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Use colors, sounds and scents

September 22, 2017
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Matlacha's dark murky waters made fishing tough, but not impossible for clients determined to catch fish this past Wednesday.

Strictly shallow water lure and fly anglers determined to catch snook and reds on fakes, they shunned my suggestion to give in and make life easier by making better use of their time and money considering the conditions, by putting on some ladyfish steaks and stinky day old shrimp.

Purists, determined to force the fish into their way of thinking did several things to put the odds in their favor.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

1. Slow the retrieve and use lures that work best at slow speeds.

2. Add scents to the baits.

3. Go with dark/gold/or fluorescent colors.

4. Add noise.

5. Don't be afraid to fish heavy shoreline cover.

6. Move to cleaner water if possible.

For example, one of the best soft baits is the plastic shrimp which can be fished a number of ways right out of the package. In Matlacha and under normal conditions I've had good success with a natural clear or clear gold glitter.

Although the DOA shrimp is manufactured with real shrimp, for murky conditions like this we need to adapt by adding and reapplying bottled scents, changing colors, slowing down the retrieve, adding a wire weed guard and adding noise.

Adding scent and changing to the dark brown and gold glitter colors I'll then add my weed guard.

A weed guard can be easily fashioned by cutting off a three-inch piece of single strand bait rigging wire, bending it, and inserting it in the shrimp's body to protect the hook. I keep several in my soft plastics box. (Go to the DOA website for instructions.)

Finally, we insert tiny pointed end, glass tube rattles (available at most tackle stores) into the body of the shrimp to add a very natural clicking noise on the retrieve.

Tie this hot-rodded shrimp to your leader with a loop knot and don't be afraid to throw into that downed tree repeatedly until you cover every branch junction with accurate pitch casts.

Land the plastic softly and let it sink while keeping an eagle eye on your line. If it twitches set the hook and get the fish coming to you like a grouper out of a rock pile or it will break off.

Often a wise old snook won't move an inch if he's not really starving and feels safe and comfortable back and under in his home branches. Or if he can plainly hear the anglers that don't understand the need for quiet when looking for a treed up trophy sized Snookzilla.

Put that shrimp right on his nose and he will either eat or flee.

One thing for sure, the angler that stopped by the tree and made some probing, but safe casts along the edges to keep from losing his lure, has little chance of ever hooking that trophy.

Size the leader to the job and at least 50-pound test is recommended.

Using these techniques we managed to catch some fish, but Mr. Redfish eluded us. As time grew short the purists gave in and soon smelly shrimp and fresh lady fish steaks sailed through the air landing with precision just under the mangrove edges.

It was hard to keep the crew from pacing as lure slingers like to keep on the move. I cautioned to give it a quiet 15 minutes. Giving in they quietly sat watching lines and bobbers and were finally rewarded by a pair of slot reds that hit within 10 seconds of the other. Both fish tried climbing through every branch and tangle along 30 yards of shoreline attempting to escape.

Keeping rod tips buried in the water the fish finally cleared the tangles, pictured, released.

Stinky shrimp 2, Reds 0

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



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