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Saving local seagrasses and protecting yourself from the sun

By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON - | Jun 24, 2022

Many blame summer rain and nutrient rich freshwater coming from the Cape’s canal system for the recent fish kill in Matlacha with dead and decomposing algae causing unsustainable low oxygen levels. Other sources of fresh, often contaminated water entering into Charlotte Harbor also has a constant negative effect on water chemistry in Matlacha Pass as well as Pine Island Sound, resulting in the destruction of vital underwater seagrass beds throughout the area. For years Matlacha has been a fishing paradise but without a healthy seagrass environment the marine life will simply move on.

Success- ful seagrass restoration efforts continue throughout the state but with constant ongoing water quality challenges to our waters from big agriculture, animal farming, mining, fertilizer and pesticide run-off, septic systems and resource overcrowding, it’s an uphill battle at best.

Matlacha has been a perfect fishing destination for the shallow water salt angler and over the last 20 years has provided me and my clients from all over the planet countless life-long lasting memories of lite tackle, fishing fun. At the current rate of seagrass destruction, it’s sometimes hard to be optimistic about the future. Planned future development along the Spreader Canal could add to the problem.

Obviously the fight for clean water remains one of Florida’s biggest ongoing challenges. No seagrass means no fish, no dolphins or manatees, as well as those same pollutants affecting local human health and the economy. Get involved, especially if you’re raising a family here in Southwest Florida.

I’m one of those people that have a connect-the-dot back and recently my friend told me, “You’ve got mole back there that should be looked at.” At the same time, and after a lifetime of fishing and hunting mostly in shorts, I also had a tiny crusty spot developing on my lower leg.

I’m also one of those my other half calls, among numerous other much stronger unprintable descriptions, “A hardhead” and “chronic chicken doctor avoider.” Of course in the end, she and common sense prevailed. The doc told me that my leg spot didn’t concern her but my back “looked suspicious.”

After cutting and testing turns out my leg spot was bad news, but the back was fine. Go figure. Minor surgery and I was given the thumbs up. Point is, getting checked out at least once or twice a year especially if you’re the outdoor sports type, baking here in the tropical sun or even an chronic insider sporting a snow white tan, If something doesn’t “look right” don’t procrastinate, get it checked out.

Cover it up! Today’s well-dressed flats angler is covered head to foot in long sleeved protective gear, including high tech eye protection, face and ear coverings, sun gloves and long brim hats. With all this gear, the front of the face, the lips and especially the nose typically still take a beating. Either cover these areas or at least protect them with repeated applications of sun screening products.

Like everything else, good quality eyewear is outrageously expensive but what price do you put on sight? The sun damages our eyes as well as our hides so forking money over for good quality polarized shades is money well spent, especially here in the tropics and a must for serious sight fishing anglers.

I wait all year for summer night tarpon fishing around all our local bridges. Fish them from an anchored boat with live mullet or ladyfish or my favorite, casting with a variety of soft plastic eel, swimbaits and plugs.

If you don’t spot surface feeders, then simply cast up tide and bring your lure back at mid to surface depths with the current, and close by any structure that’s providing a current break. Reel at a medium pace. Often a simple non-jerking straight retrieve works best for this night-time, heart-pounding and big game angling sport.

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