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Christmas time in Southwest Florida

December 22, 2017
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

A Christmas tree weighed down with over 70 fishing lures, blinking lights and tinsel, bright sun, blue skies, light winds - welcome to Christmas time in Southwest Florida!

This morning I opened the blinds just in time to see a massive jack attack occurring behind my home. This happens often so I keep a rod rigged by the door for such emergencies.

When this does happen, something clicks inside and I'm suddenly 15 again running through the house, grabbing the emergency rod and out the door jogging to the seawall in boxers for a cast at the boiling water before the attack ceases.

When big predators busting bait on top no longer excites an angler, it's time to buy golf clubs.

So, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow, somewhere else. We're fishing!

Trout are on the move over waist-deep grass flats with the classic shrimp and float always a top producer. Not to be outdone, small suspending twitch baits like the MirrOdine will produce just as many trout with no bait mess.

My favorite way to catch trout is on the fly rod. Even on the coldest of days, a fly presented on a fine leader slowly retrieved through the water column or suspending with slight line movement and current causing the fly to undulate enticingly, usually insures a bite.

On sunny and warm days, trout will move shallow and on the coldest days especially after prolonged cold, you will find them relating to the deepest portions of channels, basins, and deep holes.

Bottom bumping soft jigs (plastic or hair) on light line is the go-to lure when deeply schooled. Trout have delicate mouths so with lures equipped with treble hooks, take a moment to bend down the barbs with your needle nose pliers making catch and release a breeze.

Good to remind people every year that trout are delicately scaled fish and handling with dry hands or worse, wrapped in a towel or rag, is bad news for Mr. Trout. Worse is the sand/mud drag 'em up or the hold 'em down with a foot while I get the hook out technique, a sure killer.

A fish's best chance for a successful release, especially for larger specimens, means keeping fish in the water keeping trauma to a minimum and with smaller fish, bending down barbs to minimize tissue damage.

Trout really go for top-water lures. Use smaller lures for school trout and the biggest top-water plug in your box for a Southwest Florida gator trout trophy.

Offshore anglers are praying for calm winds to be able to visit their deep water secret GPS numbers to feed pet grouper, snappers and the usual assortment of bottom fare.

King mackerel are still around as well as Spanish macs, so keeping a blue runner on a float can still pay off.

Find tripletail on crab floats.

Look for Spanish macs in the inlets to 30 miles off the coast. Birds and binoculars will help you find the fish and when found, anchor and chum to bring the action right off the transom.

Spanish macs equal family fun so gather up the gang, some shrimp or jigs and chum then go find them. Fly rodders will get in on the transom action as well. Stick with light tackle to insure maximum fun and use a light wire connection from lure to leader or 40-pound hard fluorocarbon.

Attach wire to mono with an easy to tie Albright Knot.

Last week's mention of our annual, total beginners - saltwater fly fishing school generated lots of interest and gift sign-ups. Our location and miles of shallow water combined with fly friendly gamefish make Southwest Florida a fly angler's paradise.

Fly fishing is easy to learn and our fun two-hour novice course will quickly get you up to speed. Please call for info.

Merry Christmas to all!

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



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