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Tarpon are the ultimate gamefish

February 12, 2016
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

My love of angling has taken me to some of the most beautiful spots in North America.

From remote northern Canada to Key West I've caught most game species and even non-game species that swim in these waters and thoroughly enjoyed each and every one (except sailcats)

After a lifetime of fishing I still can recall my first fish as a child, catches alone, with friends, family and clients, that I shared boats, days, and wonderful experiences.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

From bluegill to bass, snook to sailfish, rockfish to redfish, tripletail to trout, even Goliath grouper. To me there is one fish that stands out among all the rest - the mighty tarpon.

Incredibly strong, big, crazy unpredictable, ancient, sheer airborne panic when hooked, the tarpon is to me the ultimate gamefish.

Imagine standing in your bass boat casting a topwater plug in the evening. There is a wake, a splash, a bent rod, a hook-up and after a brief struggle a nice 6-pound bass comes to the boat. Pleasant, to be sure!

Same boat, except you're under the Midpoint Bridge casting your plug. There is a wake, a splash (think 136-pound largemouth bass) and suddenly you're tied to a heavyweight chrome missile that's 10 feet in the air. Now back in the water it's pulling your boat downriver and emptying your screaming-hot reel at warp speed. The fish you hooked 10 feet from the boat a few moments ago is now in the air 100 yards downriver with a Gulf of Mexico escape plan and taking you and the boat with him.

You've taken the plunge and just relocated to Southwest Florida. After a lifetime of northern bass and crappie fishing and a lifetime of watching fishing shows and reading sports magazines you are finally ready to step up. Its tarpon time!

After all, the saying goes, if you haven't caught a tarpon you haven't really been fishing.

You've bought the boat and spent a bundle on tackle recommended by a happy and helpful dealer. So now what?

You can venture out on your own. Through trial, error, and luck you might eventually get a bite. Make friends with an experienced tarpon angler and learn the ropes. Hire a competent local guide and jump start the learning curve through his years on the water and one-on-one instruction.

The fourth, and always highly recommended choice, is to join our local Cape Coral Tarpon Hunters Club ( Actually, making it step one might be your best option.

You're in luck. The club is holding its intro public presentation for prospective new members at 7 p.m. on Feb. 18 at The Cape Coral Yacht Club. This is a free event for all and the club is not just for male anglers.

Women are a SWF tradition. Tomas Edison's wife Mina was an avid and very competitive tarpon angler along with other sporting women of the time who traveled here from all over the world to pursue this mythical "uncatchable" giant fish starting in the late 1800s.

This club, in its 45th season, is the largest tarpon club in the world and is a must for beginners and old pros alike. After joining you will rub shoulders and learn from anglers and local professional guides with hundreds of tarpon catches under their belts. Nothing beats learning from real world experience, especially from teachers so willing to share.

After joining, future meetings will guide you through every phase of the tarpon game, knots, rigging, tackle tips, locations, all you need to know to become a successful angler.

Along with learning how to catch a silver king, you will learn the proper handling techniques to insure a clean, healthy release to preserve these often decades-old silver warriors.

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



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