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Tarpon, snook still going strong

July 19, 2013
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Summer tarpon and snook fishing in the passes and along the beach is still in full swing.

Set the alarm extra early and be on location before sunup to throw topwater plugs to jumbo female snook along blow-downs, rocks, and groins in the passes and along the beach. Throwing your biggest topwater down the beach pre-dawn could result in your once-in-a-lifetime snook.

A tarpon eating that same plug is a real possibility as well.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Last year, my client's Zara Spook was inhaled in three feet of water by a predawn triple digit weight beach bum tarpon in front of Captiva which then launched itself onto the beach, flipped twice and then back into the surf throwing the plug in the process. The Canadian, whose only experience was bluegills and catfish on small farm ponds, was shaken and wide eyed and I'm sure he's still telling that same story again and again.

While fishing snook on back to back charters this week in Redfish and Captiva passes both rolling and feeding tarpon where eating right along the edges of the pass in really shallow water.

Remember, if you're on foot throw down the beach not out in the Gulf. Snook from 12 inches to over 40 pounds are patrolling the surf zone from hip deep to right up on the sand.

As the sun blues the horizon I'll have one angler fish a little deeper using various minnow shaped plugs like Rapala X-Raps and Yozuris while the other angler starts tossing small bucktails and soft plastic paddle tail lures on the beach and in the surf zone.

The plain white bucktail jig is the go-to lure for boat and beach walking snookers. Carry them in quarter, three eights, and half ounce. Pricier tails with a little Mylar flash tied in adds realism to the baitfish fake.

Aboard Flying Fins I have one angler fish a traditional bucktail and the other gets to fish my super secret beach snook killer.

Pick up a pack of Zman MinnowZ - 3" paddle tail soft plastics in "pearl" Also a pack of DOA paddle tails in CAL-SHAD 330 PEARL.

Any jig head will do but the perfect mates for these lures are the DOA - C.A.L. jig heads in pearl white with red eyes. This is a really good product for several reasons - a super sharp hook, a thick multi-barbed hook collar to really grip your soft plastic bait, a large realistic eye which is key for most predators when attacking its prey, and maybe the best feature is the flat bottom head with the upswept line tie placement.

The design is super snag resistant and slides up and over many snags that immediately catch other lesser designed jigs.

This jig coupled to a 3" Zman has been a bucktail and snook killer these past few weeks. Be forewarned; Zman touts their super soft lifelike plastics as 10X TOUGH using their ElaZtech material and it really is amazingly strong.

It is not easy at first to rig these soft plastic baits on the CAL jighead and it took me awhile to figure out how to get it on there straight and centered. You will ruin some baits trying to figure it out but it has to look "right" or don't throw it.

Throw the same jig head using the #2 choice the DOA C.A.L.-SHAD soft paddle tail (#330 pearl white). Fish these two baits against your buddy's bucktail this weekend and see who catches the most snook. My money's on the Zman/DOA combo.

If you're the tarpon type be on scene early and watch for rollers in the pass or along the beach. The beach fish can be up close or out a bit.

On Wednesday's charter tarpon were rolling in the passes and thick 500 yards off the surf between Redfish and Captiva Passes.

Pinfish under corks get bit.

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



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