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Tarpon are everywhere

July 3, 2015
By Capt. George Tunison , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Tarpon season is in full swing and anglers without boats needn't be left out. With nearly 500 miles of canals in the Cape the on-foot angler has plenty of opportunity to score on small to jumbo sized tarpon.

Scout your area canal or lake in the early morning hours for rolling / feeding fish. For the high jumping fun juveniles, nothing beats a small jig on light line. I'm fishing an ultra-light 6-foot rod with 10-pound braid and 12 to 14-pound fluorocarbon leaders.

Since I've had years to practice on my backyard tarpon, I've found a 1/16 to 1/8 oz. pompano jig in chartreuse/yellow to be king. Next would be a crappie jig in the same colors. A tiny white Mylar fly is definitely in the top selection and on any given day one of the three will score. These small tarpon are feeding on small baitfish and are looking for a small lure.

You can target tarpon of all sizes in our canals but you must consider other factors other than the bite, like how can I land and release this fish safely if I hook it?

I only fish areas where I can jump or wade into the shallow water to fight the fish. You can't release a 100-pound tarpon in the water standing on a seawall unless you have 6-foot arms.

I don't fish dock-filled canals for obvious reasons and always take into account private property rights when scouting and fishing from land.

After hooking up and getting in the water, don't ever forget you are now possible prey as well.

This past week I hooked a tarpon in the Spreader Canal on foot. This near 40-pound fish ripped line and jumped as I quickly dismounted the seawall and entered the water sloughing along the shoreline and vegetation trying to regain line.

Making my way along the shoreline intent on the fight, my next step produced a violent explosion in the water as a small gator shot out from the brushy bank.

Snakes are here as well and in the water so be warned.

If this all sounds a bit extreme and becoming bait isn't your thing then look for a used Jon boat or canoe. Our canals hold lots of tarpon available to all.

Tarpon reports from shallow to deep. Passes, beaches, river mouths, bridges and on to the flats. Tarpon have moved all through Charlotte Harbor along with an army of sharks. Three major 20-foot holes in the harbor draw tarpon as well as sharks and cobia. (Consult your charts for GPS locators)

Fish (drift) the area between Two Pines and the top of Pine Island in the lower harbor by quietly drifting 10 inch ladyfish/larger pinfish/whitebait under balloons and freelined.

Look for birds and schools of bait and rolling fish. Put your live baits in the mix. Binoculars are always a plus.

Banging around in the boat will hurt your chances, quietly drift and use the trolling motor sparingly to correct your course.

Casting a jig or plastic swim bait while you wait for a balloon bite might yield surprising results.

Anchor and fish dead kitty tails on bottom in the same areas with a live lady under a balloon if you don't like moving around and tending lines.

Snook season is full on with action centered on the passes and the beaches. Casting jigs or free lining pinfish around the shorelines, blowdowns, rocks and groins could put you in snook-of-a-lifetime territory. True trophy hunters are night fishing.

Congrats goes to Larry Brant for catching a 75-pound class tarpon. Hard to do but harder for Brant who lost both legs. After strapping his wheelchair to my lower deck and securing him to his chair we soaked catfish tails and ladyfish chunks near the Midpoint Bridge and within short order got the night bite. Fought like a pro!

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



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