Capt. Dick May of Easy Rider Charters reports this weekend's fish dinner is waiting in the passes.
Use a two-ounce bank sinker and drag white bait or a piece of squid across the bottom in 16 to 20 feet of water over the rocky bottom to catch nice mangrove snappers. Use a small circle hook to stay legal.
Nice trout also are being caught on grass flats by using small white bait under a Cajun Rattling Cork (available at your tackle store, or easily constructed homemade versions). If you want to catch a big fish soak some cut bait that bleeds.
Capt. George Tunison
The passes are full of big bull sharks. Get out for snapper and trout at daybreak and be on the water at sundown for sharks.
Beginner tip: To make a rattling cork use a standard Styrofoam popping float that uses a center hole plastic line guide. Insert a piece of 120-pound test leader wire and leave about six inches of wire exposed on both ends. Thread two or three glass or brass beads (with predrilled center holes) onto each wire end. With a needlenose pliers, make a loop on each end or use a Haywire Twist to close the ends and capture the beads and float.
Shark for dinner
If made properly, the float and beads will slide up and down the wire adding a clicking rattling sound to the popping cork when you "pop" it or jerk it through the water. Every time you pop the cork with the rod tip, the bait underneath leaps up in the water column just as a frightened shrimp does when trying to escape, then slowly drifts back toward the bottom. This is usually when the fish inhales your bait and your float disappears.
Tie your main line to one end of the wire and a 24-inch leader to the other end with a small hook at the opposite end. Add a shrimp, small baitfish, plastic grub or plastic shrimp. Adjust leader length depending on depth. After casting let the float sit for 30-60 seconds and then give it a couple of "chugs" with the rod tip, then pause again.
Imagine the bait underneath slow falling toward the grass bed or bottom on the pause. Repeat all the way back to the boat. Some days an occasional pop or chug works. Other days a more aggressive cadence is called for.
Experiment and let the fish tell you. This rig is deadly on the flats as it calls fish in from a long way and casts far allowing you to cover lots of water.
Any shark kept for the table should be bled as soon as you catch it and packed in lots of ice if you want to bite into Jaws for dinner.
If you don't have a good ice supply, catch, photo, and a healthy release is in order. Remember, sharks are an important part of our eco system and their numbers are way down worldwide due to overfishing, net entanglements, and other barbaric practices like long lining and especially "finning" (catching a mature fish and cutting the fins off for shark fin soup, then throwing the shark back to die).
Speaking of sharks, I recently saw a display of Megaladon teeth at a museum. Each chisel-sided tooth was almost as large as a man's hand. The Megaladon was a prehistoric shark that roamed the seas millions of years ago and preyed on whales, giant squids, and whatever it wanted.
Scientists estimate its body size to have been as large as a Greyhound Bus at 40- to 60-feet and a weight of 20 to as much as 50 tons. Megaladon is only known from its fossil teeth as shark cartilagin skeletons rarely, if ever, fossilize.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.