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Great time to get big fish is now

October 17, 2009

Snook are putting on the feed bag and now is the time to get your once-in-a-lifetime trophy.

It's just a great time of year to be fishing, weather- and fish-wise. Big trout, ladyfish, bluefish, Spanish, kings, bonita, stray tarpon and the previously mentioned snook all are looking to eat.

Did I mention the schools of redfish prowling the flats waiting for your top water lure? Lure and fly guys, as well as bait slingers, all will score big this month.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Although there are some beach snook still out there look for snook of all sizes making their fall transition to the back country. That means you will encounter them in the passes, near pass flats, drop offs, creek mouths, mangroves, pot holes, river mouths, and the river itself.

Many captains I've talked to this week all report big snook being caught or lost in several different locations. This is a great time to catch a big snook on a lure. The different Mirr-o-lures are always a good choice a well as X-Raps, and fake shrimp like the classic D.O.A.

Lure fanatics like me carry boxes and boxes of lures. It's safe to say on any given day I have more lures on board than any local tackle store, but one small box containing a couple of Mirr-o-lures, a handful of D.O.A. shrimp, and a gold spoon or two will catch 90 percent of the gamefish in our area.

For those fishing strictly trophy snook don't underestimate or go undergunned for these big females. I prefer to fish a 12- to 15-inch live ladyfish near bridge structures or docks at night. I also like to time my trips so I'm fishing a strong outgoing tide. I love light tackle fishing, but on these occasions I use stout gear.

When fishing snag infested bridge areas I use 60- to 100-pound test braided lines attached to a super strong SPRO swivel (100-pound rated) then attach a 6-8-foot piece of 60- to 100-pound fluorocarbon leader.

Hooks sizes and types are a long discussion, but generally I use various size Owner hooks for all my needs and a circle hook whenever possible. Choose to free line your ladyfish or support it with a balloon or float, depending on conditions or desired presentation. Put in your time and you will be rewarded. Please handle all snook carefully, especially the big female spawners.

Capt. Dick May reports great fishing in Boca Grande Pass. Watch for diving birds and throw plugs, spoons, or bait into the bait schools that the birds are diving on. Stay back 20-30 yards from the bait and do not drive into or over the bait. Stay back and cast to it. Spanish, blues, ladyfish, and even big bonita await you there. Use a small trace of wire to keep bite offs at a minimum.

Capt. Roy Bennett of Hot One II Charters reports a great week of fishing. Trout up to 26 inches in upper Pine Island Sound one day. The next day fewer trout were hooked, but lots of Spanish mackerel were caught using whitebait and Kastmaster spoons. Keeper-sized snook were released while still in the water (best way to release) Wednesday along with several short snook.

The following day, big snook were caught and lost with several too big and mean to coax out of the mangroves in the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River. Lots of birds diving on bait and Spanish macs under the bait made for fast-paced action offshore along with a big kingfish that straightened a hook.

Remember, the redfish bite is on, so approach schooling reds quietly using trolling motors, wind drifts, and push poles. Try to pick off fish from the edges rather than from the middle of the schools. Please be respectful and stay back from a boat that's fishing a school unless invited.

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



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