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Over the side wrong way to go

June 2, 2012
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

My friends watched in semi-shock as I first did the slippery moon walk, then into a full twist, a tango, and finally ending in a full on side belly flop into the surprisingly salty Caloosahatchee River.

They said if they would have had score cards I would have received a 10-9-10-10. In a hurry, slippery deck, bang in the water, eight-inch gash in my leg, still holding my rod. One doesn't realize till you are actually in the brine how hard it is to get back aboard a bigger boat once you've gone over the side.

Thoughts of hungry sharks tracking the scent from my personal bloody chum slick got me around to the other side and up the ladder in a flash. If you don't have an exterior boarding ladder on your hull you may someday regret it. Last week's plunge made that very clear. Injured, swift tides, etc. There is a real good chance that you may be watching the boat drift away as you flounder because you simply can't get back aboard.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

If I had been alone and hit my head instead of my leg someone else would be writing this. Besides the obvious point that wearing a vest is a no-brainer, a basic first aid kit is also a good plan. Thoughts of the dreaded flesh eating bacteria loomed large as I iced my bleeding leg.

I've been on a boat for 50 years and never fallen out. A canoe once on a snowy winter day with two sets of clothes on plus heavy raincoat and boots. Fortunately, in less than six-foot deep water 100 yards or so from the shoreline. Then I was a young Superman. Nowadays that icy plunge may have done me in.

Self inflating vests have become smaller and more practical (wearable) all the time. This week I'm getting mine and forcing myself to wear it. Again, a boarding ladder is an outstanding addition to your hull if you don't have one. It's easily installed by your local dealer. You just never think it will happen to you. Be prepared and not a statistic.

Speaking of salty water, the river is chock full of mackerel of all sizes. While trying to catch ladyfish to feed to the bridge tarpon, mackerel after mackerel hit the small jigs and spoons. Light spinning rods, a 40-pound piece of fluorocarbon leader or a short piece of wire added to your leader and some Got-Cha Jigs, soft plastics, or spoons and a chum block all make for some serious light tackle fun for kids of all ages. If you haven't used a chum block before buy one and hang it off the transom. As it slowly melts bits of fish flesh, oils, scents and God knows what else slowly disperse behind the boat starting the food chain hopefully pulling in the top predators sometimes right off the transom.

If you want to bend a lot of rods and quickly, this is a fun and very local and low-tech fishery, ripe for a kids' fishing outing.

Tarpon are on most folks' minds these days and shark hunters are in their glory as big bulls, supersized hammerheads, and a variety of other sharks are here to enjoy the tarpon festival. Light tackle sharking in shallow water is great fun as well as watching someone else on my boat tug it out in the hot sun with a monster on heavy tackle.

You don't have to be a boat owner to enjoy heavy duty shark fishing. Setting up on the beach, especially near a pass fishing a stingray or live jack with heavy line and wire leader, may result in you water skiing across Captiva Pass at 40 knots if your drag freezes.

Dig in your heels and slug it!

When tarpon fishing the bridges at night blasting Metallica is a great way to not make friends, rude, and a no-fish guarantee for everybody.

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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