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Head south for schools of fall reds

October 1, 2011
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Dead floating grass, high heat, and dark dirty water was the norm for the inshore angler on the hunt for trout, snook and redfish this past week.

The flats around north Matlacha Pass remain covered in dead grass making casting difficult. To the south the problem is not as severe and that is where I spent my week, fishing from Matlacha Park to the river.

We found a big school of large trout near the power lines Wednesday and caught one large trout after another in waist-deep dark water on topwater Rapala Skitter Walks late in the afternoon on a strong outgoing tide.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

The rest of the week was spent searching for reds with mixed success. Some captains report catching two to five fish per trip. Others are catching large numbers after locating the bigger schools.

Right now casting along any shoreline or flat in both north and south Matlacha Pass could result in a drag-heating encounter with a nice red. Add Burnt Store Bar to your list which is always a consistent producer of fall reds with miles of fishing on both sides of the bar. All this great fishing and I didn't even mention Pine Island Sound.

Let's face it, an avid angler could fish here 10 lifetimes and never really have to fish the same spot twice. Fishing paradise!

Thursday afternoon our party started fishing the shorelines and flats in the south pass with topwater plugs connecting with two reds in the upper 20-inch range. Another two were taken on gold spoons on the flats in front of Reckems Point.

(If you don't know your way around that area get a map, be careful and proceed slowly till you know the layout - a great place to damage both boat and motor.)

Continuing south we ended up fishing the river shorelines near Punta Blanca Creek adding three more reds to the total. All three were taken on gold spoons.

Tie your spoons to a 30-pound fluorocarbon leader of 30 inches, then to a tiny strong SPRO swivel, then to your main line.

The spoon is great shallow water search bait for fall redfish. It casts far, covers water and catches redfish. In dark water go gold, clear try chrome. If it's weedy, try a Johnson's Gold Minnow with a plastic curl tail trailer or a Red Ripper Spoon. If not weedy go to almost any spoon with the Bagley's hammered gold spoon, my favorite.

The biggest mistake spoon anglers make is to retrieve the spoon too fast causing it to spin. Retrieve just fast enough to make it wobble and flash, but never spin.

I'm often asked about redfish rod selection. I like using two different rods. To fish close-in pitching, flipping, skipping and casting mangrove shorelines I like a medium-heavy action, 6 1/2-foot rod. A wimpy rod won't do here as any red over 15 inches probably will break you off under the bushes.

Just as with offshore grouper, you have to muscle the fish out from structure first before anything else happens or its "fish off!"

When reds are roaming the open flats and potholes away from the shorelines, a 7 1/2- to 8-foot medium-action rod with a rather limber tip, 15-pound braid line and a fluro leader attached to a swivel and gold spoon is a killer combo for open water reds. It casts a mile allowing you not to spook the school and the limber tip cushions any run from a bulldozer red allowing the angler to still use light line for increased casting distances.

It's vital to use ultra-sharp replacement treble hooks on your spoons or obviously any lure, especially when using this light rod set up.

Keep two small towels in the ice chest for wearing around the neck. An instant and lasting summer fishing cool down.

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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