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Not finding fish? Head to the Gulf

August 9, 2013
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

As I poled along searching for a flash, a fin, a swirl, any sign of life my client fresh from Ontario was struggling to maintain his focus in the sweltering stillness of this early morning inferno.

At the same time I'm thinking, I'm too old for this stuff.The snowbirds have it right. Any minute now I'm probably going to grab my chest, fall off this poling platform and do a perfect head-first power dive into the muck stopping stone dead at my shoulders.

Carry wet ice chilled towels in your cooler. Two or three per person, changing them often makes a huge difference along with frequent hydration and proper clothing. It's hard to find a true long billed fishing cap these days. Bass Pro has them in their Offshore Sportsman clothing line.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

If you're not finding your fish in regular honey holes move closer to the Gulf. Moving oxygenated water will be cooler and more desirable than slow moving backwaters or the poisons coming down the river from Lake O.

The summer pattern still holds with snook on the beach and in the passes. Holding on docks and structure along the ICW.

If you can't find silver kings in the passes or along the beaches head inshore to the center of Charlotte Harbor and began your search there (26' 47.73' 82' 06.08'). Also, the mouths of the Myaka and Peace rivers are traditional hotspots although a steady influx of rain can move the bait and the fish. Look for bait pods and birds if you can't see them roll. Take your trusty binoculars and scan the waters for the flash of rolling tarpon and try to determine their direction of travel so as to be able to get ahead of them, shut down and let them come into casting range.

Tarpon are still in the passes and along the beach and fall for a variety of offerings from jigs, live pinfish and white baits, live ladyfish and crabs, as well as dead baits on bottom.

Beach walking snook hunters will find barrier island beach access and car parking starting on Sanibel Island at The Fishing Pier and Sanibel Lighthouse. Algiers Lane. Bowman's Beach Lane. Two areas at Blind Pass, and one at Alison Hagerup Beach on Captiva Drive. A light pack, some water, rods and white bucktails is all you need to hook the vacationing snook in the surf as you stroll along before sun-up. All Sanibel beaches have restrooms except Blind Pass.

Offshore guys get out early as well to deeper waters finding gag and red grouper on limestone ledges and reefs. Preferred range is 60-80 feet of water. Take different rigged and ready rod combos as you never know what opportunity may present itself. No matter how hot the bite don't get caught in the afternoon storms, it's never worth the risk.

Redfish fans are waiting for the waters to cool and schooling activity in September. For now, I'm fishing closer to the Gulf and using lots of cut ladyfish under the bushes on the islands closest to the ICW. A low tide at first light will put you into tailing activity if you can find them, otherwise they are in the shade waiting for September as well.

If you are a traveling angler, the east coast offers some hot fishing right now along the coast and in the passes. Sebastian Inlet is home to monster snook and jumbo cow redfish especially at night along the jetty rocks. The beaches become alive with tarpon and sharks crushing the bait pods massing there along with big snook, giant jacks, and bull redfish.

In Southwest Florida a big jack is 15-20 pounds. There, 40 pounds and up. Bring a lunch when going after these brutes on light tackle or fly as the fight may carry you over the horizon.

Trophy gator trout hunt large surface plugs before dawn.

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



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