This tarpon season started early and may as well end early. The 2011 tarpon season was without a doubt only a fraction of what the 2010 season was. But this doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good this year. Plenty of fish swam the keys and plenty of fish were caught, there were just more fish caught in 2010. Every year differs. Our season started early this year, much earlier then 2010. I could just be over-reacting to the lack of swimmage on the ocean in the past couple of weeks but I question whether it is over or not. We’ve had a horrible weather system sit right south of the Keys bringing in some nasty conditions while we were enjoying summer-like conditions this spring. Is tarpon season over down south? Did the fish stop swimming? Without a doubt, there seems to be fewer fish swimming. So with this in mind, I guess this brings a bit of closure to my tarpon season for the year… Here are some shots of some of this year’s ocean stuff from the last few weeks…
So here is a list of a few things that are good to know when you are making a trip to the Keys to tarpon fish with a fly rod:
1. Have a variety of big flies for the backcountry and small sparse things for the ocean side. Your guide will most likely have a good recommendation as to what the fish are biting.
2. Bring lots of sun screen and UV protective gear.
3. If not hiring a guide, it is important to learn the ettiquate of the land so that everybody on the water can work around each other rather then against each other. If you are unsure, feel free to ask.
4. Tarpon Season can bring out both the best and worse in people.
5. Just because a tarpon rolls in a channel, it does not mean it is swimming on the flat you are fishing.
6. A 12wt G Loomis Crosscurrent Pro-1 Fly rod will become your best friend when you hook into a big tarpon and need to put some heat on the fish.
7. If hiring a guide, listen to your guide. Every guide has their own successful way of fishing an area where they’ve pushed around for the past 60 days.
8. If you can’t double haul, it is a good idea to learn this before tarpon fishing. This is a vital technique to use when having to turn over your leader into any wind. And yes, there will most likely be wind.
9. If you run into some British dude in a blue Dolphin Super Skiff in the upper Keys who gives you a bad attitude, give it right back, 10-fold!!!
10. If you are running the ocean side, make sure to run several hundred yards offshore of the edge of the flats.
11. Jet Skis and Wave Runners are not your friends and will be hunted down to extinction of most tarpon guides have our way.
12. It is not neccessary to slam the lid on your (or your guide’s) Yeti cooler.
So what’s next? Who knows… perhaps some late season tarpon fishing, some redfishing, how about some bonefish and permit? We will see…