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Hook some tarpon by trolling

June 25, 2011

A great method for pass tarpon this time of year is to look for floating crabs being swept along by the outgoing tide. Dip them with a long handled net and put them on a circle hook. Look for floating weeds for even more crabs.

I like using a small float to keep the crab high in the water column. Also, a weighted crab near the bottom works when surface crabs don't get eaten.

Try slow drifting through the passes using weighted top and bottom crab baits. Use your trolling motor or even big motor to slow your trolling pass if the current is really ripping.

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Capt. George Tunison

Actually, slow drift/power trolling with a multibait setup increases the odds even more. Fish a jumbo shrimp on one down line and a crab on the other. Put down a big white bait or big pinfish on a third rod. Stagger the line lengths and spread the rods out when drifting to help stop tangling. Remember these down lines are to be fished directly below the boat.

Another slow trolling technique that is always hot this time of year is to slow troll with the electric or the big engine parallel to Sanibel Island.

I like to put out two nonweighted large pinfish or white baits on circle hooks about 75 and 100 feet behind the boat. Put the rods in the holders and slowly motor from the Sanibel Lighthouse toward Knapp's Point.

Keep the baits lively and clear of weeds. Drive the boat, relax and cover water. Start about 50 yards off the beaches (make trolling passes moving out 30 yards or so on each pass till you connect.)

The rod holders and circle hooks do all the work when the tarpon crashes your bait. You simply shift into neutral then fight your already hooked sliver king! I've caught quite a few big tarpon using this method.

While slow trolling live bait like this don't be surprised if a big shark, kingfish or cobia joins the party.

If you are a Jaws hunter now is the time to catch your dream shark. Simply anchor near (not in) the passes. Start a chum slick and throw out a jack, ladyfish, a ray, or practically any cut bait and then sit back and wait.

A fileted barracuda probably is the king of shark baits, but 'cudas aren't always easy to come by in these parts.

If you are serious about catching a jumbo shark then think serious big game gear because our area holds world class size sharks and lots of them. Big reels with lots of line, stand-up harnesses or fighting chairs, pick your poison. Be in shape with a strong back and have all necessary tools at the ready for the catch and healthy release.

A small shark kept for the table is fine if bled immediately and iced right away. Sharks are in big trouble worldwide although one wouldn't know it by the numbers of sharks here now. I try not to kill any of them if possible as they are a vital key in the health of the planet's oceans.

Fly fishing anglers can get in on the fun as well. Rig your tarpon stick with some wire on your leader. Set up a strong chum slick and get the sharks in a frenzy. Toss in a big, gaudy fly and strip slowly. It's quite a sight to see a big wake then a huge toothy mouth open and inhale your offering. Sometimes it's easy to forget to set the hook.

For this type of shark angling from a small boat or skiff always use a quick release anchor with a large ball that you can throw over quickly to chase the fish and can easily return to later for pick-up.

Redfish continue to bite under the bushes on live, frozen and dead shrimp. Also try crippled white baits or pinfish as well as ladyfish steaks using circle hooks with just enough weight to maintain the bottom.

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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