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Northern techniques work here

March 5, 2009

Most every northern fisherman who now lives in Southwest Florida and has made the switch to "salt" probably has a "bass box" lying around full of crank baits and spinner baits from earlier fishing days.

Break it out and try some new things this year. Growing up I was in a bass club and loved catching deep fish on deep diving crank baits and shallow fish on spinner baits. The last couple of years I've had good success with spinner baits for redfish, especially in areas of cover and shorelines, on open flats when the fish are schooling and competitive.

I've also experienced red fish being turned off by spinner baits and watched them shy away from it at times. This past season I've been using gold blades with white/gold sparkle skirts in the 1/4- to 3/8-ounce sizes. I throw this in dingy or stained water. And yes, redfish will clobber a buzz bait. It's funny to watch them try to find a way to get it into their under-slung mouth.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

If you liked throwing crank baits for deep structure bass back home, then I know you will like catching 15-pound and much larger snook on that same outfit. First, get your diving crank bait ready by upgrading the hooks to the next size up and quality with hooks big enough to cope with much tougher fish. (Sorry bass fans, but my 12-inch jack will eat your five-pound bass!)

Gamakatsu, VMC, Owner, Mustad, all make fine replacement hooks. Trebles can be replaced with single hooks as well. Also upgrade all split rings for saltwater service. I use SPRO products. Probably best to arm yourself with four to five upgraded crankin' lures before setting out. I like to use 20- to 30-pound Power-Pro with a fluorocarbon leader of 15- to 25-pound test, depending on how much stuff is on the bottom.

Free seminar Sat.

Our river bridges are a crank bait fisherman's dream, both night and day. Structure, cover, shade, bait, current breaks and ambush points, offers everything a fish could want. They will clobber a big deep diving crank bait wobbling slowly by them in the depths and bouncing off cover as its cranked back to the boat. Start at one end and work your way to the other side.

I like to cast up-current and retrieve back naturally with the current flow. Always make sure your lure is hitting and bouncing off bottom structure and bottom debris as most hits will occur right after the lure clears an obstacle.

When a good snook slams your crank bait and goes airborne, you once again understand why you are not at Lake O bass fishing. Don't be surprised to catch trout, catfish, mackerel, grouper, cobia, snook, and a surprise tarpon using this method. Try it!

Capt. Dick May of Easy Rider Charters tells me that fishing has been tough because of high winds, cold water and cold fronts.

That's considered to be a "poor condition's grand slam," which can only be outdone by a "conditional super slam" - a cold front, water, wind, red tide, tornado, asteroid strike slam - which hopefully never will occur, though both qualify as superior excuses.

His best bet has been trout with GULP three-inch shrimp under a cork. Larger fish in two- to three-feet in the afternoon, on grass flats as the water warms.

Catch Capt. May as well as "Mr. Sheepshead" at Cape Tool & Tackle for a free fishing seminar (bring your lawn chair) this Saturday. Mr. Sheepshead starts at 11 a.m. Then, Capt. May will give a flats seminar and fish-cooking demonstration at noon.

This man can cook fish as well as catch them. He also has a wonderful seafood recipe book full of his local dishes.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.



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