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It’s hot out on the water … be prepared

By Staff | Jul 1, 2022

A couple of times this past week I thought, “If I get any hotter, I’m going to catch fire!” Then the always, “I’m getting way too old for this!” and, of course, the ever popular, “Is it getting hotter each summer, or just me getting older?” Wow!

The Southwest Florida heat and humidity is back in full swing, the lightning machine is fully charged up and looking to strike, gas prices are through the roof and surprisingly, even my local market egg shelf space was bare. What’s next? Not a joke!

After taking out an equity line loan to fill the boat and truck gas tanks, you’re finally out on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. It’s a steamy, no breeze morning and the northern visiting crew, especially the youngsters and the well-seasoned in the back of the boat, are red faced, baking and not having any fun. If you have a tee-top then improvise. Next time bring a couple of pre-drilled PVC poles, some clamps/clips and a tarp or even a sheet. Put the two poles in rear gunnel rod holders and clip on the tarp. Now clip the other two corners to your tee-top providing wide wonderful shade for your passengers. It takes less than 5 minutes to set up and take down.

In the meantime, keep everyone well hydrated and also keep a close eye out for signs of heat exhaustion. Drinking alcohol can add to the problem. Carry two, icy wet neck towels in the cooler for each passenger, which always brings quick overheating relief.

Monitor visiting northern families and guests for sunburn — no hat with a snow white Michigan tan and tank top here in July is asking for trouble. Cover up and reapply sunscreen regularly.

Finally, get out early and back to port before the afternoon electrical fireworks put you and your crew in danger.

The only thing I like about the local heat is that the fishing becomes hot for most species that swim in our part of the world.

Get out the biggest surface plug in your box and ever so quietly fish grassy predawn Pine Island shallows for your biggest ever Southwest Florida gator trout. Loud boat handling almost always guarantees a no trophy trout morning.

That same big surface plug cast at night along local beaches might hook you up to a long as your leg snook with tarpon or shark as a “by-catch.” Try white or white and silver trimmed bucktails or soft plastic paddle tails after sun-up. A white Deceiver fly with a little chrome flash tied in is hot snook candy.

Join the fleet at Boca Grande for some wild tarpon action or quietly pole the Matlacha mangrove bays and shallows, fly rod in hand looking to make that perfect cast to a trio of resting tarpon.

Jack attacks are back and this tough fighter and willing biter is just plain fun to tangle with. Early yesterday morning after spotting a frothy jack attack in my canal, I ran to my seawall in robe and slippers to get off a cast before they disappeared and was instantly rewarded with an explosive hit on my topwater plug. What a great way to start the day! Imagine tangling with the world record 66-pound, 2-ounce brute? That means a 70-80-100 pound jack is possible! Scary!

Off and near shore it’s red, yellow and mangrove snapper time along with grouper, possible Mahi, permit and cobia, snook and, of course, sharks. Out beyond the 120-foot-deep mark, sailfish and tuna might want to play. If you’ve never caught a sailfish, definitely put that high on your lite tackle fishing bucket list. Year’s back I caught two on fly rods and was forever hooked on these acrobatic and beautiful fish.

One of my summer favorites, lite tackle sharking in shallow water, is in full swing. Grab a couple of chum blocks and watch your hands!

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