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It’s a great time to test shoreline waters with your fly rod

By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON - | Mar 18, 2021

PHOTO PROVIDED Capt. George Tunison

With redfish milling around shorelines and snook on the move towards the beaches for their summer break, now’s a great time to explore your favorite stretch of shoreline with that old battle-scarred plug or hot new fly pattern.

Casting a shoreline with lots of structure and some moving water with an 8 weight fly rod and a few weedless flies is definitely my cup of tea in springtime and a good way to run into a personal best, fly caught snook or tough, chunky, orange redfish.

A floating 8 weight fly line with a short heavy front taper to turn over big flies, poppers and hair bugs in typically windy, springtime conditions works for me. Accept the fact that even on a calm day, putting a fly rod in the boat will suddenly cause an increase in local wind speeds, which then typically calms on the way back to the dock at the end of the fishing day.

Casting that weedless fly to a branch tip right above your target, then with a slight tug of the line pulling it over dropping it softly to the surface can cause the water to explode as a big snook takes to the air.

Use the wind to your advantage by casting high, large, open loops, letting the wind carry the fly line, gaining lots of extra casting distance. Fight the wind and also get under the brush and docks using low sidearm casts. Learning to present your fly to the target accurately with both forward and backhand low sidearm casts is a valuable tool.

PHOTO PROVIDED A beautiful gulf grouper caught by Cindy Shue.

If there are no takers, I’ll take a fly break and pick up a spinning or bait casting rod and slowly pick apart the cover by accurately pitch casting a medium sized suspending twitch bait like a Sebile or MirrOdine or a long minnow, Rapala/Rebel/Bomber-style lure.

Never use short pulls when retrieving a twitch bait. “Short pulling” a twitch bait with the rod tip makes it look like an unnatural hunk of dying plastic and just makes the fish point and chuckle. A dying, struggling, side flashing, disoriented, easy meal is what you want to present. Using a tight line, make short but firm twitches with the rod tip causing the bait to dart from side to side and flash, let it suspend for a few moments, then repeat. Don’t try to oversell it, a few subtle flashes then a pause, mend your line and repeat is the ticket. Have patience and continue to make it slowly dance and flash even after its left the high percentage strike zone as often a big predator may track it a ways before committing to eating it. Anglers with the patience to really concentrate on making these lures come alive typically catch fish — big fish.

The other best way to kill the action of suspending twitch bait or delicately balanced Rapala-style lure is by tying it to your leader with the wrong knot. To get that all-important flash, the lure must swing or pivot freely on the knot when it’s twitched. Only use loop knots for these baits to get the right action.

Between wind events, the offshore gang is still working in the 80- 120 range for a continued good grouper bite with bonus permit and cobia being brought aboard.

If a curious pod of cobia swims near the boat for a look-see, have a live bait pitch rod handy to toss out a free lined baitfish or, better yet, a live eel. No live bait aboard? Then cast a brightly colored bucktail jig or dark colored plastic eel. Fly rodders score on cobia with large streamers.

By the way, to answer a whole bag of reader emails about last week’s column on why in the world I would pay to mount a 1-pound largemouth bass? I wouldn’t. It was a misprint and 10 pounds, was the correct weight.

(Editor’s note: The typo was ours, not Capt. George’s. Our apologies.)

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