Chronicles of a Tarpon Junkie, Part I “The Gauntlet”

The Gauntlet of Tarpon fishing… defined as catching a tarpon on fly in the Flamingo Backcountry, Islamorada Backcountry, and then Oceanside within a day of fishing. This is a feat not attemtped by many. Why do I try to strive for this? Because I think it’s fun to put your skiff, gear, and overall knowledge of Tarpon fishing through this grueling test. Your skiff has to have the speed, range, and fishability in order to get this done. Your gear has to stand up to the rigors of presenting both large and small flies, long and short leaders, and put the heat on some large fish.  We put the pulling power of the G Loomis Crosscurrent Pro-1 and NRX rods to the test and I am happy to report that they are still performing like champs; Poons were signed, flipped, and delivered quickly before the release.  You must also have an idea of where the fish are swimming or laying up and be able to plan around being at the right place at the right tides and right light. It’s a challenge.. but one I welcome from time to time. Since my buddy Tony came into town, I thought I’d break him in to the 2011 tarpon season by running the gauntlet. On that one particular day, we launched my Maverick 18 Mirage at Flamingo in a steady 15kt wind. It wasn’t any ideal day for running the guantlet but we decided to give it a shot anyways. We had a good tide and a solid game plan to stick to. We caught one in the dark waters of the Flamingo backcountry first thing in the morning, ran south to the clearer waters of downtown Islamorada to catch another laid up tarpon on the bay side, then head out onto the crystal clear ocean side waters to throw at limited amount of swimmers but ended up losing one. Being so close to acheiving our goal, yet so far from our launch, ran back to Flamingo after loosing that ocean fish and put the skiff back on the trailer to head home with more determination to get the job done the next time around. 2/3 ain’t too bad.

Laid up tarpon fishing is a pretty spectacular thing in itself. The flies you present to each fish in each different location you fish has it’s own minor tweaks and I truly to beleive that those minor tweaks will make the difference between getting that bite or a tarpon turning around to show you his ass. There is certainly something to be said about a big 100lb tarpon lying motionless as you pole around the fish to get the perfect shot. The reaction of the fish to your fly is only comparible to the last 10 seconds of a roller coaster ride as it climbs up to it’s peak. Except with this roller coaster, you won’t know how fast you drop, how many loops and turns you will take, or if it will even drop you down for the ride of your life. The early and late season laid up fishing can be pretty spectacular as it has shown thus far this year. I can only imagine what will be next as the ocean train rolls into town… wait, theres no need for imagining… here comes another string now. “Hey, you up front… don’t blow this shot.” Isn’t 3G connection great?

The Tarpon taming machine


It has only just begun… stay tuned for more!!!