welcomed seasonable shift……..

For myself, as opposed to previous years, it has been a rather lengthy transition from the fading winter winds to the commonly temperate south florida spring. By all accounts it has been a mild spring weather pattern and the fish have shown their appreciation by flooding the flats. Thoughts of sailfish have since long been replaced with oversized tarpon and the migratory waterfowl have been swapped with the hopes of spotting a few thunder chickens in the bush.

Typically springtime presents some amazing fish opportunities before the bull rush of the clinically insane tarpon fanatics plague the shallows and screw up fishing altogether, including myself.

A few nice days in the slash pine forests yield many gobblers found …………………….zero in range for a reasonable shot. I swear god created these creatures to inflict mental anguish on poor mindless rednecks, including myself.

Generally the quest for oversized sardines has been persistent since January, some days better than others, but the fish showed up early and have been giving most of South Florida heartburn since late winter. Most of the early season fishery is completely hit or miss but its certainly worth putting your chips in the game.

Sometimes secluded lagoons require early morning runs………..

But the rewards of being by your lonesome can be worth the effort…………………

On one occasion a fellow came tight on what presumably would have been the largest tarpon ever caught on my skiff. It was one of those bites that provide a nice tug then nothing, no jump, no drag screaming, nothing. The thoughts of catfish, snagged on the bottom or possibly a tarpon float in the back of your mind. Then like piano dropped from a 747, this fish (aptly now named Shamu) exploded off the bow. It was enormous and as I threw my sandwich to the ground to grab the camera. I calmly told my buddy to relax …..go easy on this fish. This conversation quickly accelerated to “holy shits” don’t screw this up. Pretty much the natural progression of any good monster fish on the line. Before the reality of what we really had on the line set in the fish aired out 50 feet from the skiff and my buddy cupped the spool and then the echoed sound similar to Indiana Jones bull whip was heard long and far. This is a direct result of what I like to call “buck fever”. Literally not a word was spoken for 15 minutes………………….I later learned that Capt. Andy Thompson had girthed two fish near the 185lb mark two days earlier in the same area.

Shamu as she left giving us the middle finger………………

On many instances we fell back on the old faithfuls that are willfully here year round for our enjoyment……………………….some of the fish were belly crawling ridiculously shallow.

That afternoon I was able to connect with an old friend from the Miami Beach Rod & Reel club days. At its heyday that club had the best group of anglers in the country every Wednesday night for dinner. It was a breeding ground of good fisherman and even larger fabricated fishing stories.

But nearly on all occasions when the weather is fair you are inevitably drawn to the tarpon fishing. And why the hell not…………..

filling the box is half the fun, right? (fly was compliments of Hon’s brainwork)

we got ‘em laid up………..

we got ‘em swimming in the skinny…….

we got ’em hauling ass…………..

we got ‘em shaking their heads…………

we got ’em doing some head stands………

and on some occasions we got ‘em shaking our hands…………
(buddy who lost Shamu had some redemption)

Something special about coming tight on a completely motionless, suspended 100lb fish………….the first glimpse

Even made it down south with the family for the Easter Holiday as we do every year…….windy as hell which didn’t bode well for tarpon fishing but the permit gave my old man some love. As if F18’s buzzing us all day wasn’t enough for an old fighter pilot to have a good enough time……………..

even got a chance to say hello to a few old friends…………………

Those humid hot sunrises are soon to be the norm………………………my favorite time of year

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