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Be prepared before heading out to fish offshore waters

By CAPT. GEORGE TUNISON - | Feb 17, 2023

Capt. George Tunison

Finally got that new dreamboat in the water but so far you’ve been staying inshore and even ventured out to fish the local passes. You listen as your buddies brag about all the snapper, grouper and sheepshead they’re catching offshore but won’t share GPS numbers with you. Simply go to the excellent FWC website which gives you all the Florida reef info you’ll ever need using interactive map viewers, PDF and Excel files with GPS numbers and other info about each of the numerous locations.

Before you head out into the Gulf to collect your first fresh snapper dinner, make sure you first consult the weather gurus so you don’t get a dangerous or worse surprise on your offshore maiden voyage. Have all safety and first aid equipment in good order in easily accessed locations and communication devices charged and ready. Have proper reef fishing permits, a working descending device, appropriate tackle, approved hooks and a knowledge of seasons and size limits. Have a basic tool box aboard.

Once out there you’ll typically drift fish, sometimes troll or anchor. If you have little experience with anchors, then do yourself and your crew a big favor and first research and investigate the proper type of anchor to deploy, the proper length of rope and chain to have aboard, and how best to use it.

Learning how to anchor properly so the boat is somewhat staying over the intended target area can be a terribly frustrating and time wasting experience for the new offshore boater and those anchored around them, and can also destroy a lot of valuable bottom habitat during the learning process. Taking an experienced friend or captain along the first time will help shorten your learning and frustration curve.

Here again, YouTube videos or Google can be a valuable teaching tool, answering questions like: How much chain do I need for my rope and anchor set-up? The general answer is yes; you’ll need a length of chain to attach to the anchor, and one foot of chain for every foot of boat (which can vary with anchor type, bottom content, length of time at anchor, wind, tides and current, even hull design). Practice deploying and setting the anchor alone or with your crew to get the feel of it before heading out to the 100-foot-deep zone the very first time.

Inshore this week trout hit well over 3 to 5-foot grassy flats on paddle tail grubs in north Matlacha. Trout are scattered from Two Pines north past Pirate Harbor. Quietly drift and make long casts and remember to slow down your retrieves. Both under- and over-slot redfish, ladyfish, bonnet head sharks, and trout all came to the boat this past week despite the wind, while fishing around both Bull and Turtle Bays.

Remember to properly treat any onboard cuts or scrapes immediately.

If you really enjoy looking at beautiful watercraft or actually need to buy a new 200-foot super yacht with pool, tennis court and helicopter pad, this is your weekend. The Miami International Boat Show extravaganza started this past Wednesday and will end on the 19th. Held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, it’s open Friday and Saturday, 10-7, Sunday 10-5. Look for boat show specials which can save big bucks. Always a great event for boat lovers.

The end of the month deadline to make your voice heard is coming quickly! Please go to the floridarighttocleanwater.org website and check out the information including the Fort Myers mailing address, request then print and sign the petition that will be emailed to you. The signed petition has to go in the mail ASAP so it arrives BEFORE March 1. We have a great chance to pass a Constitutional Amendment forever guaranteeing our right to clean water and all you have to do is mail in it. Last chance! Please inform a friend and thank you!

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