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It’s time to decide what fish to target

April 17, 2015
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

One of the hardest things to do this month is deciding what to fish for. The choices are enormous this time of year. What a great time to be an angler in Southwest Florida.

Head over to Lake O for some of the world's finest bass fishing. Intercept a huge snook en route to Redfish Pass for summer beach fun. Silently pole a Pine Island flat at dawn looking for laid-up tarpon lying in a three-foot ditch or bump boats at Boca Grande. Head offshore to a whole smorgasbord of species wanting to stretch your lines.

Trophy trout are eating your jumbo topwater plugs at predawn or providing family fun on popping corks and live shrimp while drifting shallow grass flats.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Surprised cork poppers are often surprised by bonus much larger quarry than their intended trout, such as sharks, redfish and snook all glad to inhale a free shrimp dangling in front of them.

It's back to the bushes for redfish on the higher tides, grass flat potholes and ditches on the lower water. Cut baits, fresh or frozen shrimp tossed under the green bushes on a #2 circle hook works every time. Have patience, 20 minutes, then relocate. Don't be surprised if a snook eats your bottom bait as well.

Savvy anglers remember to stick their rod tips in the water when fighting bush fish keeping lines clear of the mangroves as the fish power back and under the shrubs on their initial runs. High sticking or high overhead hook sets cause instant trouble and lost fish.

Find snook highways to the Gulf and fish them at dawn or evening with topwaters.

Fishing is a puzzle. We know where the snook have wintered inshore to stay warm. We know the snook are now heading to the beaches and passes for summer to spawn. Two pieces of the puzzle already solved. Now look at your maps and try to figure out natural travel routes to the Gulf.

Get in the boat and give it a whirl and see if you are right. Try to find a pattern or make one. For example, fish every dock along the way or just the points of islands along the route. Only fish oyster bars or channels between islands.

Sharks anyone? As the main body of tarpon leave the 10,000 Islands in April heading north past Fort Myers Beach and on to Boca Grande, so do the sharks that migrate with them. Soon we will be in shark central with a size and species for every shark angler to pursue. From five pound bonnetheads on the flats to ton-sized hammerheads in the passes, we are in the thick of it.

I like sharking in shallow waters with a 7.5-foot medium-heavy sized spinning outfit using 30-pound braid and 60-pound fluorocarbon leaders topped off with a foot or so of single strand 80-pound test wire tied to my rig with an Albright Knot.

Huge sharks swim in super shallow water in Matlacha Pass as well as Pine Island so don't be surprised if a 300-pound bull shark eats your half ladyfish and takes your flats skiff for a high speed ride.

Tarpon sit off Sanibel and filter into Captiva, Redfish and Boca Grande passes. Tarpon in the river mouth as well as the river. Tarpon also in backyard Cape canals and on the flats of Matlacha as well as Pine Island Sound.

I like catfish tails when bottom fishing the river. Frisky, live white baits are tarpon candy freelined around all the bridges especially at night.

Spanish mac attacks are under way in the passes and around the beaches. Use the birds to guide you to the fish attacking bait.

Time to learn to cast net to collect snook candy. Whitebaits thrown along a shoreline get the snook and reds snapping.

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



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