This is the one fish that drives all of us dedicated fly fisherman nuts come March, April, May, June, July, and even into August. The continuing cold spells this past winter and early spring have kept the fish from making their early migration. Anglers like us were housed in and on days when we just can’t take it anymore, we would sneak out anyways and sit at our favorite tarpon holes, hoping that we’d catch one stray fish wandering by. For as many times in the early season this year I sat, I saw nothing. All the images of tarpon stringing down the avenue were just mirages in my head. The way I felt can only be described as a nicotine addict rolling up burnt hibiscus leaves into a napkin and lighting one of these up, hoping to feel that nicotine. No, I don’t even smoke, nor do I ever feel the need to smoke a cigarette, but tarpon fishing… that is one addiction that is even harder to kick then any drug or narcotic on this earth.
The heat finally did come and we had a short early season tarpon fishery. The trickle didn’t last long as the big strings showed almost immediately after we witnessed the trickle. Hoards of tarpon showed up this year into all of the Florida Keys. The numbers of fish hooked; seen and heard spoke for itself this year as they proved this year to be the best year of tarpon fishing in a long long time. No cold spell, fish kill, nor bad press can hold back all the fish from spilling in and eating a well placed fly. This is what most of us has hoped and dreamed for all winter long as we sat on our tying benches cranking out green toads and other variations of this tried and true fly. Speaking for myself, I have had the most incredible year of tarpon fishing yet. I recently spent a few days on the water throwing at my share of tarpon and witnessing the best days ever. We had days with numbers going 5 for 16, 3 for 9, 1 for 3 on a slow day on the ocean (which is not bad considering we fed 3 hard to catch ocean fish under the toughest conditions), etc… Within all the madness, I managed to somehow managed to burn through half the tarpon flies out of my box and spend my nights desperately trying to replenish that spent supply. This year gave way for lost of creative thoughts and also my development of 2 new deadly laid up tarpon patterns (no, these will not be pictured anytime soon). To call this incredible would be an understatement.
Thanks to all my buddies who joined me out on the water these last few days and to David McCleaf for capturing more of the incredible fish porn on the skiff with us.
I head out to Fort Myers tomorrow to join my buddies Capt. Rick De Paiva, David McCleaf, Sam Root, and Capt. Colby Hane for a weekend of poon fishing on the west coast. Flies will be demolished, rods will be bent (and possibly blown up), wills will be shattered (hopefully the fish’s), and great times will be had. Stay tuned… this should be a season to remember.