Category Archives: Tarpon

2017 Fall Field Campaign Start

50-LB Grouper

The 2017 Fall Field Campaign kicked off with an intense four days of fishing in Daytona FL for a variety of species. After 10 months of mediocre fishing at best, I was seriously motivated to get back on the water.  I mentioned to some of you that 2017 could be considered the worst angling season I’ve had since I was 4.  I’ve just had bad timing, harsh weather, health issues and uncooperative fish.

40-LB Redfish

Apparently, the single best Rehab to recover from hip replacement surgery (at six weeks post OP) is bobbing in a boat for 4 days and battling monster fish on light tackle. There were… great stress angles, constant balance adjustments, abrupt boat wake waves to anticipate and the challenge of maintaining a death grip on your fishing rod as the fish make unpredictable head-shaking/surging/screaming runs under the boat and against the ripping tide current.  :-0

The weather was unstable with high heat/humidity, swirling winds, intermittent rain, thunderstorms, storm surge tides and the drainage of dirty freshwater runoff left over from the recent hurricanes.  In other words… Just the way we like it because all the Rasta fair weather fisherman stayed home.

Thunderhead

The best fish of the trip included a 12-pound Tripletail, 40-pound Redfish, a 50 pound Goliath Grouper and a 60-pound Tarpon.  All totaled, we managed to land 12 migratory Reds mostly in the 30+ pound range.  Many thanks to Austin Campbell and Billy Rotne for their efforts to find the fish under adverse conditions.

Tarpon-02

A note about Tarpon:

For those of you that have never done so, catching a Tarpon anytime is a special event especially on light tackle. To begin with, their entire head-mouth and gill plate is as hard as bone so achieving a secure hook-set is rare.  When hooked, they immediately go airborne leaping, somersaulting and tail-walking across the water. If at that point they have not managed to throw the hook with their violent head shakes, they make screaming runs both towards and away from the boat so maintaining constant line pressure can be extremely difficult.

In the second phase of the battle, Tarpon typically go deep and try to use their “broom sized” tail to propel them with maximum leverage against the tidal current.  The hardest thing to do at this point is to avoid breaking the rod on the boat gunnel as the fish dives back and forth under the boat and tries to wrap the line around the motor, hydraulic power poles and/or the anchor rope. 

In the third phase (once under control – NOT), the angler is trying to break the fish’s will by wearing it out. The only problem is that Tarpon are anatomically equipped with a prehistoric air bladder (lung) that actually allows them to take a gulp of fresh air when on the surface and rid their muscles of the accumulated lactic acid build up (thus reviving them to keep fighting).

Eventually (if all goes as planned – NEVER), you can maneuver the fish alongside the boat (after about 6 attempts) to have your guide grab the beast with both hands by the lower jaw and hold on for dear life as the fish makes one more attempt to violently shake it’s head to get free.  Now the fun starts because getting quality pictures of a Tarpon is next to impossible.  Not only are they notoriously uncooperative but their huge armor-like scales reflect light similar to a mirror which wreaks havoc on the camera’s aperture settings. You have to take dozens of shots quickly to get just the right angle, focus and clear water film covering the length of the body.

This time, however, it all went perfectly for Billy and I as we managed to get great photos reviving the fish in the water before releasing it unharmed (discounting a sore lip and a lasting memory).  In fact, the close-up photos we captured were the best I’ve ever managed to get from a perfect sized fish that was approximately 60 pounds.

 

Enjoy the photos and be sure to plan your trips.  The Fall Field Campaign continues next week hunting the migratory Brown and Rainbow trout in Yellowstone National Park.

T.O.

The Florida Marathon Campaign

For your entertainment…

2016 Florida Marathon Campaign - Fly Fishing Portraits

I’ve attached the Florida Keys Fishing Write-Up as a PDF Document that includes 36 photos from the expedition last week.  I decided to capture the story in this format to entertain those who are interested in the both the overall fishing experience as well as with the photos.  Hopefully, the stories “bring the photos to life” and vice versa.

For those of you that have Continue reading »

A Few Of The Best Fish Photos – 2015 Spring Campaign

Report from the Chokoloskee, FL (aka The Everglades).

We had a very productive day with Captain John Stark catching many quality back-country Snook deep in the Everglades.  We missed on several really big Tarpon (150 Lbs.+) but we know where they live and will have another go tomorrow.  We are determined to get even and get Katie her first Tarpon on the incoming tide.

Attached are several outstanding pictures from multiple fishing sites over the past week.

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More to follow.

T.O.

FFP Update – Hunting for Tarpon II

Challenging fishing on the Flats near Key West FL hunting for Tarpon this week with Dan Larson from Bozeman.  Captain Bruce Chard provided an exceptional guiding experience but the fish had their own agenda and managed to be extremely elusive.

Over four days of fishing only three Tarpon were hooked with two being landed.  The good news is that if these fish were easy to catch, they would probably be extinct.

Attached are some beautiful Continue reading »

Catching the “Law Firm”

Tarpon, Snook, Gar, Bowfin and Bass

Another great day fishing in FL with Captain Billy Rotne and Charlie Dawson.

We navigated deep into the backcountry of Spruce Creek to hunt for some very diverse species.

Caught the Law Firm –  Tarpon, Snook, Gar, Bowfin and Bass.

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Highlight of the day was a 5 Ft, 20 pound Gar that leaped and cartwheeled six feet out of the water when hooked.

Also landed the Accounting Firm – Catfish, Bluefish and Jack.  AND – missed landing a very large Bonner head Shark.

More to follow as we hunt for the 50 pound redfish tomorrow.

T.O.