the tides here and the constant filling and flushing of the harbor, the sound and Matlacha Pass all move bait, and with it–lots of inshore species of game fish.

This is big water, and that generally calls for big boats.  However, there’s plenty of good fishing within range of paddle or pedal craft.  On a recent trip, sponsored by the Hobie Cat Company, the leading manufacturer of pedal craft, I had the opportunity to fish the shoreline of Pine Island in a variety of weather conditions.  With summer thunderstorms building and winds howling, I experienced the ease with which I was able to move about, using my legs to power the boat, and all the while being able to continue fishing. Hobie not only pioneered pedal-style “kayaks”, but that segment of their business is now significant–with fishing “boats” the largest part of that segment.  I’ve paddled conventional kayaks and tried to fish from them, but there’s no comparison.  The ability to navigate your craft while still fishing has tremendous advantages.   Hobie’s MirageDrive, Turbo Fins and Vantage Seat have made their Pro Angler the go-to boat for serious kayak anglers!

Fishing a fully rigged Hobie Pro Angler in Matlacha Pass

Fishing a fully rigged Hobie Pro Angler in Matlacha Pass

While there are several primitive roadside launch spots on Pine Island, Hobie did their research and put us in the water (in about 15 kayaks!) at some places where we’d have easy reach to the fishing grounds.  That’s not to say that we didn’t pedal as much as 5 miles, but the beauty of the rugged Pine Island shoreline is such that you don’t have to go far to catch fish.  And, when you get “home” you want to be able to easily load the boats onto trucks or trailers and have a cold beverage.  Luckily, locals like Frank Stapleton (Hobie’s Sales Rep) and John Donahue (local writer and man-about-town) know the area well and provided welcome guidance for fishing, launching and cold beverages.

The flats west of Pineland Marina and the Tarpon Lodge offer excellent kayak fishing.

The flats west of Pineland Marina and the Tarpon Lodge offer excellent kayak fishing.

Buzzard Bay, north of the bridge at Matlacha, offers great kayak fishing in protected waters.

Buzzard Bay, north of the bridge at Matlacha, offers great kayak fishing in protected waters.

Hobie, along with PR Pro Ingrid Niehaus, put on a first class event.   We stayed at The Tarpon Lodge at Pineland, and even had a fun dinner at Cabbage Key, also owned by the Wells family.  The event was also sponsored by the local tourism office, The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel.  And, in terms of easy access to water, we found great kayak launches at Pineland Marina and at the county park/boat ramp at Matlacha, on the east side of the island.

Dollar bills….a Cabbage Key tradition–along with the original “Cheesburger in Paradise”

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Tarpon Lodge

Tarpon Lodge

Cabbage Key

Cabbage Key

Dollar bills....a Cabbage Key tradition--along with the  original "Cheesburger in Paradise"

Dollar bills….a Cabbage Key tradition–along with the original “Cheeseburger in Paradise”

There are lots of options when it comes to fishing the waters here.  But there are no limitations to tackle.  Some of our group used light spinning gear, while others used baitcasters or fly rods.  The Hobie boats are stable, making it easy to get out and wade, or to stand while fishing.  The waters are generally shallow, making it a perfect place to throw topwater plugs (MirrOlure Top Dogs) or soft plastics (D.O.A. 3-inch shrimp or CALs).

 

 

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Fishing the flats in Pine Island Sound, just a short paddle from the Tarpon Lodge and Pineland Marina

 

 

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There’s no problem standing up–or fly fishing–from a Hobie Pro Angler kayak!

 

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It’s just a short paddle north from the Matlacha boat ramp to the backwaters of Buzzard Bay.

 

 

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Grab your mask and summon your adventurous spirit! Join us under the sea as we search for the elusive bay scallop in Charlotte Harbor! But don’t wait too late — space is limited!

by on Jun.27, 2014, under Ft. Myers, Sanibel and Captiva, Middle Charlotte Harbor, Upper Charlotte Harbor

Saturday, July 26, 2014
9 am-2 pm
Calling Volunteer Boaters and Snorkelers!
Approximately 40 boats and up to 150 snorkelers are needed!
Join us in a resource monitoring program to document the health and status of bay scallop populations by snorkeling and looking for scallops in select areas.

