The last month's cold spell really had lots of school reds, snook and trout leaving the open water and heading to local canals, creeks, basins and inlets to stay warm in the deeper water offered in these spots.
Day after day "rat reds" inhaled GULP Shrimp on jigheads simply dragged slowly across the bottom to old fashioned sinking MirrOlures slowly reeled, suspended, and twitched right above the bottom. These ice-cold reds really slammed the artificals with gusto as did the bigger trout.
On back-to-back charters we caught more then 60 reds along with a 12-cast, 12-fish hot streak. Although GULP makes you gulp when you pay for a pack, it's a great product. It's also durable as I caught fish after fish on one GULP Shrimp that lasted almost the whole trip. Even after being bitten in half it looked more like a chunk of liver crawling across bottom instead of its former pristine shrimp shape. The reds didn't care as they gulped it down testifying to its effectiveness.
Capt. George Tunison
I carry lots of gold sparkle D.O.A. Shrimp mixed in my bags of GULP so they can absorb some of the smelly scent that really works for our local fish. Best bet is to buy a jug of GULP 3- and 4-inch shrimp and soak all your favorite plastics in the expensive magic liquid produced by Berkeley.
Now you say, "what happened to my fish?" as your hotspot and its big numbers magically has gone bone dry and just an occasional catfish now inhales your bait. The waters warmed and the fish have left to forage in open waters. As my Dad loved to say "nothing lasts forever," and gone are the dream-like days of a fish on every cast with huge schools competing for your baits.
It's back to work hunting and probing the mangrove shorelines, deeper potholes, oyster bars, islands, docks and any other place a red normally may turn up.
Trout are on everyone's mind. The fish are coming out on the grass flats in 2- to 6-feet of water and hitting all the typical trout presentations. Live or plastic shrimp on a jig head is a killer for trout and reds right now. The classic shrimp under a popping cork or float is another surefire way to find them. Don't forget to actually "pop" the cork every 20 seconds or so and try to let the fish tell you how much or how little popping they require to come to your bait.
Find a large flat with afternoon sun, good grass growth to soak up solar heat and to warm the surrounding waters near a deeper channel or a canal with some current, and you have found your day's trout hotspot. Shut everything off and quietly wind drift and cast till you find them. Anchor and enjoy.
Trout can be very noise-shy at certain times so keep foot noise, lid slamming, tackle box scrapping and slamming, and Tarzan yells to a minimum, or your school will fade away. At times, even loud talking can spook fish in shallow water.
This year resolve not to handle or touch fish you intend to release, especially trout. Learn to hold a fish in the water with a Boga-Grip or other release tool and use your needlenose pliers to remove hooks, keeping the fish in the water as much as possible.
n Capt. Dick May of Easy Rider charters tells me, "The water warmed back up to 70 this past week in Pine Island Sound and the trout were back on the weed beds in 3- to 5-feet of water." Live shrimp or GULP under a popping or rattling cork worked well.
You will catch seven or eight short fish to every keeper, but the action is good. On trips Monday and Wednesday we caught 30 to 40 trout each day. Wait until late morning to go out so that the sun has a chance to warm the water.
A moving tide also helps.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.