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Load the wells for a big fight

May 22, 2015
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Stop at the store and load the wells with pinfish and shrimp. If they are selling pass crabs buy them as well (2-3 inches). If you collect your own bait then fill the wells.

If you're not a cast netter then break out Sabiki rigs for everyone on the boat and go to work catching bait.

Lure casters are ready with a variety of jigs, soft plastic swim baits, and hard baits along with rods from ultra-lights for Spanish macs and trout to tarpon and cobia class outfits.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

After bait collection duties are finished head to the passes and beaches where you will find about every inshore and migratory species that swims in Southwest Florida waters.

Go further out to nearshore and offshore locations to find another whole group of tasty predators willing to stretch fishing line. Cobia, permit, kingfish, grouper, sharks and snapper are just some of the fish you might encounter when lowering live or dead bait toward the bottom or fishing live baits under floats or balloons.

Shark anglers can tangle with super heavyweight hammerheads to back country light tackle bonnet heads. You don't need a boat as monster sharks can be caught from the beach. Fish the beaches around and near passes or the point on Sanibel (Sanibel Lighthouse) for big shark results.

Size the tackle to the species and size you seek. Light tackle spin fishing for flats sharks is a blast and must be tried if you like to hear your drag scream. Most folks new to the game can't believe how fast and powerful a 25-pound shark can be on light tackle.

Take one on cut ladyfish chunks. If you see them patrolling a shallow reef try a topwater plug or big colorful fly. When casting to a shark with artificials first determine the direction the shark is moving then place an accurate cast right in front of his direction of movement and activate the plug so he can feel and see your fake. If he's in feeding mode and your cast is on the money he will eat.

Add a six-inch piece of wire to your leader material using an Albright Knot. I use single strand 50-pound test wire for sharks up to four feet. Tie on hooks and lures to your wire leader with a Haywire Twist.

From the FWC: The 2015 red snapper season starts this Saturday (May 23) before Memorial Day and runs through July 12, closing July 13. This season will resume for all of Labor Day weekend (Sept. 5-7) and finish with Saturdays and Sundays throughout the rest of September and all of October. The last day of harvest being Sunday, Nov. 1. State waters in the Gulf are from shore to 9 nautical miles. This results in a 70-day recreational red snapper season in Gulf state waters.

In Gulf federal waters this year, anglers fishing from private boats and anglers fishing from federally permitted for-hire vessels will have different season lengths. Federal waters open June 1 for both groups and will remain open through June 10, closing June 11, for anglers fishing from private boats. For federally permitted for-hire vessels, the season remains open through July 14, closing July 15. Federal waters in the Gulf start at 9 nautical miles and extend out to about 200 nautical miles.

Anglers targeting red snapper in Gulf waters off Florida (excluding Monroe County) from a private boat need to sign up for the Gulf Reef Fish Survey prior to fishing. Sign up at a local retail store, tackle shop or tax collector's office; by calling 1-888-FISHFLORIDA (347-4567); or online at

All these ever changing rules makes me glad I fish inshore.

Tip: All the river bridges hold biting tarpon. Bomber Long A's, soft plastic swimbaits, and jigs are great casting choices on 60-pound fluorocarbon leaders.

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



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