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Fish feeding habits change as weather cools

November 15, 2019
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Here comes some cold as an unusually long summer finally starts to let go. Skipped fall and going straight into winter? Ask the weather man? Nope, gave up on that long ago. One thing for sure, these first few cold fronts will force the fish into a fattening up mode and the cooling weather will make fishing all-day comfortable.

Typical fronts often make for windy conditions and off-shore trips are delayed, but between fronts try to get out to secret GPS locations and well known rock piles for some hot action on a great variety of fish, including red and gag grouper, porgies, grunts, delicious mangrove and yellow snapper and both king and Spanish mackerel.

Prehistoric looking tripletail will be seeking comfort in the shade of anything floating on the surface from markers, crab trap floats and even garbage. Tripletail will jump all over a live, frisky shrimp or smaller baitfish floated by their floating hangout, and if under a float, will do their best to snare you in the float rope during the fight.

Once a tripletail has been spotted, I like using the two angler approach, with one at the helm and the other one on the rod. Free line the live bait back, to the waiting tripletail with the current. With a really big trip, once he eats the bait, immediately hit the gas to try to get the fish away from the rope. If he wraps you around the rope, circle the float with the boat till you're free and go to work. The state's biggest tripletail like to hang out around the Cape Canaveral area so if you're looking for a trophy, hiring a local guide there will pay big dividends with fish reaching nearly 40 pounds.

Stuffed with a mixture of shrimp, scallops and crab, baked tripletail beats grouper any day.

Cooling waters should turn on the trout bite and covering water with the traditional live shrimp and popping corks while another angler fan casts the area with an ultra-light and soft plastic grubs should soon put you in trout territory.

Bigger trout go for big meals and large, top-water plugs catch the gators. Trout also love big popping bugs as well as streamer flies, so fly anglers will be busy and content. As the cold really sets in over the next month or two, trout will school in deep areas, channels, basins and marinas and sink tip fly lines get your fly down to their level.

Snook get chilly quick, which makes them do two things, eat and seek warmth. As it gets colder, depth provides thermal comfort and all winter the Cape's many miles of canals will hold wintering snook and resident tarpon of all sizes, along with a great variety of other fresh and saltwater game and food fish such as sheepshead.

Redfish are too preoccupied with eating to worry about things like cold and right now a live or dead pinfish, shrimp or a chunk of mullets or ladyfish placed as far back under the mangroves as possible will produce during the high tide stages. Target them on the flats, oyster bars and channels during the lower tide phases.

A school of mullet moving and feeding across a flat will stir up all types of small meals like baitfish, crabs and shrimp and it's a safe bet that that school of mullet may contain a big trout, snook or redfish enjoying an easy meal. Always worth making a cast.

If you're out fishing and feel dizziness, and lung, throat or eye irritation, there's a good chance you're experiencing the effects of red tide, which killed nearly 300 manatees last year and countless numbers of fish.

What harm to humans long-term exposure to concentrated levels causes isn't fully known although studies have linked various bad diseases to long-term exposure to toxic fresh water algae like we experienced last year.

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

 
 
 

 

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