Archive for April, 2014

7 (Slightly) Oddball Historical Tidbits about Punta Gorda

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014



Every small town has its stories. Legends get passed down from generation to generation. Oddities that you may not even notice if you grew up here. For instance, I heard that Gasparilla was a legendary pirate, but as a child, I pictured him as kind of a fun guy who sang Yo Ho! A Pirate’s Life for Me. As it turns out, he was a thieving criminal.

The point is you become accustomed to the oddities. So, perhaps I am missing some. But these stand out in my mind.

  1. A tarpon wearing boxing gloves represents the town’s only high school, Charlotte High. The high school adapted the mascot in 1959. Teenagers affectionately refer to the school as the “Home of the Fighting Tarpons.”
  2. Legend has it that in the 1850s a trading post burnt to the ground out on Burnt Store Road. The burning of that one store inspired the name of two subdivisions and a major thoroughfare.
  3. In 1962, there were 30 homes in PGI. A gentleman named Peter Bontsema formed a shuffleboard league to appease neighbors who complained of nothing to do. Bontsema went on to be the first president of the Punta Gorda Civic association. Nowadays, the PGICA boasts over 20 organizations to help residents get involved. But shuffleboard isn’t one of them.
  4. Although there are 16 unincorporated census-designated places in Charlotte County, Punta Gorda is the only incorporated city.
  5. There’s gold in the water! Well, maybe. Three major shipwrecks occurred in Charlotte Harbor. The heftiest occurred in 1821. The US Navy took down the aforementioned pirate, Gaparilla’s, ship with $9 million in treasure on board.
  6. If you can’t find gold in the water, maybe you can find youth. In 2013, National Geographic reported that the Fountain of Youth may actually be in Punta Gorda.
  7. When the Andreae family moved to Punta Gorda in 1980, there were only five homes in Burnt Store Isles. Now there are over 900 single-family homes in BSI.

What did I miss? If I missed any of your favorites, please head over to our Facebook page and let me know.

Southwest Florida Fishing (Part one): Catching Spanish Mackerel

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Every April, the Spanish Mackerel decides to move north for the summer. (I know what you’re thinking—who does that?) As they head north, they swim right by Southwest Florida. And all the anglers get out their rods to reel them in.

This year you should too. To help you on your quest for this easy-to-catch fish, our first installment in our new series, Southwest Florida Fishing, is all about the Spanish Mackerel.


With its dark green back, silver sides, and yellow spots, it is easy to mistake the Spanish Mackerel for a young King Mackerel. However, you can tell the difference in its lateral line. The King Mackerel’s line dips in the middle of the fish whereas the Spanish Mackeral’s line stays somewhat straight.

The Spanish Mackerel usually weighs in between 1-3 pounds. It is common to catch one up to 7 pounds. The Florida record is 12 pounds.


15 fish per day. You can keep any fish at a minimum of 12 inches. Measure the fish from nose to fork in the tail.

Where You Can Find this Fish:

Spanish Mackeral are mostly coastal fish. You can find them in nearshore waters, grass beds, and shallow estuaries and inlets.

How to Catch:

Take your boat out trolling or stand at a pier. Either way these fish are attracted to flash and movement. They are speedy and assertive who bite at anything shiny.

Cast out and let your rig sink to the bottom. Keep your rod tip down. Keep the spoon below the water’s surface. A spinning reel can help you move the line fast enough to keep the Mackeral interested. These fish will bite right through your line so a monofilament leader of 25 to 60 pounds is recommended.

Eating your fish:

As soon as you catch your fish, bleed it out. Cut the throat and put it head first into a bucket of water. Then, keep it covered with ice.

Eat it fresh, as this fish doesn’t freeze well.

Grill or broil this fish, but don’t overcook. You’ll know when to flip it when it just begins to flake. The dark, fatty flesh of this fish can handle heavier sauces without being overpowered like many lighter fish.

You can find some excellent recipes here.

Go Egg Hunting all over Charotte County!

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

egg_colorful_easter_eggs_213884It’s egg hunting season. Well, this weekend is egg hunting weekend. Before the Easter bunny heads to your homes on Saturday night, he warms up his hiding skills on Friday night. This year the Easter bunny will be busy setting up for Saturday egg hunts all over Charlotte County.

Fun Run/Hop Easter Egg Hunt for Cottontails

Saturday, April 19, 2014 Start your day at the Foot Landing’s Easter egg hunt at Gilchrist park. Of course, Punta Gorda’s downtown running store is doing more than hiding eggs. This hunt includes a one-mile fun run/hop around Gilchrist and the Harbor Trail. Kids can fill their baskets with treats and surprises along the route. Bring your Easter baskets. If you don’t have one, the store will provide brown paper bags.

FREE registration begins at 7:30 a.m. at the gazebo in Gilchrist Park.

The run/walk starts at 8:00 a.m.

Punta Gorda Historical Society Easter Egg Hunt

Saturday, April 19, 2014 After you’ve hunted down all the goodies down at Gilchrist, head over to Punta Gorda History Park at 501 Shreve Street. The Historical Society will host their own hunt for children between the ages of 1 and 10. Even though this is the Easter Bunny’s busiest weekend of the year, he has decided he can’t miss this hunt, and will be there to shake hands and take pictures.

The hunt is on at 10:00 a.m.

Please bring an Easter basket. Entrance is FREE.

