What a great time of year to be fishing in Southwest Florida. All the fish are looking to chow down to put on winter fat.
The bait is here, the weather is great, fuel is still relativity cheap, compared to Korea at $9 a gallon. This is also the time to get those kids away from the latest ultra bloody, mind numbing, video game in your TV room and get them out on the boat for some great fishing and a supply of vitamin D from the sun.
Today's kids have ultra-short attention spans and a fish a minute is required to keep them from screaming in unison, "Boring, Dad, let's go home!"
Capt. George Tunison
Get out and cruise and simply look for giant flocks of birds drilling the huge bait schools along with almost every game fish this area offers. Forget the cast nets and the mess that goes along with it and stock up a tackle box full of jigs, spoons, and topwater lures.
Save your lures
Last year I made several gag lures out of beer openers with an attached treble hook and passed them around the boat. We caught fish after fish on them and they cast a mile. It's a good idea to attach a 3- to 5-inch thin wire leader to your fishing line rather than lose a lure a second to these huge schools of Spanish mackerel,
After you have located the bait pods, don't drive the boat into the school. Stay back within casting distance and cast the edges of the pod. If you drive your boat into the school you will drive the bait down and away and make your fellow anglers very upset. Simply stay back a bit, cast and retrieve rather quickly and expect to catch mackerel, reds, blues, sharks, ladyfish, and trout.
A great tip is to bring a pair of gloves for the birds that junior will probably snag by mistake. If you see a kid reeling, looking up into the sun, be assured there is an angry gull at the other end. Reel him to the boat, cover his eyes with a towel, use the gloves and as gently as possible release him and do not attempt to weigh him on your Boga Grip. Space the kids apart and wear glasses for safety as the fishing will be fast and fun!
Good week of action
Capt. Phil Evans of AFishingMission Charters reports that the bait is heavy until the cold weather closes in. His group fished in about three acres of white bait in north Pine Island Sound a few days ago. They stayed in the same spot for three hours watching countless birds and seemingly millions of Spanish mackerel just crushing the bait fish.
Along with the Spanish were hordes of bluefish, redfish, and big trout that provided non-stop action for hours. Also, four sharks joined the party and were brought boatside. Capt. Phil says "get out and enjoy the water, the fishing is great!"
Capt. Rob Modys of SoulMate Charters tells me the Spanish mackerel bite along the Gulf beaches has been on fire, and most of the macs have been in the two- to four-pound range. The best bait for them is live white baits, but shrimp under a popping cork is working very well.
For explosive action try using a topwater lure, such as a smaller Zara Spook, Rapala Skitterwalks, or silver colored Chug Bugs. The power of the strike will scare the heck out of you. You will find plenty of ladyfish, bluefish, and small sharks mixed in.
The redfish and snook bite down Estero Bay way has really picked up a notch or two. Reds are under the bushes and the best bite has come on the higher side of the inbound tides. Snook are ambushing bait near mangrove and oyster bar points in any good moving tidal flow.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.