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Be prepared: breakdowns will happen!

June 1, 2018
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Hopefully we will soon settle into a steady summer afternoon storm pattern, in the meantime exercise caution and never overestimate your boat's ability or your skills as captain. Making a bad weather decision and not coming back is bad enough. Taking trusting passengers down with you is, of course, far worse. If you aren't sure, stay in port and live to fish another day.

This may be a good time to check out all safety equipment and make sure that you comply with state law by having the required items on board and in good working order.

One of the most important things to add to your list of to-dos is renew that expired tow membership.

A few years back I passed a heavily suntanned man sitting on the bow of his broken down 20 footer slowly paddling towards the docks at Matlacha with a fish net, which was the only thing on board that remotely resembled a paddle.

Idling close by in the opposite direction I commented about his unusual fishing method and kept going only to turn around and throw him a rope a few minutes later and tow him the few miles to the dock only asking that he do the same for me next time.

A simple fact of life is, if you spend enough time on the water you will break down. Your boat and all working systems are under constant attack by saltwater. With summer here, a breakdown could mean hours of misery while being eaten alive by no-see-ums and repeatedly injected by killer virus misquotes. No tow insurance? No friends to rescue you? How many visiting bug eaten angry relatives and screaming children are on board? You do realize after an hour of this torture folks might lose their minds and turn on "The Captain" for a little payback.

If you haven't experienced Southwest Florida summer no-see-um breakdown squadrons, I will tell you it's bad, real bad and to buy insurance today

My skiff broke down in the backcountry with the tide starting to run out and eventually had to lay up to my nose in shallow water with the top of my head covered by palm leaves to keep from being eaten alive while waiting for rescue. When it got real bad, I would go under and breathe through a reed which then became a no-see-um funnel direct to the lungs.

Try getting Aunt Florence visiting from Philly to do that while waiting for the tide to roll back in.

Sharks! I'm a fan of anything that's big and pulls like crazy and even jumps high in shallow water. As much as tarpon fishing is a big event here in Southwest Florida, shallow water light tackle shark angling is also a blast and something I look forward to. Tarpon season brings shark season and a 4-footer streaking across the flats at warp speed dumping the spool on your snook set-up is always memorable.

To see large sharks jumping and spinning like tops while attached to your line, run over to the wrong coast of Florida (Jupiter is a good bet) and fish the annual beach mullet run where you can catch crazed high flying spinner sharks and tarpon right off the beachfront.

Rain swelled outgoing tides dragging everything with them should put snook and tarpon into a feeding mode in and around the passes as they scoop up the bounty.

The first releases from Lake O will soon occur bringing the annual cocktail of noxious and deadly runoff down our river. Reports of increased liver cancers along the St Lucie from toxic algae as well as other health issues now directly related to this ecological disaster.

Is it safe to fish? To eat these fish? To be long-term exposed to these waters? Do we tell visitors with confidence it's safe to swim at The Yacht Club beach? I don't.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-440-1621 or captgeorget3@aol.com.

 
 
 

 

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