This is a **No Harvest** event.

We are recruiting:
Volunteers with shallow draft boats. Canoes and kayaks are also welcome. Please let us know if you can take additional snorkelers on your boat. And please bring a dive flag if you have one.
Snorkelers without boats are welcome; however, boat spaces are limited.
Volunteers need to bring sunscreen, a mask, snorkel and gloves, and be able to snorkel/swim 50 meters (about 150 feet). Fins/weight belt are optional.

Scallop searchers will meet at Gasparilla Marina to receive survey equipment and instructions for the monitoring event. Lunch will be provided once you return to shore.

Reservations are required to participate in the event and space is limited so reserve your spot today!

Registration and More Information
Contact the Organizer | 941-764-4346 | UF/IFAS Charlotte Co. Extension on Facebook

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TOP CAMPING ATTRACTIONS FOR 2014 WINTER VISITORS IN FLORIDA’S CHARLOTTE HARBOR AND THE GULF ISLANDS

by on Dec.02, 2013, under Middle Charlotte Harbor, Siesta Key to Boca Grande, Upper Charlotte Harbor

TOP CAMPING ATTRACTIONS FOR 2014 WINTER VISITORS

IN FLORIDA’S CHARLOTTE HARBOR AND THE GULF ISLANDS

Sleep under the stars where the nights are always balmy and bright

CHARLOTTE HARBOR AND THE GULF ISLANDS, Fla. (Dec. 2, 2013) – If memories of a family road trip pulling the pop-up camper or an overnight outing with a group of scouts harkens, consider an excursion to Florida’s Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands to both recapture the past and create new memories for the future.

Campers love to explore the treasures of the great outdoors here in Southwest Florida where there’s a bounty of lakes, forests, rivers and more meandering through RV parks and campgrounds. In the great outdoors of Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands, nestled along the coast between Sarasota and Ft. Myers, the joys of RVing can be found in abundance.

Many of today’s amenity-laden parks are destinations in and of themselves and include swimming pools, lakes with boat/canoe/kayak rentals, game rooms, movie rentals/screenings, fishing ponds, bike paths and rentals, miniature golf, arts and crafts classes and more.  These venues and nearby nature preserves also serve as the perfect canvas for wildlife photography, painting and soft adventure excursions, too.

Whether you’re renting a cabin or turning up in a luxury RV, it’s time to hit the road. Winter camping in Florida finds parks and campgrounds filled with friendly snowbirds without children in tow, which makes for a more relaxing getaway for boomers/seniors. However, families take note, in summer, the outdoor lifestyle here is great for those with kids, as the little ones easily make friends with other campers’ offspring affording mom and dad a well-deserved respite in the great outdoors.

Which camping park you choose depends on what outdoor activities you enjoy. Rent a cabin, pitch a tent or hook up your RV to one of ten campground and camping resorts in Charlotte County. They are located close to shopping, beaches, restaurants, game fishing, dinner theaters and golf courses. Most feature a variety of recreational amenities and they’re reasonably priced. Following is a listing with brief description of the campgrounds/RV parks you’ll find in Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands:

Alligator Park, Inc.
6400 Taylor Rd., Lot 112
Punta Gorda, FL 33950
941-639-7000

http://www.alligatorpark.com/

Alligator Park is a friendly, age 55+ RV and mobile home community. All sites are full hookup with 30 + 50 amp service. Swim in their heated pool, or stroll by the 30-acre lake, where fishing is allowed. Don’t be fooled by the country setting, with easy access to nearby Route 75 and U.S. 41, restaurants and shopping are within two miles. Enjoy dances in their new clubhouse or select a book from the free library. Clean laundry facilities, hot showers and Wi-Fi are available.

