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Hunting tripletail, and some boat/trailer mishaps

January 18, 2019
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Pick your weather day and head offshore to scout for tripletail. Usually found under a crab float or around markers or even random floating grass or garbage. Sometimes, seen floating on their sides hence the nickname: leaf fish.

Pick a line of crab floats and motor by them, but not too closely. Tower boats or otherwise elevating yourself while wearing good polarized glasses helps spot the tripletail lurking under the float or further down in the water column relating to the float rope. The fish may be as small as your hand or if you're lucky big as a garbage can lid.

If you scare one with a bad cast or getting the boat too close to one, it will sound but typically reappear after a bit, so rest that fish and return later.

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Don’t let a boat/trailer accident like this happen to you. Tie, strap and/or wench the boat down to the trailer.

Once found, I like using the two-man approach on a bigger tripletail. Get up tide of the float and free line a live shrimp back to the fish (or on a tiny float) while the driver stands ready to gun the engine if the fish takes the bait. After the hookup, the fish will try to use the float rope to gain its freedom. Gun the motor and try to get him into open water for a good fight mixed with some pretty impressive jumps.

With a spinning rod or fly rod, we usually approach down tide and cast a plastic shrimp or fly up tide and bring it back to the waiting fish. Do this at an angle as to not "line" the fish. (Fishing or fly line crossing directly over the fish is a no-no)

Whatever method you use to get yours in the boat, not only will you have enjoyed a great fight but you will now be ready for a superb meal of baked, crab stuffed tripletail served with lots of heathy butter.

Trips range in size with the real big boys living in north Florida. A 37-pounder was bagged there.

FWC rules call for an 18-inch minimum size limit and two fish limit.


After decades of boat trailering as both driver and passenger, I've seen, been involved in and listened to close friends recount their personal trailering horror stories.

A buddy and his father lost a Boston Whaler on a busy interstate overpass.The rotten winch strap broke while under way and unfortunately the bow safety chain had been left unhooked. A bump in the road, the bow bounced up and caught air. The boat went airborne, breaking the ancient transom tie-downs and disappeared, falling to the highway below the overpass destroying the boat.

Another, confused by interstate road construction on a rainy night trip to Canada. Replacing section of roads, there was a clean 10-inch deep sawed cut in the roadway where it stopped then a dirt road for a 40 yards, then another vertical 10-inch cut to begin the next stretch of road. The second cut was what got him. Blowing out one front truck tire and shearing off tires wheels and axle of the trailer along with motor damage. The fact that nothing went airborne was quite surprising.

Other than freak accidents or maintenance neglect, most trailering accidents occur because of following too closely the vehicle in front of you. With rain, the first 30 minutes are probably the most dangerous as it mixes with the oils on the roadway.

With sudden stops, the heavy boat can push you into the back of the car in front no matter how hard you stand on the brakes. Pump; pump, pray, pray for best results.

On dry roads, sudden stops will often cause a jackknife with the boat trailer coupler pivoting on the trailer ball, throwing the trailer wildly left or right hitting oncoming traffic or the boat being thrown completely off the trailer.

Tie, strap and winch them down. Stay alert and don't follow too closely for best results.

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



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