The only regret I have about tarpon fishing with light tackle and fly is that I did not really get into this sport sooner. It was maybe only a few years ago that I started chasing tarpon on a flyrod, but after that first fish that tracked my fly, crossed his eyes, slurped the fly, and took off into an incredible aerial display as flyline zipped through my fingers; I was absolutely hooked. From that day forward, I lived, dreamed, and talked about tarpon fishing to no end. The many days dedicated to tarpon fishing, be it bageled or successful was well spent as learning about these incredible fish has been quite a journey on it’s own. Perhaps it is the humanlike characteristics or the way a serene bay can erupt with a hooked tarpon that draws so many anglers to chase the silver king.
This season’s journey has brought us through rain storms, cloudy days, sunny days, frustrating days, and a few epic days mixed in. I think all that there is to write has been written in previous write ups I have done, so until the inspiration to write a lenghty piece hits me again, I leave you all with the images from this year that will always stick in my mind.
Optics play an important role in the game of sight fishing. In this game, if you can’t see the fish, you are not catching them, whether you are searching for green or pink backed laid up poons in dark Everglades water or the slight blue off the fin of a pale white redfish in the sandy bottoms of the Islamorada flats. Picking up on these slight signs of life make the difference between getting your shot or blowing it. Having the best lens on the market has always been my top priority. Without bringing in names of other brands, I have tried every amber/copper based polarized lens on the market and I seem to settle for one until I find a better one on the next round.
During the Salty Fly in Tampa this year, I was able to pick up a pair of RCI Optics Monster Hole frames with the Copper based Sunrise Gold Mirror Lens shades. It became evident that they cut through the glare and repelled water very well. The lenses had just the right amount of contrast and did not over-contrast. While bonefishing, the first thing I noticed when comparing side by side with my old preferred lens was that the RCI lenses cut through that white glary stuff much better… I would say at least 30% better. This made all the difference in the world during one of my last bonefish missions where white clouds dusted the horizon. The frames I preferred was the “Monster Hole”, conveniently named after a popular surf spot. They fit my wider asian face very well and temples remained very comfortable around the tops of my ears during and after a day of fishing. Needless to say, I was very impressed and have now made the switch.
The Techy geeky stuff…
“Made in Italy” speaks for the great quality of the frames. The frames are extremely durable and light weight. The lenses are made of a material six times harder then poly lenses and pass the ANSI Z78 rating (I think this is where they shoot the lens at point blank with a low caliber round). Together, these components make for what I feel are the best fishing shades I have ever fished.
For more info visit http://rcioptics.com or give the guys at Shady Characters Sunglass Emporium a shout at 321-953-9875.
Some times I can be a real jerk.. especially when it comes to failed attempts
I made a decision earlier this year to take time off from guiding starting this Fall. I set forth to rediscover the feeling of being the dude on the bow of the skiff facing a great technical fishery right at my doorstep. Of coarse, this can only be possible with an alternative source of income as I am no trustafarian. This past summer was all all about calm windless days, waving flags, and lots of copper. The days spent on the water this Fall amongst friends was set in the Everglades and upper end of the Florida Keys, primarily focusing on silver-clad gamefish.
The shameless plug this time goes to Maverick Boat Company. My first ride in a new Mirage 18 HPX-V was back in 2009 and from there-on, I knew this was to be my next skiff. I sold my 17 Mirage HPX-V shortly after that demo ride and have been fishing in my 18 HPX-V for the last couple of years. For my style of fishing, the 18 Mirage was just the work horse technical fishing platform I needed. A Mercury 115 Optimax ProXs found it’s way on my transom this past year, replacing the 90 horsepower Yamaha I had originally hung on the skiff. This set-up is perfect, achieving fuel efficient 40mph cruise speeds and top speeds in the low to mid 50s. The extra 6lbs on the transom was negligible taking into account the extra speed gained from the motor swap. Recent fishing trips and tournament days have really pushed the limits of this great skiff… traveling over 100 miles a day, covering lots of water, getting there at just the right tide, and remaining stealthy once arriving at the stalking grounds. Kudos to Maverick as all performance expectations were exceeded. It is almost time for a new skiff soon and I may actually have an itch for something a little bit different. Though the idea a new skiff is tempting, it is difficult to not to fish another season out of my 18 Mirage. I guess time will tell…
Wow is it hot out there…the fishing that is. After Tropical Storm Debbie back in June, the water clarity in the lagoon systems have gotten really dirty and really high, which made sight fishing tough for most anglers. The spots that usually hold fish in the Mosquito Lagoon was a ghost town for weeks, which pushed me to run my trips way down south around Sebastian Inlet just to find the cleaner water.
