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Cold water period sets new styles

December 16, 2016
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON (captgeorget3@aol.com) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

With temps forecasted to be in the mid 80s through next week talk of cold water period fishing and techniques seems a bit premature. But, it's December and nothing lasts forever.

Soon locals will be clad in long pants, sleeves, coats and socks while visitors will stay in shorts and remain a little sticky.

When the great cool down descends upon us, for inshore casters as well as the fish, it's a period of transition.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Raised on run-and-gun style freshwater bass fishing, most novice inshore anglers have little trouble transitioning from largemouth to pitching and casting lures for snook or redfish.

Bass anglers are delighted to find that a hungry flats red of 5-6 pounds will smack a spinnerbait so hard it puts a hard hitting 10-pound bass strike to shame.

But, wise freshwater anglers also know to slow down their presentations as water temperatures drop and to downsize lines, leaders and lures.

This is much harder to actually do than it sounds. With hard twitch baits like MirrOlures I might only take four full turns of the handle per minute, on my ultra-slow, but deadly soft twitching retrieve. That slow will drive some anglers batty, but in winter will often produce strikes from fish that refuse to chase. That in-your-face teasing is just too much to take for any proud predator.

For typical all around flats duty, dropping to 10-pound test braid coupled to a 3-4 foot strand of 15-20 pound test fluorocarbon leader material will get the job done. If snook is your only flats target then 25-30 is a better choice.

Trout anglers do fine with 4-6 pound braid/6-pound mono and downsized leaders on their ultra-light spinning outfits.

Remember that most braided lines break at a higher rating than advertised on the package. Ten-pound braid will actually break between 14 pounds and higher so even when fishing 6-pound braid you still have plenty of extra.

Join all lines with Uni-knots and loop knots for all line-to-lure connections and shun hardware like snaps and swivels.

My winter spin tackle pack is considerably smaller than my warm water one. I'm looking for small lures that stay near bottom like soft plastic jigs and shrimp fakes or for hard lures choosing suspending style twitch baits like the smallest series MirrOdine's that hang in the strike zone and can be worked ultra-slowly.

DOA's new tiny shrimp is an instant hit with anglers and fish as well. Fake shrimp fans have a ton of choices and colors from several manufacturers this season. When choosing for cold water, smaller is better (gold, smoke, or clear).

Those that like to throw live shrimp on jigheads or rigged weedlessly on a hook will do better casting smaller lives as well.

Fly fishermen do well with suspending/slow sinking baitfish imitations and fake shrimp flies. The ability of the fly to get in front of the fish and suspend and undulate in the current usually trips their triggers.

No matter your choice of gear, slow and smaller are keys as the water cools.

Offshore winds and cold fronts often slow the fishing on near and offshore reefs, but a week of warm steady weather should get the grouper gang out and about.

Look for tripletail on any floats or markers. Get as high up on the boat as possible to be able to see into the water as you slowly ride by. They typically are encountered just under or around the float, but due to boat noise or available food may be hanging lower in the water column and you might miss them.

Drift or cast a medium frisky shrimp (shrimp fly) back to him and it's usually fish on. Power the tripletail away from the rope then enjoy the great fight, including jumps.

One of the finest eating fish in Florida.

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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