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Time to take advantage of the frenzy

December 31, 2011

If like me you have been pounding the flats for months now it's time for a little diversion and easy fishing.

Time to experience the fall migration and feeding frenzy of seemingly millions of ravenous Spanish mackerel with lots of bluefish, ladyfish, trout, bonita, sharks, and kingfish mixed in.

Gather up the gang and head to the passes. Scan the skies for feeding birds and you've found the fish. Look for fish inside, in and outside the passes as well as along the beaches on the outside.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

If not there, travel offshore a bit or head to a near-shore reef. As long as the bait schools hang around the bite will continue.

This is the time of year to target not only Spanish macs, but also the kingfish. Slow trolling live baits, such as a large blue runner near flocks of birds, bait pods, or near shore or deeper reefs may result in a screaming drag as one of these big toothy sprinters inhales your live bait.

Speaking of drags set yours fairly loose for a good sized king. A tight drag usually means a pulled hook with these speedsters. Watch your fingers as their razor sharp teeth can cut you badly. Handle large kings with a gaff and gloves for safety.

Anchoring at a reef and chumming not only will bring lots of Spanish macs to the boat, but draw the bigger kings as well. Cast for the Spanish with a variety of lures and flies for lots of action, but don't forget to put out those big livies to get in trouble on their own while you are casting.

Don't be surprised if down below a nice grouper bends your rod in half as he heads for his rocky garage with your bait. A big king and grouper also will eat large trolled plugs like a Mann's Stretch 12-15- or 25, large Yozuri's, or any good-sized plug pulled over or near the reefs or on the edges of bait pods.

Again, tight drags mean lost or pulled kingfish, let them run.

To cast for Spanish macs I use braided line on a light spinning rod. Tie your main line to a 30-inch fluorocarbon leader of 30-40 pound test then add a 3- to 6-inch piece of light wire. This past week I went for longer wire as I kept getting bitten off by some bigger fish. Others use a piece of 40-pound test leader with no wire which will get more bites than wire but also more bite-offs.

Do not use snaps, swivels, or other hardware up your line as small Spanish will bite that as well and sever your line. Adding wire to mono or braid is easy once you master the Albright Special Knot. Go online and type it in and plenty of sites will show you how. While there, learn the simple Haywire Twist for attaching the lure to your wire leader.

Working with wire seems a bit tricky at first, but like anything else practice makes perfect. Make sure like with any knot your wire knot is "right" not "close." If it's not formed correctly it will break under the strain of a big fish. If in doubt wire is cheap and, as the old saying goes, "retie before you cry."

This is family fun fishing at its finest. Kids need action and with tens of thousands of fish ripping through bait schools at hyper speed, action is the name of this game. Take plenty of extra spoons, Got-Cha lures, and small bucktails because it's possible to lose all your lures quickly.

Any live shrimp or baitfish will be instantly eaten, but why worry about bait when you can catch fish on lures till your arms ache.

Please do not drive through the bait pods, it ruins the fishing for everyone. Go around them and cast into the action.

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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