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An interesting charter, plus catching reds on soft plastics

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

Watching $5 spoon number four sail deep into the mangroves forever lost to the unforgiving tangle, I simply smiled and handed him another ready rod ready to cast. About the same time, his 5-year-old daughter who had secretly opened one of my soft plastic tackle boxes, threw the whole thing into the air spilling half of the baits in the boat the other half to the bottom of Pine Island Sound.

Moments later, his 4-year-old son who had been crying, weeping, sobbing, squirming and continually passing gas while smacking his mother's face as she held him sitting in the shade behind my console, suddenly became quiet. Five seconds later, he projectile vomited, covering my steering wheel, gauges and a good bit of the windshield.

This sudden event was a last straw for Dad, forcing him to comment, which, of course, sparked an instant parenting controversy, which, of course, escalated into, "What kind of a dumb bleep bleep man would bring two young children AND his wife, into this bleep backwoods mosquito infested jungle nightmare spending money we don't have on this overpriced fishing trip from hell?"

I stood there between them looking at the sky: she now sobbing, holding a vomit soaked screaming child, he cowering up by the trolling motor as far out of reach as possible while the daughter pulled out another tackle box.

At this point, we were exactly 1 hour, 14 minutes and 41 seconds into a 4-hour trip.

Continuing to scan the sky, I prayed aliens would take me as I tried to blot out the present situation and remembering a time when I really loved fishing.

I've now recovered well from that recent guide trip trauma as we continue to catch good numbers of redfish using soft plastics skip-casted under the branches. For those clients who don't enjoy the casting game, we are having great luck with the old standby "shrimp on bottom pinned to a #2 circle hook."

When casting your dead baits, try to get your offering at least a foot under the cover rather than a foot away from it. That alone can make a world of difference and don't be at all surprised if a scavenger snook steals your redfish bait.

Sit quietly for 15 minutes, then move if there's no action.

Shrimp, live or dead; cut pinfish; ladyfish; and mullet all make great redfish attractors.

What makes a good skipping bait? A soft plastic that can be rigged weedless.

As a fan of DOA products, we use their C.A.L. jerk baits and shad tails, which can be rigged with a simple jighead in open situations or making the jerkbaits weedless with bass-style wide gap plastic worm hooks.

In the case of the minnow/shad tails design, try a screw lock-type hook with the hook point "skinned" or placed just slightly under the surface of the bait making it weedless. Placing it too far into the body will make it weedless, and fishless.

The DOA shad tails will skip a mile with ease and everything eats them. This company also markets the PT-7, which is a 3-inch aerodynamic, soft plastic, weedless skipping bait that looks nothing like a fish but can be skipped a long way with ease, and provokes vicious reaction strikes from both redfish and snook hiding under docks and branches.

The newest creation from DOA is ita 2.75-inch, weighted soft plastic shrimp that sinks a little faster than its 3-inch brother and is a trout magnet casted alone or under a popping cork.

Rapala's new X-Rap series mini-mullet suspending jerk baits come with two super-sharp single hooks and do the underwater walk-the-dog flash and dance perfectly with subtle rod twitches tripping the trigger of reds, snook and trout.

From trout to tarpon, this early spring has the fish really turned on in our fishing and boating paradise called Southwest Florida.

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



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