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Enjoying some gifts from the Gulf

February 22, 2019
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

It's no secret that seatrout and most other inshore gamefish are attracted to the feeding sounds of a popping cork and then attacking the shrimp or soft plastic suspended below it.

Change it up this week and substitute a top water plug for the popping cork. I like using a chrome Rebel floating popper and attaching my 12 to 24-inch leader to the rear treble main hook shaft. Use a 1/8 oz. jighead and your favorite soft plastic below the lure. If tying that gives you trouble, take off the rear treble hook and tie directly to the rear split ring or eye. Learn to lob cast this rig to reduce tangles. This old trick catches fish, often two at a time.

Offshore anglers should be enjoying a solid snapper bite with mangrove, lane and yellowtail all looking for handouts.

Minimum size limits for mangroves are set at 10 inches with 5 per day per harvester. Lane, 8 inches with 10 allowed per day, and yellowtails minimums are set at 12 inches with 10 allowed per day per harvester.

Before you start stuffing coolers, remember the Snapper Aggregate Bag Limit Regulations which state: "Within state waters of the Atlantic and Gulf all species of snapper are included in a 10 fish per harvester per day aggregate bag limit in any combination of snapper species, unless stated otherwise"

It's good to know off-shore anglers if you enjoy fresh saltwater fish. This week I've enjoyed gifts of tripletail as well as one of my all-time plate favorites: the hogfish. This rather odd looking fish has to be one of the most delicious in Florida's waters.

If you're visiting from an area of the country where Mrs. Paul's fish sticks are as close as you get to "fresh fish," keep in mind there are many other species of other local fish that taste as good as or better than grouper, which is the highlight of many restaurant menus in Florida.

Pompano, snapper, hogfish and tripletail are certainly as good tasting, if not better, so don't be afraid to branch out on your selections and understand that the tilapia that's featured on so many menus is not a saltwater species like grouper, actually it's just a glorified freshwater aquarium fish. Properly prepared, folks enjoy it and annual sales back that up.

The invasive fish species that are thriving and in some cases taking over or destroying the environment here in Florida, we know were usually introduced by fish hobbyists simply releasing their captives into local waters, in some cases with devastating results. Most are aware of the lionfish threat and the damage they bring to reef ecosystems as they continue to spread through the warm waters eating everything that fits and growing.

If you were a participant in Lionfish Challenge 2018 and submitted a FWC tagged lionfish, you became eligible to win a $5,000 prize.

Other fish-gone-wrong stories are sometimes caused by fisheries biologists bringing in foreign species to control weeds or other out-of-control fish populations, only to find out they've made a bad choice, a very bad choice.

The Asian carp invasive illustrates this quite well. By now most have seen clips of or actually experienced boaters being bombarded by huge leaping carp. These fast breeding fish are a huge problem and taking over waterways in large areas of the U.S., destroying habitat, driving away desirable game species, as well as making safe boating quite the challenge.

Biologists are trying desperately to keep them out of the Great Lakes. The damage to the fisheries and the local economy would be catastrophic.

Recently there have been several successful business startups transforming slimy lemons into tasty lemonade by turning millions of pounds of Asian carp into frozen fillets, fish sticks and all manner of fish products.

The biggest consumer? The Asian market and it's never-ending demand for fish and fish products.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or



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