I was filling in my fishing log and opened a page dated Jan. 8, 2010. The water temperature that day was 56 degrees in central Matlacha Pass.
Friday at the tip of Pine Island it was 71 and it's nearly February. Christmas day in the mid 80s? Global warming or the timeless ongoing natural heating and cooling process of the planet?
Whatever it is I'll gladly take it for now. Considering we could walk across canals filled with frozen, dead trophy snooksickles not too long ago, these record-breaking temps have been great for anglers and the fish.
Capt. George Tunison
This time of year with ultra-low tides and clearer water always use the lightest fluorocarbon leader you can get away with. Think downsizing lines and leaders as well as lures. Stay away from all snaps, swivels and other hardware that so many beginners employ.
Stop well before your intended fishing area and scan the water and the wind. Make long casts using light braid lines. Turn off the trolling motor and get on the push pole or position the boat to let the breeze silently drift you through an area. Above all be quiet and stealthy and remember if you can see a redfish he can probably see you as well.
This is a good time of year to get out the waders, get out of the boat, and slowly and quietly walk up to a mangrove island presenting a low profile while making sidearm casts.
A word of caution: there are tons of rays of all different sizes throughout Matlacha Pass. If you decide to wade wear the right footgear or you may end up in major pain. Also, if your favorite flat has turned into chocolate soup the gamefish that at first enjoyed the free buffet of small fish, shrimp and other tasty tidbits caused by the rays stirring the bottom have now left for clearer and cleaner water, and you should follow as well.
One more word about rays. I was at the ramp talking to a few Wisconsin anglers about all the tailing pairs of reds they were seeing but couldn't get them to bite. I asked are you sure they were in pairs?
"Oh yes," they replied. "Every time one fin would break the surface a mirror image fin would be not 24 inches away from it traveling at the same speed and going in the same exact direction."
I thought of a million things to say, but I resolved this year to be nice to everyone, remain calm and reduce my stress levels in an attempt to prolong my time on the planet. I kindly informed them that they were in fact seeing single rays and double wing tips and that years and years ago I too spent many hours chasing these same ghost reds to no avail.
Aboard my boat the long standing great topwater bite has slowed considerably and even though the water temps are unseasonably high, a downsized and slower presentation is catching more fish. Two lures I'm using right now that are really catching fish are the soft plastic weedless jerkbaits and fly rod flies. Both lures can be presented with a deadly slow, suspending presentation, which at this time of year can turn a looker into an eater.
This is a great time to fly fish as there are boatloads of willing biters in shallow water. If you don't know how there are numbers of local guides like myself that teach fly fishing. It's much easier than you think and if you haven't tried fly fishing you are missing out on some of angling's greatest thrills.
Tip: when casting down, then retrieving back up against the tide with no luck, turn around, cast up and retrieve WITH the current for better results.
Gamefish face into the current to feed and lures approaching from behind seem unnatural.
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.