Gulf View Encore RV Resort
10205 Burnt Store Rd.
Punta Gorda, FL 33950
941-639-3978 or 877-237-2757
Pleasantly situated on Alligator Creek, you’ll find immediate access to great fishing off the dock or from a boat. Open year-round, the resort’s top features include: 200 sites, full hookups, hot tub, pool, showers, horseshoes, shuffleboard, and pets on leash are allowed.

Harbor Lakes
3737 El Jobean Rd. (S.R. 776)
Port Charlotte, FL 33953
941-624-4511 or 800-468-5022
Come join in the fun and enjoy the tropical lifestyle offered at Encore-Harbor. Numerous in-park activities are planned each season and besides 528 sites there are resort cottages available. Activities: Fishing, horseshoes, shuffleboard, swimming, tennis court, volleyball court. Facility amenities: big rig hookups, covered pavilion, dump station, Elec. 30 + 50 amp, exercise/fitness facilities, full hookups, hot tub, ice, laundry, parking, paved pads, phone hookup, picnic shelter, pool heated, pool outdoor, propane sales, rec hall/clubhouse, recreational area, restaurant nearby, restrooms, showers and tables.

Myakka River Motorcoach Resort
14100 Myakka Avenue
Port Charlotte, FL 33953
941-740-2599

http://www.myakka-river.com/

This is a brand new Class A motor coach resort on the shores of the Myakka River in the unincorporated community of El Jobean.  The 30-acre resort features three lakes, a clubhouse with library and billiards room, pool with 75’ swimming lanes, whirlpool spa, waterfront boardwalks and fishing pier, putting green, tennis courts, fitness room, large entertainment area and an activities calendar featuring water aerobics, yoga, crafts, and movie nights, plus a sunset patio to catch breathtaking Florida sunsets. The resort offers brick paved motor coach pads and patios, sidewalks and lots of grassy areas for pets. Nearby are bike trails along with the Charlotte Sports Park, ballpark home to the Charlotte Stone Crabs AAA team in summer/fall and the Tampa Bay Rays spring training camp.

Palms & Pines Riverside RV Resort
5400 Riverside Dr.
Punta Gorda, FL 33982
941-639-5461

http://www.palmsandpinesinc.com/

Located on the juncture of Peace River, Shell Creek and Charlotte Harbor, Palms and Pines offers an extraordinary opportunity to enjoy the panoramic view and natural resources of the region.  Shopping, restaurants, and medical facilities are within a few miles.  Relax beneath the palms, enjoy the sunshine and participate in the many activities such as bingo, cards, crafts and potluck dinners. There are boat docks, a boat ramp, fishing pier, shuffleboard, horseshoes, and mini-library, too. Rental spaces have complete hookups and grassy lots with concrete patios and are available for short or long term rental. Apartments feature full kitchens, air-conditioning, and screened porches.

Peace River Mobile Home, RV Park, & Fishing Camp
29208 Snook Cir.
Punta Gorda, FL 33982
941-639-2819
There are 30 sites and 30 units/cabins for visitors’ accommodations.  Facility amenities include: boat dock, boat ramp, cable TV hookup, Elec. 30 + 50 amp, full hookups, hot showers, laundry, phone hookup, restrooms, showers, and water access.

Punta Gorda RV Resort
3701 Baynard Dr.
Punta Gorda, FL 33950
941-639-2010
This friendly adult park offers 221 sites, full hookups, pool, hot tub, bicycling, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and is ADA compliant. Shuffleboard, horseshoes, a rec hall, convenience store and laundry plus dial-up Internet rounds out the facility amenities.

Shell Creek Resort Inc.
35711 Washington Loop Rd.
Punta Gorda, FL 33982
941-639-4234
With 239 sites, facility amenities include: boat ramp, cable TV hookup, convenience store, Elec. 30 amp, exercise/fitness facilities, full hookups, groceries, hot tub, ice, laundry, parking, pay phones, phone hookup, picnic area, pool outdoor, propane sales, rec hall/clubhouse, recreational area, restrooms, showers, tables, and water access for fishing and swimming.

