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Fall fishing is the best

September 29, 2017
By GEORGE TUNISON - Special to The Breeze , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Fantastic fall fishing arrives in Southwest Florida to help erase The Irma Blues.

With a day off I decided to go fishing for myself this past week with the toughest part being trying to decide what species to target.

Fall fishing in South-west Florida is an angler's dream. From 50 miles offshore to poling a skiff in 5 inches of water, fall is about lots of choices for the coastal and offshore angler.

Spanish mackerel, bonito, kingfish, flounder, schooling redfish and bluefish are all sure signs the end of summer is officially here although the air temperature is still blistering in the daytime.

Monday our trip was cut short because my client was having a real problem with the heat and we had to go in. Stay hydrated and keep hand towels on ice to cool off with. If you are not used to this type of sub-tropical heat, by all means plan your trip at night or early a.m.

Inshore the big boys roam the flats, channels, docks and bridges at night and, like us, try and hide from the intense light and heat during the day.

Inshore, summer's end brings a super strong, ultra-fast, high jumping, vicious toothy critter to our shallow flats and passes for a visit.

This mean water-wolf usually travels in large packs but on our flats they spread out looking to kill and eat.

Which fall visitor jumps higher than a snook, fights hard(er) than a jack, eats lures and bait with gusto, seems nearly as fast as a bonefish, and will bite the heck out of you if you get your hand to close?

Mr. Bluefish is one tough customer and loves top-water plugs on shallow bars and will try to kill and eat any he comes across.

Right now Matlacha Pass has bluefish in skinny water ranging from 3 - 7 pounds of solid fighting muscle and a blast on light tackle or fly rods.

Go for bright, chrome, loud top plugs and keep them moving quickly to get Mr. B interested. Large fly-rod surface poppers will get the job done but tie on a short section of light single strand wire or say goodbye to that expensive lure.

Once at boatside, be very careful about releasing this critter because he never gives up and is carefully watching you as you hold him hoping you will get to close so he can take a big bite of you using his mouth full of razors.

The Cape's canals are offering resident tarpon fishing (5-20 pounds) in the early morning hours. Tarpon holes or locations throughout the Cape are as secret as offshore GPS rock pile coordinates.

Simply put in your time and scout for tarpon rolling in the mornings. Ask around, ask the neighbors. Once located, try small jigs, which seem to be my most productive lure choice as well as small streamer flies.

Charlotte Harbor still holds some bigger migratory fish in the deep water and around bait schools as well as the river bridges at night still holding a few migratory fish but a resident fish is always a possibility.

Fall is trophy snook time with summer-long beach-bound female trophies transitioning to their winter destinations and looking to feed heavily along the way.

Spoons and topwater plugs are hot choices to cover ground.

For true giants, fish live large mullet and ladyfish in and around big structure using big rods with 80-100 pound braid and 100 pound leaders with a 6/0 sized hooks.

My final fall favorite visitor on light spin or fly tackle is the bonito, which you might find a mile or so off Redfish Pass or far offshore.

To find them, look for birds in the distance and throw 1 oz. white bucktail jigs, retrieving quickly for a crushing bite and long spool emptying runs.

Do not drive through the school as they will go down and relocate.

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



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