Mary Laser with a tarpon caught while fishing with Capt. Matt Mitchell photo provided by our friends at the Island Sun!
Summer water temperatures have been hovering right around 88 degrees for a few weeks now. During the blazing afternoon heat, the water temperature in the shallows on the outgoing tide can get well over 90 degrees. Fish, like people, get much less active during the hottest part of the day and seek cooler water by either going to deeper water or in the shade of mangroves and docks. Extreme heat has the same effect on fish that extreme cold has slowing the action. Afternoon thunderstorms are a welcomed event as they cool off the surface temperature of shallow water. During the outgoing tide, we spent some time this week enjoying a great shark bite. Anchored up just inside any of the deeper passes with half a fresh-cut mullet, we had the rods bent and the drags screaming. Many of this crazy shark action was blacktip sharks up to five feet long. These blacktips are one of the more sporty sharks to catch as they jump, make lightening-fast runs and can change direction on a dime. Often these battles required dropping the anchor ball and chasing the sharks down before they dump the spool.
Other species of sharks we caught just inside the passes included Atlantic sharp-nose, spinners, bonnet heads, bull sharks and giant nurse sharks. Each time we did this, we hooked into a few real monsters that, after a few minutes of drag screaming-fun, broke off by either tailwhipping the line or getting a sideways bite on the heavy mono leader. The best action on these sharks has come during the first hour of the falling tide before the current gets moving too fast.
One area that always seems to produce fish during the summer heat is Captiva Pass. The outer sandbars are a great place to sit and chum with small live shiners to catch Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, pompano and trout. The deeper water in the pass once you locate rocky bottom holds gag grouper and mangrove snapper. The docks and down trees on either side of the pass is great for snook. Tarpon come through this pass, and sharks are always around. Captiva Pass is just one of those places that offers lots of options and seems to always produce some type of action. Capt. Matt Mitchell has been fishing local waters since he moved to Sanibel in 1980. He now lives in St. James as a country fishing guide. If you have comments or questions, email captmattmitchell@aol. com
What a fun article from Jeff Lysiak and our friends at the Island Sun!
When Beth Musser, owner of the Sanibel Sweet Shoppe, arrived for work a few weeks ago, she had no idea that she would be taking part in a new “game” that is catching on across the country.
“I went out in front of the shop that morning to put out the flag when I saw something sitting on a bench,” said Musser. “At first, I thought some kids had left their shell behind by mistake, but then I turned it over and saw the Sanibel Shells Facebook name written inside.”
When Musser conducted a search for the group on Facebook, she learned of the fun and free activity that was started recently by two frequent visitors to the island: Ursula Purvis and Nina Brown.
“We are two retired elementary school teachers that live in Jacksonville, Florida and that have been great friends since the early ‘80s,” said Brown. “The two of us discovered Sanibel in 2006 and have been returning for one week every summer since then, leaving behind our families and our cares. We share a love of the ocean, shelling, crafting and teaching.”
According to Brown, the friends started the Sanibel Shells Facebook page in late May after hearing about the Duval Rocks Facebook page – based in Duval County/Jacksonville – which features a similar activity in which people decorate rocks with paint and messages, leaving the mementos behind in public places for others to discover on their own.
Earlier this year, a Sanibel Rocks group launched their own version of the game. In under three months, the Facebook group has grown to more than 135 followers. “One day, a lightbulb went off and it occurred to us that we could meld this idea with our love of shelling, crafting and Sanibel,” said Brown, who noted that she and Purvis have a plentiful supply of locally-collected dosinia shells. “When the weather outside was frightful and we couldn’t go to the beach, we began painting.”
Before long, the friends had produced almost 100 individually painted shells.
“We love exploring the island, so we tried to leave a few shells everywhere we went,” said Purvis. “We did forget to drop them off at a few places. Love seeing the smiles from the kids that found them. We hope that there will be enough people to continue hiding, finding and possibly re-hiding to keep it going.”
“We encourage folks to paint, find, move, re-hide and simply enjoy the shells,” added Bown. “Already, some shells have left the state and we hope to see pictures of their new hiding places.”
Painted shells from Sanibel have been shared by people from Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Idaho and Pennsylvania.
Purvis explained that she enjoys seeing pictures posted on the group’s Facebook page, and she encourages people to use the hashtage #sanibelshells before they hide them. “Everyone loves to know when his or her shells are found, but please understand that not everyone is on social media. This is more about making someone smile than it is Facebook recognition,” she added. “We thought it would be a fun and positive way for lovers of Sanibel and shells to share their love and ‘pay it forward!’”
