I am constantly surprised by northern anglers asking "what kind of fishing line is this?"
Even though Spectra, or braided lines, have been around for some time now many freshwater anglers are still not familiar with the product. Almost every rod in my boat is spooled with braided line. I enjoy watching anglers "feeling" that first strike using braid and setting the hook in what they think must be a giant of a fish.
That first mighty hook-set, of course, usually results in a broken leader or a popped hook unless it's an unfortunate small fish which flies out of the water and sails over our heads at light speed.
Capt. George Tunison
If you have not used braid, the first thing you will notice is a huge increase in sensitivity. Your ability to feel your lure, to detect strikes, to feel structure, is increased by at least three times over conventional mono lines.
Because of its high strength and small diameter, it casts farther, trolls deeper, and allows much more line to be packed on a spool. Twenty-pound test braid is about the same diameter as six-pound mono. The virtual no-stretch properties of braid also allow an angler to transmit much greater hook-set power down the line to the hook.
It usually takes awhile and many lost fish to train yourself to not give the fish a Roland Martin power hook-set like most of us use that grew up bass fishing with mono lines. Generally, a short wrist-snap is all that's necessary to deeply set the steel.
Braid is slippery and requires certain knots so it won't slip. I usually find the uni-knot to work well for all my fishing. Use the back-to-back uni to attach a mono leader to braided lines. I always use a three- to four-foot invisible fluorocarbon leader with braid. There are many brands with Power Pro and Suffix being two of the best performers.
Chill hampers effort
Capt. Phil Evans of A Fishin' Mission Charters said cold fronts early in the week made bait and fishing a little tough. Starting in Matlacha, north winds hampered efforts causing them to relocate to Bokeelia where 70-degree water temps contributed to more lockjaw, and finally moving south to wait for the water to warm and catching a few fish.
A final move to St. James City and into lower Pine Island Sound paid off. Water temps climbed to 74 and the snook bite was on, landing keeper snook for a Michigan angler on his first trip to these parts. Also, catching reds to 24 inches and several trout and sharks as well.
Capt. Richard May of Easy Rider Charters had a similar report of strong north winds that blew out the water making it impossible to get to most of the mangrove islands. Trout fishing was good, but they seemed to not want live bait. All trout were caught on three-inch white GULP baits under a Cajun Rattling Cork. Spanish mackerel were taking free lined white baits with gusto.
With the weather warming up and the tides improving, next week should offer easier fishing. There is quite a bit of white bait still available as well as a lot of perfect-size pinfish for redfishing and snook.
Capt. Rob Modys of SoulMate Charters reported a great bite despite the cold weather. The bait was blown away from the beaches, so they shifted to live shrimp for trips that proved to be a good decision. On recent charters, his anglers caught snook, reds, trout, sheepshead, and pompano by working jig and shrimp rigs slowly across the bottom near deep cuts and potholes.
In Estero Bay, the north end oyster bars are starting to produce keeper-sized sheepies and slot redfish. Modys says the snook bite is really strong with lots of undersized fish and bigger slot fish to pull your string.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.