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Nothing is better than a newbie

August 26, 2016
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON (captgeorget3@aol.com) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

After a lifetime of pursuing western freshwater trout with 3 to 5 weight fly rods and super fine leaders, this was indeed a whole new ball game.

For me there's nothing better than getting a freshwater angler out on the salt for the first time. Watching their shocked reaction to the brute power of their first saltwater gamefish never gets old.

After spending my angling youth chasing bass in local lakes and rivers I remember my shock at the incredible strike and pulling power of my first Delaware Bay slammer bluefish. My bass fishing was never the same.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

At first I had trouble convincing him that I wasn't pranking him. I finally got him to stand in the front of the boat with my 10 weight rod locked in his armpit while retrieving the fly line with both hands as fast as possible.

He had stripped in less than 10 feet when a fat bonito rocketed up, inhaled the streamer, took up slack line and was on the reel in what seemed like a micro-second.

The drag screamed as 90 feet of fly line disappeared while a mixed look of pleasure, terror, and panic flashed across his face. Never before had he experienced this kind of brute power, and in classic newbie panic fashion held the fly rod in a high arc overhead to try and stop the mini-tuna from reaching Miami.

A great way to break or blow up an expensive fly rod is to "high stick," that is, bend the rod in a deep overhead arc Rowland Martin bass style while fighting a heavy fish. Fly rods aren't designed for this abuse and will break.

When fighting a heavy fish hold the rod and point it at the fish while lifting with the butt of the rod keeping the rod more horizontal than vertical. By high sticking you are actually losing fighting power.

Three more casts were followed by an awesome surface explosion and hook-up nearly a second after the fly hit the water and another solid hook-up on the two-handed power strip retrieve.

Then they were gone. All thoughts of back home 10-inch brook trout fishing were gone as well. A new saltwater fly fisherman, still in a state of semi-shock, sat before me.

Returning inshore and to my 8 weight rod he hooked and fought Spanish macs, mugging a school of bait under a huge flock of feasting birds just outside the pass. Then an easy 15-pound class jack, which gave him and the rod quite a workout and also a lesson in fighting big mean fish in heavy current with a light rod.

Moving inside to the Jug Creek area, and after switching to a 6 weight rod, lots of trout and ladyfish inhaled his lightweight surface popper along with his first little snook.

It was soon time to think about the airport and his 11:45 p.m. departure. We sat and watched the sun turn red and half sink into the Gulf.

He kept smiling, thanking me for a great day and his new fishing hobby, all the while favoring his fly line scorched fingers. Now and forever remembering to never try and stop a tuna of any size using just your fingertips as the drag.

I have a feeling that his next brook trout will still be beautiful to behold, but the catch somewhat lacking in overall excitement.

Snook are still on the beaches and in the passes with some already starting an inshore migration. Topwaters, twitch baits, soft plastics with fly rod streamer patterns, live pins and whitebaits will get the job done.

Redfish are starting to school up for a fall flats fling.

Offshore, pinfish, threads, and Spanish sardines lowered to bottom will fill up your fish box in a hurry. Grouper, snapper, cobia, permit, kingfish, and sharks want to play, weather permitting.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-440-1621 or captgeorget3@aol.com, or www.flyingfinssportfishing.com.

 
 
 

 

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