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

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Old 05-08-2013, 10:34 PM
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Default Re: Damn! That was a humbling experience.

Great story! Welcome to the club ! I spend a week or so every year in Islamorada. Those flats can really be puzzling at times and it takes time to get the feel for it. And as far as Poons go they are the most humbling fish there is ! Hard enough getting your casts on target in one quick false cast wait until you hook or should I say attempt to hook one. One thing I learned is fight a couple on spinning gear first it gives you an idea of what your in for . And failure is part of the fly tarpon relationship. Most years I land my share this year between a run off and some short lived hookups none to the leader. But it's the most fun you can have while being humbled by the silver king!
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Old 05-08-2013, 11:08 PM
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Default Re: Damn! That was a humbling experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pjcalla View Post
We headed back to the water after the advice and started catching Barracuda. We caught 7 between the two of us (12"-20"), broke one off (shredded tippet), and we were happy.
That size cuda is supposed to be pretty good eating. I've never had it, but I'm curious...
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Old 05-09-2013, 05:28 AM
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Default Re: Damn! That was a humbling experience.

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Originally Posted by biggie_robs View Post
That size cuda is supposed to be pretty good eating. I've never had it, but I'm curious...
Not to get too far from the topic, but thought I'd better chime in with an answer and a warning.
Barracuda is delicious to eat. I eat it regularly in Belize (fried is my favorite). Taste is unique; less oily than mackerel, more than snapper.

BEWARE: Barracuda is illegal to sell in the US due to ciguatera, "a type of toxin commonly found in fish. Eating fish with ciguatera causes an illness that can result in stomach and digestive related problems, some severe physiological problems including severe headaches, soreness of the muscles, changes in blood pressure and heart problems, and sometimes even death. Smaller barracudas can safely be eaten, but the larger ones often have such high levels of ciguatera that they are dangerous to eat."
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Old 05-09-2013, 08:07 AM
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Default Re: Damn! That was a humbling experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pete a View Post
I didn't want to admit my fear of falling while on the casting deck. For me it was worse getting on and off the deck but once on it I was ok.

Possibly if you would have puked it would bring the fish in a bit closer making it all easier

Love it!

Pete A.
I didn't actually puke, but it felt like I was "puking" line...just a jumbled mess. REALLY embarrassing, which puking on yourself would be too .

Quote:
Originally Posted by theboz View Post
Great story! Welcome to the club ! I spend a week or so every year in Islamorada. Those flats can really be puzzling at times and it takes time to get the feel for it. And as far as Poons go they are the most humbling fish there is ! Hard enough getting your casts on target in one quick false cast wait until you hook or should I say attempt to hook one. One thing I learned is fight a couple on spinning gear first it gives you an idea of what your in for . And failure is part of the fly tarpon relationship. Most years I land my share this year between a run off and some short lived hookups none to the leader. But it's the most fun you can have while being humbled by the silver king!
Yes, I am really looking forward to next time. Hopefully, I will be more prepared and actually know what I am getting myself into. That first hookup will definitely be a rush, a rush that I think about everyday since I've been back. "Man, if I just made that cast a 2' longer" or "If I only made that shot at 2:30 instead of 2:00." Yes, the bug has bitten, and I feel the need to scratch it everyday.

Quote:
Originally Posted by biggie_robs View Post
That size cuda is supposed to be pretty good eating. I've never had it, but I'm curious...
I've had 'cuda in Barbados. It was pretty good. I didn't know the regs regarding 'cuda (if there are any) in FL, so we just let them go. I didn't even think about keeping any fish. Honestly, I really don't keep any fish to eat, but I guess that was an option.
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Old 05-09-2013, 11:37 AM
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Default Re: Damn! That was a humbling experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Biggie
That size cuda is supposed to be pretty good eating. I've never had it, but I'm curious...
Chechem is absolutely correct! They are very tasty. I don't eat any over 3-4lbs , but they do taste good. They are very mild. Many people are put off by tales of cigatera, but even more by the smell of their skin slime - which does not affect the meat at all.

As always when filleting fish, keep the fileting table clean so no blood or entrails gets on the meat.

Their cigar shaped bodies result in easy to filet, high meat/body weight ratio as well. Narrow but thick filets. Immediate icing with sea water added after catching will void the arteries of blood and make filleting much easier, since it firms the meat. This goes for all fish.

My sisters and I have eaten them since infancy, twice or ocassionally three times a week as kids. I remember my mother mushing each bite between her fingers checking for bones before feeding them to my little sisters.

