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Tarpon time!

April 20, 2018
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Here they come, bright silver chrome with many already here with more arriving daily to add to the existing population of resident tannin stained, golden hued, cold tolerant tarpon that are content staying here choosing not to migrate south each winter.

Coming in from the Gulf heading north past Bonita Beach then Estero Island and Fort Myers Beach, a large group of tarpon prepares to enter San Carlos Bay but first must decide to continue their journey first west past Point Ybel, then north along the barrier island beaches or choose another path.

The group splits, with many choosing the Gulf-side route settling in Redfish and Captiva passes along the way with large numbers actually stacking up in Boca Grande Pass.

Another group goes under the Sanibel Causeway entering lower Pine Island Sound. Others disperse through lower Matlacha Pass or swim further east up the Caloosahatchee, with the whole process shifted in reverse in the fall cool down as the tarpon migrate south once again.

This splintering is a blessing for the local tarpon angler, providing months of opportunity to catch tarpon on a variety of techniques.

Shallow Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass are made for lite spin and fly fishing from stealthy push-poled skiffs where a 2-foot-deep trench along a foot-deep flat can sometimes hide a 100-pound fish.

Chase your fish along the beach or anchor and wait to throw a crab or pinfish, or place a fly on the nose of a 175-pound chrome rocket in the clear green Gulf waters as they come by on early morning patrols close to the beach or a few miles off the coast.

Others like pass action where tarpon gather in numbers and feed heavily on outgoing tides munching crabs, shrimp and hapless baitfish swept along in the powerful bottlenecked current flow.

My personal tarpon passion and the favorite of many long-time repeat clients is chasing these big guys at night up and down the Caloosahatchee River throwing lures and waiting for that big strike.

Enjoy the hard strike of an angry 6-pound largemouth bass on a spinnerbait? Nice jolt! Good fun.

Stand on the deck of my skiff in the semi-darkness and feel the power of a 166-pound highly unpredictable, armor scaled, and brute powerful ancient warrior slamming your jig or 12-inch plastic worm. Heart pounding and knee shaking!

We're talking about an amazing fish that can tow a boat, jump 10 feet in the air, strip a hundred yards of line in an eye blink or turn on you and jump in the boat creating total mayhem and destruction.

The greatest thing about our local tarpon fishery is not only its diversity, but its availability to anyone willing to soak a catfish chunk while standing onshore or putting around the river in an aluminum boat and a borrowed 5-horse motor.

However you encounter this amazing outsized gamefish, take great care to quickly revive it and send it on its way.

In the warm water months greater stress is placed on the fish so always keep it in the water and release it after sufficiently giving it time to regain its strength so it's not easy prey for ever present sharks.

Over the last few weeks jumbo snook sightings have been a regular occurrence throughout the day while fishing Pine Island and Matlacha Pass and in the Cape's backyard canal systems.

Often moving the boat over to the mangroves to retrieve a lure cast too far, a hidden giant will come charging out from its shady hiding spot leaving a torpedo sized wake as it flies across the flats leaving the angler wondering why it didn't bite his lure.

Snook are very hungry as they transition out to the beaches for summer fun. Look at island or land points. Docks, especially along the Intracostal Waterway, are hot.

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



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