Frozen mackerel and fresh chunk ladyfish on the bottom put tarpon in the air this week in east central Pine Island Sound along with a fair number of sharks.
Fishing in five feet of water adjacent to the flats was the key area for action. No tarpon were rolling as the sun rose and I thought I had chosen the wrong spot to begin my hunt.
Over the years I've found if you believe in a spot, stick it out. This location has been a top producer over the years so I fought the urge to pull anchor and relocate.
Confidence is a huge factor in fishing along with patience. Cutting my teeth early on with run and gun style tournament bass fishing in the Northeast, the urge to move quickly to a new spot haunts me to this day. That, plus the pressure to produce for my clients sometimes puts a knot in my stomach as the fishless minutes tick by.
As I wrestled with those thoughts while observing my restless angler, the clicker on the reel and line paying out brought instant relief for both of us. Engaging the reel the rod doubled over putting 90 pounds of shimmering chrome in the air and a huge 25 tooth ear to ear grin on my anglers face.
Redfish never leave and are still chewing in both north and south Matlacha Pass as well as in the sound. Also this week, a combination of frozen shrimp, gold spoons, and clear/gold flake DOA Shrimp skipped way back and under the brush brought seven reds to the boat from two to six pounds. If you can, pick an early morning rising tide casting lures in the early light then finishing with chunk dead baits or frozen shrimp under the shrubs as the tide tops out.
If you are gut hooking reds when fishing dead baits under the brush add a float a foot up the line to give you a quick visual clue that your bait has been eaten. Believe me it won't scare any redfish that has picked up the scent of your ladyfish steaks (use one-inch chunks). Even with circle hooks reds will swallow baits and hooks. Always take long thin forceps and patiently work out hooks. If you take your time even semi-swallowed hooks can be extracted without killing your fish.
I continually preach learning to skip cast soft plastics under the mangroves and docks on the higher tides for a really good reason. It's deadly effective. If you are an "along the edges only" caster, especially during bright summer conditions, I guarantee you are missing out on most of the fish seeing your lures. Since fish don't wear sunglasses, like us they are light sensitive seeking shade and cooler water provided by docks and branches, even more so in shallow water.
If you are having trouble staying hooked to your tarpon try a bit thinner wire circle hook this season for a better hook-up ratio. True you may straighten or bend a hook but if you loosen the drag a touch and or follow the fish you may like the results. I've been using OWNER light wire circles with good results in the 8/0 to 10/0 sizes. The theory being that a finer needle penetrates quicker and deeper than a nail.
Hook selection depends on whom you ask and opinions vary widely. Some swear by offset J hooks, but circle hooks hold and cause less harm to these giants. Highly recommended.
Cape angler James Ross proves that not all big snook have vacated to the beaches for summer and that a boat doesn't necessarily mean guaranteed fish. His near 20-pound Cape canal snook proves it. Last week a seven-pound largemouth bass on a DOA Shrimp, in the same area, was an unexpected bonus.
With nearly 500 miles of fishy Cape canals, who needs a boat?