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Closed: Too late for the grill

December 4, 2015
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Both inshore and offshore anglers take note that gag grouper season is closed for recreational harvest in most Gulf of Mexico state waters today. All Gulf federal waters closed Thursday.

The recreational harvest season for snook closed last Tuesday in Gulf state and federal waters, including Monroe County and Everglades National Park. It will remain closed through Feb. 29, 2016, reopening to harvest on March 1, 2016. Of course, snook can continue to be caught and released during the closure.

The FWC states, "This and other regular season closures are designed to help conserve the species during vulnerable times, such as cold weather."

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Atlantic state and federal waters, including Lake Okeechobee, closes on Dec. 15 this year through Jan. 31, 2016, and reopening to harvest Feb. 1, 2016.

Snook addicts interested in snook research and management should attend the 2016 Snook Symposium on Jan. 13 in Orlando. Learn more about how to register at

Since the bigger schools of hungry redfish mostly have moved to offshore locations there are still plenty of redfish to catch. Don't just hunt your regular Pine Island Sound flats or Matlacha bars as this time of year reds can be caught almost anywhere even up river east of the I-75 bridges. Snook will follow the same path as they move inland to avoid thermal discomfort (death).

As winter settles in and the waters clear, red fishing takes on a new look. Sight fishing push polers and silent wind drifters have the advantage with the now spookier clear water redfish and flats snook. Winters and negative low tides takes away the easy-throw-a-shrimp-under-the bushes-and-wait warm water period fishing.

If you see an angler or guide up on the platform pushing guests or clients to a group of fish by all means show respect and stay away. It's hard work poling a boat load of people, ice, tackle, gas, etc, often against the wind for hours.

If you aren't the run-and-gun all-day casting type and still want to score a redfish find a bar, creek mouth, dock (night or day), or past catch areas and simply cut up a ladyfish into 2-inch chunks. Add a circle hook and toss out four baits on four rods in four different directions. Sit back quietly and read the paper. If there's a red in the vicinity he will eventually get a whiff and follow it to your hook.

Maybe reading the paper is not a good plan if you don't have a free spool clicker on your reel. Be warned, a hungry redfish will take your rod in a flash.

Offshore, snappers and an assortment of king and Spanish macs, bluefish, cobia, grouper and sharks await you if the wind Gods allow your trip. Pompano are around the passes on the sand bar edges. Look for bird activity to tip you off to Spanish mac schools mauling baitfish schools from close to several miles out.

Trout fishing continues to improve as the water cools. The standby shrimp under a cork is the all time killer, but almost any lure in your box will score. Trout love fly anglers so get out there with a 4-6 wt. rod to enjoy these abundant fish.

True trophies are caught at dawn on big topwater plugs.

This time of year you'll find lots of boaters putting their boats on the trailer in dark conditions. Please turn off your headlights when backing down the ramp. With your headlights blasting upwards it's impossible for another boater to back down the ramp beside you as he is now totally blinded by your beams. Before backing down unplug your trailer lights, turn headlights off, and leave parking lights on for safety.

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



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