When my time comes and, if I am somehow lucky enough to be given a choice of the where, when and how of my passing, I could think of two ways I'd love to depart the planet at the overripe age of 99.
The first I won't mention and the second for me is also a no-brainer.
It involves shallow water skiffs and calm winds, purple pink fading skies reflected in the waving tails of happy feeding fish on an endless flat. Silent drifting, poling, scanning, searching for wakes, boils, tails, clues, then seeing the opportunity, making the perfect cast and grinning as the big feeder races to the hook.
Capt. George Tunison
Sounds like a TV fishing show in some remote and expensive location, but happily it's right here in our very own local fishing paradise.
This past week the shallow water redfishing has been quite good with several areas and flats in Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass alive with big redfish, trout and sharks in really skinny water.
One evening this week it was exactly as I described with a gentle breeze and sinking sun with gigantic clouds rising thousands of feet into the blue. The sky on fire with pinks, purples, oranges, and the water alive with marine life as far as the eye could see. Big shiny redfish tails waving in the breeze, sharks of all sizes, tails above water, hunting the flat in every direction. Big and small rays feeding, stirring the bottom, hosting big reds in their wakes performing clean up duty for any escaping morsels.
I was in shallow water fishing Heaven as a 32-inch redfish made a huge wake as it raced toward my Rapala topwater plug and inhaled it. Hooked, he left a boil the size of a car hood before taking off for parts unknown while my reel quickly gave up yards of Power Pro line.
To get in on this fishing you need to wade or be in a shallow water craft of some type. Most of the fishing we did was in about 10 to 15 inches of water on sparsely grassed flats. Too shallow for the trolling motor, but perfect poling and drifting water. Being in a 16-foot Action Craft allowed us to get up on the flat and into really skinny water.
This is ideal topwater lure territory and when we could use them the redfish loved them, but there was one big problem - dead grass floating everywhere fouling the lures on every cast. All of a sudden 99 percent of my lure choices went out the window and we had to resort to soft plastic weedless, jerk baits to be able to fish through the mats of floating grasses.
Redfish instantly terrorized any topwater plug by charging it, but at the last second turned away when it saw the weeds dangling from the plug.
So we fished every color, type, style, price, scent, and manufacturer of soft plastic jerk baits. Fished them fast, slow, and in between.
Nothing, nada, zip.
Put a topwater on and bang, active and uncatchable fish everywhere charging the plugs, but at the last second turning away.
Finally, we drifted into an area with less grass and were able to get in 5-10 foot retrieves with the floating plugs before getting fouled. This was enough room to also get a strike and fish were boated and released.
Just before dark I stopped casting and simply stood and marveled at the sky and the waters teeming with life and thought how lucky I've been to have spent a great portion of my life in this outdoors. To be here now in one of the top 10 shallow water fishing destinations in the world, to call this place home, is really to me a special privilege.
I thought, "take me now!"
Rejected again, I'm still here. As they say, "the good die young."
I'm going fishing.
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.