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For snook, lure combos solidly rule

August 4, 2017
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The beginning of August and beach snooking is very hot. Get out very early with a pocketful of lures, a good quality spinning outfit, polarized sunglasses, some water and bug spray, and start casting along the surf zone for a possible 40 pounder that will have you sprinting down the beach to keep from being spooled.

For newcomers, this is not a cast far out. It is a turn and cast parallel to the beach in ankle to thigh deep surf water.

The traditional go-to lure, the plain white bucktail and white plastic/jig combos, rule the beach for boating and walking snook fans. Don't ever rule out topwaters, DOA style plastic shrimp, or floating or diving minnow style plugs on the beach as well as in the pass, and on the inside dock and rip-rap areas.

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Capt. George Tunison

If you happen to be there when the fish are stacked up it's not uncommon to hook 20 or more snook on these plugs.

Many mornings in the passes when a hooked snook got reeled in there would be two to four usually bigger fish swimming right with it oblivious to the boat.

Tie on a shallow diver like an X-Rap on one rod and a deep diving plug on the other. Position along the edge of the pass facing into the current. Start making repeated casts up current, casting parallel along the edge out to four feet. No strikes? Then go to the deep diver and work from the six-foot mark out to the limits of the bait's design.

No luck? Switch to a jig and probe deeper waters.

Schooled snook in the passes will adjust their depth and location according to the strength of the tidal flow to conserve energy while feeding.

Any structure along the beach, no matter how insignificant, has the potential to hold a trophy or a whole school.

Offshore and nearshore reefs as well as the passes will hold lots of tasty mangrove snapper waiting for a ride home for your dinner.

Light tackle and minimal hardware will do the trick. Bits of shrimp or small pinfish work well.

Many anglers like the idea of catching a really big fish on light line and tackle, especially a big fish like a tarpon.

With sharks and tarpon in the harbor, or tarpon along the beach, hooking and fighting one on light line is tempting as there isn't much to break off on. The fish is easy to follow and is the logical location to set your light line record.

One problem, this is a really good way to kill a big fish that may be half a century old.

Hot water and a long struggle will stress a big fish, any fish, to the max. After releasing, these fish often die hours or a few days later from being overstressed, shock or, due to their weakened condition, become easy prey for a hungry bull shark.

With this hot weather leave the light tackle glory rods at home when chasing summer tarpon. Scale up the tackle and always try to get any big fish to the boat as soon as possible.

Take your time in reviving them for a strong release.

Keep a sharp eye out for cobia while fishing in the harbor. Keeping a long spinning rod rigged with a colorful one- to two-ounce colorful bucktail, or plastic 10-inch black eel can pay off big time this time of year. Curious cobia or a whole pack could pop up at any moment, especially around structure.

After spotting a big cobia this past week my client tossed a pinfish to it twice, the fish mouthed it and rejected it both times.

The fish wanted to eat it badly, but my client had just smeared gobs of sunscreen on before grabbing the pinfish and the cobia rejected it.

Lesson learned.

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



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