Southwest Florida anglers have been blessed this winter with outstanding weather and a continuing hot bite for most inshore and offshore species common to our area.
Hopefully, the mild winter will continue and bring about an early tarpon bite by migratory fish presently staged in the Keys and below. They are waiting for signs and cues known only to them that trigger their northward migration to our area and points north and west as they've done for millions of years.
The shallows are still hosting big redfish and jumbo spotted sea trout. The topwater bite seems almost over but slow, subsurface, downsized presentations are scoring in a big way. If you put in your time, there are reds to 14-plus pounds on the flats and trout to six pounds. I know as I witnessed both catches this past week.
Capt. George Tunison
Trout fishing for gator-sized specimens is in full swing and this month might be your shot at a personal best. These big guys, like the redfish, are in really thin water and, as always, stealth is the name of the game.
Gold spoons, soft plastics, and plastics under popping corks will get the job done. Otherwise, bait types will score well on shrimp, pinfish, and cut ladyfish. There are seemingly millions of ladyfish in the area that are always ready to provide a great light tackle and fly rod bite or see duty cut up into one-inch steaks to be fished along a mangrove shoreline for reds and snook.
Shopping for a new rod, lure, or live bait? We have several good tackle stores in our area like Lehr's and Cape Tool & Tackle, with really knowledgeable folks waiting to help put you on fish. Don't forget to travel to St. James City and check out another outstanding tackle shop called Old Pine Island Marina and talk to store manager Paul and first mate Jessie.
When I walked in I was quite impressed as it really is a full service tackle shop plus parts and accessories for boaters, bait and outdoor wear, along with very reasonable prices. Outboard motor repairs - if you need to look at the bottom of your hull for $50 they will lift it so you can inspect it. Call the store for more info on size restrictions.
Paul is a former Pine Island guide with decades of experience and is willing to share it with you to get you on fish. He has stocked the store with everything you need and nothing you don't, to target our resident species. Top notch friendly, expert service combined with an all inclusive clean shop and great prices, certainly makes it worth the trip.
The Cape Coral tarpon hunters club has its annual workshop meeting at 7 p.m. on Feb. 16 in the grand ballroom of the Cape Coral Yacht Club. Very experienced fishermen will demonstrate the many facets of tarpon fishing for the beginner or experienced tarpon angler. Women and youngsters welcome. The club meets there every third Thursday of the month featuring interesting speakers. This is a great club to join and support and also a great way to learn about and finally experience the thrill of battling the silver king.
Tarpon fishing at times can be a challenging task due to several factors, mostly the finicky nature of the tarpon itself. There is much to learn to be consistently successful. Joining this club is a great place to start and puts you in a circle of anglers, some with hundreds of tarpon catches to their credit.
Tarpon season will be here sooner than later and now is the time to get your broken down tackle in tip top fighting shape instead of waiting in line in May.
As the waters become more and more crowded this busy season try and give your fellow anglers some breathing room and also practice ramp courtesy.
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.