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Snook are recovering after 2010

September 16, 2016
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Some nice snook catches this week along the beaches, docks near the ICW, and inland along Burnt Store Bar tells me like the weather it can only get better.

Hungry fish, even those last-minute beach-bound snook sensing the stable fall period eventually will all leave the coast and head for warmer inland waters feeding heavily along the way.

Snook are drawn to the coast in spring and remain there to spawn over the summer period, not all at once and some years, not at all.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

In the winter of 2010 I used my trolling motor to slowly navigate a canal filled with big snook, either dead on the surface or just hanging on swimming under the surface. It's hard to explain the picture of utter devastation to those that have never witnessed a fish kill of this magnitude. My trolling motor on low bumped into 40-inch snook barely able to swim and not strong enough to even get out of the way.

The canal literally filled side to side and covered on top with adult and trophy size snook that had sought the thermal comfort of this deeper canal water right off the flats. Prolonged cold held them there as escape back to the much colder flats was a death sentence. They stayed and perished.

An interesting side note of all the snook that succumbed to the cold in this particular canal, 98 percent were adult and trophy specimens. I would have thought the juvies would be the first to go, but were all but absent from this particular kill I witnessed.

After losing an estimated 400,000-plus fish in 2010 the FWC reports conservation efforts, such as closing the Gulf of Mexico season until 2013, was quite effective. Snook populations are rebounding throughout their Atlantic and Gulf ranges.

Now that problem seems under control, keeping what we have alive and thriving in the face of the ongoing Lake O discharge disaster is the issue. Last week a local angler who likes to keep a supply of live catfish on hand for his tarpon adventures reported catching many catfish in the river with the same sickly looking skin lesions.

I don't want to be a buzzkill for the tourist industry, but are we still swimming locally and eating the fish?

Fortunately, our government is here to protect us while we all work hard to make the house, car, kids and boat payments.

New regulations to increase the legal levels of known carcinogens in over two dozen chemicals released into Floridia's water has been approved by the Department of Environmental Protection(?), but it's now being held up in court by many groups.

The Seminole Tribe was the first to bring suit stating the new regulations could bring great harm to tribal members' health due to their high consumption of fish from Florida's waters tainted with government-approved higher levels of known cancer causing poisons.

Representatives of the paper industry want the increased limit rules to go into effect. Go figure. Follow the money. The public's and environment's health be dammed. Under siege by sugar money and now, paper money.

Sadly we are allowing our own government, elected and appointed officials, to allow increased pollution for profit instead of protecting its citizens and environment at all costs.

Nothing whets a predator's appetite like the flash of a dying or injured baitfish. This out-of-character jerking, twitching motion drives them to feed.

No other lure company took advantage of this fact more than MirrOlure. King of twitch-bait style lures, especially with the modern classic MirrOdine. Now they've added the new X-Rap Twitchin' Mullet and X-Rap Twitchin Minnow to their inshore Costal Series. Worked slow or fast, they catch fish.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-440-1621 or, or



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