Sun-N-Shade

U.S. 41 S., 14880 Tamiami Trail
Punta Gorda, FL 33955

941-639-5388

http://sunnshade.com/

Fishing, horseshoes, shuffleboard, and swimming are top activities found in this lovely country setting. Facility amenities: full hookups, hot showers, patio, phone hookup, outdoor heated pool, rec hall/clubhouse, restrooms, showers dump station, Elec. 30 + 50 amp.

Water’s Edge RV Resort
6800 Golf Course Blvd.
Punta Gorda, FL 33982
941-637-4677 or 800-637-9224
A great resort for bicyclers, swimmers and those with a need for big rig hookups. Amenities include 167 sites, covered pavilion, dump station, Elec. 30 + 50 amp, full hookups, hot showers, hot tub, laundry, patio, phone hookup, picnic area, picnic shelter, pool heated, pool outdoor, propane sales, rec hall/clubhouse, recreational area, restaurant nearby, restrooms, showers and tables.

About Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands

Located halfway between Tampa and Naples on the Southwest Florida Gulf coast, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands is a charming collection of nine coastal communities surrounding the state’s second largest harbor. Florida’s premier year-round eco-tourism destination, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands offers a pristine unspoiled beauty that has served as the backdrop for seven major feature films as well as countless memorable vacations.  A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands has been named to SAIL magazine’s “10 Greatest Places to Sail in the United States,” ranked by Golf Digest as “Third Best Place to Live and Play Golf in America,” and rated by MONEY magazine as one of the “Best Places to Live in the South.” The city of Punta Gorda was named as one of “Top Ten Places to Retire Healthy” by U.S. News & World Report. Englewood was named as #2 of the Top Ten emerging travel destinations in the U.S. by TripAdvisor.com.

For information about area events, activities and attractions, contact the Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau, 18500 Murdock Circle, Suite B104, Port Charlotte, FL 33948; 941-743-1900, or call toll free at 1-800-652-6090 for a free Visitor’s Guide; or visit the Web site at www.CharlotteHarborTravel.com.

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Florida’s Ding Darling Kids Fishing Derby Nov. 9, 2013 at Sanibel Island

by on Nov.06, 2013, under Ft. Myers, Sanibel and Captiva, Middle Charlotte Harbor

From The Fishing Wire:

Kids of all ages who are able to hold their own fishing pole may participate in the free second annual “Ding” Darling Kids Fishing Derby to be held on the Sanibel Causeway Islands Park (Island A) on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013.

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) co-sponsor the event.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. on the causeway, and ages 15 and younger start fishing at 9 a.m. and finish at 11 a.m. Awards ceremony is at 11:30.

Judges will record catches during the session. After the results are tallied, they will award winners in two age groups: 10 to 15, and 9 and younger. Based upon total inches of fish caught, the refuge will award first, second, and third place prizes, plus awards for the largest and smallest fish hooked, in both age categories.

Participants should bring fishing poles, but Tarpon Bay Explorers will provide a limited number of loaner poles for those who don’t have their own equipment. Shallow Bait and Dale Shirley will be supplying the bait.

Throughout the day, volunteers and staff will teach fishing skills and safe, ethical fishing practices and will engage children in fish crafts.

“We had an exciting event in our inaugural year,” said Ranger Becky Wolff, the refuge’s education specialist. “Thanks to everyone who contributes to this effort.”

The event is made possible also by support from the Lexington Fishing Club, Sanibel Island Fishing Club, and Lee County Parks & Recreation.

For more information or to volunteer for Kids Fishing Derby, contact Wolff at Rebecca_Wolff@fws.gov

or 239-472-1100 ext. 236.

