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Use tide to get redfish in shallows

October 8, 2011
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Both fall and winter redfishing is upon us and reds are where you find them. Typically, under the shoreline vegetation and branches on the high tides, then later roaming the open flats, potholes, bars and points working for any easy meal.

This past week I've not seen the typical large schools as much as small, loosely schooled pods or big bruiser, roaming singles.

Friday's wind allowed us to silently drift over thin waters in the Sound casting plugs and spooking some reds in the 30-plus-inch range. Capt. Brian David and his client caught them in the morning on topwater plugs.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Later toward evening we returned to the same area and spooked the big nonfeeding reds, with no takers. It's their turf and they decide when they feel like playing.

Aboard my boat lately it's been a better morning bite. Fishing an incoming tide, early in the morning, will really up your chance of success. If you are not tide chart savvy by all means ask anyone at the bait shops to explain them and try to plan your trips around the optimum tide and moon phases for your best shot at a better-than-normal fishing trip.

Taking the time to research and understand the relationship between fish and tides, moon and sun phases, winds, water temperature and seasonal location changes will take you from a throw-it-out-there-and-hope fisherman to a much more successful angler.

Early risers will be treated to light wind conditions as well as allowing sight fishing for tailing redfish. Thin water can mean skittish fish. If you spot a pod or school stay back and try to pick off fish from the edges of the school, keep quiet and never cast dead center into the school. You may hook yours, but spook the whole school ruining everyone's shot at a fish.

For best results, stay off the trolling motor and drift. Also, learn to pole if you have a platform. Yes, that's right, you paid for it, why not learn to finally use it? (If you don't a cooler can suffice, but be careful if the cooler can't be secured to the floor or deck).

Poling and drifting are the ultimate way to silently become part of the redfish's environment. Anchoring the boat and quietly slipping over the side, slowly walking toward the feeding fish is another preferred method if you're not freighted by sharks like I am. Wading sometimes can be the only method when the shallow water will not float your boat.

Waders be warned. Stingrays are everywhere, so wear the appropriate footwear and learn the "stingray shuffle."

Never forget that shark stocks worldwide are way down, in large part to commercial long lining and the other barbaric practice of fining - which means catching juvie to 50-year-old sharks, cutting all their fins off and kicking the now helpless animal back in the ocean as bycatch to die, just so restaurant patrons in Asia can eat $100-a-bowl shark fin soup.

Sometimes it seems that the remaining stocks of sharks live here. Most local folks would never believe sharks anywhere are hurting as we have an abundance of them in all sizes.

That fact is another reason I don't wade fish very often. Something about wading Burnt Store Bar and thinking that not too far from where I'm standing - with that stringer of bleeding fish secured to my waist - a hammerhead shark of more than 1,500 pounds was taken.

Southwest Florida is blessed with world class shallow water redfish action and now through mid-November is prime time.

Reds are lure, fly and bait friendly and draw millions of anglers and millions of dollars to Florida every year.

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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