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Witnessing a struggle for life

August 7, 2010

Every morning for the past week I have been watching a violent life-and-death struggle taking place not far from my window.

I grew up bass fishing and thought I knew quite a bit about the habits of the black bass. I also thought Florida largemouth spawning took place only during the winter months. Recently, several large saucer shaped spawning beds on the edge of this particular pond has shown me otherwise.

Not long afterwards, I could see tough little males had moved in and were practicing nest protection by driving off the many minnows, small fish, bugs and invasive species, such as Mayan Cichlids that linger near nests waiting for the upcoming feast of newly hatched bass fry. These super aggressive little male bass are on continuous duty while the large females linger on or close to the nest.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

The fry hatched recently and a walk near the pond revealed hundreds upon hundreds of the little guys hovering around the nests and taking off into the grassy edges when danger approached. Daily inspections saw them growing very quickly. Every morning I looked forward to watching this cycle of life progress outside my window.

One morning, I looked out to see three wading birds feasting on the fry while both male and female bass charged their legs, boiling and splashing the water, in a last-ditch attempt to protect their young. The largest of the birds quickly tired of this harassment and promptly zeroed in on a small aggressive male, plucking him from the water and swallowing him whole.

By the next afternoon, a dozen birds patrolled the shoreline and no sign of parents or fry were visible. The once-tidy nests are now empty and filled with bird tracks. Large colorful cichlids cruise the shoreline and other than the remnants of the nests, no trace of the bass and their spawning struggle remain.

I find myself still drawn to the window some mornings looking at the empty nests hoping for signs of life and thinking how tough it is for all of us and wonder just how many of the little guys escaped to grow.

n Recently, a friend called asking for help with his motor. His Yamaha refused to run properly and he was out of ideas. He had just bought this used boat and it had been sitting for some time. A trip to the local dealer revealed water in the fuel and sludge in the bottom of the tank. Ethanol-laden fuel had cleaned the inside of the tank as well as drawing moisture into the fuel over the many months.

Each of the fuel system components had to be broken down on the bench, inspected and cleaned. Throughout the system traces of gunk and sludge were found. After this time-consuming process was completed and everything buttoned up, the motor fired up and ran like a champ. Total cost $477.

Hard starting, sluggish performance, missing, poor idle? Check your fuel and fuel delivery system. Inexpensive fuel testing kits are available to instantly tell if you have contamination problems caused by ethanol and water contamination.

n Capt. Rot Bennett of Hot One II Charters, reports he is still involved with Operation Open Arms - a service were captains volunteer their time to provide a free fishing trip for active duty vets that make our freedoms possible.

He took Tom Sullivan and his son Tom Jr. 30 miles out on a grouper charter. Using pinfish and other cut bait they landed their allotted four red grouper up to 13 pounds and one gag grouper of 15 pounds. They also landed and released lots of short grouper. One short grouper was grabbed by a barracuda on the way up, leaving only the head.

Calm seas and blue water. Remember to beat the afternoon storms when going offshore. The fishing remains strong.

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



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