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Winter means adapting to the conditions

November 22, 2017
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Winter brings clear water, lower tides and greatly increased fishing pressure.

You could find your favorite honey hole crowded with a northern species called "The Great Migrating Snowbird" while wise old fish know to get extra cautious this time of year.

To combat all of these conditions, the casting angler must adapt to remain successful.

Stealth! In clear water, the fish can see you. In shallow water, the fish can hear your loud talk, can feel your presence with their lateral lines as you walk, rocking the hull, sending out pressure waves across the flat.

Sound a bit obsessive? To someone going out to just catch "a mess of fish" for the pan, it probably does. For someone spending years trying to bag a 40-pound snook on a plug or their first nice redfish on a fly in 8 inches of water, stealth is a first requirement.

Why don't many Florida Keys bonefish/permit skiffs have trolling motors? Too noisy for super spooky fish!

You moved to Florida and had to have a fancy flats rig with a poling platform and a trolling motor. You have yet to buy a pole and the platform has now become a great work station, lunch counter, sitting area and a conversation piece that non-boating NASCAR fans admire at the gas pump. "Like that spoiler on your boat!"

Yes, I know its work. Pushing a button verses pushing a boat with anglers, ice, tackle, gas, etc., aboard into a stiff breeze isn't a picnic. On the other hand, no other boat control method short of simply wind drifting will allow you get into casting range of wary trophy-sized fish your Minn Kota would have spooked off the flat 40 yards back.

The platform also gives you the "tower advantage," When I'm poling the boat, I'm seeing fish ahead the angler on deck simply can't see which allows me to relay info to him on location and distance, preparing him for a good shot or cast at the fish when we get within range.

If you still shun the pole you can still use the platform as a spotting position to cast to fish by using your new remote control trolling motor to correct your course as you slowly wind drift. Use your other remote to Power Pole down in a fishy area without ever leaving the platform or rocking the boat.

If you see someone poling a boat on the flats, please give them plenty of space. Someone is working hard to get their angler into casting position. Please stay away. There's plenty of room and fish for everyone. That could be you trying to make the cast of a lifetime.

Downsize! Winters clear waters call for lighter lines and finer leaders and often, downsized lures. Shun swivels and other hardware and pay extra for fluorocarbon leader materials.

Make long casts with longer rods staying back from smart trophies. My redfish casting rods measure 8 to 9 feet in length and can cast a spoon or topwater plug a mile with 15-pound braid allowing lots of exposure time for my lure and covering lots of water.

Slow down! The fish get cold and lazy. Right now a snook will chase a lure several feet. Thirty days from now it may be a different story and you may have to put it right in his face and tease him.

Adding scents to soft plastic lures like fake shrimp lures helps greatly in winter.

This time of year with the sun going down early, many boaters are using ramps near or after dark. When using a double ramp, turn off your headlights as you back down the ramp otherwise your now pointing up headlights totally blind anyone else trying to back into or down the ramp till you pull back out again.

Have you gotten your Sea Tow membership yet? Makes a great gift!

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



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