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You may need to move around to find flats fish

By GEORGE TUNISON - | Aug 20, 2020

If you’re not finding flats fish in your normal backwater hot spots, relocate closer to the Gulf. Moving, oxygenated water will be cooler and more productive.

This time of year try your shallow inshore game is around the flats, oyster bars and docks along the Intracoastal Waterway, behind the barrier islands, in and around the passes and, of course, out in front on the beach.

The area just south of Useppa Island on down to Captiva Rocks is target rich and a good place to hunt shallow redfish, trout, tarpon and snook on dawn trips. As the sun comes up and the flats fishing slows, move over to the Useppa and Cabbage Key area docks and show off your casting skills, methodically picking them apart by skip casting soft plastics far under them. Using anything less than 40 to 50-pound fluorocarbon leader material will be cause for an instant break-off.

Serious dock specialists looking for that lifetime snook up their chances by going much heavier with 80 to 100-pound leaders in and around big structure with current, especially when using big live baits.

To the north, both Bull and Turtle bays have nearly unlimited shallow water, lite tackle opportunities and a good place to try out your fly fishing skills

If catching a really big shark is your goal, the Intracoastal or around one of the passes is a good bet although the cooler 20-foot zones in Charlotte Harbor are a well-known big shark and tarpon mid-summer hangout.

Worldwide, hard hit sharks deserve a break and why there’s a need for tight rules to protect and preserve them.

When fishing sharks from a boat or from land, non-stainless, non-offset circle hooks are required. From boat or shore, a hook and or wire cutting device is also mandatory gear.

Before packing the cooler, beach chairs and loading the rods and bait for a moonlight beach shark trip, make sure you have a permit. All land-based sharkers must take and pass an online education course which will allow them to obtain a free annual permit. Anglers 16 years of age and older must possess this land shark permit. For seasoned citizens over 65 not needing a Florida resident saltwater fishing license, this permit is still required when shark fishing from land.

Sharks can be great table fare but know your species and harvest rules as the FWC lists 27 species that are closed to harvest. A visit to the FWC website is highly recommended.

Harvested sharks must be kept whole except for gilling and removing what the FWC calls guts. 1 shark per harvester or 2 per vessel per day, whichever is less.

Offshore grouper crews head out and come back with bad weather early, are finding fish on limestone ledges and reefs. Preferred range is 50 feet on to the horizon.

Take different rigged and ready rod combos and bait varieties as you never know what opportunity may arise

Want to get a really big largemouth bass hot under the collar? Throw a big buzz bait and work it out through heavy cover at night and in the early dawn. Bang it off pads and limbs during the retrieve then hang on as it buzzes across open water patches.

Buzz baits are remarkably weedless and best fished slowly.

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