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Warm temps starting cycle early

February 24, 2017
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Can't find your fish this week and need to stretch your line? Not picky about what you catch? Then move on out to the passes on a moving tide.

Nothing fancy, just hop a jig and shrimp combo along the bottom as you drift. No luck? Then try casting around any visible structure on both sides of the pass, sandbars, shoals, or defined edges.

Expect to score on trout, pompano, whiting, bluefish, sheepshead and possibly Spanish macs.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Take an assortment of jig sizes to tackle different tasks. Small pompano jigs - 1/2 to 1 ounce dropped to bottom as you drift through the pass. Make sure you tip jigs with a suitably sized piece of fresh shrimp. In some cases less is more, like when tipping a pompano jig. Try and use the smallest possible weight jig while still maintaining bottom contact during moving tides.

Calm seas? Venture out to the closest near shore reefs to find Spanish mackerel, cobia, snapper, pompano and large sheepshead.

Those that enjoy trolling lures should drag them around these reefs for some hot throwback grouper action.

Inshore redfish are looking for your shrimp baits under docks and flooded mangroves.

Expect to find snook on an early march to the Gulf of Mexico. This warm winter has started the cycle early and tarpon already are reported showing up off of Fort Myers Beach.

Look for snook around mangrove points with current and dock structure. Trolling for snook in the hundreds of miles of residential canals is an often over-looked option that can put a monster fish on your line.

When trolling use a shallow runner about two feet down along the edge. On the other side of the boat run a deep diver.

Sheepshead action is still strong so get out and enjoy this plentiful and tasty fish while you can.

Those that prefer pork on the barbecue instead of grouper should consider a Central Florida wild hog hunt.

It's no secret the wild hog population is out of control in many states, costing farmers millions in destroyed crops each year.

With constant breeding and large numbers of offspring each time even with hunting it's hard to keep their numbers in check. Many states are completely overwhelmed by this porky pest.

Most hog hunts are guided trips on private lands. After the hunt the animal is butchered, packaged and ready for the freezer, which is usually included in the package price.

Hogs can be hunted a number of ways including stalking, running with dogs, or shooting from a blind and can be taken with rifles, pistols, or bows. Central Florida offers helicopter hunts.

Crossbow hunting has become very popular and some of the new bows are technological marvels.

When choosy, a rifle caliber for these super tough critters I prefer a hard hitting, controlled expansion style bullet. I've seen hogs taken with an AR style .223, but I prefer to hunt with a larger caliber like a .308. For revolvers I prefer a 44 magnum or larger to ensure a clean kill. For pistols a 10 mm would be the minimum caliber and best used at close range.

Several arms makers are marketing 12 gauge slug guns with built-in rails to mount optics. These are amazingly accurate and that big hunk of lead puts the hammer down on the largest of these fast moving critters.

Remember this animal has a built-in flak jacket of gristle over its back and sides, has a bad attitude, and can hurt you. A hollow point bullet that expands too quickly is not desirable in this case. You need to punch through that "jacket" then expand.

Most larger ammo companies now offer bullets specifically designed for hog hunting. A quick internet search will give you several hunting location options to bring home the bacon.

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



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