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Neighbor really hooked on ladyfish

July 9, 2011

Workers came and started clearing the empty lot across the lake. I voiced my displeasure to the dog and she immediately rolled her eyes and sneezed.

"I agree," I said.

Soon a foundation was poured and a year later the sod was put down. Trees and bushes arrived and the home was complete. Although it's now in my view, all the time, every day and on holidays, I admit it's a handsome home.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

The neighbor soon started paddling and fishing around the lake in a bright red canoe.

If I'm not guiding a morning trip I like to walk out to my seawall in my robe and make a couple of casts and watch the sun color the sky as dawn arrives. More than once I've jumped sizable tarpon standing there in "Old Lucky" - my ancient tattered and thinning fishing robe.

It's a great way to start the day. After all, there are only a few things I can think of that are cooler than retrieving a surface plug just before dawn on dead flat.

I yelled out to - we'll call him Jack - and said, "Watch those gators out there." He waved and over the next few months we spoke a few times.

He found out I guided and I invited him for a neighborly trip. I told him I would take him to a place and guarantee he would catch a fish as soon as we stopped the boat and started casting.

A week later we headed north of Matlacha Pass to a favorite redfish spot and I sensed Jack was more than ready to get his string stretched. He said, "I've not been fishing since I was a boy and I can't wait to hook one!"

We stopped and I put the trolling motor down and we both started casting.

Jack took two turns of the reel handle and a big ladyfish inhaled his plug and started jumping like mad. The plug with its three treble hooks did its job and soon the dancing lady was at boatside.

Jack reached down to grab it as the lady, sensing freedom, got a second wind and launched itself into the air while at the same time driving one of those nine hooks DEEP into the meaty web of muscle between thumb and index finger causing Jack to lurch back and yelp.

As he did his $389 prescription glasses flew, in slow motion, from his top pocket and sank like a stone. The ladyfish, now invigorated and still deeply attached to Jack, continued to thrash till I finally subdued it. It wasn't a pretty sight.

Blood trickled down Jack's arm as I cut the line freeing him. I've taken out many imbedded hooks, but this one was in too far and I didn't intend to cause further damage. I tied some fishing line around the lure and to his hand to keep the lure from moving.

I jumped back up on the front deck and whipped out a cast wondering how long it would take him to start yelling. Three seconds later he said, are you crazy?"

I kidded with him a few minutes more telling him to just "tough it out" and "walk it off." He did not seem to get it or really appreciate it and soon my Hewes was hitting 70 mph on the way back to the dock.

We loaded and met his wife along the way home. I handed him off to her and later that day he had surgery to remove the hook.

I don't see Jack much anymore and have not spoken to him since the fishing trip. Come to think of it he never paddles the lake anymore. I did see him across the lake one day awhile back. I think he saw me, but immediately went inside. Odd?

TIP: When using braided lines on spinning reels after casting, always close the bail with your fingers, not by cranking the handle. Fewer line problems.

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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