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Migrating tarpon not too far off

March 11, 2016
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Thursday's humid afternoon breeze reminded me that hot weather and migrating tarpon are not too many weeks away from our locale.

The tarpon I'll take, but the humidity can stay behind. Unfortunately that's not the way it works in Southwest Florida.

Soon, anchored boats will be rockin' and rollin' in the spring breeze off Knapp's point trying to intercept the early arrivals coming north from the Keys headed for Boca Grande following an ancient route traveled for unknown amounts of time.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Local tarpon addicts probably will do best by hunting the Cape's hundreds of miles of canals to try and persuade a resident tarpon to come out and play.

Sheepshead and trout are the area's main focus, but redfish anglers never say die and are prowling the low winter tides searching for bluetails. Off-colored water from Lake O makes seeing these guys more difficult unless they give themselves away with a visual sign above water.

Snook season is open so please, carefully release any overslot fish.

Warming afternoons make for comfortable trout fishing as trout are hungry and looking to eat. This means nothing to a true trout trophy hunter as they know that big gators can bite anytime, anywhere, including night time. (Lighted deep docks are prime winter habitat for a big gator.)

These dedicated anglers are on the water early and late, tossing big slow moving topwater mullet fakes around bars and other high percentage areas.

Those catching school size trout one after the other really are surprised at the fighting abilities of their first really big trout. This is a totally different fish with killer instincts that will take prey half its size if possible and often eat its smaller brothers.

Using the standard popping cork and bait, soft plastics on jig heads, or real shrimp on jigs we've caught school trout steadily all week.

Bigger trout, including one future gator of just less than five pounds, all fell victim to a variety of small Rebel and Rapala (freshwater) stick baits in the two-hook, three- to four-inch size.

A super slow, straight wobble retrieve punctuated by pauses every four feet on the surface is deadly on trout in thin water. Slow stop-and-go retrieves are awesome as well in slightly deeper water as these lure rise (or suspend if weighted) on the pause turning followers into biters.

A small Rapala fished on a Carolina Rig is deadly in deeper water and deep canals. Thread a bass sliding bullet sinker on your main line then tie on a small swivel. Attach a 24-inch piece of fluorocarbon leader material to the swivel then loop-knot it to your floating lure.

Cast out and let sink. Retrieve or "feel" the sinker slowly along bottom using the weight as a guide. Now your sinker is kicking up bits of mud, making sounds attracting fish that now see an easy meal struggling just above bottom deep underwater.

Offshore can be a tricky proposition in high winds, but between events anglers have been rewarded with a great snapper bite. Grouper, cobia, sharks, pompano are likely to be there to eat your pinfish, shrimp, and other baits.

Kingfish are looking to eat live baits or trolled lures. If prepared properly are delicious on the table after grilling or smoking.

Spanish macs and bonito action from two miles out to farther offshore. Both are great light tackle family friendly fish that readily take live baits, or cast/trolled lures.

The Clark Spoon is an old time deadly lure trolled for Spanish on light rods. A white half-ounce bucktail jig for schooling bonito is always hot.

Keep a colorful jig or plastic eel on a cobia outfit during your offshore jaunts as you never know when you may encounter this curious and hard fighting grill favorite.

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



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