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Competition grows for flats redfish

February 4, 2012
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The recent weather fronts, oddball tides and low water have confused many fishermen while other anglers continue to report big catches.

One thing for sure is my four-month long outstanding top-water bite for bruiser redfish has all but died, yet gold spoons, soft plastic jerk-baits and minnows, DOA's and GULP Shrimp fished slowly on jigheads or under a float continue to score.

Sit-and-waiters just need to toss out some cut ladyfish or jumbo shrimp to score.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

The last few days redfish anglers have reported big catches of rat reds to 20 inches with the big guys suddenly scarce on the local flats of Matlacha. I fully believe it's due to the large number of boats in the pass all competing for the same fish.

Over pressured trophy fish definitely will leave an area and relocate to a safer zip code, especially in skinny water. Big trout and reds already are on high alert when in thin water watching for death from above from hawks and eagles as well as other big marine predators that prowl the edges looking to feed.

Add a fleet of anglers beating and banging boats and, worse yet, plowing the bottom destroying our all-important sea grasses that bring fish and bait to the pass, it's little wonder the fish leave.

This past week the flats close to Matlacha actually were crowded with anglers and lots of other trying-to-be anglers, trying to figure it all out. If you want company this week, stop anywhere and start casting. Within 10 minutes you may have one to four boats swoop in to help you sample your spot. Most of these folks are visitors to the area and naturally have no clue where to find fish and figure you must know what you're doing or you wouldn't be fishing in that spot.

I can envision a time in the not-so-distant future that I would support selected areas of the shallow flats of the pass be closed to combustion motors and become troll and pole zones only, in an effort to preserve the sea grasses as well as the sometimes outstanding fishery the pass supports. I know this is a touchy subject with some, but at the current rate with the increasing numbers of people trying to enjoy the resource and the high number of anglers that blindly plow the bottom by being uninformed or simply not caring it will be tough to continue this quality fishery into the distant future.

Another pressing issue is the complete lack of adequate and safe launching facilities in this area. Write or call your representative.

Capt. Roy Bennett of Hot One II Charters took out another Operation Open Arms charter with E3 Jeffery Mixon, stationed in Afghanistan, and his wife Hope. They caught a big bag of trout and kept four over the 15-inch limit. It was a gorgeous day weather wise and great fun. Unfortunately, Jeff returns to Afghanistan on Valentines Day for another five months with our prayers for a safe return.

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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