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Hit bridges, beaches for tarpon

June 6, 2009

June tarpon fishing is in full swing now in many locations, but it's also time to hit the beaches and the river for snook fishing.

Although the fish generally are running on the small side there is plenty of action and one never knows when a giant female will come down the beach and inhale your offering causing you to do the "snook jog" to keep from being spooled.

This is an early- and late-in-the-day fishery so be on the beach before sunrise to get your best shot, either by boat or on foot. If on foot, wade out and cast parallel to the beach as most of these fish will be right in the surf zone and you will see many scraping their bellies on the sand. If you are up high up on the beach the snook will see you in the ultra clear water and not bite or leave the area.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Get in the water and keep a low profile. If in a boat stay back and make long casts to the beach and cast parallel as much as possible. The larger females tend to hang a little deeper on the first drop off.

Any structure such as rocks, wing dams, groins, or downed trees will tend to concentrate these fish. Don't forget to get in the passes and fish the rocks and docks of Captiva and Redfish Pass. Try drifting with live pinfish and whitebaits. I usually like to fish the outgoing tide for snook in the passes. Along the beaches, the tide is not as critical as long as there is moving water.

Traditionally a small white bucktail has been a beach favorite along with white and other natural colored flies. I like to cast right up on the sand and hop it back into the surf and, hopefully, into the waiting mouth of a snook. Using fluorocarbon leaders in this clear water will give you an advantage.

Practice safe CPR

Fly fisherman are doing very well with white Clousers and Seaducers, cast along the beach and into the surf. This is a great place to try fly fishing. If you suspect the fish are in a little deeper water. a sink tip line can be an asset.

Please release these spawning fish carefully to preserve this fishery. Any fish held up for a picture should be supported under the belly and not be allowed to hang straight up and down, which causes internal organ damage.

Please practice careful CPR. (catch, photo, release) of this valuable resource. Try to always handle any fish, especially sea trout, with wet hands. Dry hands, towels, or dragging the fish up onto the sand removes scales and slime that protects the fish from bacteria that is everpresent in the fish's environment. Also eye damage occurs when pulling a fish up onto the sand.

Not all the snook are basking on the beach. Many fishermen are catching nighttime snook at the river bridges on plugs and D.O.A shrimp, 6-inch swimbaits and a large variety of plugs. If going for tarpon, be sure to go on the heavy side in your leader selection if you hope to do more than have one on your line for more than a few seconds.

Bridge pilings, sign, and bottom snags are the norm here so 80- to 120-pound leaders are typical for this fishing along with 60- to 120-pound braided line.

For trophy nighttime snook fishing, I always use a minimum of 60-100-pound test leaders. These fish will be here all summer.

n Capt. Greg Hood says fishing the last few days near Captiva and Boca Grande has been good. Tarpon are on the outside beaches along with trout and snook feasting on pilchards. The approaching full moon should produce some of the year's best fishing.

Offshore snapper will be hot if you can avoid the storms.

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



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