Search continues near Jug Creek for missing boater

JUG CREEK, Fla. – Multiple agencies are searching for a 62-year-old man who didn’t return home from a fishing trip Thursday evening, the U.S. Coast Guard said Friday.

The wife of Jim Winkler of North Port said he left the El Jobean Marina in the Myakka River around 2 p.m. Thursday. By sun down, his wife became worried, telling the Coast Guard her husband never fished passed 10 p.m.

“It was a warm night last night, conditions were not bad on the water, so we’re hopeful we’ll find him in healthy condition,” Officer Stuart Spoede with Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC) said.

By Friday morning, his boat was found near Jug Creek in Bokeelia without Winkler on board.

“There was no damage to the vessel, at this point we don’t have any idea what happened to him,” Officer Spoede said.

Winkler was known to wade fish. Other fishermen are holding out hope he’s still out there somewhere.

“If the currents really up the boat can get away from you so quick and before you know it it can be 100, 200 yards away from you and no matter how good of shape you’re in, you’re not going to catch up to that boat,” Jeff Chamness, a boater, said.

Winkler’s last cell phone ping was at 7 p.m. Thursday, just south of Cape Haze, the Coast Guard said.

For those near the water, the missing boater was all they could think about as rescuers continued their search.

“You have to pay attention on the water all the time–all the time–too many things can happen and you don’t get a second chance,” Jim George said.

Count on WINK News to bring you the latest developments in the search.

Reporter:Nicole Valdes
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