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Fish still biting even in the heat

July 31, 2010

It's hot as blazes, but the fish are still biting and there is plenty of bait available as well.

After this winter's attempt by Mother Nature to turn most of our snook and lots of our tarpon into fishsickles, resulting in one of the worst fish kills in Florida's history, tons of big and small fish still are being caught and carefully released.

Overall, it's been a great snook bite considering the circumstances.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

The full extent of the damage from BP's oil leak (plus newly discovered ongoing smaller leaks in the Gulf) is not yet known and will be felt for decades to come. China has joined in with their own spill along with ongoing leaks and spills in the Middle East, Africa and Russia.

The quest for black gold in the name of energy and profit continues to take a toll on the environment. That, coupled with a worldwide insatiable desire for seafood, industrial poisoning and destructive overfishing techniques have resulted in the devastation of fish stocks worldwide.

Just how much can the oceans of the world and all its wonderful creatures withstand? At the present rate, the outdoors and the sporting traditions we have so long enjoyed and often take for granted will not be available to future generations.

In an effort to reduce fish mortality the last couple of years I've been experimenting with barbless and "swelled barb" hooks. Like most of us I always thought a barbless hook was only good till the first jump, then game over. Over the last 10 years or so many studies on barbless hooks have been done with the results disproving that theory.

My personal observations are the same. A long rod and steady pressure still bring the fish to the boat and make for a painless and easy release.

Many anglers intent on bringing home a limit of fish for the pan often tell me they want every advantage, including barbs, to insure their limited time and hard-earned gas money results in fish in the cooler.

In a day's trout fishing how many juvenile trout are "released" before that limit is met? Many of these juvies indeed swim away but die days and weeks later of barb inflicted wounds.

In our area it's not uncommon to catch 50 to 100 trout in a day's outing. If you keep your limit for the pan that means one heck of a lot of torn and injured fish are being released with many later dying from the trauma inflicted mostly by hook barbs.

Keep in mind that's just one boat. Multiply that by the hundreds of boats on the water on a given weekend, just in our neck of the woods alone. That indeed is a lot of damage.

Try barbless hooks yourself this year and see if it makes any difference. I think you may be surprised and the fish will certainly appreciate it. Your kids, years from now, might just be catching the fish you released healthy today.

Circle hooks are another way to insure the future of our sport. Even though they are barbed, the barb and hook point is shielded by the hook shape as the bait is swallowed then pulled back toward the angler catching the point of the hook in the jaw allowing a clean release without major tissue damage.

Capt. Dick May of Easy Rider Charters says although it's very hot he is still catching redfish up under the bushes on small whitebait. The key is a moving tide. If the water is not moving you cannot get them to bite.

There is plenty of small white bait and lots of pinfish available for bait. The reds also take shrimp, frozen or live, but the pinfish clean your hook so fast the reds can rarely get to it.

Trout fishing has been very poor, but they are still out in Charlotte Harbor.

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



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