Fishing Southwest Florida with “Fishin’ Frank”

January 12, 2018
Fishing , Florida , State Reports
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  • Common Answers and Fishing Solutions, Eye to Eye

  • Rods, Reels, Lines, Baits, Hooks and Rigs – Learn for Free

  • Where to Fish, Where to Park, What to Use, When to Go – Can it Get Any Better?!

  • Black Bass, Grouper, Snook, Crappie, Redfish, the list is LONG

  • Saltwater and Freshwater Goodness Tales of Help for Every Angler


By Forrest Fisher

Pier fishing in Charlotte Harbor Park is much easier and much more productive with advice from Fishin' Frank. Forrest Fisher Photo


While visiting a bait shop in Port Charlotte (Florida), I met a young-minded, white bearded, guy that the locals call “Fishin’ Frank.”  He was talking to a gentleman angler and his friend in the store about tackle to use in saltwater.  The guy was a fisherman from Minnesota.  With a half grin, he said, “Frankly, have you ever heard of catching giant gag grouper on plastic-tail black bass baits?  How about goliath grouper on a Carolina rig? Or giant snook on a freshwater Storm Twitch stick bait? Redfish on Zoom plastic worms…with a bobber?” The room went silent. “Nope,” the guy answered.  “Let’s talk simple,” Frank added.

Making common sense of non-sense is something that this witty expert angler guy in southwest Florida does every day to help others understand how to catch fish in saltwater.

Jeff Liebler loves to catch tasty saltwater sheepshead and this is one species anglers can catch from shore and off common fishing piers all along the gulf in January and February.  Forrest Fisher Photo


In a few short seconds, I discovered Fishin’ Frank knew more about catching fish than most people who spend all their recreational time fishing might know.

At his bait shop called “Fishin’ Franks” (http://www.fishinfranks.com/) you’ll encounter the best part of your future fishing day: Frank makes it his mission, for the moments with you, to share his knowledge when he senses what you need to know. You need to ask what it is you want to know first, after that just LISTEN (listen good).

Why does he do this? He’s a common sense guy that understands nature, forage, predator fish, the moon, the tides, his budget, your budget, his time, your time and, after a few minutes, your needs.  Simply said, Frank likes to help people.

Catch fish or not, it’s fun to talk to this guy.  Frank is friendly, accurate, an eternal optimist, and he’s there to come back to…if you catch ‘em or not - to answer more questions from you.

We all like people like this, but beyond that, Fishin’ Frank goes the extra mile to pursue the answers and solutions for you when he asks, “Did I answer your question?  Do you have any more questions? Do you wanna know where to go fish while you’re here? From shore or boat?” Yep, hard to find this anywhere else in the country and world, I have fished those places and can confirm there is no other around exactly like Fishin’ Frank…who shares for free.

If you are a fisherman that loves to fish and catch fish, Fishin’ Frank’s Bait and Tackle Shop on Highway 41 (4425 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte, Fl., 33980; 941-625-3888) is your “one-stop/must-go” place to visit.  After that, if you’re lucky and there is an open slot, sign up for his free fishing seminars held on the second Tuesday and Wednesday of the month.

Giant crappie are among freshwater fish that abound in the freshwater canals of Port Charlotte. Simple jigs, small blade baits and live minnows are top baits.  Forrest Fisher Photo


The seminars run from 7PM – 8PM at Luigi’s Restaurant in Port Charlotte, most folks start getting there around 5:30PM, they want a good seat. While there, you can eat, drink and be merry, while asking questions to quiet your quest for more information and savvy know-how and what-to-do stuff from Frank and the charter captain experts that talk with him.  Best of all, everyone else there is a fisherman too, you’ll meet others that fish and know the area. Very cool if you are a visitor or resident.

In Frank’s little bait shop (not that little), the only thing you’ll find are hundreds of lures, hooks, floats, plastics, rods, reels and lines and fishing stuff that works in this fishing area for freshwater and saltwater fishing.  And, at prices that can match on-line sales. How can Fishin Frank do this?  The simple answer: sheer volume.  He sells everything he carries right off the wall as soon as it gets there. Franks says, “I order lures by the thousands and still can’t keep up with the hot colors. For some lures like the Storm Twitch, I order 1200 at a time and they are gone very quickly.” If you and I visit there, we’ll find answers and solutions to our fish-catching problems at little cost to us. Quite amazing.

This past week at Frank’s seminar, Charter Cayle Wills of Bad Fish Charters (http://www.reelbadfish.com/home.htm), originally from Warren, Pennsylvania, where he cut his teeth on tiny trout streams, was one of two guest speakers.  Captain Karl Butigian, Back Country Charter (https://www.kbbackcountrychartersfishing.com/), local native from Port Charlotte, also joined Fishing Frank to free the confusion about fishing the waters Port Charlotte, Florida. These guys offer charter fishing from their boats, or they will go with you in your boat for half price. Hard to match that offer.

The discussion this week was about using your freshwater lures to catch saltwater fish. Was it interesting? Indeed, it was eye-opening in a world of when it seems common sense is uncommon to find.

This column will begin a multi-part series about using those lures, the how, the where, and the what, from the information shared by this dynamic three-some of fishing experts.  Look for Fishin Frank’s – Part 1 next week.  To jump start you, need to know where to start fishing from shore? Frank has that for you! Look here: http://www.fishinfranks.com/where_to.htm#wade. You’ll find maps and more. Step by step.  Just don’t forget to go back to the store and thank this gentleman giant of the Florida fishing world.

When you're ready to catch some BIG saltwater fish to satisfy the open space in your freezer, hire a charter captain that knows his business and is not out there to just take your money. Two of these "good guys" are listed in this story. Forrest Fisher Photo


Captain Karl conducts hands-on seminars at many locations when he is not fishing.  Captain Cayle writes for Waterline magazine, a local fishing publication, and is also staff at Fishin' Frank's store. Look to meet both of these angler gentlemen at the Charlotte County Boat Show Jan.11 – 14th, March 8 – 11 at the Punta Gorda Boat Show, and at the March 24, 2018, Fishin Franks Tent Sale, where about 3,000 anglers meet with manufacturers at the store and adjacent area to make incredible over-the-counter deals on fishing gear.  It’s free to attend.

Wildlife is everywhere when you fish Florida. Enjoy every moment. Forrest Fisher Photo


Tight lines everyone!

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