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Rain may help improve our red tide situation

By Staff | May 28, 2021

Capt. George Tunison

A report issued by the FWC this past Wednesday wasn’t good news. Sampling found red tide concentrations from Sarasota down the coast showing the highest concentrations in Lee and Collier counties. Fish kills and some respiratory issues were reported as well.

To help try to combat this ongoing problem, The Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force was established in 1999 and re-activated under the direction of Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2019. Their webpage states: “The Task Force will focus on issues associated with red tide as their top priority. The Task Force will play an important role in determining strategies to research, monitor, control and mitigate red tide and other harmful algal blooms in Florida waters. The Task Force will work closely with the Blue Green Algae Task Force and Mote Marine Laboratory’s Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative to evaluate current policies, procedures, research and response efforts, identify and prioritize actions and make recommendations, hopefully producing positive results.”

When rain finally arrives, it may help move or disperse these red tide blooms bringing relief to our coastal areas. The downside being the coming rain and following Lake O discharges will probably stir up more freshwater toxic algae issues in the Caloosahatchee. The sooner we can get this water moving south as nature intended the better for all concerned.

For fans of delicious gray triggerfish and hard-fighting amberjack, your time to invite one home for dinner is coming to an end. Starting June 1 in Gulf Of Mexico State and Federal Waters, harvest will close and later reopen Aug. 1. Gag grouper anglers get to bring home their catches starting June 1 through Dec. 31.

Remember, you must sign up for a State Reef Fish Angler certification to fish for any of these species from a recreational vessel and must renew that certification annually.

While our snook population continues its summer vacation along the coast and in and around the passes, the mass of tarpon in Boca Grande will start to fan out across Charlotte Harbor following bait schools while keeping an eye out for an army of sharks that shadow them, as well as the bait schools.

Once you’ve found rolling fish or obvious surface feeding activity, a good method is to use your trolling motor to pull a couple of live baits, keeping the rods in their holders in the back of the boat while casting bucktail jigs or soft plastics from the front as you slowly move along the edge of the bait schools. Work the edges and never drive over the bait schools.

If you’re having trouble connecting with your summer redfish using lures and flies, then break out the live and dead baits and get hooked up. Shrimp, cut ladyfish, mullet and pinfish casted up and under the bushes on a 1/4 oz. jig head, fish finder rig, unweighted baited hook or even under a float next to the mangroves is the deal for these reds that have a keen nose for chow.

Consult your tide charts and, if possible, plan your trip around an incoming tide, high enough to get water flooded back and under the mangroves. It’s important to get the bait as close as possible, preferably a bit under the extended branches for real success. A foot or more away from the edge will often result in a no fish day.

Accurate side arm casting is the ticket. A slow lob is the method. Advanced casters can skip-cast unweighted ladyfish discs far back under cover.

If you’re having trouble finding your hot weather redfish in your usual inshore hot-spots, then move your operations closer to the Gulf. Shorelines in and around the passes and backs of the barrier islands are a good place to hunt.

Kids get bored quickly so put them on a school of feeding Spanish mackerel for some fast paced fun.

Look for diving birds to guide you to the action.

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