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Learn to read wind, tide charts

November 10, 2012
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

It was right off the cover of Sports Afield. One of those classic fishing action scenes forever burned in the mind to be recalled again and again.

While casting MirrOlures for snook along a shoreline just south of Burnt Store Marina, we decide to skip the straight shore and just work the many points ahead. Points are usually the high percentage areas for snook. We were losing light and tide and worse, the first "scouts" had been sent out.

If you've ever been trapped back in the mangroves with your very own personal six million no-see-ums from hell crawling in your eyes, ears, nose, shirt, pants, and throat biting like winged mini-fire ants you know what I mean. Hopefully, this cold snap will thin the ranks of these vicious little devils as this past month has been really bad for the backwater angler fishing near the mangroves early or late.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

If you're looking to get into backcountry fishing get a tide chart and learn to read and understand it. If you are new to the area hiring a licensed local guide will be money well spent as you jumpstart your learning from their years of local knowledge of the fish and tides.

Some of these areas have only a foot or so of water at high tide. Learn how wind can alter the tides making the chart's prediction very far from your reality.

For example if your chart calls for a high at 3 p.m. at Matlacha, but there's been a hard north wind all day, there won't be nearly as much water as your chart predicts and even less at low.

The thought of being trapped in the mangroves (again) for hours on a windless night makes me shudder and is the reason why I now carry a cyanide capsule in my emergency bag.

Sure, I know you can lie under water and breathe through a reed, and yes, it looks good in the movies, but after a second or third lungful of no-see-ums (I know) you soon realize that all hope is lost as you race your friend to the emergency bag.

Letting the MirrOlure sink on this last deep point I started my retrieve. Working the lure back to the surface a beautiful tarpon magically appeared and made a curving pass at the lure with mouth wide and gills flared just missing it by a fraction. Although I didn't hook up it was still quite an awesome sight. Time seemed to slow while I took in every detail of the tarpon's attack in the clear water just two feet from the trolling motor.

Point is, tarpon are still here and biting. This 40-pounder was in a tiny creek on the inside of Burnt Store Bar in November. As long as the bait is thick they will stick around a bit longer before heading to Miami for Christmas. The river bridges still hold tarpon as well as Matlacha Pass Bridge along with the backcountry holes and channels.

If you aren't aware we have migrating (visiting) tarpon from the south and resident tarpon that winter upriver and in deep local canals. These resident tarpon can be caught all winter, but it's never easy as they can be notoriously closed mouthed.

This temperature drop will turn on the trout and we soon will return to the great trout fishing we've experienced these last seasons. The drop also sends snook into hyper feeding mode and start to concentrate them in or near their wintering grounds making this a great time to bag that trophy.

Redfish simply don't care and will keep on feeding. The passes will be thick with birds, bait, Spanish macs, blues, ladys, trout, and sharks which makes for some easy and fast paced family fishing fun.

As the water clears and cools wise lure and fly anglers slow their retrieve speeds, and use lighter fluorocarbon leaders.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or, or



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