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Water temps hold clue to fish success

January 9, 2015
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Thursday at noon and still 55 degrees means Friday, the day after the cold snap, will be tough fishing as well.

Sunday promises to be back in the 80s so, hopefully, the water temps won't radically drop and change the steady fishing we've experienced so far this winter.

Of course, when water temps drop into the 60s it definitely will slow the snook bite which has been very good considering the time of year. Below 65 for a prolonged period will cause many to roll over and die as in 2010.

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Capt. George Tunison

Prolonged cold encourages sheepshead to really want your baits. If you've never eaten a sheepie be warned, they aren't easy to clean but well worth the effort. Very tasty. Gloves and electric knives make cleaning easier.

Offshore anglers should consult wind and weather reports before heading off to secret GPS numbers. Often, jumbo snook and redfish are caught on these offshore reefs as well surprising inshore snook anglers on a first-time offshore trip for the snook of a lifetime.

An angler I know has spent over 15 years building his own nearshore reef, as many have. Trip by trip, adding structure. The jumbo snook he regularly catches and releases are huge.

One negative thing to report this week is the ongoing issue of folks keeping illegal, mostly oversized female snook at the Matlacha Bridge. It's no secret the bridge is a magnet for big fish and it's also not a secret that night poaching for big snook has gone on there for many years.

Thankfully, arrests have been made, but FWC is spread very thin and can't be everywhere at once protecting our wildlife from pigs that think only of themselves as they illegally remove breeding stock - future snook - from our waters for a one-time barbecue.

Typically, a large snook is caught, wrapped in something, followed by a sprint to the car, then home or cut up into smaller portions and hidden.

Stand up and do your part. You have a cell phone, make the call. FWC: 888-404-3922. They can patch you through to a local officer. Make the call to help protect your resources. You won't be identified.

Those that can't find a reliable pattern to put resident winter tarpon on their hook, even after spending days upriver at the Franklin Locks (a known winter gathering spot for resident tarpon where the fish are notoriously hard to fool) often take a short drive south past Naples. They hire a guide to help them explore the 10,000 islands for winter tarpon in the 50-pound range that sun themselves in the shallow backwaters. These are biting tarpon along with lots of redfish and snook in the same areas.

Always known for snook fishing the area was hit hard by the 2010 freeze and lost a lot of fish. Redfish seem to have filled the gap while the snook seem to be recovering well.

I've read that local snook historically preyed heavily on juvie redfish, but with the snook kill the redfish population exploded.

Not a place for first timers especially if you're GPS goes out. The water is hardly ever clear, usually muddy brown. Even with navigation the many miles of channels hold unseen oyster bars, logs, rocks, all happy to eat your prop, or worse, much worse. Hire a local guide which is money well spent.

This also is a good time to go insect wise as this is biting bug heaven during warm weather. Be warned. It can get very bad so go prepared.

A great fly fishing destination for all species. Prime tarpon (April-June for 80-125 pound fish, but 50-70 pounders available year-round); redfish (all year and great pompano fishing during the winter months); prime snook (March through September).

Boat ramp at Goodland. Calusa Island Marina 239-394-3668, info, supplies, guides.

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



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