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Gamefish productive in Capitol

April 24, 2015
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

What a great time to be fishing in Florida, the Sportfishing Capitol of the World! Wonderful weather, lots of bait in the water and hungry fish on the prowl.

This past week anglers aboard Flying Fins caught a large variety of inshore fish, including tarpon, sharks, redfish, snook, trout, pompano, Spanish macs, bluefish and a bonus Matlacha cobia on a redfish spoon.

Near and offshore anglers can expect everything from pompano to kingfish, grouper to big snapper. Cobia are always a possibility while offshore so keep a big spinning rod with a large colorful bucktail attached or a live bait rod able to cast a live pinfish or whitebait at the fish.

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Capt. George Tunison

Dedicated cobia anglers know that a live eel is the premium bait. No live eels available? Then use a fake made by several companies, including Berkeley. Super strong fighters and delicious on the grill. Often too curious for their own good, cobia are a top gamefish wherever you find them.

A trip worth taking is to hire a Cape Canaveral guide and fish among the giant mantas along the beaches that provide food and shelter to cobias swimming along with them riding almost on the manta's back. Spot the mantas and approach a good cast length away, then fire a bucktail or large fly near them and hold on as one or more peels off the manta and slams your lure. Exciting and unusual fishing!

Back in the Cape, mostly rat redfish chewed live shrimp under a cork placed close to the bushes along with big numbers of small snook.

Wednesday in south Matlacha a hot bush spot near the power lines produced a fish on every throw as bobbers and shrimp hooked reds, snook and even snappers raced for mangrove protection as anglers did the low rod fight, keeping rod tips in the water so as to not tangle lines in unforgiving mangroves.

Big snook have been biting and continue to. This is trophy snook time. My recent mid-20 pounder was caught on a topwater plug in skinny water on an oyster bar near St James City.

Be out at dawn, evening or all night throwing large surface plugs. Upgrade to 50-pound leader material on the flats at night and 100 to 120 around docks and big structures if you are serious about bagging a trophy snook.

A 10- to 12-inch live mullet or ladyfish under a float easily will be inhaled by an over 40-inch snook.

Make sure your gear is heavy enough to cast these large baits if that is your game. Ever cast a pound sized ladyfish or mullet? You won't do it on a standard snook sized spinning rod.

This requires 60-80-pound braided lines and 100-pound test leaders using a rod stout enough to cast a pound mullet or ladyfish. Even more importantly, a rod stout enough to set the hook and pull jumbo sized snook away from structure.

A 30-pound rampaging snook is hard to turn with any equipment when breaking your line off on the nearest dock piling is his only means to survival. Don't try this with light rods as you will only break off and needlessly injure trophy fish with hooks.

Tarpon are here, there, and almost everywhere - Sanibel Causeway, all river bridges, the flats of Pine Island and Matlacha Pass, the Matlacha Bridge, Captiva Pass, Boca Grande, Redfish Pass, off Sanibel Island, along the beaches, in Charlotte Harbor. How do you want yours? Live bait under floats or freelined? Dead shad bottom fished?

Casting MirrOlures and Bomber Long A's at night around big docks and bridges? Chasing pods along the beaches? So many ways and places to tangle with the world's strongest inshore gamefish, the mighty tarpon.

Why fish for anything else? Huge, powerful, pull hundreds of yards of line, jump sky high. Tarpon are truly silver kings.

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



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