Saturday, 4/16/11 … dolphins and Charlie, the great blue heron

Dolphins are almost always our companions at some point in our fishing charters.  I would say we see them on 80%+ of our trips, maybe 90%+.  New folks on the boat are always surprised and delighted by how close the dolphins come to the boat and how the dolphins seem to take great joy in playing in the wake of the boat.

Both dolphins and humans fish the bay and the gulf around Sanibel and Captiva for the same reason – there are a lot of fish in these waters and it is generally a very healthy ecosystem.  An adult Atlantic bottle-nose dolphin eats about 40 pounds of fish a day, so they are constantly feeding.  The dolphins in our area are a little bit smaller, about 8-10 feet at maturity, than the bootle-nose dolphins found more broadly in the Atlantic.

While we sometimes have to literally run away from dolphins because they are so nosy, meddlesome and busy trying to steal our fish, I am a big fan of the dolphins and we’re lucky to have them.

Charlie, the great blue heron, was another companion that spent years with me before Hank took over his first mate position on the boat.  Charlie’s territory was the flats and inlets right around Castaways on Santiva.

I would see Charlie every morning when I left at first light and he would spend the day guarding his territory against any encroachment from other great blue herons and fishing on the mud bars and and mangroves.  When I returned at noon from the first trip or at the end of the day, Charlie would fly to my boat and perch himself on the bow as my guide as we came in to the dock.  His purpose was to insure that he received any scraps as I cleaned the day’s catch.

I also had to watch Charlie like a hawk, because he was devious and had a tendency to raid the live well, if I left it untended!

Captain Joey Burnsed ~ call 239-472-8658 or email captjoefred@gmail to book a charter.


Friday, 4/15/11 … spanish mackerel & sharks

Good charter today!

We fished for a while just east of Tween Water’s, on the bay side of Captiva.

We caught some nice spanish mackerel and, of course, sharks, which seems to be the regular routine lately.

The tarpon are out there but we still haven’t landed a big one.  That is why they call it fishing not catching!

Still, all is all, a great day of fishing with lots of fun and good company on the boat.

Captain Joey Burnsed ~ call 239-472-8658 or email captjoefred@gmail to book a charter.


Thursday, 4/14/11 … the rhythm of morning, the cast net and sunrise

Pretty much every morning at sunrise for most of the year, seven days a week, I’m out throwing the cast net for bait fish, generally catching thread fins and pin fish, somewhere on the bay or the gulf, near Captiva or North Captiva.

We use thread fins day in and day out fishing for snook, redfish, etc.

And a big pin fish under a float can be very attractive to a tarpon at the right time of the year.

Some days it is easy finding the bait and some days it is difficult … and it can be grind.  But there is also a timelessness, rhythm and peacefulness in the solitude and beauty of throwing and pulling in the cast net at sunrise.

Captain Joey Burnsed ~ call 239-472-8658 or email captjoefred@gmail to book a charter.

Wednesday, 4/13/11 … hooked a tarpon, but still mostly catching sharks

We were out again this morning fishing for tarpon with cut bait.   We’re getting close to landing that first tarpon of the year!

We managed to hook a tarpon and had it on the line for a long time.  The tarpon broke off just as we were able to bring it close to the boat but before we could land it.  I’ll include a link to the video in the next day or two.

As usual the sharks were biting and we caught and released a  bunch, including a nice black tip.  We also caught a large ray.

While we are get a bit frustrated catching sharks instead of tarpon, we’re a bit spoiled.  Sharks are a lot of fun to have on the line, a great fight, and good for the ecosystem.

We’re lucky to have them in such numbers around Sanibel & Captiva.  My understanding, based on reading various histories of the area and talking to the old time guides, is that during WWII traditional animal hides & leather were in such short supply that shark skins became an alternative source of material.  This led to sharks being over fished and harvested in the bay and gulf.  For a number of years, sharks species virtually disappeared from the local waters.

Captain Joey Burnsed ~ call 239-472-8658 or email captjoefred@gmail to book a charter.

Tuesday, 4/12/11 … four big fishing days with Charlie

We had another snorkeling charter booked this morning but the weather turned and the water was too rough for snorkeling.

I decided to use today’s post to do a retrospective of fishing with my friend Charlie … four big fishing days with Charlie.  Charlie never tires of reading about himself or telling big fish stories!

The first photo on the left is of a very a large snook Charlie caught and released at Redfish Pass when Charlie was much smaller and snook were much bigger.  It was quite an accomplishment for Charlie; the snook was just under 40″, although Charlie routinely inflates it to a world record size of 60″.

The second photo of the small back tip shark is from a really fun day we had fishing for sharks.  We had a chum bag going which Charlie was fascinated by when he was younger.  Charlie is still big on any kind of chumming because it gives him something to do when he gets restless on the boat.  At any rate, we caught and released a big 7′ bull shark that day, probably between 300 and 400 pounds, a photo of which I unfortunately can’t locate.  However, we almost had more fun with the black tip sharks that were circling the boat, attracted by the chum bag.  We were able to sight cast to them and we must have caught and released 8-10 within a 10-20 minute period.

The third photo is of a small tarpon we caught and released not quite in Roosevelt Channel last August.  We were sight fishing for tarpon I had seen under an anchored sail boat between Jensen’s and Tween Waters, maybe only a couple of hundred yards from Captiva.  Charlie was quite proud of this small tarpon.  A big summer storm moved in about five minutes later and we were drenched, but he was happy!

The last photo is of a 5′ bull shark we caught and released last month.  Charlie is starting to get the hang of this fishing thing. 🙂

Captain Joey Burnsed ~ call 239-472-8658 or email captjoefred@gmail to book a charter.


Captiva Island, Florida