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With Elsa looming, it was time to try fishing a nearby canal

By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON - | Jul 9, 2021

Capt. George Tunison

On days off, you’ll often find me at a close-to-home local canal, playing hooky with the invasive and native species, or just trying out a new rod, lure or fly pattern. No boat ramp or trailering madness, just toss a couple rods in the truck and go.

Some of these spots are fairly secluded, quiet, uncrowded and at times offer some interesting and relaxing fishing. I usually hit two or three of these little spots for a few casts but with limited access, I just drive by and wave if another angler is already there.

Tuesday evening I could feel the stress creeping, my blood pressure soaring, as I ran around preparing for the storm. Nowadays, the mere mention of the word “hurricane” gets me antsy. I did survive Hurricane Charley but I’ve never really gotten over it.

Needing some time to relax I grabbed a rod and headed off to one of my little local getaways before the storm moved in. I could feel the stress fade away as I got close and was happy no one was there.

Pulling up to park, my stress level instantly shot back up! Soda cans, wads of discarded fishing line, an empty lure package, a burger bag and a single shoe (?) greeted me. So much for relaxing, I had just picked up this area a few days before. Sometimes it feels like you’re swimming against the tide.

The Cape’s recent ban on local bridge fishing is quite understandable and really the only way to control the situation and those that have no respect for the outdoors and private property rights. Sadly, responsible anglers of all ages have to suffer because of the actions of these undesirables.

Returning home, even more stressed, I eventually turned in listening to it pour outside.

Somehow, I managed to doze off but clearly remember dreaming about swimming and the feeling that something was tickling my feet. I finally woke up and turned on the light, it was 4 o’clock and the foot of the bed was soaking wet because there was a steady drip of water coming out of the bedroom ceiling fan.

What a day. I hate hurricanes.

With this huge influx of fresh water you may have to search a little harder for your inshore trout and redfish bite. Moving closer to the Gulf may do the trick. Of course, most of the snook are already there enjoying their summer beach fling and will remain there till fall gets them moving inland again, but not all snook are found on the beach. This time of year fishing near-shore reefs may produce your personal best snook, so pick your morning weather day and give this fishery a try.

While there a cobia may show up. A large well-presented fly or lively pinfish is always appreciated. Make sure to take along some small crabs to fish the near-shore permit bite if you strike out on snook. Check the FWC website for special permit harvesting rules.

Tarpon may be in the harbor one day or moving along the beaches the next. Whitebaits, pinfish and again, small crabs, are all hot baits to put in front of the traveling King.

Offshore, the hot bite continues for big snapper and grouper.

Does your snapper taste oily? Please pass me the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon compound (PAH). A recent 6-year study of Gulf snapper by the University of South Florida showed “all sampled fish to have organ damage especially liver damage from oil exposure” caused by PAH, a toxin found in crude oil.

Millions of gallons of oil naturally escape from the seafloor each year. Oil spills from old leaking Gulf rigs, fuel from boats and whatever else that washes down the Mississippi eventually ends up in the Gulf and the fish. The article states that the “Gulf experiences hundreds of oil spills annually while supporting intense shipping traffic.”

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

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