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Ready for early fall fishing fun?

By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON - | Sep 3, 2020

September is finally here and that means outstanding multi-species rod bending action both in and offshore.

Tarpon are still here but if you’ve had enough of the weeks of blazing Southwest Florida day time heat then pick a river bridge or the causeway and fish the night shift. Choose your tools, as in live bait or lures, and go to work. The traditional live ladyfish, whitebait, big pinfish or mullet under a balloon drifted around pilings will get interest or if you’re a lure fan, larger fish-shaped soft plastic DOA swimbaits or 12-inch Hogy eels in black or white, are always a great choice.

Dead on the bottom baits work at night as well as day.

While employing any of these methods, your bridge by-catch may include the biggest snook of your life.

Early fall finds most snook still cavorting at the beaches with others slowly backtracking towards their eventual up river or deep residential canal winter home. Fall is a great time to bag and release a real trophy snook as they really put on the feedbag to store energy for the not too distant cold water period.

As long as the water stays warm and tarpon linger on in the harbor and rivers, most sharks will remain and challenge those with strong backs willing to fight huge bulls and submarine-sized hammerheads or, set up chum slick next to a drop-off and enjoy some great lite tackle flats action. A 30 pounder on your snook rod is nothing but high speed drag-screaming fun. Just add a 10-inch piece of single strand wire to the end of your line with an Albright knot and secure your hook or lure to the other end with a simple Haywire Twist. On paper, the Haywire wire wrap looks relatively simple to make but actually takes a little practice to form properly. Fortunately, there is a small tool made by Du-Bro available in most tackle stores to help make perfect Haywire connections.

Dodging September storms is the norm for our offshore crews looking for a variety of grouper species and tasty mangrove and other snappers.

Fishing from a boat for reef species FWC rule: “All those who intend to fish for or harvest certain reef fish from a private vessel in Florida are required to obtain the State Reef Fish Angler designation” giving biologist’s important data about fish stocks. Sign up online at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com or anywhere you purchase a license.

Even though Florida residents over 65 don’t need a fishing license, they are still required to have this no-fee, reef certification.

Grey triggerfish season opened Sept. 1 in both state and federal waters. The rules allow one fish harvested with a 15-inch fork length in Gulf waters.

Triggerfish are fascinating, highly intelligent pets often kept in the aquarium and truly delicious on the plate. Tough leathery skin makes them more difficult to clean than other fish, but a quick visit to You Tube should get you and your fillet knife on the right track. Larger specimens can carry ciguatera and shouldn’t be eaten.

The IGFA record was set by a 13-pound, 9-ounce grey.

With tarpon fever dwindling down, fall brings our Southwest Florida redfish anglers out in force to enjoy great shallow water lite tackle action with these hard pulling, schooling drum. Typically, we don’t see the really big fish here in the southwest like they have north of here in the Canaveral, Indian River areas of the state or the true giants living further north like the world record 94-pounder caught off the Carolinas but, a tailing, 10-pound Matlacha 3 spotter in 10 inches of water will still get most local anglers’ pulse racing.

Those looking to set redfish line class records should take note of Bob Cunningham’s 4-pound test tippet fly rod record 33-pound redfish and Maureen Klaus’s 2008, 44-pound red on 6-pound spinning line.

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