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Trout heat up as water cools down

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

Those that got offshore between wind events were rewarded with a true mixed bag, from grouper to snook, cobia to big redfish, snapper, bonito, kingfish, and schools of Spanish under diving birds.

Near-shore to deep offshore provided action on drop baits to trolled big lipped plugs taking kingfish and grouper.

Good reports of big redfish in the passes along with pompano around the edges.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Inshore trout action heats up as the water cools which makes for great light tackle fishing be it spin or fly. Ultra light spin anglers armed with a variety of soft plastic jigs loop knotted to 6-10 pound fluorocarbon leaders will score heavily.

Shrimp and a cork are deadly.

Fly anglers will do just as well with a variety of flies from minnow imitations, shrimp flies, topwater bugs and poppers. Fly rods from tiny 3 weights up to a 6 wt. rod are suitable with a six weight a good all around choice since your fly will certainly be eaten by an always angry jack or ever present ladyfish.

The typical Southwest Florida spotted trout won't be large as in the northern part of the state, but we do have the numbers. An over 5-pound trout in these parts is a trophy and they don't come often. Don't over tackle to enjoy these tasty and abundant fish.

I've owned an ancient fiberglass Fenwick 3-wt. outfit for as long as I can remember and carry it for the days when the trout are easy. The flexible fiberglass has such a slow and forgiving action allowing for the most delicate presentations. Compared to today's space-age materials and fast actions it's quite a difference. A decent trout on this little 3 is a hoot, but a 4-pound ladyfish feels like a triple-digit tarpon.

Still, a mix of rat and over-slot redfish are waiting for a jumbo shrimp or a 1-inch ladyfish steak on a circle hook near/under the green bushes if the tide is high enough. Bars, warm flats, docks, Cape canals, and the Caloosahatchee River all the way east past the I-75 bridges are now redfish hunting grounds.

Map students will look for any holes on the flats for sometimes amazing action. Offshore anglers will catch the biggest reds of the year while bottom fishing for other species.

Redfish are big eaters, eating and swallowing quickly. Anything but circle hooks when bottom fishing the mangroves is a great way to kill under- and over-slot reds

On the lower tide phases spoon, soft plastics, and topwater plugs are still catching reds. Look for mixed bottom and potholes, cuts, or depressions. Till the water really cools down most typical red lures continue to work.

Fly types loaded with a 6-8 wt. rod and a pocket full of flies and stealth experience will chase tailers on the low tide phases. The waters are clearing so being stealthy pays big dividends. Gator and trophy trout are wily and extremely cautious. Now not-as-smart October schooling redfish become suddenly wiser, sometimes approaching Islamorada bonefish skittishness as things chill down.

Clean water and wiser fish call for longer casts. Fill your spools with light braid to get max distance on your cast and cover more water on each upping your odds of contact. Snaps, swivels and other hardware should be shunned. Make line-to-leader connections using your favorite knot (Uni-knot) and loop knots to secure lure to leader.

Glance in the back of the boat and watch your buddy still spinning the handle at summer speed while you've wisely slowed your retrieve and are catching fish. The colder it gets the slower it goes. Even though reds and trout are more cold tolerant than a sub-tropical snook, the colder it gets slow your retrieve speeds.

Scent, artificial or real, adds appeal to any soft plastic or jig.

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



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