It’s hot — be prepared when out on the water
If you can’t take the Southwest Florida heat, get out of the kitchen or, I wish I had bought that T-top model like she told me to. A little shade sure goes a long way these days, but the fish seem to enjoy the heat and both the in- and offshore bite is hot as well.
Recently, while standing balanced on a roughly 3 x 2-foot poling platform suspended 6 feet or so above the water, blazing sun beating down and reflecting back up, poling a skiff with another angler on deck below plus ice, tackle, fuel, etc., dressed in long morning mangrove anti-no-see-um pants, lite no-bug socks, a long sleeve high-tech skin tight (so called) “cooling fabric” shirt, with my head and neck covered in a skintight “cooling fabric” (no such thing) buff, also wearing sun gloves and a hat with a swarm of bugs above my head resembling a small but angry tornado, I couldn’t help but wonder if a heat related major health event was in my immediate future and, if I’m getting way too old for this.
Fortunately, both my health and professional pride were saved as my on-deck Canadian angler put down his rod and sat heavily on the deck muttering, “I can’t take it! I give! Take me in! Between the bugs and the heat, I’m going to lose my mind! How, can you stand it!?”
Take the heat seriously and keep hydrated. Ice down two towels per person and keep one around your neck for cooling relief. Watch children, and especially seniors, for signs of overheating and cover up as much as possible. Most dermatologists recommend sunscreen applications every few hours. Often overlooked burnt body parts include the nose and hands. Your beak isn’t fully protected by your hat and easily burned. Many anglers can’t stand sun gloves but I highly recommend them.
If you feel out of sorts, do not push it and head in right away. Going fishing with a buddy is always a good plan. Having a health problem alone and 50 miles offshore is bad news.
This is the time of year when I switch over to night or very early morning fishing, which is also the time heat and light weary trophy specimens come out to play.
If you’re having trouble finding the inshore bite, try moving closer to the Gulf. Most know that a large percentage of the summer snook are on the beaches and in and around the passes, but redfish like the back sides of the barrier islands as well this time of year.
With closed to harvest seasons, snowbirds back home and many local folks back to work, redfishing is very good. Chase them on incoming tides throwing classic flats search lures like spoons and top waters before the tide floods the bushes, then switch over to presenting baits, both dead and artificial, as far back and under the bushes as you dare.
Chumming up a bunch of hungry flats sharks to the back of the boat and dropping a brightly colored flashy fly right on their noses will reward you with a rod bending, spool emptying run as that 5-footer takes your 10 wt. rod way past its design limits and deep into your backing.
For safety reasons have the proper release tools on board before the trip starts and don’t get careless trying to get pictures. Never hold up a small shark by the tail unless you want a vacation picture of it attached gums deep to your bleeding thigh.
Many tarpon and huge sharks have moved into Charlotte Harbor to chase bait and birds and binoculars are your best friends while looking for early morning rollers or feeding activity.
Quietly approaching the feeding area, I like using the tide or trolling motor to pull live bait with rods in holders while casting soft plastic swim baits from the front deck.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org.