Since my annual Mexico Permit and Bonefishing trip was postponed for the year I went on down to Florida to visit with Popa Mac aka Joe Macomber and met up with his family including his son, also Joe, whom you all know from video fame Lateral Line Media.
Naturally we had to do a little family style tourism on the way and visited Key West, ( Duval Street at midnight is a must) the Everglades National Park where they frown on Alligator wrestling,,,well at least by the tourists, and some high end dining in a Pirate Ship by Key Largo, way over rated, same with those air-boat rides, over rated, not for anyone with half a mind of what Eco tourism should be.
The Tarpon fishing was eye opening to say the least, I was feeling rather confident when casting to boils and bubbles of tarpon that were just previously there but when it came to the real deal 6 ft Hearing at fifty foot out it was a different story.. I made ten casts at Tarpon that I could see well in the first three days, of which 6 were painfully blown. I must say in my defense that standing on a deck with fair sized chop and NO stand-up was tough, then add in a chrome submarine doing ten miles and hour with the wind was a little out of my normal target arena. The third day was our day I was fishing with Joey Macomber this day, visibility was great for Marco Island and the wind as well as tide were in our favor. Still licking my wounds from two days before I thought it would be best for Joey and his new legs to stand on the turret first. Ten minutes later a single of 90 pounds offers up a thirty foot broadside shot and Joey places the fly on a good lead and strips the following fish to within 12 foot of the flats boat at which time the Tarpon engulfs the fly and explodes into the sky. Shaking and sweating from battle, 60 minutes later we are on top of him in a shallow trench, Joey says to Mark I feel like the rods going to break ,,,”na don’t worry keep pulling”,, two minutes later SNAP and we have an extra short stick and a jumping Poon with a trailing rod tip. These fish are as strong as they look and do not give in at all, we have the Tarpon at boat-side and gloved up Mark makes a good grab only to have the Tarpon head shake away drift under the boat and break off as the broken rod tip hangs on the gunwhale and the leader knot snags the rod tip.
Almost but not quite will just have to do on these fish!
Later that day we move into some back bays looking for “layed up” fish and find two. One at an undo-able cast of 7 feet, yes 7 feet and blows up before we can back off. the next was to be my grand finally, Mark spots a 70 pounder just barely off the mangroves, I throw 3 foot in front but he cant see the fly as vis in the back country is under two foot, I throw 2.5 ft in front still can’t see the fly, so what the hell I over correct and toss it right over the Tarpon’s dorsal and up under the mangroves, he kindly J hooks around and hammers the fly on the third strip to all of us, a surprise, I feebly set the hook and stay pinned a total of 4 seconds not even good enough for “rodeo rules” while my hard won Tarpon leaps off giving us the fin..Three days, 13 good shots and one jump off..
That night we all head out night fishing for Snook just to get some revenge at finned devil’s in a big way, catching fish at every dock and light we find, not the Tarpon I came for but a real blast and a great way to polish off a few beers on my final night in Naples.
The next day Lisa and I headed off to the Keys to meet up with Greg Bricker from Montana he is working on his captains license and wants to fish as much as possible. Here in Tarpon land, the “Holy Grail” is Islamorada Florida we find Tarpon by the dozens and make great shots and totally redeem my previous feeble efforts at making the shot under pressure, but to no avail they were not in a biting mood that day. Bricker has his spots down pat we were casting to Tarpon nearly every ten minutes and some schools were thirty fish strong, but that is fishing, I feel lucky to have done it and can’t wait till next May, I all ready have my Keys days booked with Greg and hope to revisit those flats on Marco Island with Mark and take my chances again at the silver king.
Next May it’s two saltwater trips, one to relive Florida Tarpon and one to Mexico and the Sea of Cortez for Dorado and Roosterfish on the fly.
Pitifully hopeful Brazda….