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Head north or west if you want to catch fish

August 17, 2018
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

To cross this beautiful wide river of ours on a beautiful sunny summer day in paradise and not see a single boat as far as the eye can see both east and west is quite upsetting. The radio reported this morning on the tons of dead fish being removed from the beaches of Sanibel Island.

My house went on the market a little over 4 months ago, looks like I'll be staying for the long haul unless health officials tell me it's too toxic to live next to the water in my particular backyard. Then what?

Cancellations for fishing charters arrive daily as out-of-towners see national news pictures of green slime covering the water and dead marine life littering the beaches. Can't work, can't sell, too toxic to live here, start wearing masks?

Decades of statewide water and pollution mismanagement has now come back to bite us in a big way with no foreseeable remedy in sight other than a temporary one this fall as the rains and discharges subside. Next summer more of the same may be worse as the tourists pick other destinations and our economy dive-bombs?

The only thing that seems clear is the uncertainty while the blame game continues, as real solutions may be years away.

After the great deep freeze snook kill in 2010, it seems certain that the strong red tide will have a bad effect on our beach-bound summer spawning snook population with lots of big female spawners reported floating.

In the meantime, there are still fish eating and willing to bite with the general consensus being head north if you are the inshore type with good reports from local anglers as well as bait and tackle stores and to head far west to pursue snapper, grouper, amberjack and other offshore species.

Fishin Franks at Charlotte Harbor reports good tarpon and shark action around the "middle holes" in Charlotte Harbor as well as good trout action and scattered snook and redfish on the eastern shore of the harbor as well. Fishin Franks is always a reliable, well-stocked store for the weekend warrior or full-time guide and always willing to give plenty of help and info when fishing Charlotte Harbor.

Here at home, D and D in Matlacha says head north to upper Matlacha Pass and into Charlotte Harbor for reds, snook and trout, as well as for sharks. The usual eastern shore side spots from Two Pines on up past Pirates Cove have been clean and producing fish. This was reported Thursday morning.

Cape Tool And Tackle recommends heading off to the 100-foot mark to pursue snapper of several varieties and strain your back muscles as you fight amberjack to the surface.

Many local salty dawgs always say never trust the weatherman. I agree. Tuesday night and Wednesday morning reports indicated a banner boating day on the Gulf with 2 feet or less predicted, which promoted a local captain to head over 50 miles westward in his 24-footer in pursuit of his favorite bottom fish. Fishing at the 120-foot mark produced nothing, so relocating a few miles eastward put them on fish inside the 100-foot mark catching grouper on pinfish and grunts.

Bad news was bad backs and bruised bodies as they fought over 6-foot seas at 8-12 mph on the long return trip.

Point is, the shallow Gulf changes very quickly and a big bay boat can suddenly seem awfully small very quickly, no matter what the weatherman tells us.

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



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