After two weeks on the water helping others catch fish it was nice to have a day off to go fishing with an old friend and try to catch a few myself.
I watched as a good sized topwater plug slowly made its way across the wide open flat on this beautiful Friday afternoon. After weeks of fighting daily winds gusting to near 30 mph on one trip, Friday's calm breezes, placid waters and abundant sunshine seemed like a just reward for a couple of weeks of work.
For the last month I've been using and writing about catching nice reds on topwater plugs on the flats of both north and south Matlacha Pass along with big trout and snook. This is a great topwater lure time of year and this month's catches have proven it.
Capt. George Tunison
On a beautiful and for a change calm day, my surface plugs were worthless. I knew the fish were there as I'd been on these fish for days and they had chewed the paint off one top plug and literally crushed and retired another brand new Rapala Skitterwalk on its first outing.
My partner grunted as a nice fat 15-inch rat red tried to crush his standby gold spoon. Then, another, then another. On rat number four I was thinking mama must have raised a fool because I still didn't have a gold spoon on my rod yet. I quickly addressed the situation and on the second cast I was into a fat 20-inch rat red myself.
I looked to the back of the boat and laughed as Lew snapped his rod back as yet another red inhaled his chunk of shiny metal thinking it was an easy snack. He was grinning like a cheshire cat as his ultra-light pole bent hard. I felt good for him, my old fishing partner.
I thought about how many days I had spent in various boats in hundreds of locations across the country and in Canada with this other fishing nut in the back of my boat. Fishing B.A.S.S. Tournaments together for years, fishing in sleet, lightning, wind, high waves, catching amazing fish and making awesome memories.
Nearly 40 years on the water together chasing dreams and nothing has really changed, except he looks much older now and I still look about the same.
We left the fish biting with over a baker's dozen reds all on gold spoons without moving the boat. We did keep one fat 20-incher for the pan and released the rest unharmed. No big dawgs, but fun.
As we idled across the flat toward the distant channel we had the warm sun in our faces. Like two old dogs we gladly soaked it in. Much older now and as happy as if we still had our right minds. It's good to live in Southwest Florida.
The gold spoon is a must-have in your tackle box as they catch everything that swims the flats in these waters. Team it up with a 7 1/2- to 8-foot rod with a limber tip, some 15-pound braid line attached to a high quality small swivel then to at least 24 inches of 30-pound fluorocarbon leader and start casting.
This outfit is a great search tool as you can make super long casts and cover lots of water. With the braid line and sharp hooks you can still get a solid hookup at long distances.
Making long casts in skinny water also is a plus as the reds get spookier as the winter season progresses and the waters become much clearer.
Remember to never reel too fast causing the spoon to spin, killing its action. A steady medium retrieve is the ticket and a big trout, snook, or redfish generally will jump all over it.
Like a topwater plug, if the red misses it keep reeling at the same pace and they generally try to nail it again.
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.