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Big reds are hungry and willing

November 3, 2017
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

At times, local skinny water redfish can be as skittish as an over-pressured Keys bonefish in tourist season. Other times, redfish will eat any lure or fly you throw their way.

That's fishing.

Wednesday's charter was one of those days that make a client and guide very happy as the reds were hungry and willing.

I al-ways prefer an early morning incoming tide for hunting reds in shallow water, but due to scheduling issues, the afternoon outgoing tide was what we faced.

A few years ago I found a highly productive stretch of shoreline within sight of the Matlacha Bridge that few seem to fish and the redfish seem to like.

The tide had dropped out far enough so the fish had been forced out of the mangroves and from the poling platform I thought I could see large shapes milling around in the shady shallow water ahead, close to the shoreline. It was difficult as the water is still very brown.

My client wanted to put one in the boat ASAP before trying to bag his first on the fly rod. I immediately had him tie on a small spoon which is hands down the most productive redfish search lure on the planet.

Casting up current retrieving along the mangroves, I cautioned him to slow his retrieve as it was too fast causing the spoon to spin, not wobble and flash. From the poling platform I stared into the brown water looking for movement or a resting red as I quietly and slowly poled the skiff up the shoreline against the falling tide.

A large dark underwater branch I had just glanced at turned into a 6-pound-class redfish and rocketed out from the shoreline smashing his spoon. After feeling the hook, the fish's first reaction was to try to get under cover of some far-reaching limbs. My angler's first reaction was a sky high rod hook set putting the line and leader in the branches for an instant break off.

Tying on a new spoon, I again went over the drill. When getting the big bite along heavy cover, snook and redfish will invariably head back and under mangrove shoreline cover or back under the dock with both tactics designed to somehow break free from the danger they are now in.

After getting the big shoreline bite - what you do right now - will determine the outcome. Immediately plunge the rod tip in the water keeping the line underwater instead of up in the branches. Fight the fish down and dirty like that using your hips to power him away from the shoreline if possible and out into open water.

After a fat 5-pounder inhaled his new spoon and a much larger outsized red climbed all over his gold Rapala Skitter Walk without ever touching a hook, it was fly time.

Leaving the island we ran down to the bottom for a repeat pass up this productive shoreline.

From the platform I suddenly saw two fat reds resting on the shallow bottom ahead. Crouching down I whispered, "Reds, 20 yards at 11 o'clock. Make a soft entry cast."

A year's worth of casting practice paid off as the small brown crab fly lightly touched down a couple of feet in front of the reds nose. Perfect.

"Let it sink. Now a small strip, strip"

I watched as that big tail kicked up mud and in a flash had inhaled the fly.

Fly line started moving left as my completely frozen angler stood stock still while the redfish made off with his prize. Classic buck fever!

"Strip" I yelled' waking him up as he finally stripped the fly line sinking the hook into the dumbest redfish in Southwest Florida.

Put 6 feet of heavy-duty weed-wacker line in your boat storage to replace your trolling motor (handle) cord when it breaks on the water. Works great.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-440-1621 or



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