As our summer drags on and the days continue to get longer the fish seem to get less and less of a break. Further complicating this issue was the general consensus of a very mediocre tarpon season which pushed many elsewhere to bend a rod. Add warmer than normal water temps, additional fishing pressure, and this throws fishing off.
It is this time of year that your simple shots are yet ignored by wary fish who have recently seen it all. Of course some shots result in unexpected hard luck bites but generally, June is the time that our quarry requires unequivocal angler finessing. Great casting is simply not enough, you gotta hit ’em between the eyes and shove the feathers down their throats.
This photo epitomizes my tarpon season this year……..(I am selecting a fly while fish are swimming by)
In attempt to salvage some of my tarpon season I headed to the west coast…………to a place that the joy of catching some silver has on some occasions been replaced by the entertainment of feeding the sharks. I am not a “shove it up your ass” fly fisherman supremacist. I enjoy bending a rod as much as the next guy, bait, lure, bait caster, whatever; but hooking fish that are over 50 years old in deep water near aggressive sharks just ain’t my bag.
Signs of the modern day tarpon concentration camp was unmistakable………
However in due time those familiar brownish silhouettes did appear high in the water column in what seemed to be happy post spawn activity. While presumably happy they were, the shear thought of chewing on some feathers was not on their agenda these few days. Yet with as many shots as we had a few fish ended up making some bad decisions……..
While on my home waters the fish continued in the early summer pattern of universal ignorance of well placed casts. I have a grown up with many of these fish and while their feeding patterns change one thing remains constant, they have to eat to survive. Key is being around when it happens……
Yet on some occasions fish act like fish and after countless attempts throughout years of pursuit sometimes they surprise you…..even the saltiest of old bastards never comprehend ‘ol mother ocean and her occupants sometimes jaded ways.
And after an entirely sleepless night with the baby I had to take breather, even if that meant for only a few hours. Tides and winds were right to give ‘ol rubber lips a shot and we figured “what the hell”. We immediately found a few fish and after a few subpar shots I finally got a real nice fish to react to the fly in what was to be longest 15 seconds of my life.
“2 o’clock facing away, got him?” Given the angle of the glare I could not see the fish. My buddy on the tower repeated in an escalated pace “Got him?????” 2’ clock 20 feet!!! Got him?” No I don’t, I repeated. So I started to put the fly in the air towards that general direction when a big plume of mud shot off the bottom. “Got him I whispered”.……holy shit the fish was close.
As I laid the fly slightly up current of the fish it immediately swept by him and with one gentle bump the fish spun on the fly, then a big bump and the fish rises on the fly, then a long strip and the fish sinks fading off, another big bump and fish slides in hot back on the fly, then I let the fly suspend in the current and the fish is literally feather sniffing, yet another big bump and the fish shows less interest, and with 4 feet of fly line out my rod tip and knees shaking beyond controllable levels I had no choice but to let the fly sink, slowly the fish tips up on the fly another huge plume of mud shoots through its gills………….game on, HELL YES!!