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Holiday season treats

By CAPT. GEORGE TUNISON - | Nov 23, 2022

Capt. George Tunison

What’s better than the house-filling smell of a slow roasting Thanksgiving turkey and a freshly cut holiday tree? For me not a whole lot but for others the odor of freshly caught Gulf red snapper cooking under the broiler or frying in the skillet really gets them going.

If you want your own, then take advantage of the short holiday season starting Nov. 25 through the 27. Catching your own is the best way to insure you’re not buying the most faked commercial fish in the world. Estimates range from 75% to 90% of red snapper sold to restaurants and the public are actually something other than red snapper.

When buying red snapper, never buy any which are skinned. You want to see a bright pink red skin on fillets. Popular, plentiful and also very tasty mangrove snapper are open to harvest all year with a 5 per person limit and a 10-inch total length rule in state waters and 12 inches in Federal.

If you head offshore, make sure you comply with the rules and have a “rigged and ready” descending device or venting tools onboard as well as having your personal State Reef Survey Designation. Check My FWC for up to date info.

While others are smelling holiday treats, many are smelling toxic red tides and dead fish. This past week FWC sampling indicated medium to high concentrations of red tide extending from Sarasota to Estero Bay. Local high concentrations were along our barrier islands and in Pine Island Sound as well as scattered mats in Charlotte Harbor. Since freshwater is a red tide killer, hopefully predicted rains and stronger winds will help move it out of here. With hurricane-caused fuel and sewage contamination still present and now a red tide event, our environment and sea creatures are taking a beating.

At the current rate of increasing man-made and mostly greed-based water pollution, present and future council/developer planned overcrowding of the local natural resources, disastrous results to the environment like our ever disappearing local sea-grasses and dead sea life tell the tale. It’s a simple formula; Water pollution = No sea-grass = No fish.

To keep track of red tide blooms visit your FWC website for current maps and info, or simply call 866-300-9399 for red tide conditions.

Speaking of contamination, make sure to have an up-to-date first aid kit on board with hydrogen peroxide and Iodine for cuts. Some swear by bleach. Whatever your remedy, make sure to treat on the water cuts seriously as flesh eating diseases are a real possibility.

With cooling waters, Marvin the Manatee and his happy brothers and sisters are moving about looking for warmth so keep a sharp eye out for them as you navigate shallow waters as well as obeying speed zone signs. To report a manatee in distress or dead, call 888-404-FWCC.

If you’re boating along with fish flying out of the water, you might be in a Midwest river dodging 15-pound high jumping kamikaze carp trying to knock you out of the boat or at least super slime you. Imagine wearing helmets and pads to go river boating. Hopefully, you’re in Southwest Florida on an 80 degree day and the fish that you’re making jumpy are actually delicious pompano.

In that case, quietly circle back and fan cast the area with small shrimp-tipped jigs. Hop the jig, making sure to keep making bottom contact. Great fun on lite tackle and always fine eating.

Dodge areas of algae bloom and you’ll find the inshore gang still hungry and biting. Trout, snook, reds are along both sides of the harbor and in Bull and Turtle bays.

With holiday family in town, take the kids out and find a school of ladyfish or Spanish mackerel for some fast-paced fun and great photo opportunities.

Make sure your on-the-water tow policy is in effect.

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

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