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FWC sets lionfish round-up

February 6, 2015
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON (captgeorget3@aol.com) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Just got another FWC email declaring war on our non-native visitor, the lionfish. The FWC has declared every Saturday after Mother's Day to be round-em-up day.

At this first scheduled event, May 16-17, the FWC will introduce its Reef Rangers Lionfish Control Program. The public will be asked to adopt a reef and keep it lionfish free.

Calling all divers and spear anglers! The public needs your help. Anglers/divers catching and killing lionfish should be very careful in handling these beautiful but toxic creatures. Remember, every feathery spine is needle sharp and contains a toxin that will cause some serious pain if it sticks any part of you.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

If the lionfish is dead the spines are still active. Handle carefully.

In the islands, locals say if stung in the hand by the lionfish the best cure is to pound your head against the coconut tree to take one's mind off the hand.

Better results come from immersing the affected body part in very hot water. I know as I've been stung more than once. Being in the tropical fish business for over 15 years I've handled hundreds of these bizarre creatures and can attest to their ability to cause pain at very high levels and their insatiable appetite for small fish.

A group of lions easily can deplete a small reef in no time. If it swims and fits into their mouth they will eat it, which is not good news for Florida, the Keys or anywhere else.

Like our 25-foot pythons, very violent monitor lizards, and other invasive species that thrive in Southwest Florida's warm climate, the lionfish invasion is a very serious problem.

If you've gotten out between rain or high wind events the fish are biting both offshore and inshore.

If you can find high water, reds will bite under the bushes and docks on big shrimp and cut ladyfish. This time of year red fishing is usually a sight fishing game thanks to our clear winter waters and low water tides.

Winter, sight fished reds can be tough to catch if you're not on your game. At times as skittish as a big Keys bonefish, stealth, tide timing, light lines and long casts are the winning formula for winter sight fished Southwest Florida redfish.

Consult your tide chart for best times to be on the water.

Like during most cold snaps, fish are looking for relief in deeper waters. Go offshore when weather and good sense permits, or if the inshore deal is your thing look for deep canals, creeks, or learn the Caloosahatchee, especially upriver during winter.

Most folks think Pine Island, the passes and associated flats offer the best fishing often overlooking the river or using it as a highway to get to the "good fishing."

Not always so, as the river offers superb fishing giving up everything from trout to tarpon, with a chance at a huge snook on each cast.

Cape anglers are blessed with abundant choices - the Gulf of Mexico, world class flats fishing in P.I. Sound, the most famous tarpon hole in the world at Boca Grande, almost 500 miles of fish filled canals, and as a bonus, the Caloosahatchee River.

Today, we signed up our 50th new student for my third annual fly fishing short course for total beginners.

This 2 1/2-hour beginner's fun course will have you fly fishing in no time. No experience or equipment required. This short but intense course starts with a 30-minute land introduction then a couple of hours in the boat honing your skills guided by a pro.

This is prime saltwater fly fishing country. Snook, tarpon, trout, reds, all greedily eat flies and our shallow waters make it a fly angler's paradise.

Fly fishing is exciting, fun, easy to learn, and one of anglings greatest thrills. Call for details.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or captgeorget3@aol.com, or www.flyingfinssportfishing.com.

 
 
 

 

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