Fishing the Pass…My First Boca Battle

It’s been a long time since I posted up on Salty Shores. Sure, I’ve been doing a little fishing here and there, but not as much as I would have liked. Content went up on my site but it was not all fishing related-the Tampa Tattoofest, a review of an e-cig, short stories and the progress of my daughter as an angler, but I definitely slowed down. At least I had some help from Nick.

Life throws us all curve balls, and I swung at way too many this year so far. It could be much worse, and I’m not trying to sit here and complain, rather explain. Sam does like to get the “human” aspect portrayed on Salty Shores, so there it is. I fell off. Now, after finally learning how to deal with life’s trials and tribulations, I think things will be different. Hopefully.

Anyways, not many Boca reports were up this year, at least not on SS. Here is mine…

“The Night Time is the Right Time”

It had been a long week at work and home. No play, as usual. I’m sure most of you can relate. Life of the average angler so to say. What I really needed was to get out of town and do some fishing. Well, this was the weekend. Boca Grande was penciled in the planner.

All the essentials were ready to go, packed in the car on Saturday morning; Coolers, ice, beer, a little water and food, more beer, clothes, and money for beer. Priorities are always important.

Down I-75 was the route, Boca only being a short drive from the house. Usually fishing Boca is not an option for me. Busy weekends are the norm, and there is no choice but to stay in Tampa. Luckily I scored a weekend off to fish with Nathan Austin, Nick and Rainey, Nathans friends Jason, Ingrid and Sean, along with others.

Being only the second time fishing at the renowned pass, deemed the “Tarpon Capitol of the World”, I was pretty stoked. Plus, Nathan knows that pass like the back of his hand. He has been fishing Boca Grande for thirty plus years and received a wealth of knowledge handed down from his father and family, and will be handing this knowledge down to his sons I’m sure. Nathan puts up big numbers with the tarpon and on a very consistent basis. I was lucky to hop aboard his boat for a crab flush.

Now, Nathan does most of his fishing in the evening and at night. There is much less boat traffic and the fish seem to be pretty active because of reduced fishing pressure. Plus it’s just flat out peaceful in the pass at night

Arriving in Boca, everyone hitting the pass met up at our rooms at the beautiful Grove City Motel. After eating and then taking the edge off, we loaded up and headed to our respective launching points. There were two other boats fishing with Nathan and we all planned to stick together for the most part.

On the way...
Nathan and Justin
Sean, Ingrid and crew...
After launching all three boats and getting to the pass, seeing all the orderly (sometimes) chaos was a nice sight. I have only fished Boca once before with little luck, so the anticipation of hooking my first pass tarpon was pretty evident.
The start...
We ready...

Armed with pass crabs we started pulling our drifts with a little action here and there. Some boats were hooking up, most were not; the Sea Chaser hung one fish and Rainey sealed the deal on another before sunset, but there was the whole night ahead of us and nothing but tarpon showing on the sonar. One way or another, a fight would take place with my first Boca tarpon.

Looking for crabs, the flush wasn't too great.
Ready for the leader grab...
Happy fish...
This small storm didn't stop anyone.
Time for the game...

Like stated above, Nathan has an extreme amount of pass fishing experience. He pulls drifts away from the masses of vessels and locates fish far from the others. Nathan tells you what he is doing and why, explains various points in the area to mark, will clarify how the wind and tide affect the drift, and then some. Too much for me to keep up. What I definitely learned is there is more to fishing Boca Grande Pass than just showing up in a boat with a fishing rod. Plus, as Nathan would say, “the night time is the right time”.

Nathan putting on a clinic, this dude can catch tarpon.
Rainey was on fire all weekend...
I guess the clinic works.

The sun set and the boats thinned in the pass. We would get bit or hook up every few drifts, but we weren’t on fire, until “The Drift”. Fish were showing all over the sonar. Everyone with a line in the water got ready, as per instruction from Nathan. Each line was hit hard, either a pulled crab or crush, but Nick was able to get a good hook in his fish and brought the rod to me after a nice jump from the silver king.

Finally! A fight with a Boca tarpon-on conventional, which is not the norm for me. Being stoked, we motored around chasing this fish for a while and the scrap seemed much different than a Tampa tarpon battle. This fish was a rowdy fighter, jumping all over the place and making crazy runs. Finally, after about a short ten minute fight the fish runs right to the bow of the boat, jumps up parallel to the side of the gunnel a foot from me, flings blood over me, Nick, and Rainey, while almost smacking me in the water. The silver king won as the hook was thrown, but all of us laughed and knew we had a cool story to tell of the fight. After a couple more drifts we packed up and left, it was time to head back to the motel, but Nathan and the Sea Chaser put us on the fish.

What a crazy fight, and drift for that matter, a memorable experience. Thanks Nathan!

The crew had a blast; all of us, all night. Fun times; stories, hootin’ and hollerin’, drinking a couple of beers (insert number here), and catching fish. That’s what it’s all about. Enjoying the water and friends. What we have. This trip taught me it’s not all about the glamour of Boca Grande or the nice money shot of the fish, how many you catch, or fishing in general. It’s the camaraderie and plain old fashioned fun.

Arriving back at the hotel, all of us drank beer for hours, just taking it easy and talking, being happy with the night’s efforts, while watching people get pulled over on Placida Road at three in the morning. Good times. At least for us…

By the way, I have Salty Fly pictures I dug up if anyone wants to take a look, and please read my article in GAFF magazine in memory of my buddy Dave Hall. Until next time…

inshoreinsider.com

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