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Where there is food, there are predators

April 13, 2018
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Recently, the Cape canals in my neck of the woods have been choked with clouds of baitfish and free jumping mullet, and where there is food there are predators looking to dine.

With access to the water, I'll often spend time observing the activities of the marine creatures living in the canal system and often am amazed at the abundant life it hosts.

Over the years I've learned to approach my seawall from the side where my body and shadow blend with a tall tree planted years ago. This past Wednes-day, I slipped into position just as the sun was breaking the trees and was treated to the sight of a huge, long-as-your-leg cow snook sitting near motionless at the base of the seawall.

(By the way - If you just moved into my northwest neighborhood and see a middle aged man dressed in robe and boxer shorts and it looks like he's hiding next to a tree sometime around dawn, don't be alarmed as he's totally preoccupied with fish and fishing and is harmless to children and pets.)

Over the last several decades I've been fortunate to bag my share of trophy snook with some over the 40-inch mark so I feel very confident saying this particular gal would have made any snookaholics pulse pound and was definitely in that over 40-inch magic range.

Standing there for five minutes, I watched as she slowly fanned her fins sitting on the bottom, gills slowly moving, wondering why she wasn't headed to the Gulf for spring spawning duties with thousands of others of her kind.

It is a fact that not all snook spawn every year but I got the feeling that a snook of this size might have been finished with that phase of life and was only interested in keeping a full belly and enjoying retirement in her safe canal sanctuary far away from Gulf dolphins and sharks.

Before the winds started this past week, I got into some early morning, heavy duty, backyard big game fly rod battles, with a handful of canal thugs all named Big Jack.

The jacks hunted in two sizes; in larger schools of 3-5 pounders or in trios of big boys in the 15-pound range.

The routine was, the jacks would patrol the edges of the canal looking for small baitfish to destroy. Standing on the seawall and looking down I could easily see the schools of smaller jacks pass by. A few minutes would pass then suddenly the breaking light of dawn and the dead flat water revealed the wake of the big boys as they swam down the canal edge towards me, just under the water, dorsal fins touching, even breaking the surface.

Some might say it's just jacks, but to me, seeing the wake of two or three large tough predators of any kind on the surface swimming toward me as I ready a cast, is plain exciting. I don't care if its sailfish, a permit, a carp or a flock of sunrise ducks coming to a call; it gets my outdoors heart racing.

With limited space for a back cast, the trick was to wait and spot the freight train wakes approaching, then standing on the seawall, roll casting the jumbo popping bug fly onto the surface into the anticipated path of the jacks then waiting.

As the huge wakes got within 10 feet of the big bug, I gave the line two or three power strips causing the big bug to gurgle and spray water instantly causing the popper to be crushed before the last drops of water hit the surface.

As the sun finally cleared the trees, I was holding on tight to my 8 wt. fly rod with 90 feet of fly line out and deep into my backing several times.

Backyard bathrobe, big game, light tackle angling ... it's good to live in Cape Coral!

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-440-1621 or captgeoget3



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