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“Intro to Fishing” Class, Punta Gorda, Beginning October 28, 2013. Taught by Capt. Ralph Allen, King Fisher Fleet

by on Sep.27, 2013, under Middle Charlotte Harbor

PUNTA GORDA, FL – An introductory course in Florida Fishing, called Let’s Go Fishing!, is being offered at the PGI Civic Association building on Shreve Street. Topics to be covered include fishing techniques, tackle selection, rigging, knot tying, lures, baits, cast nets, fish identification, tides, and fishing regulations for fishing in fresh and salt waters of Southwest Florida. Rods, reels, lures, nets and other fishing equipment will be displayed during the class and there will be a number of useful handouts issued to students. The class is geared towards beginning anglers, but more experienced fishermen will pick up helpful tips as well. The instructor is long time local fishing guide and owner of King Fisher Fleet, Capt. Ralph Allen, who might even reveal the locations of a few local hotspots! The course is open to all members of the public and includes six evening sessions which are to be held from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. beginning on Monday October 28. The cost for the class is $40 and advance registration is recommended by calling 941-637-1655.

King Fisher Fleet offers six cruises including daylong cruises to the islands of Cayo Costa and Cabbage Key, half-day river and harbor cruises, short afternoon cruises, sunset cruises, and Christmas light canal cruises. King Fisher Fleet also offers charter fishing with some of the best fishing guides in southwest Florida, departing every day from Fishermen’s Village Marina. Gift certificates for cruises as well as for fishing charters are available at the King Fisher office.

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At Punta Gorda Without A Boat? Give King Fisher Fleet A Try!

by on Aug.07, 2013, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, Middle Charlotte Harbor, Siesta Key to Boca Grande, Upper Charlotte Harbor

Yes, there are times when I travel to good fishing spots in our state and don’t take my boat.  After all, sometimes I’m on a trip that’s featuring food and food writing, not fishing.  That was the case last week when I was invited to participate in Charlotte County and The Gulf Islands’ food writer trip.  I did manage to take a shorter-than-I’d-like trip with Capt. Ralph Allen, who owns King Fisher Fleet, with a whole bunch of boats headquartered at downtown Punta Gorda’s Fishermens Village.  Ralph and I took one of the smaller boats, a Hewe’s 18 Redfisher, and headed south towards Burnt Store Marina, on a high tide looking for reds and snook.  Charlotte Harbor, the 2nd largest body of water (after Tampa Bay) in Florida, was surprisingly calm and we were able to leave the fish biting on the East Wall, north of Burnt Store, and head quickly over to the area around Turtle Bay.  There, where we’d expected to find more fish on the falling tide, the bite was slow despite Ralph’s carefully and quiet poling efforts.  I blamed summertime;  Ralph blamed the fact that I insisted on using only artificial lures and that I made him leave his bait net back at the marina!  So it goes!

Capt. Ralph at work! Be sure to give your guide a big tip if he poles you around all morning!

Despite his "live bait" attitude, Ralph managed a nice keeper trout on a Rapala Skitterwalk plug!

In addition to a variety of inshore and offshore fishing opportunities, King Fisher Fleets also offers day trips to Cabbage Key and Cayo Costa State Park.  Cabbage Key is an isolated island in middle Charlotte Harbor, and its restaurant’s cheeseburger is supposedly the inspiration for singer Jimmy Buffet’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise”.  Cayo Costa is an isolated Gulf beach island that’s just out-of-the-way enough to make you think you’ve left all your cares behind!

A sunset dinner at the Captain's Table Restaurant at Fishermen's Village is a great way to start the evening.

If you're lucky, the setting sun will light up the Peace River Bridge.

Be sure to bring your camera, or whatever device you have, to capture the beautiful Charlotte Harbor sunset.

Finally, don’t miss taking one of the King Fisher Fleet’s Sunset Cruises.  The hour-and-a-half cruise makes a loop around the mouth of the Peace River and the Captain does a really great job of setting the boat up for some wonderful sunset shots!  A good cheap date, or just time to relax after a seafood dinner at any of Punta Gorda’s great restaurants!

