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Trout fishing picks up

By Staff | Jan 14, 2021

Capt. George Tunison

Pick your tide and weather window and enjoy the good fishing both in and offshore. Starting last Friday, two of us caught nearly 60 trout, a few rat reds, scads of ladyfish and a few bonus pompano, all on ultra-lite spinning outfits and fly rods. Small jigs heads and paddle tail soft plastics were the ticket along with DOA’s small 2-inch glow color plastic shrimp imitator fished at a super slow pace. The trout were actually picking this lure up off the bottom during painfully slow bottom hoping retrieves.

This was another of those days where changing grub colors kept the bite going as the sky would grey and then clear. Try to carry at least three colors from dark to silver flake till you find out what they want as the active fish will show you their preference rather quickly.

With schooling winter trout, remember to bend down those barbs to protect these delicate fish from unnecessary handling. Secure the hook shaft with needlenose pliers and simply turn it upside down, the fish slides off the barbless hook and back into the water untouched.

Boca Grande Pass and Sanibel Causeway sheepshead made rods and back at home dinner elbows bend using shrimp bits on ultra-sharp, thin wire hooks and a delicate touch. Watch that line and rod tip for the slightest movement. Those that pay attention catch more sheepies.

Dodging worsening weather, the bite continued for us till Wednesday’s dismal weather kept us off the water.

On Tuesday, guest anglers Darryl Wolff and Dave Pollum joined host Roy Bennett for some fast paced offshore action way west of Sanibel, limiting out on red grouper with fish from 26 to 29 inches. Baits for the day included ladyfish chunks and live grunts.

Locally, inshore tides this Thursday and Friday weren’t anything to get excited about with little water movement during the afternoons. This weekend, weather permitting, things get a little better and flats anglers can fish the mornings’ outgoing tides or wait till noon and fish the incoming.

Old news to our local boaters but to new boaters, be aware of the area’s low winter negative tides and the danger waiting for you not too many feet outside the marked channel. In certain areas of Matlacha Pass during a low or negative tide staying on course is critical especially when traveling south from Matlacha towards the power lines between markers 47 to 33 and again from 29 down to 13. There are oyster bars in these areas mere inches under the water’s surface waiting to wreck the bottom of the boat and throw your non-seatbelted crew around or out of the boat all in the blink of an eye.

First order of business for the new Southwest Florida boater is to obtain and understand a tide chart. Secondly, be aware that a tide chart is only a predictor of tide heights and that local weather can greatly influence these predictions. If the chart predicts 3 feet of water at point A at 2 p.m. but there’s been a strong north wind all day, there might be only 1.5 feet of water actually there.

Once you understand the tide chart and weather relationships the next best advice is, if you don’t know – go slow! Hard groundings not only damage your boat but more importantly can be life threatening to you and your passengers.

There are six species of ladyfish in the waters of the world with the IGFA record weighing 8 pounds. If you’ve ever wanted to register a world record fish, the ladyfish would be a good place to start as there are several men’s and women’s line class record vacancies available to fill. IGFA records are not only for the biggest (all tackle record) but also for the largest caught on each line size like the black marlin, 2-pound test line world record. This fish weighed 159 pounds, 13 ounces!

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