Spring Spectacular

April 19th and 20th Your kids can hunt for over 30,000 eggs at the Charlotte Fairgrounds in Port Charlotte. The Spring Spectacular’s hunt is so large they divide the kids up by age group, which makes it easier on the littlest ones.

1yr old 10:15

2 yr old 11am

3 yr old 11:45am

4 yr old 12:30pm

5 yr old 1:15pm

6 yr old 2pm

7 yr old 2:45pm

8 yr old 3:30 pm

9/10 yr olds 4:15pm

You and the family can enjoy carnival games, over 15 rides, art and crafts, face painting and more.

The festival starts at 10:00 a.m. and stays open until 5:00 p.m

Admission is $5 for adults, $1 for children, and $3 for seniors. Parking is free.

For the Pets

Saturday, April 19, 2014 If your kids have four legs, that’s ok. We understand.  From 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., Salty Paws in Fishermen’s Village. will host its 5th annual Easter Bone Hunt in the Center Court.

Pre-registration is required. Call 941-575-7599 for more information.





Everything You Need to Know about the 2014 Punta Gorda Block Party

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Back in 1987, Punta Gorda celebrated its centennial anniversary with a street party. At the time party throwers aimed to honor our town while revitalizing the downtown area. Well, downtown has long been revitalized, but the party continues this Saturday, April 12, 2014.

Friday Night Parade

The weekend kicks off with a parade on Friday, April 11. The parade begins downtown and heads down Marion Ave where there will be a boat display from 5:00-7:00 pm.

The party continues on Saturday beginning at 1:00 pm


The biggest draw to the block party is the two stages of live music. Over the years big name artists have played here. This year, Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders will headline.

You may remember the Raiders for their hits in the ’60s and 70s such as Hungry and Kicks. Since then, Lindsay has gone on to have a successful solo career.


In addition, the party features some of the best local bands.

Marion Avenue Stage

1 pm Charlotte High Jazz Band

2:20pm Country Express

3:40pm Gotta Love It

5pm Democracy

6:20pm Intermission

7:40pm Gotta Love It

9pm Democracy!

Retta Esplanade Stage (Main Stage Club)

2 pm Daisy & Brownie Girl Scout Choir

3:10pm Single Minded

4:20pm Opening Ceremony

4:30pm American Made

6:30pm Mark Lindsay

8:30pm The BoogieMen

Children’s Stage

2:30, 4, 5:30pm Nick’s Kids Show

Block Party Food and Drink

In typical street festival food fashion, you can walk around with most of the offerings: hot dogs, hamburgers, gyros, funnel cakes, ice cream, and cotton candy.

Beer is $3 a cup and wine is $5. There will also be plenty of non-alcoholic beverages available.

For the Kids

The block party is a family affair. I remember every one of them growing up in Punta Gorda. Back then, there wasn’t much for kids to do. Of course, the kids today don’t know how good they have it. This year’s block party features a Children’s Entertainment Area complete with a bounce house, a rock-climbing wall, and their own band.

Entrance into the Children’s area is $5.

Important Details

Entrance into the party is only $1.

Paid parking costs $3 at the event center or on the lots of US41.

Money raised goes to over 80 local charities.

No pets, skateboards, bicycles, coolers, cans or bottles.

You can bring a lawn chair. I advise it if you want to sit and watch the bands.




Start Your Punta Gorda Fishing Dream Today!

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

It’s no wonder so many people dream of fishing in Punta Gorda. Beautiful weather year-round, 129 miles of protected fish-able waters, and a variety of fish from redfish, snook, mackeral to the mighty tarpon all make Punta Gorda ideal for anyone looking to cast a line.

Once a month through August, we will feature a different local fish. If you’re new to Punta Gorda or to fishing, don’t despair. This post will get your fishing dreams started.

Spring seems to be a particularly good time to get out on the water. During the winter, temperatures occasionally drop down into the frigid 50s, but those days are long gone by April, which makes planning a day on the boat much simpler. Spring also begins the season for some local favorites: spanish mackeral, tarpon, pompano, and cobia.

Fishing with Kids

Fishing is a family affair. Growing up in Florida, I knew how to scale a fish at a very young age. Your kids can get started this Saturday, April 5, 2014 at the “Hook Kids on Fishing” event at Fishermen’s Village. Presented by the Anglers for Conservation, which promotes responsible fishing practices, kids will learn about casting, safety, knot tying, and conservation. The program starts at 10:00 a.m. and goes until 12:00. You can pre-register by contacting King Fisher Fleet at 941-639-2628. The first 100 kids (ages 6-16) to register receive a free rod, reel, and tackle box.

Local Resources

Whether you’ve been fishing for years or are new to the sport, the Punta Gorda Fishing Club welcomes you. Every second Tuesday of the month, the club holds meetings at the Civic Center. The meetings start at 7:00 p.m. With over 500 members, you can expect to find a wealth of expertise regarding local waters and species, along with a few new friends.

Membership to the club is $20. The club also offers outings, monthly contests, social functions, and informative clinics.


Forget predicting the tides in Southwest Florida. Your best bet is to check the tides before you head out. You can find Charlotte Harbor tidal information here.


When you are out on the water, nothing is more frustrating than not knowing where you are going or what you can catch.

Download the following apps to your Smartphone to help you out on the water.

Lee Waterways App for iPhone

Lee Waterways App for Android smart phones

Fishing Regulations App for iPhone

Fishing Regulations App for Android smart phones

Now, go out and catch some fish!