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Snook bite has remained pretty hot

January 25, 2019
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

According to the FWC, "Snook are one of the many reasons Florida is the fishing capitol of the world."

As the water temps drop so does snook activity but, since the waters have remained relatively warm this winter, the snook bite is still pretty hot.

Slowly cruise the shorelines of Pine Island or Matlacha Pass during bright sunny days between fronts and you just may spot a long-as-your-leg snook of your dreams, belly to the bottom and backs nearly exposed in thin clear water trying to absorb as much heat energy as possible.

Be aware that they probably won't respond to your lures other than to leave the area.

In the past we would cast a large dead shrimp 10 feet away and very slowly drag it as close as we dare to the fish and let it sit. Often the smell of the easy meal would be too much and the fish would eventually move a foot to take it.

After witnessing the huge snook kills in 2004 of mostly large females, I tend to now get more enjoyment out of watching these prized fish try and survive than harassing them.

Last week we tried Alligator Creek by Punta Gorda, an interesting fishery that's well stocked with snook looking for cold relief. This small creek is several degrees warmer than our flats, so these are active biting fish looking to eat.

It's also well stocked with boaters sunny day cruising this small river which, during season, can make fishing difficult. For serious wintertime trophy hunters, the creek is best fished at night with big live baits under floats or large top-water plugs.

This is a small mangrove-lined system that features evil flying bugs and lots of them, even in winter. Be warned, be prepared.

Like Cape Coral, Punta Gorda has many very fishy canals that are well known for wintering juvenile tarpon as well as big snook, big jacks and good numbers of rat to medium redfish.

The bridges that cross the Peace River are known as a tarpon hot-spot year-round.

If you are a sailfish fanatic, then head to the Keys and start pitching live ballyhoo with a hot captain out of the Middle Keys area.

If you haven't experienced fishing for sailfish, by all means find a way to get it done. I've been lucky to catch a few on live bait but my greatest thrill was to take two on the fly rod.

A sailfish fight is a lifetime memory experience for the serious angler. These hard-fighting beautiful creatures spend more time in the air than they do underwater while trying to shed the hook or spool you.

Call Bud and Mary's Marina in Islamorada for current info or to book a world class captain. Some of the finest guides in Florida call this marina home. Be it bonefish or sailfish on the fly rod or a record permit or tarpon, this is always a great place to start.

Most anglers that visit the Keys stop at least once at Robbie's to feed the giant always hungry tourist tarpon hanging around the docks. Bud and Mary's have the same giant tarpon with less tourist pressure.

Standing there watching this frenzy of 100-pound-plus fish feeding at my feet all the while nervously glancing at the Absolutely No Fishing signs posted everywhere, I had to leave. The urge to run to the truck and grab a fly rod for just one cast almost overcame me but fortunately I composed myself and left the area before making a scene.

While looking for quality fishing products priced right, I found a great series of inshore rods at Cape Tool and Tackle. The Shimano Scimitar series are strong, well balanced rods, quality hardware, nice corked handles and hook keeper, under $40.

Remember, it's sheepshead time at a dock or bridge near you!

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



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