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No white Christmas, but more red tide

By GEORGE TUNISON - | Dec 24, 2020

Capt. George Tunison

It’s been 20 years since I’ve seen snow and a white Christmas would be a nice treat. Instead we get another red tide, health concerns and fish kills. As of Dec. 18, the FWC reported high concentrations of Karenia brevis or red tide somewhat stalled along our Southwest Florida coast with patches extending up to 20 miles offshore according to satellite studies. Lee and Collier counties are getting the highest concentrations and hopefully favorable winds and tides will push it away from us.

Anyone suffering from respiratory problems like emphysema or asthma should stay well away from these toxic blooms.

“Pollution from Lake Okeechobee does not start red tides but may enhance them along the Gulf Coast” according to Mote Marine Lab scientists. In my opinion, leaving out the “may” and adding an “s” to “enhance” would bring that statement more up to date.

Lake Okeechobee is at a two-year low, falling below 11 feet, leaving many areas high and dry killing off valuable shallow, filter feeding vegetation that helps clean the lake’s waters.

Holding and cleaning these Lake O discharges then sending them south seems to be the only logical answer along with the slowing of what goes into Lake O including massive amounts of sprayed weed control chemicals..

This year make a resolution to get and stay involved in the fight for clean Florida water on whatever level you can. Florida’s wildlife and environmental future depends on you.

If you plan an offshore trip wear your mask at the dock and your respirator air pack as you leave the red tide infected coastline till you get out 40 miles or more and take advantage of some grouper and big snapper action.

Inshore trout, redfish, pompano, snook and canal tarpon of various sizes are on the prowl.

Low, clear, winter water calls for lighter lines and leaders along with a slowed retrieve. Being on the water at the crack of dawn isn’t as important this time of year as fishing a moving tide on a sun warmed afternoon.

The colder it gets think deeper water in creeks and river holes, even marinas. Canal docks with larger boats often have a hole or depression caused by the boat’s prop blowing away the bottom over the years creating a winter trout sanctuary.

Fish lures that stay near bottom on the retrieve like soft plastics or lures that can be worked slowly, suspended in the water column like hard plastic twitch baits like MirrOlures.

Fly rod offerings can be worked slowly right above the weeds or along creek bank structure with great success.

One of my best winter producers is the classic soft plastic shrimp. There is quite a variety to choose from these days — some look real enough to fry. I’m old school and still have great success casting the old standby 3″ DOA shrimp in clear, gold or glow colors.

Run and gun casters don’t do well with this particular lure. Patient anglers, those that might take several minutes to complete a retrieve with these lures, will score on big cold fish that aren’t interested in chasing down lures retrieved at high summer speeds.

This is yet another lure that needs to be attached to your leader with a loop knot to bring out a more natural action.

Throw this lure in long creek drop-offs, letting it sink. Retrieve it ever so slowly along the bottom with slow swimming and occasional subtle twitches causing it to rise then slowly fall back towards bottom cover. Skip cast it under deep water docks and let it sink into the depths. Hang on.

DOA now makes a smaller 2.75 inch shrimp which is a hot little winter lure casted or hung under a popping cork that catches about everything.

Here’s hoping everyone has a safe and wonderful Christmas!

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