After days of wild rain, wind and lightning, we finally got out on the water even though it still looked very dicey.
We knew it might get bad that Monday afternoon, but at this point it didn't matter, we needed to fish in a bad way. Before we even fully came off plane we had grabbed rods and started covering the oyster bar with topwaters and spoons, both as happy as if we had our right minds.
The cloud bank we left behind at Matlacha had turned into an ugly violent squall and was headed south hot on our heels, throwing mean streaks of lightning in all directions. We put the eight vertically standing hi-tech super conductor graphite lightning attractors flat on the deck while I got the Action Craft and us out of Dodge.
Capt. George Tunison
Great, 10 casts! We both said aloud as we headed south stopping along the way making a few more casts or so before being chased by other cells coming now from all directions and all containing severe lightning.
This continued and got worse and we couldn't go back. St. James City was the next offer of shelter and we took refuge there, wet and dejected, but at least not burnt, extra crispy.
Tuesday brought some clearing and we decided to venture out again to try and make up for lost fishing time. Heading south again I wanted to try an old reliable spot that produces redfish. Within a few casts my client hooked and released a wanna-be big, rat redfish as I said, "I think we found them."
A few more casts to the shallowest part of the bar and my lure was instantly stopped, and I thought, snag. Suddenly, a big tail flap and a huge copper colored boil followed by a screaming drag as a Matlacha bruiser redfish headed for the Gulf.
As my long light rod seriously bent all the way down to the handle, we both knew it was a good fish. My 15-pound Power Pro was stretched to the limit as the minutes ticked by, all the while being filmed by my partner. Like any red, no matter what the size, they give it all and at one point it was a pure standoff. I could not put any more pressure on the fish without breaking the line or rod and he simply wasn't budging, preferring to slowly swim sideways to us just out of sight in the foot deep water.
After what seemed like forever we finally got a glimpse of him in the distance and he of us, which resulted in yet another long run for freedom. That look verified what we knew, he was a good one.
After agonizingly long minutes of adrenaline-fueled prayers for luck, line strength, and good knots, I finally had him at the side of the boat. He was finished and so was my wrist. What a long battle in the 86-degree water.
Some quick pictures and the Boga Grip read 16.75 pounds. Back in the water for a good long revival which in this hot water is vital to survival. After a quick look around for dolphins I slowly took my hands away as he suspended there, almost motionless in front of us while we admired him.
What a big handsome fish with not a scratch or imperfection to be found, other then a minor lip puncture and bruised ego for falling for that imposter baitfish at such an advanced stage in life. Suddenly, I saw eye movement and with one big tail flap he was ought of there.
Five minutes before hooking that fish I had remarked to my client that we "need to head over to Venice, La., and catch a few bigger reds for a change." I swear!
As a great tarpon season slowly winds down, our own world class redfishing starts. Venice, where?
It's good to live in Southwest Florida!
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.flyingfinssportfishing,com.