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Night trips produce trophy fish

August 20, 2011

I was out on my favorite flat Thursday afternoon searching for redfish tails and it suddenly struck me that there was not a boat, kayak, canoe, yacht nor airboat within sight.

Miles and miles of world class fishing and not another angler for as far as the eye could see.

After a winter of boats and also now kayaks seemingly everywhere, in every spot, bay and cove, this was a real treat and it's been like this for weeks. The fish settle down and become less timid and hook shy. Usually most weekday afternoons and evenings you're more than likely to have the whole pond all to yourself.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

This time of year many folks are on the early morning fishing schedule due to the typical rainy afternoons. If you can't fish the morning shift, but are flexible and can miss the PM storms, spend the last couple of hours on your favorite flat as the sun goes down. The water has cooled and had an oxygen boost due to the rain and fading sun, and hot and sometimes lazy fish put on the feedbag.

Think topwater lures and try different speed retrieves, stop and go, erratic, steady, till you find a cadence that will trip their triggers, then game on.

For color I throw bright lures for sunny days, dark for overcast, and black for night.

Don't be shy about size when choosing a topwater lure. For early morning trophy trout, red or snook fishing I throw the biggest topwater in my box. The majority of true trophy, lure-caught trout are caught on topwater plugs hands down.

This is also the time of year to think night fishing. Reds, snook, trout and tarpon are all heavy night feeders especially during these hot water periods.

Successful night fishing depends on preparation. Have your boat in good working order with all light and safety equipment up to snuff. Clear the decks of any and all clutter that will surely trip you while you're fighting that absolutely once-in-a-lifetime 40-pound dream snook. Cover and stow all bait buckets and extra rods, knives and gaffs and have at least two working flashlights at hand. I carry multiple flashlights, a hat visor LED light, and a handheld spotlight for navigation if needed.

Wearing a life vest while night fishing is cheap insurance. Try not to fish alone and like pilots, file a plan with someone and give them the general area you'll be fishing in and your expected time of return.

Before going out on a night trip take five minutes and sit down with your map and refresh your memory as to where any navigation hazards may be. Even with GPS I still like to see a visual overview the map provides before heading out.

Novice boaters will do well to take a boating course with a local organization or with a competent guide before venturing out at night. Having a good understanding of navigational markers and lights also is invaluable.

Night fishing in our shallow water or anywhere is a serious undertaking and should never be taken lightly by amateur or professional alike. I've also heard that bringing along a couple of 12-packs is said to decrease night vision as well as raise the stupid level of everyone on board.

On the other hand, the really big boys come out to play at night. My biggest tarpon and snook were both caught on hot-as-blazes July and August nights. The passes host some spectacular night fishing at times, but be extra careful especially if strong currents are present while pass fishing as fiberglass and granite are poor partners.

It's also no secret that all the river bridges produce huge tarpon and snook, especially at night.

Give night fishing a shot, but be careful and prepared, and take a break from the summer sun. You just might bag your fish of a lifetime!

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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