This past week, two other captain and I took out seven young Marines for a day on the water. The weather was hot as blazes for me, yet they hardly broke a sweat. They told me of days in Afghanistan with daytime temperatures over 120 degrees (lugging huge packs, ammo, weapons - my words not theirs) then freezing their rear ends off at night.
The water in Matlacha Pass was murky at best with floating, decaying vegetation making casting difficult. We started the day tarpon/shark fishing using chunk tuna and halved ladyfish on the bottom, all three boats within bragging distance.
These young men had served one or more tours overseas and all said they would be proud to return. All had lost more then a few friends to the horrors of war. One I believe said he had lost six friends. I think of the incredible bravery of these very young men and the personal sacrifices they have made for the country and I am humbled.
Fish on! We turned to see a big Marine on the front of Capt. David's skiff with a huge rod bent double attached to something that was pulling the skiff around. Twenty minutes later it was Marines 1, Sharks 0, as a huge, over 8-foot-long nurse shark came to the boat for pictures and cheers.
Catfish seemed to love the tuna baits more than the tarpon so we stowed the big rods and proceeded to hunt for reds and trout on the flats. With the heat and plain ugly water conditions, I wasn't too excited about our prospects.
Soon bobbers disappeared as nice sized trout came aboard. As the other boats continued drifting the flats, we pulled away to fish the tip of an island that had shade, current, depth and nice live green bushes. (TIP)
The remaining half dozen shrimp in the well had finally died from heat stroke (I didn't feel far behind), but they went on the hook anyway as we cast to the edge of the mangroves. Suddenly a light tackle rod bent double as a nice red ate the dead snack and took off threatening to get back under the mangroves then around the front of the boat twice before I could land it.
More trout were caught on corks with DOA shrimp. We then decided to call it a day as the temperature neared the 100 degree mark.
Hats off to these brave young men who are so dedicated to this country and their mission. I was honored to share my boat with them and hope to do so again in the future.
Tarpon, sharks, reds, trout, snook, jacks, mackerel - it's all going on right now and the action is really good no matter what species you're looking for.
The past couple of weeks the wind has made tarpon sometimes hard to spot when they roll but many are still being caught in the passes, flats, harbor and bridges.
Tarpon fishing can be as simple as sitting in a Jon-boat fishing a hunk of dead catfish on the bottom to being aboard a hi-tech fishing machine deep jigging Boca Grande Pass. Also, there are many very qualified area guides willing to teach you a lifetime's worth of tarpon knowledge in a day's fishing. For their comparatively small fee, it's a real bargain.
The old reliable redfish are still biting strong around the mangroves. As stated before, shrimp, both live and dead, are still king aboard my boat but cut baits like pinfish and ladyfish work almost as well.
Try to get the bait back under the bushes if possible. Sometimes it's a game of inches and close won't count.
If you have booked a guide for a day's redfishing either with lures or baits, sharpen your casting skills before going out. It will really pay off by the end of the day.
Trout continue to hit shrimp and corks, lures, and flies.
Get out early and walk the beaches for great snook action.
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.