To join the shell lovers, click here!
Well, here’s something we can all drink to! Thanks to our friends at the Island Reporter (article by Ashley Goodman), we’re pleased to share this list of the top-selling drinks on Sanibel and Captiva Islands:
Doc Ford’s No.1 selling drink is its Island Mojito which is concocted with fresh mint, limes, homemade simply syrup, Caribbean gold rum and club soda. Kim McGonnell, general manager of Doc Ford’s, said that the Island Mojito has been on the menu for the past 13 years.
“It’s been a staple since day one,” McGonnell said. “Usually in the morning they prep around 75 mojitos and then when the second bartender comes in they’re prepping about another 50 for the day. If we muddled to order you’d never get your drink because we go through so many of them.”
The mojito is also available in mango, pineapple, watermelon, coco-nut and passion fruit. The traditional Island Mojito is $6.95 while the other flavors are $7.25. However, the watermelon mojito, which benefits the Golisano Children’s Hospital is $7.95.
The Bubble Room
The Captiva Cooler ($10) takes the crown for the most popular drink at the eccentric Bubble Room on Captiva which has been around since 1979. The Captiva Cooler is comprised of three rums: pineapple, mango and coconut. The drink is then topped with pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine.
“It’s our No. 1 selling drink by far,” said Steve Vonhof, a bartender at the Bubble Room.
Sweet Melissa’s Cafe
At Sweet Melissa’s Cafe, a classic Manhattan never goes out of style. Bartender Kevin O’ Malley credits its popularity because “you can’t get it anywhere else.”
“It’s something unique. People from last year who have had it want it again,” O’Malley said.
The Smoke Gets in Your Rye Manhattan ($14) is made with house smoke Bulleit rye whisky, sweet vermouth and Peychaud bitters. The drink is then finished with a cherry king-sized ice cube. (1625 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel; 1-239-472-1956; www.sweetmelissascafe.com)
The Crow’s Nest
The Crow’s Nest has been a popular spot at ‘Tween Waters Inn on Captiva for over three decades. Bartender Zina Villano said during the summer, the High Tide Margarita ($10) is one of its best-sellers.
“The color reflects the Captiva water,” Villano said.
The High Tide Margarita is made with tequila, blue curacao, simple syrup, sweet and sour and fresh lime. Reminiscent of the classic “fish bowl,” the drink is topped with Swedish fish candies.
“If someone is arriving from the Midwest, this is the first drink we recommend. It makes you feel like you’re on vacation,” Villano said. (15951 Captiva Drive, Captiva; 1-239-472-5161; www.crowsnest-captiva.com)
For a beautiful setting and breathtaking Gulf views, look no further than the historic Thistle Lodge. General Manager Sean Ramsey said that its most popular drink lately is the Pineapple Cosmopolitan ($13), which is made with aged pineapple infused Smirnoff vodka, cranberry juice and fresh lime juice.
“What we do is we take Smirnoff vodka and then we put pineapple in it for a couple of weeks and let it marinate so that way, you get a nice pineapple garnish on there. It’s a little bit of a twist and it gives it that Sanibel Island flavor,” Ramsey said. (2255 West Gulf Drive, Sanibel; 1-239-472-9200; www.casaybelresort.com)
Sometimes the most challenging game of catch is not in a backyard or baseball field, but in the roaring surf of the Gulf of Mexico!
This photo, taken last week, shows the wind walloping the waves into a foamy frenzy, thanks to a distant tropical storm. Looks like it ended up providing father and son with a rocking rendition of the time-honored tradition of “catch”!
“You can’t buy happiness.
But you can buy a fishing pole
and that’s pretty much the same thing.”
We received this photo from our wonderful longtime guest, Sheila H, from Mountville, PA, along with a note saying that it was taken right in front of Ocean’s Reach:
“Our son-in-law Bob from Charlotte, North Carolina is here on his very first trip to Sanibel and Ocean’s Reach and has fallen in love with both.
He & daughter Deb are leaving tomorrow but have already made plans to come to Ocean’s Reach next year for a longer period of time. And we will be here again, too!
It is our 30th year staying at Ocean’s Reach.”
Ten-month-old Sydney, a juvenile American Alligator, is fast becoming the most popular new animal ambassador at CROW, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife on Sanibel Island.
With her brand new, 300-gallon tank – which is filled with artificial plants, rocks, floating driftwood and a basking platform to simulate her natural environment – the young alligator spends her days swimming around her enclosure. The water – aerated and filtered – is maintained at a steady temperature of between 75 and 82 degrees, and daylightbalanced lighting reflects 24-hour activities alligators experience in the wild.
