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For the best fishing, get out on the water early or fish the night shift

By GEORGE TUNISON - | Sep 17, 2020

Man oh man, it’s hot out there! Start early and get in early or fish the night shift. How nice it would be to have a week of 75-degree, low-humidity weather. Knowing that’s not happening, I’ll gladly settle for making it till December with no hurricanes.

The early riser always has the advantage when it comes to hot weather, shallow water fishing. Getting to your hot spot, getting set up, settled in and in stealth mode all before the sun breaks the horizon is the ultimate goal. If you’re new to the area and cursed with trailering your boat, do your research as many popular ramps you’ll want to use aren’t accessible at 5 a.m. with some not open until 7 which means unless you’re first in line, you might not be leaving the dock till 7:30 or much later. Now, add travel time and bait collecting. By the time you gotten to your destination somewhere around 9, you’ve probably missed the early hot bite.

If you do have early access to the water, “getting there early” this time of year usually means travelling in the dark. Our local shallow waters can be quite unforgiving and running aground is commonplace even in the daytime for new boaters. During a low tide phase in places like Matlacha Pass, straying outside the marked channel as little as 10 feet can leave you high and dry or worse, badly injured.

Even though you have the newest NASA-grade, high-speed, GPS state-of-the-art electronics on board, do other night boaters, yourself, and your crew a favor by first making some day trips.

A few weeks ago we were traveling through Matlacha Pass just before dawn and ran right between two completely blacked-out kayak anglers crossing the marked channel in front of us. Go slowly at night regardless of your experience and familiarity with the local waters as the only thing that can be expected at night, is the unexpected.

Since you’ve gotten to your honey hole late, the early dawn tailing redfish bite is long over and many savvy anglers are already heading in after a productive morning, what’s the plan? The sun is burning brightly, the tides turned and heading out and the fish have left the flats and shoreline cover. What now?

Your best bet is to change your flats plan and hit the docks. Docks provide protection, shade, cooler water, and food for hot weather fish. Not all docks are productive and some are gold mines that can produce season after season.

Docks that host larger craft may have a deep depression at one end due to the prop blowing out the bottom over the years. This hole can contain a whole school of trout in summer or winter. Older docks that are crusted with marine life will often be more productive than newer ones. Docks in areas of strong current flow especially around points are always worth exploring. In summer, any docks in and around the passes are typically snook magnets. In warm and cold weather, lit docks are prime targets for the night-shift angler.

Get up early, stay hydrated, and take your time travelling on the water at night.

If you plan on having your boat worked on, call for an appointment ASAP and get on a waiting list as many shops are way behind with workers out sick. The neighbor called a popular local shop this past Wednesday and was lucky to get an appointment for mid-October. With season coming and hundreds more folks needing repairs, make your appointment now or suffer the consequences.

For an unsalted change of pace, pick a friend and sign up for the Cape Bass Club’s, Lee County Sheriff’s Bass Tournament on Nov. 14. Launch at the Lake Kennedy Chain ramp off Skyline Boulevard. Entry fee is $100 and there’s a $2,000 first prize. For information, call Mike Oler at 239-322-7577.

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