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Red snapper season opens, know the rules

June 14, 2019
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The tightly controlled recreational red snapper season started June 11 in Gulf state and federal waters and remain open through July 12, closing July 13. It's important to know the rules to avoid trouble and the following is worth reprinting.

Anglers fishing from private recreational boats will need to sign up as a Gulf Reef Fish Angler to target red snapper and several other reef fish in Gulf state and federal waters (excluding Monroe County), even if they are exempt from fishing license requirements. Sign up as a Gulf Reef Fish Angler at no cost at or by visiting any location you can purchase a license.

For-hire operations that do not have a federal reef fish permit may also participate in this 32-day season but are limited to fishing for red snapper in state waters only. These operators must have State Gulf Reef Fish Charter on their license to target red snapper and other reef fish in Gulf state waters (excluding Monroe County). This can be done at no cost at a local tax collector's office.

With tarpon season in full swing, it's also shark time in deep water as well as shallow. This year try sharking on the flats with your fly rod for a change of pace. Hang that chum bag on the transom and get them in range and put the fly right on their nose. I've found that brightly colored flies tied with flashy chrome Mylar strips work best for these strong predators and once hooked will provide high speed sprints taking you deep into your backing. Again, to get a hook-up you must place that fly right in their face.

Tie a short wire single strand leader to the end of your mono leader with an Albright Knot to save your fly.

When targeting sharks for the grill, be careful which ones you take home as many species are protected (check the FWC website for info)

When catching sharks to eat, immediately bleed them. Keep it really cold on ice till you get it home. Without lots of ice the meat goes bad quickly and you won't want to eat it unless you enjoy the taste of ammonia.

Remember to not pick up the shark by the tail for your picture as it will become attached to you, not in a good way as they are boneless and can twist and turn as if made from rubber.

Even a 24-inch baby can cause deep cuts with their mouth full of razors and the bigger the shark, the worse the bite. Unless you are very experienced, keep it in the water and out of the boat.

Tarpon can be found in many different locations this time of year and as the summer wears on many will seek thermal comfort and food in the deeper sections throughout Charlotte Harbor. Typically there will always be a presence in the passes and around big, deep structure like the Sanibel Causeway and doing night patrol around local river bridges.

Snook are enjoying themselves at and around the beaches for their summer spawning rituals and for the on-foot surf angler, get out early or at night for best results.

For the fly angler, long leaders work best in the early morning's clear water along the beaches. For the lure tosser, a big top water plug worked along the surf zone at night can put you into a monster snook that will have you sprinting down the beach to avoid being spooled.

White, clear and chrome seem to be the go-to colors for baits used in the daylight hours and a plain white bucktail has always been a favorite. White Z-MAN soft plastics on a jig-head cast up onto the beach, pulled back into the water and retrieved parallel to the beach is also a good choice.

Take an assortment of jig-heads weights for finding snook deeper along the pass edges.

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



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