A keystone species in the state, alligators are an important part of Florida’s landscape and play a valuable role in the ecology of our state’s wetlands. Alligators are predators and help keep other aquatic animal populations in balance.
“Alligators are one of conservation’s success stories,” said CROW Education Coordinator Rachel Rainbolt. “Back in the 1950s, people thought that alligator populations would not be able to recover after being hunted and experiencing habitat loss. But by 1987, due to educational efforts, the species was pronounced fully recovered.”
According to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, alligators are a fundamental part of Florida’s wetlands, swamps, rivers and lakes, and they are found in all 67 counties. As Florida continues to experience human population growth, many new residents to the state seek waterfront homes, resulting in increased interactions between people and alligators.
The FWC offers a number a safety tips to help humans peacefully co-exist with alligators. They include:
• Be aware of the possibility of alligators when you are in or near fresh or brackish water. Bites may occur when people do not pay close enough attention to their surroundings when working or recreating near water.
• Do not swim outside of posted swimming areas or in waters that might be inhabited by large alligators.
• Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn. Therefore, avoid swimming at night.
• Dogs and cats are similar in size to the natural prey of alligators. Don’t allow pets to swim, exercise or drink in or near waters that may contain alligators. Dogs often attract an alligator’s interest, so do not swim with your dog.
• Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators. Handling even small alligators can result in injury.
• Never feed alligators – it’s dangerous and illegal. When fed, alligators can overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food. When this happens, some of these alligators have to be removed and killed.
• Dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans at boat ramps and fish camps. Do not throw them into the water. Although you are not intentionally feeding alligators when you do this, the result can be the same.
• Seek immediate medical attention if you are bitten by an alligator. Alligator bites can result in serious infections.
CROW’s Visitor Education Center, located at 3883 Sanibel-Captiva Road, is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Daily presentations are held at 11 a.m. and Wildlife Walk Hospital Tours are offered on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week following the 11 a.m. presentation. Space is limited for hospital tours so register in advance. For more information, visit www.crowclinic.org or call 1-239-472-3644“> 1-239-472-3644.
A 2005 fossil find in Queensland, Australia, indicated that sea turtles lived more than 110 million years ago. Even centuries ago, sea turtles roamed our oceans by the millions. In the last 100 years, however, their numbers have been greatly reduced and today all seven species of sea turtles are in danger of global extinction. During the summer months, there are approximately 50,000 sea turtles in Florida, making our state the most important nesting area in the United States.
Sea turtles spend most of their lives in the water, coming ashore only to nest. Like salmon, sea turtles will return to the same nesting grounds at which they were born. Nesting season begins in April and hatching continues until late October. A female can lay several nests during one season and only nests every two or three years. The hard process of nesting takes hours. The mother sea turtle uses her back flippers to dig a hole and deposits 75-130 leathery eggs, each the size of a ping-pong ball. The turtle disguises the nest by flinging sand over it. Once she leaves the nest, she never returns.
After incubating for two months (55-60 days), the hatchlings break out of their shells and thrash about together causing the walls of the nest to collapse and the bottom of the hole to rise. Once near the surface, the hatchlings wait until the sand temperature cools to emerge, thus the reason why most emerge after dark. Once out of the nest, the turtles will try to scramble to the water and swim offshore where they will live for several years in seaweed beds drifting along the Gulf Stream.
Few baby sea turtles make it to the water, however, as even the slightest bit of artificial lighting along the beach disorients them. Newborn sea turtles instinctively move in the brightest direction, ideally to follow the light of the moon toward the water. Artificial lights cause them to crawl in the wrong direction. Even a single light bulb left shining on a beachfront patio can confuse the hatchlings, so Sanibel has implemented stringent restrictions on beach lighting – or a “dark-skies ordinance” — to help baby sea turtles to make their way safely to the sea. Other rules are in place that make it illegal to interfere with sea turtle nesting and hatching in any way.
How You Can Help
- Keep outside lights – especially those on your lanai — off during turtle season from April through October.
- Make sure to remove chairs, umbrellas, toys and other gear from the beach each night and fill in all holes that you dig. These obstacles may cause a “false crawl” where a female turtle returns to the water without laying her eggs. They may also block a hatchling’s route to the water causing it to remain on the beach and dehydrate.
- Do not use flashlights or take flash photography at night on the beach.
- Stay clear of marked nesting areas. Do not allow children or pets to disturb nesting turtles of hatchlings.
- If you happen to see a sea turtle, keep a respectful distance (at least 150 feet) and watch quietly. It is a rare experience and one to be treasured!