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It’s a good time to be an angler

By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON - | Apr 1, 2021

PHOTO PROVIDED Capt. George Tunison

Over the years, the classic live shrimp or plastic imitation, suspended a foot or two below a popping cork or float, has proven to be a deadly rig featuring both sound and sight attraction and also a great flats and shallow bay search rig this time of year, catching everything from trout to sharks and great fun for beginner to expert angler.

After decades on the water, I still get a thrill when a bobber instantly disappears because a plate sized bluegill, seatrout or a chrome plated tarpon as long as your rod has taken the bait. If you want to hook a kid for life, put him in a bay full of high jumping, hard pulling ladyfish with an ultra-lite rod, popping cork and a steady supply of lively shrimp.

I used two rods on one impatient and moaning 6-year-old, casting, taking off fish, baiting hooks, casting and switching rods assembly line style so that he was continuously cranking, fighting fish and laughing till he finally fell to the deck, unable to move his little arms. He’s now 11 and emails me pictures of his latest catch with Dad. His letters always start with, “Do you remember that time we went fishing when I was six?” Good stuff.

Often anglers don’t jerk the float hard enough to get a good sound. Make some noise! Get a straight line connection to your float and give it a sharp tug moving some water while creating a deep “bloop” sound calling fish from quite a distance. A couple of sharp tugs then rest, letting the bait below fall naturally after being snatched upwards. Very often the strike occurs as the bait falls.

Don’t know your way around? Try MapQuest and Zoom in on areas you’re interested in before heading out. Also, look at a tide chart. When the tide is moving, fish are more active. Grass and potholed bays in the 3 to 5-foot zone are good places to prospect for general fishing.  Motor upwind and quietly drift back making long casts and working those corks.

Like me and millions of others that are afflicted with the fishing disease, we like to tinker with lures and flies to hopefully improve them. One thing I don’t like about the typical plastic shrimp under a float combo is that the lure is tied at the nose so that the shrimp hangs vertically between tugs, looking completely unnatural.

One popular DOA, float and lure package is called The Deadly Combo, featuring D.O.A’s highly successful pre-rigged shrimp imitation and a float.

Make an improved version. Cut off the lure. Take a DOA Shrimp body (from their 9-piece kit) and push the provided weight fully in the bottom hole. Insert a small circle hook into the provided hole in the shrimp’s back running the hook up towards the nose of the bait, till the hook re-emerges from the top of the shrimp. Everything should be in-line when finished — the hook shank, the fully exposed hook point, and the shrimps back. Don’t bury the hook too deeply; keep it shallow, close under the surface.

Now, between tugs of the float, the shrimp rests, rides and falls horizontally, naturally, as the hook is placed right above the lead weight and balance point of the lure. I’ve been using Owner’s Tournament MUTU Light Circle Hook in 1/0 and 2/0 sizes (Model 5114T-111 and 121) with the DOA 3-inch shrimp. Use a loop knot.

You can also insert the hook sideways across the body at the balance point of the lure for similar results but, the circle hook in-line rig works better as the in-line rigging is much more weedless.

With the offshore grouper and snapper bite remaining steady, tarpon moving in, snook action starting at the beaches, permit not far offshore and sharks on the prowl, it’s a really good time to be a Cape Coral angler.

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