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Cooling temps ignite big trout

November 20, 2015
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

This week's cold fronts could be made to order for trout anglers not doing so well in our fall season warmer waters.

Cooling temps will turn on more trout and especially big gator loners. If you choose to use a lure to bag your spotted sea trout of a lifetime you can't beat throwing the largest topwater plug in your box just before dawn. Does it just look way too big? Believe me it's not, so tie it on and start casting.

A seven-pound trout is a stealthy killing machine that's used to attacking and eating super-sized mullet meals.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Choose a potholed, weedy flat with obvious baitfish activity and mullet. Silently wind drift or pole while casting randomly around and in the mullet school. Another good option is to find a shallow bar with current and a near-by channel.

Tips: In current situations always try to position the boat so your lure or fly is being retrieved with, not against the current, especially with topwater plugs.

When casting, learn to feather your lure's entry into the water. With practice you can drop a large plug onto the surface with little noise. Just before touchdown snub the line with your fingers to stop the plug's forward momentum.

Big booted deck walkers, lid slammers, boat rockers, and tackle box scrapers come home empty complaining about the poor fishing. Little trout are still in school while gator trout hold Masters Degrees and are very noise sensitive, allowing few angler mistakes before heading off to quieter hunting grounds.

Southwest Florida anglers that specialize in gator trophy trout fishing will tell you it's easier to bag a big snook or tarpon than to intentionally catch a true trophy trout.

Experts advise moving if you are catching several tiny school trout. Theory being, that trout school according to size so look for a different school with bigger fish. My experience has been that even though a big gator trout is a loner it will often mix in with smaller school trout either snacking on them or on the same prey the little guys are seeking.

The old standby live shrimp and popping cork and soft plastic jigs will always score on trout. Trout are suckers for the fly rod. Live baiters use mullet, pinfish, and available whitebait to put fish in on the grill.

How ever you enjoy our spotted trout resource carefully release those not intended for the pan as these fine scaled fish don't tolerate rough handling. Wrapped in a towel for "release" is very bad. Dropped and flopped around the boat, the classic drag across the sand and rocks, the size 13 boot hold down - all these techniques often mean delayed death from bacteria or fungal infections caused by slime/scale removal and even blindness.

If you must handle trout - really all fish - always use wet hands. Whenever possible release in the water without touching the body of the fish.

It's hard to convince folks to release large trout. Large fish produce large fish so keep the little legal schoolies and carefully release any larger ones. It keeps their trophy potential DNA in the gene pool if you and the kids want a future shot at a trophy.

Cold snaps test anglers used to stable weather and calm breezes, often shutting down time tested hot spots.

For the lure angler, this often means searching out new, often deeper locations as well as downsizing the lure and slowing the retrieve if the cold front is long lasting, dropping water temps more than a few degrees.

Prolonged cold eventually forces fish into deeper channels and canals, sometimes trapping them there as in 2010 where nearly a half-million snook were lost statewide.

Congrats goes to 12-year-old master angler Tommy Waits for his lure caught, wild jumping 18-pound snook on his very first Southwest Florida fishing trip.

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



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