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Fishing in cold, ice brings chills

January 22, 2011

I had forgotten what cold really meant, but a recent trip to Maine reminded me.

People are bright and cheery as they ask you how you are and comment about how lovely the day is. I didn't know what to say other than "well yes, a least the wind's not blowing today, and the sun is shining."

I don't dare mention it's only 2 degrees and my teeth are chattering. I can't imagine 9-10 months of that plus relentless wind, as I would be stir crazy in short order.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Ice drinking is popular, I mean ice fishing is very popular. Hundreds of thousands huddle in lean-to's to custom comfortable ice fishing shanties staring at holes in the floor hoping for a perch, lake trout, or walleye.

I guess the more one drinks the "funner" it becomes, but since I don't drink I found myself bored and daydreaming about our beautiful year-round fishery here in Southwest Florida.

Now that I'm back I will be targeting trout on the flats and canals and reds under the bush when tides and temperatures permit.

Also, I really don't want to hear any complaints about going out in T-shirts, shorts and sandals and catching nothing but 50 or 60 trout and several reds. Try staring at holes in snowmobile suits for days then get back to me.

Ever been in an ice shanty for two days, eight hours per day, sober, with four strangers that drink whisky all day?

Every day I launch my skiff here in Southwest Florida surrounded by gators, eagles, manatees, world class game fish, even giant sharks. I know I'm blessed, but only when one goes away does it really hit home how truly lucky we are to live in this sporting and boating, outdoor paradise.

Capt. Dick May reports trout continue to bite well on the grass flats, although most are short with about one keeper to every eight fish caught. The best bite occurs as the tide starts coming up and in the early afternoon after the sun has warmed the water for several hours.

Best baits are live shrimp or Gulp baits fished under a cork with a slow retrieve. Fishermen with shallow running boats seem to be catching larger fish while going into the back country and making long casts into potholes.

That said, it's not uncommon to catch 40-plus trout per trip out on the grass flats.

Redfish continue to be under size with a few keepers mixed in just like the trout. Best baits are live shrimp and plastic jerk baits.

The fish are not under the bushes. They are in protected bays in potholes or creeks where the water is a few degrees warmer.

Come see me at the free seminar at Old Pine Island Marine in St. James City at 7 p.m. Friday or at the Taste of Pine Island at the Center on Pine Island on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.



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