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Tarpon very active; boat prep tips

May 8, 2015
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Tarpon anyone? Beaches, flats, passes, harbor, canals, bridges, day, night, Southwest Florida is tarpon central and getting better.

Put a chunk of wired leader fish flesh on the bottom while casting a MirrOlure or jig. Keep an eye out for your float and live ladyfish to disappear then reappear 10 feet in the air.

This three-way approach will put tarpon in the air. Bottom anglers like cut mullet, shad, catfish tails, mackerel, crabs or live cats, ladyfish or mullet under floats.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Pass crabs on top in the passes

Go out to the boat and take off the big prop and the trolling motor prop and inspect for line wrapped around the shafts and remove before it causes damage. Dab grease on the big engine shaft before replacing prop. Replace cotter pin if suspect. (20-30 minutes)

Open the hatch and put down a towel and then a bowl under your fuel water separator and unscrew placing it in the bowl and remove. If you have a can type filter pour the contents into a glass jar to see if you have a water in the tank issue. Let it sit in the jar for a bit and the fuel will separate. Cheap test kits also are available to sample your fuel. A filter wrench is a plus.

TIP: Too tight to get off? No filter wrench? Take off your belt and use it as a filter wrench. Try it, it works.

If the boat has sat for a really long time and testing shows a lot of water contamination, do not start it. Have the tank sucked dry by a commercial service and replace all filters from tank to engine.

Thin coat the new gasket with oil and hand tighten filter back on as directed. Do not overtighten. Check for leaks when underway or with a hose running the engine at home.

Keeping this filter changed on a regular basis is one of the best things you can do for your expensive engine. A F/W separator for my 150 flats rig is less than $5. Write the change-out date on the can with a marker.

My last survey of the five major repair centers in the area all said that 50 percent of all their repairs are ethanol related/caused.

Change the can at least three times a year or more and use an ethanol phase separator preventive additive with E-10 containing fuel especially if your boat sits for long periods. Takes 20 minutes.

Better yet, avoid ethanol products whenever possible and buy corn-free fuel at your marina or inland. On the way to Pine Island or Matlacha I've found two locations - the new Sam's Club (Pine Island Road) and the Shell at Burnt Store and P.I. Road.

Change the lower unit oil. Stop! Don't run away. With the right tools and understanding it's a simple task taking less than 30 minutes. Put on plastic gloves, consult your manual then drain the oil and let it drip out completely. Best done with a warm motor, but not necessary.

Pump the oil back in from the oil container that is already set up for this task with pump included. Install a new O ring on the seal screw and you're done.

Four stroke oil changing is as easy as the lower unit change. Both 30 minute jobs if prepared.

Lift the hood and inspect for leaks and corrosion. Make sure the gasket on the hood is pliable and seals properly when reinstalling the motor hood.

Under the hood there are one or more small filters which are easy to change and replace.

Properly dispose of your old gas and oil from the F/W filter, lower unit, and engine oil.

These easily performed tasks will save you a ton of money. Most shop time is $100 an hour. Plastic gloves, your book, and the right tools make these maintenance issues a Breeze!

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



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