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Returning to my bass fishing roots

February 20, 2010

Even though I'm a dedicated saltwater angler and guide, like many fishermen I was raised on freshwater bass fishing. Joined bass clubs, fished many B.A.S.S. tournaments and caught large and smallmouth as well as spotted bass all over the east coast and into Canada.

When I caught my very first snook many, many years ago, I quickly put bass fishing on the back burner. After all, a snook is a fancy chrome bass on steroids and does everything a bass does, but 10 times better and even comes with a racing stripe on its side.

Once in awhile, especially this time of year, I like to return to my roots and do a little bass fishing.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

I've caught bass in the well known spots in Florida, like Lake O, and Lake Toho where I caught my first 10-pounder on a shiner. I also have fished the Cape canals, but have yet to land a big one, although longtime Cape residents tell me that really good bass fishing did take place here and some say it still does.

A couple years back I stumbled onto a trophy bass factory by mistake while pursuing a rather nice female angler in Sarasota. She lived in a nice complex right off I-75 that had more than eight ponds on the property. I was reading the local community paper and my eyes popped open when I saw a small picture of a resident holding a jumbo largemouth.

30 years of memories

The caption read: "resident catches and releases a 14 pound, 5 oz. bass." My hands started shaking as I realized I was less then 100 yards from where that fish was caught.

I returned to my friend's house two days later and just happened to be armed with a box of old bass lures and a good bass rod. It had been 30 years since I had walked the edge of a pond randomly casting a spinnerbait. It brought back many great memories of times past.

It didn't take many casts to find out these ponds were loaded with big fish that not many even bothered fishing for. In five short walking trips to those ponds more than 75 bass were caught with several five- to six-pounders, an eight-pounder, and a 10-pound 7-ounce "hawg" on my Boga Grip.

Lots of great bass fishing takes place in small ponds all over this state. Most don't require a boat, just a willingness to get out and explore.

This past week the trout fishing has been good, but the fish are scattered. Wind drifting grass flats with popping corks and small shrimp was the ticket. Once found, switching to jigs, D.O.A. Shrimp, or small freshwater diving crankbaits (Rapala Shad Raps) brought fish to the boat.

Sheepshead moving

Redfish are still biting and we are catching them mostly around oyster bars on moving tides. Most of these reds are on the small side and have been biting shrimp on slow jigs crawled on bottoms in the mornings to Clousers flies and small gold spoons as the day warms. These fish are in very skinny, clear water. Long casts and stealth boat tactics are keys to catching them. If you have insulated waders get out of the boat so as to keep a lower profile for these sometimes nervous reds.

Capt. Rob Modys reports that trout are being caught in the deeper cuts in Estero Bay. Mixed in are thousands of ladyfish anxious to bite. Sheepshead are moving to spawn and that means bigger fish will be caught in the creeks and oyster bars of the bay. Shrimp on jigheads are working best, but casting out and just letting it sit seems to work best.

Reds are scarce, but when located will eat. Small jigheads tipped with shrimp is the go-to lure choice.

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



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