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Fish are biting — get out on the water!

November 8, 2019
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Still enjoying redfish and snook action throughout the area and during this unseasonably warm past month, we've caught both on about everything in the box and baitwell.

As father would say, "Nothing lasts forever," so, get in on the action with the nice warm weather, and enjoy the uncrowded boat ramps. Both offshore and in a canal near you, the fish are biting.

Experienced anglers know that redfish come in with the tide to hunt under the mangrove bush for small crabs and crustaceans that inhabit the shorelines. Ob-viously, when the tide falls out they retreat to drop-offs, channels and deeper structure like docks.

Fishing low tide phases in Matlacha Pass or Pine Island Sound, I'm looking for not just any docks but ones with certain features. Look for docks ending in at least four feet or more of water. Look for older crusty barnacle-coated dock pilings vs. newer docks.

Docks that have large boats that see duty often have a bottom hole blown out by the prop and in winter these deep warm holes will draw fish in and keep them there.

Favor docks with current moving under the ends, like a dock that ends close to a channel edge or drop-off. Find docks that are close to points, bars and other structure vs. flat, uninteresting terrain.

With today's Google Earth features you can spend time on the computer and find targets that fulfill the above requirements as closely as possible and plug them into your notepad or GPS so when you hit the water you already have a plan for success instead of coin-flipping chaos.

Growing up fishing bass tournaments, I was lucky to share the boat with some of the finest dock anglers around that would take the time to thoroughly pick a dock structure apart. These pros were masters of the flipping, pitching and skipping techniques that allowed them to present lures or baits to shy but biting fish other anglers couldn't reach.

Mastering these techniques will greatly increase your odds of fighting fish, especially in our area with fish under the mangroves and docks so often.

Typically most anglers try 3 or 4 casts to a big dock and move on. The experienced dock jockey might take 15 minutes or more making repeated casts to it to really pick it apart properly.

If we feel docks are holding snook or redfish, I'll pick a stretch of shoreline loaded with them, spending the day or tide picking them apart, slowing and quietly moving from one to the next keeping my lure in the high percentage strike zone on nearly every cast.

If your important skipping technique needs a lot of work, then practice at the ramp, in a pool or canal at home.

Underhand flipping/pitching can be practiced on the lawn by flipping or pitching your bait into a bucket every time, first from 10, 20 and then 30 feet away. Then start over, using a cup.

Practice skipping to the point that you can shoot or skip your soft plastic bait an inch off the water, the length of an average backyard swimming pool.

Now that you've mastered forward skipping, now master it the other way. Very important! Think forehand and backhand in tennis.

All three techniques can be utilized with either a spinning or bait casting style reel. For me, a bass style casting reel excels at pitching/flipping and an open face spinning reel is tops for skipping. I'll have both loaded and ready as I move from dock to dock changing rods and techniques as I reposition the boat to cast.

On the water casting practice is great as long as it's your dock you're constantly snagging and your expensive fiberglass boat you're beating up with your lead head jig. Stay away and practice elsewhere.

If a dock owner asks you to leave, always be polite and go.

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



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