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Common sense, basic courtesy go a long way

September 21, 2018
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

After all the negative water news, it was wonderful to see a school of late September redfish pushing across the flats in the early morning light.

Fat happy fish, tails up and noses down as they vacuumed the bottom for anything alive, completely unaware of our boat.

Too shallow to use the trolling motor to close the distance, I pushed hard from the poling platform to get within range and soon my client launched his small Zara Spook to the outside edge of the school.

Instantly two reds broke from the group and tried to eat it with a fat 7- pounder winning the race.

Keeping boat noise to a minimum and casting to the edges, three more reds felt the hook that day till the school was completely blown out by a boater who happily waved at us as he motored by not more than 35 yards away. Game over - fish gone.

Many don't realize the work it takes to push-pole a boat, often (usually) against wind and current loaded with gear, gas, ice, tackle and clients, and the time and effort it takes to quietly close the distance to be able to make a productive cast.

If you see someone poling a boat in skinny water or on a school of fish, use common sense and courtesy - give them plenty of room. Go out and around.

That could be you that paid big bucks for airfare, lodging, food, transportation and guide services to catch your dream fish, or worked hard all week until you get out on the water.

Others, seeing boats in the distance working a large school of fish, of course want to get in on the action. They often motor right into the middle of the feeding school without realizing they are putting the fish down and scattering them ruining it for everyone.

Again, stay back and approach slowly. See what others are doing or using and cast to the edges of the school. Common sense and basic courtesy go a long way.

In some parts of the country, fishing disrespect can cause big head-aches. Fishing at Sebastian Inlet a few weeks ago, I watched shore-based anglers throw 2-ounce lead sinkers at boating anglers getting too close to their territory.

On the lighter side, a distant friend had an 18-foot aluminum V-bottom boat that he painted a semi-dark streaky green on the outside of the hull and on the inside, a deep red with hand-sized black seeds.

If you caught your redfish or snook this week, wrapped it up and took it home for some butter and breadcrumb fried goodness, you've broken the law.

Catch and carefully release snook and reds to your hearts content till the FWC tells us otherwise, which is a wise move after such massive fish kills.

A variety of grouper and other near and offshore rock and wreck dwellers are waiting for your cut or live bait to be lowered down. Don't be surprised if your offshore adventure turns into the snook of a lifetime as many are often caught on near-shore reefs.

Snook don't all spawn at once and many stragglers still are, so a careful catch and release of big females is always important for our future fishery, but vital after the algae disaster.

This year try using the wing on the back of your boat for something other than a lunch counter or tackle tying station.

Poling your skiff quietly and patiently with the added advantage of height will open up a whole new world for you. You'll be amazed at the fish you would have never seen using an electric motor, and how close you'll now be able to get to them.

Buy the lightest push-pole you can afford, but lighter means more hi-tech materials which equals big money.

Economical and heavy fiberglass poles work fine, but after a few hours in the heat, you'll wish you had spent more.

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



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