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There’s still time for local angling slams

By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON - | Jun 17, 2022

It’s still angling slam time in Southwest Florida as most species that interest our ankle-deep, beach, near-shore to off-shore anglers are here and biting. Be it an inshore trout, redfish, tarpon and snook grand slam; mixed bag off shore; or largemouth, peacock and clown knife slam or, just trying to break the 1,200-plus-pound great hammerhead shark record, we have just the fish for you!

Of course, tarpon is still the big draw this month for many Southwest Florida anglers, local guides and their out-of-state clients, all looking to do a sweat-soaked, muscle-straining battle with one of our silver kings. Find these fish cruising the coastline right off the beach to miles offshore, in and around Boca Grande and Charlotte Harbor, to closely guarded Matlacha skinny water, secret locations. Never discount river bridges that at one time or another host tarpon, starting with the Sanibel Causeway all the upriver to the Franklin Locks.

For those that love lite tackle tarpon fishing for juvenile 2 to 20-pound fish instead of the three digit backbreakers, now’s the time as well. At times tarpon can get lockjaw or become fixated on one food source, shunning all others causing angling frustration. Often the little guys are the most frustrating of all to fool. Think tiny jigs or small, minnow-imitating flies on long, lite leaders. Put in your time till you hopefully happen upon a feeding window. After the catch, record the details like time, location, tide, current weather, moon phase, water temperatures and use this info to try and establish a pattern for future success in the many miles of the Cape’s canal system.

With the winds down and light rains, plan your offshore snapper and grouper run for an early departure and safe, early, pre-lightning event return.

Never wait till the sky turns electric green and everyone’s hair is sticking out to, “Catch just one more!” Your chances of being struck are statistically low but that’s a life and death game that’s not worth playing. It’s always better to live to fish another day verses bringing home a crew of crispy critters.

Friday kicks off red snapper season so sharpen up your hooks, oil the pans and ready the broiler for some great eating. The season lasts till July 31. A 16-inch total length is required with 2 per person allowed, and 10 fish aggregate limit.

From 100 feet out to 150 or so, it’s a mixed bag of cobia, gag and red grouper, various snapper species and occasional, tasty triggerfish.

Remember the FWC ruling that, “All anglers on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida who intend to fish for or harvest certain reef fish from a private vessel are required to obtain the State Reef Fish Angler designation” before fishing.

If you’ve never fought a reef donkey and really want to stretch your tackle, arms and back, then offshore amberjack are calling your name. Without question they are one of the hardest fighting, deep water, wreck and reef fish you’ll ever encounter.

If high gas prices aren’t a problem, keep heading west sight fishing for pods of beautiful high jumping sailfish or trolling baits for hard fighting tuna.

If going out that far isn’t your cup of tea, our nearshore reefs are still producing snapper, permit, stray cobia, at times huge snook and sharks.

Speaking of Jaws, we are in tarpon season which means we are also in shark season. You have your choice of tackling these guys in the shallows with lite tackle or choosing to go head to head with a giant. Catching 10 to 50-pounders on a fly in a knee-deep-water, chum-slick feeding frenzy is guaranteed drag-burning fun. Hook up to a spinner shark and be prepared to see an amazing line-peeling, multiple-high-jumping display of awesome shark power.

Beach snooking is in full swing, on foot or by boat.

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