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Mackerel, sharks troll the river

April 25, 2009

Lehr's Economy Tackle weighs in with reports of high salinity levels in the Caloosahatchee River. Because of that, Spanish mackerel are being caught all the way up at the Franklin Locks.

Also, reports of bluefish being caught from the Midpoint Bridge to Fort Myers. Black drum are now here at the bridges feasting on crabs around the pilings. Best bait obviously is crab chunks on the bottom.

Anglers are catching tarpon on big plugs casted and trolled along the east side of the river from downtown Fort Myers upriver. Redfish reports are not great as witnessed by this past week's redfish tournament where few fish were caught. Same story on snook - slow.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Lots of reports of 4- to 7-foot bull sharks all over the river. Swimmers, jet skiers, tube riders, wake boarders, etc., using the river to pursue their sport should remember the river is used by sharks of all sizes. Especially at this time of year, they follow the tarpon migration while they move northward and also into our river system. A lot of people think sharks don't frequent freshwater river systems, but they certainly do, especially the bull shark which is considered the greatest threat to humans.

You will find me poolside.

Capt. Dick May of Easy Rider Charters reports this past week produced "about the toughest fishing I have experienced in a while."

The cooler nighttime temps and windy conditions slowed down the bite. Trout fishing was tough, but the fish that were caught were large ones. It was very difficult to catch redfish.

The cold windy nights that caused shallow water temps to plummet seemed to drive the reds away from the mangroves and out to deeper water. Snook fishing also was slow.

Capt. Roy Bennett of Hot One 11 Charters had some good fishing this week. While tarpon fishing off Sanibel client Mike Anulli and son Alex, caught two hard-fighting bull reds of 24 and 27.5 pounds on mackerel chunks fished on the bottom. Also, a half-dozen sharks up to 200 pounds joined the party as (non-biting) free-jumping tarpon were seen all day.

The following day his party jumped an estimated 130-pound tarpon as well as large sharks that didn't take long to bite through 150-pound test leader material. More free-jumping tarpon again that day with a suicidal free jumper going airborne and landing five feet from the boat, splashing everyone aboard.

For those new to tarpon fishing, hooked and free-jumping fish occasionally will jump into boats. I have seen it twice in the last five years. When a big, tough, tarpon jumps in your boat you'll quickly find out how tough you are or find out the carrying capacity of your poling platform.

Last year at the Midpoint Bridge a big, freshly hooked, angry, tarpon being fought from a boat 50 yards away jumped into the boat next to mine and proceeded to go absolutely crazy. As the men frantically ran around the 20-foot skiff trying to get away from the violent, bucking beast, it knocked the center console loose from the floor of the older boat, ejected a closed cooler and an open tackle box into the river, along with two very expensive rod and reel combos. It also tore off the bow running light

I had never seen three fully grown men on a poling platform before that night. They watched as the fish did its damage, completely slimed the boat and deposited at least five pounds of very foul "waste" as a gift. Then it flipped up and out of the boat and was gone in 30 seconds or so.

I towed them in because when the console broke loose some electrical connections were damaged and they were dead in the water. What a slippery, slimy, foul smelling mess.

That tarpon will be bragging for years to come I'm sure.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.



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