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Saltwater Fly Fishing Bonefish, Tarpon, Redfish, Permit, False Albacore, Striped Bass, etc...


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Old 07-16-2010, 01:32 AM
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Default 1st Tarpon!!!

As a new member to the site, I figured I would share one more recent outing of mine. Hopefully, my next thread will be of some TN bass - I am planning on getting after them on Monday!

...On May 15 I got married to my sweetheart of 7 years, Rachel. We had talked about going to the Keys on a trip for awhile now and decided to go to Key West for our honeymoon. She was gracious enough to accompany me for a full-day with Capt. Mike Bartlett to chase big, migrating Tarpon while we were there.

I booked the day back in January and couldn't wait! Originally, Rachel was also going to fish, but after seeing the first Tarpon she decided to just watch, take pictures, and enjoy the scenery of the Keys backcountry.

Headed out - 6AM We met Mike at Garrison Bight Marina and shoved off.
Click the image to open in full size.

It was a stormy/partly cloudy day. Mike took us out to some spots near sandy bottoms first because of the low-light conditions. I thought the grey day would be good, but Mike said he really preferred bright, sunny days on the flats. We saw some cruisers in singles and pairs during the morning and one giant permit who wouldn't eat my fly. The storm caught up to us and we ate lunch on an uninhabited island to ride out the storm. It passed and we got back to fishing.

About 11:15 we started seeing big schools of big fish cruising across the flat and feeding hard near the surface.
Click the image to open in full size.

I jumped a fish and missed two others soon. At 11:45 I really stuck the first good hook-up. The topwater takes were incredible. The toad fly we were using floated just under the surface, so you could see everything at the big moment!
Click the image to open in full size.

I really wanted to get a boatside or out of the boat pic with the fish, but it was not to be. After fighting this 100+ pound fish for a long time, I pulled too hard right at the boat after Mike had leadered the fish for an official catch and popped the 50 lb. fluoro shock tippet. Damn, boated fish but no picture boatside. WOW!!! What a thrill. This fish had jumped many, many times, a few of which were right next to the boat!
Click the image to open in full size.

Things seemed to calm down a bit after the first battle. We searched all over the flats looking for more schools, but only saw fleeting shots at some fast cruisers in the distance. I really wanted another. Just one more, please. At 3:15, Mike spots a good school working hard way in the distance. We had already been out on the water for 9 hours, a full day in my book. He could have not even said anything since I hadn't seen them so far in the distance, but being an awesome guide he said, "I see some fish way out, let's see if we can't get you one more..." Cast, Wham!!! Another huge Tarpon on the line!!! After another epic "Old Man and the Sea" battle during which the Sage 12 weight snapped we got the fish boatside and tried to get some shots. Those fish just do not quit. It was very hard to control them even after the huge battles with really strong drag.
Click the image to open in full size.

My favorite shot
Click the image to open in full size.

Boatside w/ broken rod
Click the image to open in full size.

Trying to "lip" the Tarpon
Click the image to open in full size.

Back at the dock at 6PM. Damn, that was an epic day with Capt. Mike Bartlett! 12 hours, 2 for 6 on big Tarpon with a 3rd jumped. This day had been on my list since I was very young! I can't wait to go back and go fishing in the Keys again. I am already planning my next trip. I am going to try more DIY around the Long Key area.
Click the image to open in full size.

I would highly recommend Mike as a guide out of Key West. He books up early so contact him months in advance. He mainly targets Permit, but will chase anything else you want to go for. His website - Key West Flats & Backcountry Fishing

One more bonus shot - Mike took this while the first fish was getting a breath.
Click the image to open in full size.

I hope you enjoyed my post.

JR
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Old 07-16-2010, 11:21 AM
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Default Re: 1st Tarpon!!!

Thanks for sharing.

I just caught my first Tarpon on a fly rod too.

Riekky
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Old 07-16-2010, 07:25 PM
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Default Re: 1st Tarpon!!!

Congrats JR! We were in the Keys a week earlier than you and the fish weren't feeding much where we were. Only a couple of hookups and no fish landed.

Check out my article from American Angler on DIY around Long Key at our web page Kansas Fly Fishing for Carp for some of our favorite places.

Craig
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Old 07-16-2010, 09:19 PM
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Default Re: 1st Tarpon!!!

Oh hell yea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




Congrats!!!



I really need to try that some time (Hmmmmm I could put frequent flyer miles to good use )
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Old 07-17-2010, 06:56 AM
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Default Re: 1st Tarpon!!!

JR,

Thanks for the report lucky man !!!

My first try to Tarpon was similar but the "future version" of yours, as it was more like a second honey moon as I am already 43 !!!haha.

We left the kids at home in Uruguay and we went to Key West and Fort Lauderdale for 10 days with my wife. I left her at the beach and I went after tarpons but without luck !!!!

They were every where so it was a little bit frustrating. I have fished for bones before in Cozumel (Riviera Maya, Mexico) but tarpons are much difficult to make them bite and you have only ONE shot at them !! One must present the fly perfectly or they will ignore it !!

Congrats for your success, I will continue dreaming with one....

T
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Old 07-17-2010, 08:57 AM
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Default Re: 1st Tarpon!!!

Congradulations JR!

There are not many fishing outings that will beat the first tarpon on a fly. And not that many that will beat the second or 40th either.

They are fish that you get tired catching, but never get tired of catching.

Great job.

Cheers,
Jim
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Old 07-17-2010, 09:48 AM
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Default Re: 1st Tarpon!!!

That is Awsom JR.

The Tarpon are on the beach now here at home. Still trying for my first on the long rod.
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Old 07-17-2010, 02:02 PM
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Default Re: 1st Tarpon!!!

Congrats all around-

to you and your wife on your marriage, for your wife's excellent work behind the camera, to you for winning the bar room brawls with those fish and on your terrific report--- and to your Capt for an awesome day on the water--- sounds like he worked real hard (and long) to give you a great day.

Great stuff, there's nothing quite like it!
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