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200-pounder satisfies a lost wager

September 11, 2015
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

On a lost bet I had to tangle with a Goliath grouper this week. After catching one years ago I had my lifetime fill, but I was determined to uphold my part of the bargain.

Lowering a good sized jack toward the bottom on a black marlin sized rod, it didn't take long until I was hooked to the bottom, which was now moving.

Holding fast to the monster the captain slowly backed the boat away from the structure while I prayed for my not-30-year-old anymore back and arms to hold out. Fortunately, I hooked a 200-pound class "runt" saving my body and fulfilling my lost bet obligations as I cranked and lifted the baby beast to the surface for a clean release.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Often a nuisance to table-fare minded anglers, these oversized eating machines still deserve respect. If you decide you need to wrestle with a 200-500 pound fish then do it right. Don't even think about using anything but super heavy duty equipment. Otherwise it's broken rods and big hooks broken off and/or swallowed possibly killing the fish.

Another mule of the sea, the backbreaking amberjack, is on many deeper reefs and wrecks. Eat your Wheaties before tackling these guys as they definitely will test your physical condition.

Grouper and a variety of snapper along with kingfish and plenty of sharks will keep GPS number keepers happy.

Inshore, snook fever is upon us as anglers and cooks think linesiders. Locations are still pretty much the same as long as the water is warm, which means still finding beach stragglers and pass residents to those working their way inshore, upriver, and throughout the area's canal systems in preparation for fall.

One thing that's a given is that snook are in feeding mode and live/dead baits to topwater lures will take a big one. Soak a big live bait around big structure with current using heavy tackle, especially at night, and hold on.

Up north, trolling experts can use a 12-inch size big lipped diving plug. Slow troll bridge channel edges and associated structure for an oversized lifetime snook or surprise tarpon. The Sanibel Causeway, Matlacha Bridge, or any river bridge is a great spot for trollers to bag a giant. Wait till the rains slow to concentrate on the river.

Right now I'm working bars with current in daytime and night time and lit docks at night. A variety of lures are hot in my boat, but if dead or dying weeds are giving you a problem then go to a weedless soft plastic jerk-bait on a fluorocarbon leader. This will be your best shot as they slide through weeds very well. The only problem is an incorrectly tied loop knot with the tag end facing into the slop collecting weeds.

If you fancy flinging your fly rod along the mangroves for a laid up bush snook try a shorter rod and leader this year for up close and personal shots at open nooks and crannies along the edges. Easier to control with more power to fight down and dirty battles, adding a shorter rod to your arsenal may pay off. Leaders need not be fancy. A simple two-piece leader or even a single piece of 30-40 pound test about six feet long and a weedless fly might do. Experiment to find the right combination for you.

Redfish are schooling so get out early to find your tailing redfish. On high water cast shrimp, pinfish or ladyfish chunks under the brush and wait.

When trying to fool a redfish on a topwater lure remember to keep the lure chugging along if your fish tries and misses on its first attempt. Don't stop the lure as his under-slung mouth designed for vacuuming bottom critters makes slurping prey from the surface somewhat difficult, but always exciting. Keep it moving till he nails it.

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



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