Recently I went back to the Lagoon to check up on what was going on in there. The water dropped a couple feet, but still dirty. Once I arrived to the first spot, I had noticed more bait activity in the area, like how it should be on a normal day. As I poled the skiff along the shallow grass flat that was less than a foot of water, I witnessed Redfish rooting and tailing all over the place like they haven’t eaten for days. The grass was really thick, the fish were so buried in it that we could literally get close enough to touch the fishes tail with the tip of your rod. Most of the fish caught were within 20 feet from the boat.
The key was to use a weedless and HEAVY fly or artificial lure. For my spin anglers, I would tie on a new weedless weighted hook system for soft plastics called the “Jig Rig” made by Owner hooks with a D.O.A. Curt Tail rigged on it which worked really well to get down to where the fish’s face was and that curl tail has great flowing movement even when sitting still. For flies, heavy lead eyes tied on a flashy crabby pattern worked perfect. Here are some photos of recent trips in the past few weeks and a short video of a tailing Redfish being caught next to the boat.
Tomo Shiraishi from Boston, Mass was down for the ICAST(Worlds largest Sport Fishing Show) at the Orlando Convention Center. That was the time when the Mosquito Lagoon was really slow so we went to the Indian River where Tomo caught some nice Trout and had lots of shots at Redfish but only landing this one, which happened to be his first Redfish ever.
Dennis and Kaz were also here for ICAST from California and Japan. They work for Owner Hook Company and were the ones who introduced me to the “Jig Rig” made by Owner Hooks. At first I thought I’d never use such a rig, but you will see in the video at the end of this report that this rig was the ticket to catching some tough Mosquito Lagoon Redfish. Here is Dennis and Kaz with a couple small Banana River Redfish that we had to work hard for.
Mark and his girlfriend Rey were surfing the web for fishing guides in the Mosquito Lagoon area, came across my site and decided to give me a call. After a quick run down over the phone of their chances to catch some Tarpon, Trout, and Redfish on fly, they hopped in there car and drove down from Georgia to fish with me for the weekend. Day 1 we searched for Tarpon, Trout and Snook in the Indian River by Sebastian Inlet. Mark had multiple shots at small Tarpon ranging from 15-30lbs, getting a couple to eat but only landing 1, which is great on fly.
We then went to fish for Snook and Trout which we he had tons of shots on both species on the clear sandy flats. The fish were being spooky but we got one nice Trout to cooperate which happened to be Marks biggest Sea Trout on fly.
Day 2, we head to Mosquito Lagoon for some tailing Redfish action. The Redfish were all happily tailing for us all morning and were ready to take a fly. Rey even had a chance to take a few shots and fight a few of her own.
Capt. Shawn Neurath from the West Coast of Florida has never fish on the East Coast and always wanted to experience the Mosquito Lagoon. Again, Redfish were happily tailing, and this time we put the Owner “Jig Rigs” to the test rigged with the D.O.A. Curl Tails. As you can see, it worked well. If you plan on fishing the Tampa Bay area, check out Capt. Shawn at: www.missionfishincharters.com.
Here is a clip of Capt. Shawn catching a tailing Redfish about 10 feet from the boat.
Remember to stay hydrated out on the water, it’s been scorching out there!
-Capt. Willy Le
Dark skies and rain storms looming overhead has been the norm this year, making it a very challenging tarpon season. The few days of sun light have brought forth some good fishing, but those days are few. Yet, we stay persistant and make due with what we have; hiding under bridges in between storms, trying to establish our place in the lanes in a way too crowded town, and making use of all the new technology we have available to us today. We’ve spent this year shooting more videos then stills so stay tuned and we should have a teaser up shortly.
