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Snook out of season on Monday

May 29, 2015
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

If you're looking for that last snook dinner you might be too late. Recreational harvest of snook in Atlantic state and federal waters closes Monday.

Snook season reopens for harvest in Atlantic federal and state waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River, on Sept. 1. Snook is closed for harvest in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters, including Everglades National Park and Monroe County, through Aug. 31, reopening Sept.1

Check out this video from the FWC about catch and release fishing and the best way to handle a fish - visit and click on Saltwater then Recreational Regulations and Fish Handling.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Each year thousands of fish are lost/wasted due to improper handling by anglers. Hook-caused mortality, mostly caused by the barb, is the other main culprit responsible for so many needless deaths.

Many countries around the world have banned barbs for years. Many anglers don't carry the proper release tools to insure a clean release of badly hooked fish, some are in a hurry, and some really don't care.

Other release tools, such as the popular Boga Grip, certainly are handy for subduing and weighing fish, but in reality are a trophy fish's worst nightmare. Biologists have shown that vertically hanging large fish causes jaw, tissue, and spinal damage.

I'm as guilty as most, but long ago stopped this practice. If a fish must be removed from the water first wet your hands. Secure the jaw sliding your other wet hand along the fish's belly then lift it horizontally and fully supported for a few quick photos before getting the fish back in the water.

When removing a trophy fish from water take a big breath and hold it. That's what the fish goes through. Get it back in the water ASAP to insure a healthy release.

Large fish, such as tarpon, can be jaw held while slowly moving the boat forward with clean oxygenated water entering their mouth. Their strength soon will return and you will know when it's time to let go. Watch for sharks (especially at night) while attempting this revival trick.

Speaking of tarpon, they are here and seemingly everywhere as they head north up both sides of Florida to waters as far north as Delaware on the east coast and all along the Gulf Coast over to Mexico.

Tarpon reports from the passes, Pine Island Sound, along the beaches, in the rivers, and the deep holes of Charlotte Harbor.

Lures, flies, baits, take your pick, chose your location, time and tides, then go to work. From land, rowboat, to yacht this awesome fish is available to all willing to put in the time and effort required to hook one.

New to the game? Go it alone or save years of trial and error and hire a local licensed guide (with pictures) to get quickly brought up to speed. Cheap? No. Save tons of time and money in the long run. Yes!

Join a good club like our local Tarpon Hunters Club to put you in the game quickly as well.

This tarpon season use equipment that allows good action, but does not stress the fish to the point of total exhaustion. Can you take a large tarpon on 10-pound test? Yes, if the sharks don't get it, you have a large open area, good boat handling, good equipment, you're skilled, and lucky.

With hot water, overly long extended fights with sharks lurking for an easy meal, is not great for the tarpon and easily could result in another wasted fish in exchange for a brief ego boost. Not a good trade.

Always wear clear protective glasses while night fishing. Aboard my boat this week one guest hooked the other cleanly through the cheek with a treble hook two inches below the eye on the beginning of a forward cast. Wear glasses!

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



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