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Tarpon can cause us to lose focus

May 19, 2012
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Tarpon Time!! Redfish? Snook? Grouper? What's that? Many Tarpon zealots don't even fish for other species unless they are to be used for bait.

To some, tarpon fishing is a lifestyle, a religion, an addiction; and often hard work with little reward.

Tarpon fishing can cause one to abandon good sense, work, responsibilities, bills, even little children.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

I was stopped by the police this past week as a courtesy to tell me that my right trailer light was out and that upon further inquiry and subsequent inspection that my truck tag had expired, which of course means that I luckily will have to purchase yet another tag this coming September to match the one I bought yesterday to remain legal. I've lost focus.

Tarpon fishing can lead to and cause divorces, I know. Tarpon (like ex's) are finicky and sometimes simply will not eat anything you present to them. At other times will chow down on anything in sight. Tarpon are an ancient prehistoric fish that continue to survive and thrive in warmer climates in many parts of the earth. Off the coast of Africa tarpon grow to 400 pounds or, it's said, larger.

I can't imagine watching a 400-pounder doing an ariel double back flip after feeling the hook. The fact that they have a primitive lung system allows them to inhabit and hunt oxygen depleted waters. Being scavengers, food is all around them from top to bottom.

Tarpon are here, and more coming every day. Although we have a year-round fishery for resident tarpon, the migratory tarpon that have arrived from Miami, the Keys and parts south, signals the real start of tarpon season. Fish for them anchored off Sanibel Island bouncing in the wind and waves to fight some very large and powerful fish or fish famous Boca Grande.

Redfish and Captiva Passes fill up with migrating tarpon as well as the river mixing with the resident fish. Find them at the river bridges, or stalk them on the flats, in the passes, or along the beaches. Typically a resident fish takes on a darker, golden hue from living in the tannin stained river, while the migratory fish are bright chrome and many say are stronger fighters.

What causes a tarpon to stay in Cape Coral year-round verses vacationing below the Keys is not really known, as well as many other facts about this very old species. Tarpon inhabit the Gulf and in spring migrate all the way up the east coast to the Delaware Bay and to the west, Mexico and throughout Central America.

I have been lucky to have caught many species of fish, but nothing I've caught can match the sheer violent power of the magnificent tarpon. A chrome beast that can jump 10 feet in the air, peel 100 yards of line in a flash and fight you till you're near exhausted? I'm in!

If you've not yet enjoyed the Florida silver king experience, as they say, "you ain't been fishin!" Good guides are booking fast and May is over half gone already, with June promising to be a banner tarpon month.

This is the time of year to have several rods rigged and at the ready for different species you may encounter while on the water this month. Always have a cobia rod ready with a colorful bucktail or plain hook to attach frisky live bait. A spoon on a rod for redfish and a MirrOlure or topwater rod ready for a snook as well as a bare circle hook, live bait rod for whitebaits.

When guiding I usually carry eight to 10 rigged rods ready for most situations. Fishing often is about seizing the opportunity when it presents itself and a passing trophy cobia wont wait for you to tie on a lure. Be ready, be prepared and you will increase your catches.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or, or www.flyingfinssportfishing,com.



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