There is no telling what tarpon season will bring… high winds, nasty seas, rain, etc. There isn’t much you can do when there is no light but establish yourself on one of the few white spots or attempt to dredge a poon from the depths. When light is decent and winds kick up, seas get real rough and that is where sitting on an anchor is the only way to go. I used to dread having to run from spot to spot with the anchor banging up the inside of my hatches but this year, I found a cool product that protects the inside of my hatches from the anchor jumping around as well as helps conserve space. Similar to the concept of a fly reel with a reel pouch… www.anchorsuit.com
Until next time… we will still brave these storms and try to bring you more tarpon porn.
The clock struck midnight and fireworks lit up the dark skies in Key Largo. The usual Florida Keys crowd welcomed a new year in toasts, noise makers, and well wishes.
I started my first fishing trip of 2012 the following morning. Another year passed and we are now settled into 2012 looking forward to the next string of tarpon to flush down our coast line in the Florida Keys. The small windows that allowed for some pooning gave us a small tease of what is to come when the full swing comes around. As I sit in front of this iMac tying away, I stare up at my wall of fly rods and my 12wt immediately catches my eyes. I continue to become anxious as I get flashbacks of January 1st 2012. The miraculous even that took place that day still has me in awe as Tim and I experienced a taste of 2012′s laid up tarpon fishery. We hooked a bunch of fish that day and brought 3 to the glove. The cold fronts have since pushed the fish away as they await their turn to slide into spring time migration mode.
With tarpon fishing tactics constantly evolving, both my arsenal, ammunition, and vehicle had to keep up with these changes as well. So I advance forward this tarpon season with new Nautilus Monster Fly reels, improved versions of last year’s flies, and more power at my stern.
With all the strange weather systems that moved through early in June, it made for many days when fishing conditions were tough. We had lots of wind, cloudy days, and now very rainy days here in South FL. There were lots of days when conditions were just not right but when things were as they should be the poons still swim with vigor and chew on flies with much enthusiasm…
All the classic June fishing for big tarpon on fly, though was spotty at times, still went off this month. We found days with very few fish swimming, but other days when fishing was nothing short of spectacular.
Define Text book tarpon fishing: One Gold Cup late afternoon of fishing… 1 shot, 1 fish, 5 minutes of pulling, and past Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament champion Tim Mahaffey has this 110lb tarpon on its side and ready for fly extraction.
During days when cloudy or rainy conditions did not allow us to tarpon fish, Capt. Jeremy Alderman and I spent afternoons poling our Maverick Flats skiffs in the shallowest flats chucking flies at tailing sheepshead and redfish near Key Largo.
Thanks to Nautilus Fly Reels and G Loomis Fly Rods for providing the tackle to make it all happen. The new FWX and NV series Nautilus Fly reels have realy raised the bar of what a fly reel should be. They are the lightest reels in their class and offer the smoothest sealed drags. With all the extremely light weight rods on the market, it should only be right to balance them with lighter fly reels.
I just got back from the west coast of FL. Capt. Rick De Paiva and I recently fished the A.W. Dimock Tarpon on fly tournament in Fort Myers. Being a tarpon fisherman in the Keys, it is fun to see something different during the season. Fishing against local guides and tarpon fisherman, we missed the 1st place spot by a mere 4 minutes but had some pretty good fishing. I managed to drive the hook into 5 Tarpon before finally catching one. Had we leadered any of the previous 4, the tournament would have been ours. But that’s how it goes. It was a fun time being one of the top boats to put tarpon in the air amongst other fellow tarpon fly rodders around us. Gosh, I love tarpon fishing. Congrats to Captains Chris Rush and Randall Marsh for winning the tournament again. You guys squeaked by us this year but we are coming for you next year with a stronger resolve.
July is right around the corner and I leave to spend a few days at the DOA Lures writers event tomorrow in Stuart. It looks like we may possibly have some rainy weather but the company will always be great, food will be amazing, and fish will chew on DOA plastic.