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A few tips on learning how to fish local waters

December 8, 2017
By GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

When is the best time to go fishing? That question is often asked by new to the area saltwater anglers and the answer of course is, go as often as you can and make each trip a learning experience.

Putting in time and paying your dues is the key. Ask questions, make fishing friends or hire a guide.

Join local clubs. Cape Coral offers clubs for freshwater as well as salty anglers. Big bass swim in the hundreds of miles of canals here with very little fishing pressure.

If you came here to fish for tarpon you are in luck as we have the world's greatest tarpon club, The Cape Coral Tarpon Hunters, ready to show you the ways of the Silver King.

I will be the first to say luck, especially beginners luck, often plays a part in fishing but nothing beats time on the water coupled with proper preparation as well as presentation for putting trophies in front of the camera.

Proper preparation not only means having the proper tackle and casting skills but a good understanding of boat handling, a complete understanding of local tides and how weather influences them, boat and passenger safety, a thorough understanding of the fish you are pursuing and how weather, tides and seasons influence their behavior and location.

The best time to go saltwater fishing is when the tides are moving, in or out. After a while you might find one species prefers an incoming tide to feed but another, an outgoing.

My experience here inshore angling motivates me to fish for snook on an outgoing tide and a redfish on an incoming tide. Of course, that's a general rule but one I plan my inshore charters by.

If you don't read tide tables, you may spend a couple hours with your guests looking at a bright blue sky with dead calm water, watching birds nap in trees and catching sail cats before any real action starts.

If you don't know the local waters, by all means get a tide chart and spend some time understanding it. We have miles and miles of very shallow water.

In some areas of Matlacha Pass straying outside the marked channel just a few yards could result in a really bad day for the boat and its occupants.

In winter with lower than normal tides, tide chart understanding and especially how weather can drastically alter the stated tide heights is even more critical. If the chart states that high tide is at 2 p.m. and the water will be 4 feet deep, with a strong all-day wind it might be half that.

Going slowly is the ticket. Go too fast, you might get a ticket. Speeding can also put your passengers, you and that bright shiny, new, super expensive hull in the hospital or worse.

While going slowly learning to navigate the local waters, take note of the now exposed fish holding structure that's covered in summer's higher tides. Bring your map and pen or GPS it.

Good weather and few fronts have kept the bite strong both inshore and offshore as the fish fatten up in preparation for colder times ahead.

Higher tides still find reds pushing up under the bushes and staging on the flats from the shoreline to 40 feet out on low water.

These are cautious fish so go very slowly, make long casts, keep quiet stopping often to fan cast the flat in front of you before moving on.

Feather your cast so your lure doesn't drop like an anvil in the foot deep water.

If using a trolling motor to cast along a shoreline and you are seeing large puffs of mud clouding the water with large torpedoes bulging the water heading away from you, that means you've probably just run over a pod of big redfish or sunning snook.

Slowing down, light lines, long casts and stealth, rule.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-440-1621 or captgeoget3



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