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Sun, heat and storms can all cause big problems

August 2, 2019
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

After recovering from a bad shoulder caused by an angry tarpon a few months ago, I was back on the platform for a trial run, pushing the skiff looking for shallow hiding tarpon. These dark water days makes that job that much harder. The heat doesn't help either.

When poling in summer, you get a double dose of sun, not only from above but reflected upwards from the water's surface as well. That, plus long pants, shirts, gloves, socks, hat and face covering, and, needless to say, it's hot out there.

Carry wet ice chilled towels in your cooler to put around your neck. Two per person changing them often makes a huge difference, along with frequent hydration and proper clothing.

If you or anyone aboard feels weak, dizzy or "out of it," get them to the dock and treated by emergency medical if necessary. Better safe, not sorry.

If you can't find your silver kings in the passes or along the beaches, head inshore to the center of Charlotte Harbor and began your search there. Also, the mouths of the Myaka and Peace rivers are traditional hotspots, although a steady influx of rain can move the bait and the fish.

Get out very early, take your binoculars and scan the waters for the flash of rolling tarpon and try to determine their direction of travel so as to be able to get ahead of them, shut down and let them come into casting range. If you can't see them roll in the early morning sun, then look for feeding, diving birds or large bait pods.

With the dark waters, I try to get close to the fish I've spotted and cast live baitfish to them or slowly troll the area with the electric trolling motor while casting soft plastic swim baits. While casting off the front deck with spinning gear, I'm free lining or floating a live ladyfish or two out the back of the boat with the rods in holders.

So far, a calm summer has allowed the offshore fleet to get out early, finding grouper and snapper on limestone ledges and reefs. Preferred range is 60-80 feet of water. Take different rigged and ready rod combos as you never know what opportunity may present itself. Kingfish, even large permit and cobia, are always a possibility offshore, as well as light tackle fun with Spanish macs.

Go a little further out and dolphin and tuna, even sailfish, might be on the catch menu for the day.

If it starts looking bad, leave and don't get caught in the afternoon storms. It's never worth the risk just to get "one more fish."

If you've always wanted to go out for a deep sea trip in the Gulf and have no boat or boating friends, try a party boat out of Fort Myers Beach for a half or even an overnighter at reasonable prices. Everything's included in your fare.

If the party boat experience is not your thing, then spend more on a private offshore charter.

Congrats to Dr. Scott on his 39-inch snook on a fly and curses on that huge jack that broke his fly rod later in the day.

When fighting a powerful fish on fly, you get more fighting power from the rod by "lifting" almost horizontally from the handle rather than holding the rod high almost vertically as with a spinning rod. Also, this vertical rod hold can break fly rods when fighting really strong fish. Dr. Scott will sadly verify what I just wrote.

Redfish fans are waiting for the schooling activity of September, although it's been a really good year for reds aboard my boat.

For now, I'm fishing closer to the Gulf and using cut ladyfish under the bushes on the islands closest to the ICW.

If you hate soaking bait for reds, get out very early and fish shallow with topwater plugs around these same areas.

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



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