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Tarpon, lemon sharks highlight of fishing charter outing near Sanibel

By Staff | Aug 2, 2017

Captain Nathan Sklorenko coaches Larry Thompson in bringing in a tarpon. MEGHAN MCCOY

As soon as the silver rolls began appearing close to Captain Nathan Sklorenko’s boat, excitement grew as the anglers anxiously waited for the silver king to grab the bait.

Once the rod had a hit, a burst of adrenaline took over the boat, as the fight began to bring in the 80 pound tarpon. The silver king put on a show bursting out of the water, as angler Larry Thompson followed it all around the boat while keeping a tight line, breaking a sweat, determined to bring it in.

“You go from absolutely nothing to game on,” Sklorenko said while coaching Thompson on reeling in the silver king near Sanibel.

After the hook was removed, and the tarpon given the time it needed to be revived, the captain slowly released it into the water. Sklorenko said it’s all about conservation, protecting the fish habitat, so his kids can fish the same fish when they get older.

Although a few more tarpon rushed the line grabbing the bait, and bursting out of the water, the 80 pound tarpon was the sole one to be successfully reeled in by Thompson not long after the anchor was thrown.

Venture Out Charters Bait & Tackle Owner Jeff Neail. MEGHAN MCCOY

With a new hype on the boat, due to the first time seeing a tarpon that up-close and personal, another fight was soon underway as a 6-7 foot, 150 pound lemon shark got hooked. Although the intensity was not the same, the lemon shark moved Thompson around the boat again. Before being released, a few photographs were taken for bragging rights.

Sklorenko, who is a captain for Venture Out Charters Bait & Tackle in Cape Coral, earned his captain’s license as soon as he turned 18 years old, about eight years ago. His captain’s license is renewed every five years, and his fishing license every year.

The passion for fishing developed as a young boy, due to the proximity of the water living in Southwest Florida. At the beginning, the fisherman taught himself everything there was to know about the sport, before his mentors Les and Chris Achilles, also captains with Venture Out Charters, took him under their wing.

“Chris and Les showed me the ropes and I capitalized on it,” Sklorenko said.

From there his experience became worldly due to working on a yacht through such areas as Europe, the Caribbean and Bahamas. The job filled his passport rather fast, while working with such sport world class fish as marlin and tuna.

Captain Nathan Sklorenko casting last Tuesday near Sanibel. MEGHAN MCCOY

During that time, he would return to Southwest Florida to guide for a few months. Sklorenko said his boating experience started to accumulate while teaching others about boating. The eager fisherman also caught bait for other captains, further learning about the sport.

Now as one of the captains for Venture Out Charters Bait & Tackle, which is owned by Jeff Neail, his focus is to “keep everyone happy” while out on the charters. The captain, who is very versatile, caters to the kids, as well as the older generation, to give them all the experience they desire.

“I’m very kid friendly,” said Sklorenko, a father of two. “I’m good with kids.”

He also spends time coaching youths as they reel in their own catch, giving them the leverage they need to have a firm grip on the fishing rod. Often times he will also give the youngsters an opportunity to touch a small shark and teach them a few facts, if one is caught that day.

Although a plethora of charters are available, Sklorenko said the four-hour back bay is the most popular and affordable one offered. The charters range from two hours to 10 hours depending on the area, charter and type of fish the anglers want to catch.

A tarpon putting on a show before being reeled in. MEGHAN MCCOY

The charters focus on tarpon, snook and reds, as well as sightseeing. Sklorenko said the best time to go out fishing for tarpon is from May through July.

“Just going fishing, that hasn’t changed,” he said of why he really enjoys being a captain.

Neail took over the business two years ago, which underwent some remodeling

“It’s the only tackle shop on the water in Cape Coral,” he said, which is located in the marina at Cape Harbour. “Guys come down every afternoon and talk about fish they caught.”

The business offers such items as ice, beer, fishing supplies, boating supplies, rods, reels, apparel and charters. The tiki bar, located on the water, serves beer and wine.

Captain Nathan Sklorenko pulls the tarpon closer to remove the hook. MEGHAN MCCOY

Neail, a Florida native, was in the restaurant business for 10 years on the water in Englewood, before he decided to work closer to his Cape Coral home.

For more information about Venture Out, visit www.ventureoutcharters.com.