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Fishing was worth braving the elements

February 12, 2011

Yes, I know it was windy and chilly at times. And gray. The kind of days that make man and dog want to curl up by the fire.

But if you like catching redfish and trout, and because of the weather you didn't go fishing this past week or two, you really missed out on some quality fish.

Redfish continue to bite. Yes, most are the so-called rat size variety, but there are enough bruisers mixed in to make it worth braving the elements and maybe putting on a light coat and giving it a whirl. After all, you could be in Maine.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

On back-to-back trips, I caught 32-inch and 33.5-inch reds along with smaller guys.

Those big guys were charged up and extra strong and really tested my knots as I had to pull as hard as I dared to keep them out of the roots. Both bigger fish not only tested my equipment, but moreso my experience and knowledge of the limits of my equipment.

When it gets down and dirty fighting a big red in dense cover with a spinning reel, I keep the rod tip almost in the water, loosen my drag just a bit and cup my fingers or hand around the spool to control the drag. I feel it gives me better control and allows me to take my equipment to the limit catching the fish without breaking my line or leader.

Have your equipment in top shape. Fresh lines, flawlessly functioning reels and drags, sharp hooks, charged trolling motor batteries, etc. There is nothing worse then dragging a boat to the ramp after spending a fortune on gas, oil, licenses, parking, food, drinks, bait, tackle, storage, and losing a big fish - or even worse, a trophy - because you haven't changed your line since you moved here from New Jersey.

So much of fishing is proper preparation from greasing the trailer bearings to the final knot you tie before the first cast. I maintain two boats and fishing-related maintenance, as most of us know or are now finding out, is a lot of work.

These past weeks I've caught my share of fish on lures and since I'm a nearly 100 percent lure or fly guy that's just fine, but I have to admit that lately a nice jumbo shrimp freelined or hooked to a jighead has been the hands-down killer choice.

Take the hook, unweighted, and run it sideways in and out under the shrimp's horn. I think this allows the shrimp to act naturally in the water. Cast this to a likely shoreline and let the shrimp do its thing and, hopefully, get inhaled.

Learning to be a line watcher can pay off big time in this style of fishing. Sometimes big fish will simply inhale a big shrimp and all you will see is a slight tick of the line as an indication to set the hook. Other times they will nearly rip the rod from your hand. If using a jighead I like to hook the shrimp upwards through the tail, far enough up so my jighead is even with the end of the shrimp's tail and my hook point is fully exposed on top of the shrimp.

When using this rig cast out, let it rest for a 10-count, then simply and slowly crawl it over the bottom a foot at a time. Let rest, slow crawl, let rest, etc. Nothing fancy, but it works and will continue to work well in the upcoming weeks.

Always chose jig shapes that ride or set "hook point up" when sitting on your kitchen counter. When bottom crawling shrimp this reduces hang-ups and wasted fishing time. If the cover is real thick and you keep getting hung rig the shrimp with the hook point buried in Mr. Shrimp, Texas style.

Fish On!

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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