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It’s a good time to fish for tripletail

April 12, 2019
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Catching tripletail is usually done with a live shrimp or a small baitfish drifted back to them with the tide as they hide under their crab float shelter. At times, soft plastic shrimp imitators work well, others times they are completely ignored.

Finding tripletail is as simple as finding a long row of crab floats and motoring by them to look for the fish hiding under them. A channel marker, anything floating, has the potential to house a fish as big as your hand to the size of a trash can lid.

As you search the row, keep the boat as far away from the floats as possible but close enough to see the fish. Tower boats excel for this fishing and in north Florida, it's not unusual to see skiffs outfitted with ladder/tower configurations to not only spot tripletail under floats but to see cobia on the backs of giant mantas as they fly underwater along the Space Coast.

When trying to bag one on a fly, I like approaching from down tide and off to one side so my fly line and leader don't cross over the fish, spooking it ("Lining") as I cast up tide and retrieve it back. Work the angles and use the current to swing the fly into the fish's line of sight.

There are lots of shrimp fly patterns available for your tripletail trip, which they will pounce on if they're in the mood. Even small crab patterns like a Merkin Crab are good choices. My biggest fly caught tripletail was taken on a Gummy Minnow, which is a rather non-typical trip fly, but effective.

Once hooked, try to muscle the fish away from the float rope before it uses it against you to break off.

Make it a team effort by having the captain back the boat away from the float on the hook up to help get the fish clear. If not, be ready to run the boat around the float if the fish gets behind the rope. When using a light leader or line and when "in the rope" with a big trip, sometimes opening the bail creating slack till you can get a better angle on the fish with your boat will save the day.

Most trophy tripletail anglers looking for that one big fish head to north Florida where trips over 30 pounds have been caught.

Hard fighting, odd looking, acrobatic and delicious on the plate, tripletails are one of Florida's best tasting fish. Stuff 'em with crabmeat.

Always looking for a bargain when fly rod shopping, I recently tried out an ECHO fly rod in the BOOST Series and for the money was quite impressed. If you're not ready to lay out a thousand for a new state-of-the art, hi-tech rod, then take a look at these, which retail around $250 in the 8-12 weight sizes and have a life-time warranty. Complete outfits including rod, reel, fly line, backing and rod protection tube in the 7-10 wt. sizes for $370.

St. Croix has a great low priced ($150) two-piece, short, 7-foot 11-inch fly rod in an 8 and 9 wt. called the MOJO BASS, which is ideal for snook and redfishing along mangrove shorelines for making repetitive accurate casts to tiny openings hiding big trophies. Don't buy this rod to make long casts as it's designed for short to medium ranges but will handle big flies, wind and big fish up close.

For skipping soft plastics with a spinning rod while working a mangrove shoreline, I find a shorter rod to work better as well.

Tarpon are throughout Pine Island Sound and redfishing remains strong under the bushes with dead baits and hitting soft plastics and gold spoons on lower tides when fish can't hide under the tree branches.

Spanish macs are on the chew and provide family fun. Look for birds to guide you.

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



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