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When the weather and water cool down, slow reeling is key

November 9, 2018
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

This past week, redfish and snook were the targeted species with redfish responding well to live and frozen shrimp fished on bottom around deeper docks and mangrove shorelines, although a small Yozuri topwater plug accounted for the biggest redfish of the week.

Popping corks and shrimp aren't only for trout. Use them around current influenced snook docks. Use repeated soft casts and steer the floats with your rod tip. Use the current to explore all points of the dock structure with the live shrimp dancing below the float. Use heavier line to avoid piling break-offs.

Enjoy the unseasonably warm weather and light breezes for now as a chill down is sure to be around the corner. Saltwater or fresh, passing cold fronts can severely slow the shallow water fishing in Florida. Do the fish stop eating altogether during a cold spell? Some do, some don't depending on species, severity and duration of the front.

A bonus for the weather watcher is that many believe that wetting your line just before the front arrives pays big dividends.

A passing cold front that automatically shuts down snook will have much less impact on redfish, trout, pompano or other more cold water tolerant species unless the front is prolonged.

For the bass angler, cold fronts work the same way even more so in Florida's shallow water bass factories, where a passing cold snap will have the bigger bass tucked deep in the vegetation and unresponsive.

In northern parts of the country, the musky angler welcomes fronts, wind, storms and negative weather changes as it definitely gets these big elusive fish out of hiding and on the feed.

Most salt or fresh anglers fear the high pressure, cloudless, bluebird sky days after a passing cold front when fishing is usually pretty tough. Add a full moon phase to that scenario? Usually pretty unproductive and a good time to stay home and do boat maintenance.

As the temps drop so should your retrieve speeds. Reel slower, then even more slowly. Switching to a lower gear ratio reel can help you slow the pace if you find yourself using normal temperature retrieve speeds.

If you were raised on tournament-style bass fishing like many of us constantly moving while "chunkin and windin" a spinnerbait through the stumps and lily pads, it really takes a concentrated effort to slow down.

If that's you, keep reminding yourself that you aren't the only one cold, the fish is as well and probably isn't in the mood or physical condition to sprint after your high speed retrieved spoon.

Colder weather in Florida usually means clearer water, so drop down a line size or two with monofilament or add longer, lighter fluorocarbon leaders to your braided main line.

As the temps drop, think slow action lures. For hard lures, I like twitch baits like small suspending MirrOlures that can dance enticingly in front of a wise old but cold snook. Twitch baits represent a baitfish in its end stages. It's wounded, twitching and flashing -an easy meal for a cold predator without having to give up much of its needed energy used to help stay warm.

To make these hard lures really come alive, you have to make them look like they're dying. Subtle, easy, slow motion, pausing and twitching is the key to chilly time use of these classic baits.

My other go-to cold water baits are soft plastics. They can be fished very slowly and simply allowed to rest on the bottom between hops or twitches dispersing scent from the lure or by scents added to the lure.

Retrieve very slowly through a deeper grass bed by letting the plastic shrimp or grub settle into the grass then with a twitch of the rod tip, pop it up and out of the grass then let it once again fall back to bottom, all the way back to the boat. Patience, reel slowly.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or



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