Baby Tarpon by Kapers Murph

One of the more rewarding aspect of running Saltyshores all these years is hearing from people telling me how SS gets them through the work day. Many tells me they have tried things and started new hobbies like photography or fly fishing. It’s a good feeling to know the SS gang has empowered people to enjoy life and “seize the day..”. Encouraging changes in people for the better is very satisfying.

Kapers is an angler I met a little over a year ago on the water. He had just started fishing and now has caught the bug big time. He had saw me fly fishing and have been following the progress of the Saltyfly tournaments. He recently picked up a fly rod and now has added a new aspect to his angling addiction.

—————–Baby Tarpon by Kapers Murph————————-
I was just having a lazy evening browsing the internet as most of us do. Checking out gear for the up and coming tarpon season. And a click here and click there I ended up at the FWC web site and came across the Tarpon Genetic Recapture Study.The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), in collaboration with Mote Marine Laboratory, encourages anglers throughout the state to genetically sample tarpon, regardless of size, before releasing them. The FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) evaluate the genetic samples over time to estimate recapture rates. The study also may help determine how tarpon travel between Florida’s estuaries and off shore. A tarpon DNA sampling kit is available by e-mailing the FWC at tarpongenetics@MyFWC.com or calling them toll free at 1-800-367-4461.

I said what the hey. If I’m going to attempt to capture tarpon why not assist in the study and research which is vital to the populations we have here in Florida. So i requested a kit. DNA can be obtained from the Tarpon by rubbing a sponge across the lower jaw bone and once the DNA is there simply filling out some short information and submitting your sample. Sounded pretty easy. Much easier than actually landing The Silver King. So I decided against chasing the Silver King but instead to chase the Silver Prince ( aka Baby Tarpon ). What better opportunity than to practice my fly casting while out trying to do my part. Hooking juvenile tarpon and landing them on fly from my understanding was a challenge in itself but it polishes the fundamental skills needed for catching fish on fly.

I received my KIT mid week and was excited to get out on the water and take on this challenge. So the following weekend I loaded up the Dodge and hit the road.

After a very short drive I was at the location where rumors had been told of Juvenile Tarpon all over the place. And a rumor it was no more. As I walked to the waters edge i quickly saw large schools of juvenile Tarpon everywhere. I had with me a borrowed fly rod because I wasn’t truly sure if i would like this fly fishing “thing” so before i made a purchase I wanted to give it a try. As i casted the fly out beyond the school of Tarpon I was nervous and my heart rate was pumping. I brought the fly ( which was initially suppose to be used for red fish ) into the school, I witnessed a fight over who was going to eat my little fake bug and in a matter of seconds I had a fish on. The acrobatics of this fish was simply beautiful. The fish got closer and closer to shore and I started singing to myself Im going to land a Taaaaaarpon in my Wayne Brady voice. And before i could finish the verse off comes the baby poon in mid air.

The fly gently landed on the waters surface as my heart broke in 2 and before I could gather myself and recast there was weight on the end of my line another Tarpon decided he wanted to be the one to participate in the study after a few leaps and bounds he was landed. I quickly took some DNA and sent him on his way.

This was repeated over in over again throughout the 2 hours I spent fishing these little guys. I managed to jump 28 but landed only 13.

Since this outing I have now upgraded my fly gear to a Loop Evotec 7/9 reel married up with a TFO BVK rod. What I feared has now happened. A new addiction.

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