As of this writing, it's a Friday morning and a "captain's day" - a fishing day without clients. I'm anxious to get in the boat.
I got up late after a series of bizarre dreams about tarpon riding (you have to stay on for five seconds), but mostly because my dog was screaming something about busting a bladder soon!
I hate dogs, but somehow always seem to have one around that I take good care of and pay a lot to feed.
Capt. George Tunison
It's now 6 a.m. and I'm outside in my robe and my new rescue pit has suddenly turned into an upland game birddog as she runs and carefully sniffs every patch of grass in Southwest Florida, not even thinking about peeing anymore.
It's cold, I'm half asleep dodging newly emerging fire ants in my slippers, staring at this mindless pit now turned pointer. Worse, it's already windy. Damn wind!
I mutter something about dogs, fire ants, low tides and winter winds, and dream of a place that has 80-degree temperatures year-round, not too humid, always perfect tides, never more than a 5 mph breeze unless you're not fishing, teaming with a great variety of hungry game fish, and all the bait shops are staffed by beautiful, bouncing, bikini clad ladies, just dying to fill your shrimp bucket and gladly take them out to the boat and pour them in the live well for you while you "just rest and have a cool drink, handsome."
This is the place where all good anglers go when they die. That's what I keep telling myself and it's the only thing that keeps me going day by day in this wicked world.
Although the lure bite has really picked up, big live shrimp are still king aboard my boat. The last couple of months crawling a jumbo shrimp slowly on the bottom has been redfish magic for small as well as 30- to 34-inch class fish hanging around mangrove islands. This method also produced a fat and super strong seven-pound sheepshead that was hanging out with some big reds.
Method A - Fish the shrimp on a jig head, freelined, or weight it. Run your main line to a tiny SPRO swivel (or not), then add about 30 inches of fluorocarbon leader, then the hook. Rig the shrimp so it stays alive. Again I like to rig it sideways under the horn for this presentation. Cast it into a likely spot and keep an eye on the line as sometimes huge fish simply inhale baits and all you see is a slight twitch of the line. Adding a small split shot at the hook eye or a sliding bass worm weight will take it down if a bit more depth is needed or if the current is strong on a point.
Whatever presentation you choose just keep it on the bottom and drag it slowly. The ticket continues to be to cast out and let it sit for a bit, crawl it a foot, pause, crawl a foot, pause, etc. This method also works well with a GULP Shrimp on a jighead if you don't like live bait.
Method B - Fish a shrimp under a popping cork and drift the flats till you locate a school of trout or reds. This time-honored method of Southwest Florida flats fishing is a sure fire way of finding and catching all species of fish that frequent our shallow waters, not just trout.
Many captains are reporting catches of black tip and other sharks as well as mackerel and bluefish caught on rigs intended for trout. A nice blacktip fought on a light trout rod can be quite exciting.
Redfishing is good with more and more fish returning from deepwater. The trout bite is great with fish readily taking live baits as well as artificials like small plastics on jig heads, smaller MirrOlures and especially topwaters early in the morning, for the biggest trout of the day.
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.