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18 June 2013, Fishing forecast for Venice to Boca Grande ,by Captain Van Hubbard

by on Jun.18, 2013, under Middle Charlotte Harbor, Siesta Key to Boca Grande, Upper Charlotte Harbor

Let see if I can get back on course here with weekly reports.
Life is good and fishing has been even better. Tarpon are the hot ticket right now and they are abundant from Boca Grande Pass south of me to Venice Beach and beyond. Snook have been very good and many larger fish; PS it opens for harvest on the First of September. Trout and reds are around but I haven’t had time to play with them much with the silver kings and snook so cooperative. We do also have fish on the near shore reefs; sharks, barracuda, permit and more, if the wind and seas allow. I have not had much time off the water to take care of things but bookings are slowing down after the Forth of July so it’s time to see if fishing trip fits into your plans. It’s not too soon to line up September and October dates with snook reopening.
Tarpon have kept me busy on and off the water.  Fishing has been good in fair weather. The strong winds can hamper our catching but we have plenty of fish. In fact they seem to be approaching the peak this week with the Full Moon in June. We can expect to enjoy good action for at least another month. We will have some excellent tarpon action into August and even September but it is just not as predictable. If tarpon are high on your Bucket list, like my new friend Gordon McDonald, don’t procrastinate because fishing is great right now and I do have a few days open soon. His day was awesome we got his tarpon of about 125 pounds and then several snook up to almost 40 inches.
Snook have been spoiling us most trips. The weather can mess with us but since we are usually inside the west winds don’t shut us down. Several trips have left anglers with sore arms from catch snook; literally! We have good numbers of smaller fish and I’m excited by the numbers of slot fish, but big trophy fish have enhanced smiles. We are seeing trophy fish from 35 to 40 inches even a few over, every day! So far minnows are available but not getting any easier. Scott Armstrong and family enjoyed a great day of snook action on Tuesday the 11th, they caught fish till the kids were bored and we found some dolphins to watch. Alex’s group wanted food fish and all we could catch was snook most of the time. We did find some trout but mostly smaller we only had a had day to explore. Sunday Don and Lisa joined me to catch some fish and we did. The snook bite was fair and they caught over 20 fish and Lisa got a big one we took photos. I have photos on my Facebook page at Captain-Van Hubbard if you want to see em. Sorry I’m challenged to get them on here but I am updating the web site soon as I get time. Thank you for your patience with me. Waters have cleared up nice since the tropical wave recently but Summer starts now along with evening showers. Get out early, have fun, and let’s get er done.
If you have some patience we can hunt up some food fish. Reds are here just not sitting and waiting like it used to be. Those tournaments keep em running around. Most are slot fish and tons of fun. Trout were great so we have fish they just got lost and I’ve not had enough time to look for them. We have gotten some nice flounder but not consistently.
Spanish Mackerel are around and we should be able to catch a mess if you’re interested? Kings are deeper if you want to chase the bigger fish. I smoked a couple on Sunday after our trip. Sharks are here if you want the big tackle testers. Reef fishing is good and the variety keeps it interesting.
We had our Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Lakeland last Wednesday. It was a long day but we got the issues communicated to our Commissioners and they have passed a proposal recommended by the Staff to be finalized in September. We may finally get rid of the weighted hook rig called a Boca Grande Jig!
On a personal note I adapted a beautiful Golden Retriever from Gulf Coast Golden rescue. She is shy but smart and wonderful; sure to keep me busy! I hope you are well and “if you’re too busy to go fishin’, you are just too busy’! Let’s Go Fishin’ soon. Captain Van Hubbard. <www.captvan.com>

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Local Fishing Report from Kingfisher Fleet/Capt. Ralph Allen, Punta Gorda and Charlotte Harbor, April 2013

by on Apr.01, 2013, under Middle Charlotte Harbor, Siesta Key to Boca Grande, Upper Charlotte Harbor

