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Even small structure holds fish

March 18, 2016
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Calm periods will allow offshore anglers access to a great variety of species from grouper to king mackerel.

Trolled lures, dead and frozen or alive-n-kickin' will get quick attention around your favorite ledge, wreck, or secret rock pile.

I was recently sworn to secrecy, blindfolded (till I started getting seasick) and taken to a "hidden reef" not far offshore this past week and caught quite a few fish on bottom bait, lures, and a bonus 24-pound, hard fighting and very curious cobia, on a 10-weight fly rod that wandered up to the boat for a look-see.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Any cobia is a good fighting cobia, but catching this one on fly made it much more special.

Actually, the most interesting part of the story is that this reef we were fishing over was a single angler reef project done over many years. Every fishing trip he would find his GPS coordinates and drop his small load of rock and rubble to the bottom.

He figured he was on the water about 100 days a year for long over 10 years and his electronics showed the results of his labor. His rock pile is close to 25 yards long and held fish like a magnet surprisingly close to shore.

Folks new to the area often are surprised at the lack of cover on the Gulf floor. Just a small amount of structure draws and holds fish.

Next time you see someone at the ramp loading bushel baskets of rock into their boat you'll understand what's going on. Following them is not recommended.

Beginner's luck and fishing are known to go hand-in-hand and South Dakota guest angler, Marvin Jones, verifies it by catching a 39-inch snook and a 30-inch redfish on four casts on the same plastic shrimp. Not bad for someone used to catching six-inch brook trout and panfish on 3-weight fly rods and starting the day fishing my spinning reels upside down and reeling in reverse.

I let him go on upside down and backwards like that for a good 10 minutes listening to him complain about the difficulty of using spinning reels all the while keeping my rod and the proper grip shielded from his view.

Why would a guide receiving a client's hard earned money intentionally make it hard by not helping?

I wanted to abuse him a little as payback for the large, incredibly realistic looking, rubber spider that he somehow slipped into my bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit before leaving the fast food joint.

The spider and my early morning groggy and really hungry big bite and following reaction nearly caused me to lose control and create a new enlarged entrance into D&D Bait & Tackle with my pick-up and boat.

Mr. Funny Guy.

After a little spinning rod education and the proper use and management of braided line it wasn't long before many trout came to the boat. A short lull in the action and a 40-yard change in location, luck then struck not once, but twice in four casts.

Not long after the redfish picture and release he casually mentioned that maybe we could go catch a "couple tarpon now?"

Anglers towing new boats this season especially long distances should always make sure their rig is balanced. I'm speaking of tongue weight or downward pressure on the hitch ball.

Ideally, no more than 10 percent of the total towed weight should be exerted on the hitch. If your boat is too far forward on its trailer it can cause a problem.

Simple repositioning of the boat by moving it rearward, sometimes by just inches, will solve the problem.

Always make sure your new location doesn't allow the transom and engine to become unsupported.

Too much tongue weight can cause handling and braking problems magnified in an emergency road situation.

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



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