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Migrating tarpon are on their way

February 1, 2019
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

With a warm winter season, migratory tarpon scouts have been seen and the main body is definitely on the way to local waters to join our resident fish that prefer Cape Coral year-round.

If you need one now then you should trailer the boat or hire a guide to get to your fish. The 10,000 Islands will offer world-class tarpon fishing this month especially if you enjoy sight casting to back country shallow bay fish with flies or lures.

Hiring a guide is highly recommended as it will save time and you won't get lost, which is quite easy to do. Also take proper long sleeves/long pants, socks, gloves and any other bug protection you can think of. You might not need it, but if you do you will definitely be sorry that you didn't pack it. Actually it's one of the "buggiest" places I've ever fished.

Not only is spring tarpon fishing worth the trip, but the early spring snook fishing can be outstanding as well and you're sure to catch redfish as a bonus.

Just a short drive north of the Cape we might find the early tarpon angler at a classic spring hot spot, the mouth of the Myakka River. The 41 bridges that cross the Peace River at Punta Gorda are always another good option.

Back at home most local tarpon addicts will intercept early spring arrivals while anchored off Sanibel Island along with hooking some really big sharks that will be following the tarpon schools northward.

Of all the ways to catch tarpon, my favorite method is casting plugs or jigs at night to our river fish. If you haven't experienced casting plugs at night to 150-pound chrome warriors, you have been missing out on some adrenalin pumping good times.

Wear a helmet? A few years back I was slowly working a top-water plug along the dim lights of the Midpoint Bridge. A beautiful calm quiet evening as I slowly probed the bridge structures with my lure. A short time later I was watching closely as the lure got to within six feet of the trolling motor when suddenly a huge shape appeared below it just as I was ready to lift the lure for another cast.

The tarpon inhaled the lure, I did a reaction strike and the fish instantly went airborne at the side of the boat with evil intent as it bounced off me, hit the deck and was gone leaving me shocked and slimed.

The Caloosahatchee can offer some amazing fishing for not only tarpon but great snook fishing as well. Sadly, the ongoing poisoning of the river will continue to destroy it and affect the health of the people living close to it.

The political wheels grind slowly and real relief is many years down the road. Last year's algae invasion may have been a blessing, a wakeup call to get the motivation to get it done. The new governor seems to be doing the right things and taking decisive actions to address the problems.

Offshore bottom fishing is still hot with various snappers on the chew along with bonus top-water cruising cobia that just may happen to show up for a curious look at your new boat.

On the way offshore, check those crab floats for tripletail that will gladly take a free-lined shrimp or shrimp pattern fly. Hook up and get the fish away from the float rope or he will use it to break off.

"Trips" have an 18-inch minimum size limit with two per day per angler allowed. These thick meaty fish are simply delicious as well as good fighters on light tackle.

Sheepshead fishing remains strong and seatrout fishing has certainly improved.

If you driving along and fish keep jumping out of the water, no they're thankfully not Asian carp but likely, pompano. Circle back and throw small jigs for one of Florida's tastiest fish.

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



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