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Switching from bass buggin’ to saltwater fly fishin’

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

If you grew up bass fishing shallow mill ponds like I did, you probably had an uncle, friend or cousin who was really into top water bass bugging with a fly rod and at some point you may have caught the fly rod virus from one of them.

Now, after a lifetime of enjoying the sport of freshwater fly fishing and lily pad and submerged tree "bass buggin'," you've made the big move to Southwest Florida, traded in the red metal flake Ranger and now find yourself standing on the casting deck of a shallow flats skiff looking at endless miles of salty mangrove shorelines and not a lily in sight.

Do I need all new equipment? A new fly rod? Will this 8 weight be OK? Do I need all new flies?

No, no, yes and no.

The best part of the whole deal is you're now in big time shallow saltwater fly country with more miles of shallow water than you would be able to "bug" in five lifetimes.

Other great news is our shallow water saltwater superstars like snook, redfish, tarpon, trout and jacks all live shallow for most of the year and will all eat flies and bugs with gusto.

Sea trout are suckers for slowly worked, big popping bugs on top. Redfish and snook hiding under mangrove limbs or in fallen trees find a slowly worked top bug nearly irresistible, especially when you keep it in the strike zone for soooo long teasing them.

Using big floating bugs with weed guards allows you to cast your bug into the limbs then gently work it out so it falls ever so lightly to the surface below which can result in trash can lid-sized explosions from hiding redfish.

For snook, I like to let the bug fall and rest, twitch and rest, then if no takers, I'll do a couple of long line strips while shaking the rod tip which results in a yard long gurgling and water spraying "escape" of prey, which is a retrieve that movement centered predators like feeding snook find hard to resist.

Your trusty 8 wt. you brought down will do just fine but never forget that in Florida merely thinking about a fly rod will make the wind blow. Put the fly rod in your boat and it's guaranteed to blow. Get used to it and learn how to deal with it.

If you are throwing really big bugs in windy weather, it's nice to have a 9 or 10 wt. on board as well which can also help you to fight the wind but also help to muscle out a big red from under 10 feet of mangrove limbs.

Remember you are now in saltwater country and an 8-pound redfish and an 8-pound bass tied tail to tail would result in the bass drowning from being pulled backwards so quickly. This is a whole new ballgame with really strong fish that takes the top water bugging sport to a whole new level of enjoyment.

Make sure your fresh water bass bug has a stout enough hook or you will lose fish.

If you still get lonely for some sweet water bassing, Cape Coral has mile after mile of freshwater bass filled canals to explore and bug. As a bonus, you're approximatively 50 miles from one of the world's top rated largemouth bass lakes, Lake O

Fresh to salt, 5-pound largemouth to 400-pound Goliath grouper, it's good to live and fish in Southwest Florida!

For boats that sit for long periods, not only changing out the water separating filter to protect the fuel system and engine is a great way to save big money at the repair shop, but pay close attention to your water pump as well. Seals designed to keep out water can dry causing failures when sitting dry, for long periods.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or captgeorget3@aol.com.

 
 
 

 

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