Gulf of Mexico

Finally we can catch the making of a fresh grouper sandwich!  Red grouper season opened April 1 (along with the season for a few other, seldom-caught groupers) and the fishing for them is good on flat limestone rock patches starting in about 65 feet of water, and deeper.  One of the things that make red grouper so popular is that they can be caught on a wide variety of live and dead baits, though there are days when live pinfish or squirrelfish produce the best results.  Lane snapper, mangrove snapper, porgys, grunts and triggerfish have all been good on the same type of bottom in the same depths, so your odds of success are good while bottom fishing.  Not all the offshore action requires a run of 20 miles or more.  Shark fishing is already heating up along the coast (an unusual number of sharks were caught all winter this year) and all signs point to a busy shark season in the coming weeks.  Look for sharks within a few miles of the beach where they can be chummed up just about anywhere, though fishing around wrecks or reefs seems to up the odds.  Scattered schools of fish from the spring Spanish mackerel run arrived in Charlotte Harbor approximately the third week of March, and the action on these fish should turn red hot by early April.  The “other” mackerel, the larger king mackerel, usually arrive a few weeks after the Spanish mackerel run cranks into high gear, so it won’t be long now until smoker kings are zinging drags around offshore wrecks, reefs and schools of bait.

Charlotte Harbor

Rapidly warming water has fish on the move in Charlotte Harbor.  Trout are fanning out onto the flats, where they are joined by cruising cobia and bonnethead sharks.  Some blacktip, spinner, lemon and bull sharks are here now, but more will appear later this month and can be targeted along the edges of flats and bars, especially in the area between Cape Haze Point and the ICW.  Redfish and snook are moving out of the rivers and canal systems and are traveling outbound along the mangroves on both sides of the harbor.  As the water temps continue to climb these fish will begin to feed more on white baits and less on shrimp, a transition that’s already underway.  Canal, creek and bridge fishing for sheepshead and black drum is slowing down, but some of each will be taken this month.  Inland fishing for Spanish mackerel has been off-and-on for several weeks, but will switch into “full-on” mode any time now, offering hot action for anglers working the artificial reefs, the Cape Haze Bar and anywhere schools of bait are present.  Tarpon will show in fishable numbers sometime this month, though our cooler-than-normal March weather may delay their appearance somewhat.

Notes:

*Snook season closed until September 1, 2013

*Gag grouper season is closed, opens July 1, season length to be determined

*All other grouper opened April 1

*Greater amberjack will close June 1, open August 1

*Red snapper season opens June 1, season length estamated at 21 days

Let’s Go Fishing!

Capt. Ralph Allen

For more information, call (941) 639-0969

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January 18, 2013 Red Tide Update for Southwest Florida

by on Jan.19, 2013, under Bradenton and Sarasota, Ft. Myers, Sanibel and Captiva, Middle Charlotte Harbor, Siesta Key to Boca Grande, Tampa Bay, East and South Shore, The Sunshine Skyway and Beyond to Egmont, Upper Charlotte Harbor

A bloom of Karenia brevis, the Florida red tide organism, persists in the coastal waters of southwest Florida, with the highest counts detected this week alongshore and offshore of Sarasota County.  High concentrations were also detected alongshore of Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties. Low to medium concentrations were found in the Pine Island Sound system. 

Bloom Boundary: The red tide currently affects approximately 140 miles of coastline from Pinellas through Collier County. Respiratory irritation and multiple fish kills continue to be reported in the affected areas.

Click image for southwest coast current status report - January 18, 2013

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Heading to Lee County to Fish or Boat? Try The New Lee Waterways iPhone App!

by on Jan.08, 2013, under Ft. Myers, Sanibel and Captiva, Middle Charlotte Harbor, Siesta Key to Boca Grande

Description

This is a must-have app for boaters in Lee County, Florida! It’s packed full of great features like an interactive map with public boat launches, reef and shipwreck coordinates and speed zones. It also includes a saltwater fish identifier, satellite weather radar, fishing and diving tips, boating safety regulations and more. So before you launch your next excursion, launch our app and get the most out of Lee County Florida’s waterways!

• GPS navigation from multiple launch sites
• Saltwater Fish and Special Species Identifier
• Artificial Reef and Shipwreck Maps
• Satellite Weather Radar
• Fishing and Diving Tips
• Boating Safety Regulations

…More

• GPS navigation from multiple launch sites
• Saltwater Fish and Special Species Identifier
• Artificial Reef and Shipwreck Maps
• Satellite Weather Radar
• Fishing and Diving Tips
• Boating Safety Regulations

iPhone Screenshots

iPhone Screenshot 1
iPhone Screenshot 2
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