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Fish for tarpon very early or late in the day

June 28, 2019
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The dark water tarpon fishery season is upon us as is the oppressive and for some, even dangerous heat. Get out pre-dawn and watch for rolling fish that have predictably moved away from the passes and into Charlotte Harbor following their food source.

Don't completely shun the passes as many will shuttle back and forth from the harbor as well as patrol the beaches. Last reports I gathered still have anglers doing well to very well, in the tarpon madhouse named Boca Grande Pass.

New tarpon anglers hitting Boca should first stay back and watch how the pros fish it. Get in the drift with the other boats or be prepared for un-kind looks, words or worse, to come your way.

For your first trip there, going with an experienced friend or hiring a guide will make the trip much more productive and safer.

For those that don't enjoy Boca combat fishing and or can't make the morning trip to their favorite spots, then obviously opt for the sunset hunt. For anglers like myself that have already had enough of Southwest Florida's steamy weather, stay home, stay cool and let the sun go down and work the night shift.

When fishing the morning bite in the harbor, the old adage the early bird gets the worm certainly applies. Arriving at 9 is not a good idea. Get to your bait spot to cast net or catch your baits for the day early and then move into the harbor and start scouting for rolling and, hopefully, feeding tarpon.

Let feeding birds and binoculars help guide you as you scout the harbor watching for the distant chrome flash of rolling fish lit up by the early morning sun. Look for bait schools and once found be sure there are predators nearby.

Casting threadfins or ladyfish to feeding tarpon will get the party started in short order. If you don't see active feeding fish, quietly slow trolling, even drifting these same baits through fishy areas with your trolling motor might stir up the action and put a tarpon in the air.

To maximize your chances, have a few live baits out with rods in the holders while casting your favorite soft or hard plastic lures from the bow. Hogy eels, DOA Bait Busters, Bomber long minnows, even larger plastic shrimp copies can sometimes outperform the real deal if you're on a hot harbor bite.

With a wide open harbor and few obstructions, light spin tackle might get the nod when throwing soft plastics at these fish, which would be fine if the water was not near boiling and filled with sharks. Prolonged battles in this heat can easily over stress and kill a decades old tarpon as well as making it an easy snack for a submarine-sized hammerhead. Use adequately sized tackle, have fun, get the fish safely back on its way and then try for another bite instead of killing one during an hour long battle.

Getting to the fishing grounds late letting others find "your" fish and then barging in on them is poor form and won't make you any friends. Running through the middle of bait schools will usually result in you taking your own self out of the game. Charlotte Harbor is plenty big so try and find your own fish instead of ruining someone else's day.

If you are a travelling angler and love fishing the Keys for one of anglings greatest challenges, pack up your spinning tackle, or better yet, your fly rod, and head down and try your luck at catching a flats permit. The area usually found on flats that have a channel drop-off nearby. Permit are still available locally over near-shore reefs but catching these fish is not nearly as challenging as pursuing them on the Key's flats where I find them to be more skittish than bonefish in tourist season.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or captgeorget3@aol.com.

 
 
 

 

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