So few people eat them (no commercial fishery) that there are no size or bag limit restrictions on them. So if you're down here and renting a kitchenette place or camping out, give them a try. All you need is some lemon, butter, salt and a frying pan.

Added: For guys fishing for tarpon for the first time, or who have not hooked up before, I would suggest the first trip being one that starts at sundown and into the night. That is when tarpon are feeding and the chances of actually catching one (with a guide) increase by at least 2,000%. You will be fishing known lies, or to busting/boiling fish. That will break the ice, and when you do hook up on a daytime fish, you will know what to expect and have a better chance to bring him boatside.
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Old 05-09-2013, 12:23 PM
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Default Re: Damn! That was a humbling experience.

I to was humbled by the flats and fish of Key West. But once ya get tight with your first Tarpon your life will be changed forever...
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Old 05-16-2013, 06:33 AM
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Default Re: Damn! That was a humbling experience.

I'm in Belize, and thought you guys would enjoy an update.
Bonefish are being spooky; calm winds at daybreak. Seems they explode in panic at every cast along the backreef (flats).

But yesterday afternoon I went out with the trolling rods and caught some tuna (False Albacore) and a good-sized Barracuda. Sashimi with drinks and Barracuda steaks for dinner. YES, it's delicious.
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Old 05-16-2013, 07:24 PM
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Default Re: Damn! That was a humbling experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theboz View Post
One thing I learned is fight a couple on spinning gear first it gives you an idea of what your in for .

I second this.

There is nothing more confusing and chaotic than seeing the other end of your line quickly rise to the surface and massive fish (that you wont believe is actually hooked on your line) jumping 100 feet in front of you. You kinda just freeze on your first couple of tarpon. I have never caught one on fly yet, but have many on spin gear.

Waiting for the next gift holiday to get one of those monster rods.
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Old 05-17-2013, 10:00 AM
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Default Re: Damn! That was a humbling experience.

That's it.

My day dreaming theme for the office today is hooking and fighting a tarpon.

thank you for the inspiration guys.
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Old 05-05-2014, 09:14 AM
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Default Re: Damn! That was a humbling experience. - UPDATED

I just returned from another trip to Islamorada, and my daydreaming of another is occupying my time, so I figured I'd post an update to the thread I started about a year ago.

Anyway, this year I was "more" prepared for what was coming. Since the last trip, I had purchased an 8 weight setup, more flies, gear, etc. Most of all, I was mentally prepared for our guided trips we booked. Since I didn't want a repeat performance, I practiced with my 8, both on and off the water, making casts from different angles, winds, etc. I also practiced starting the cast with the fly in my hand, one back cast and shoot. I only got a few days work in before my BVK met my truck door (that's another story), but TFO was great and 2nd day shipped a replacement so I would have it for the trip.

We arrived at the house and the first thing I did (after moving all the bags into the house) was go down to the ocean to see what we were dealing with. It looked promising, nice, big flat with mangroves on the north side and channels cut for boats. The house manager came to give us the low-down on the house and said there were snook in the mangroves, but the bottom was really mucky and not really wadeable. Damn, at least there was a dock that we could cast from, but knew the fishing would be minimal from there. We had a couple days before our first guided trip, so I would go out there and just cast to relax and enjoy the sun. I didn't catch a thing, but I didn't care.

Our first (and only pre-booked trip) was with Capt. Mark Johnson. He was the complete opposite of Randy Stallings. More laid back, let's go have some fun, type personality. He said he doesn't do many skiff trips anymore, as he has found a different niche to his guiding business. He assured us he knew where the fish were and we would get some shots. We polled around the bay for some tarpon, but didn't see any. The wind was up with some cloud cover, so the conditions weren't ideal. He asked us if we wanted to change gears and catch some fish, so that's what we did.

He set us both up on a ledge and we blind casted clousers. We both caught 4 or 5 fish, ladyfish (poor man's tarpon), blue runners, mangrove snapper, and sea trout. Sure, it wasn't the typical skiff style, but we were happy to catch some fish. After we felt the tug for awhile, we decided to do some more sight fishing. We polled around islands, flats, everywhere. We saw tons of sharks (which we tried to get them to take a fly), a few rays and a couple snook. We never got tight after the clouser fishing, but Capt. Mark was enjoyable none the less. He was just as much teacher as guide. He was telling stories about the area, teaching us different techniques, all while having a great time. We both agreed this trip was much better than our first. We would not hesitate to book Capt. Mark again, and probably will if we return next year.

We asked if he had any last minute cancellations later in the week so we could go out again, and sadly, he didn't. After we returned to the marina, he told us to go up to the bar area and have a beer while he poked around to find us another guide. He delivered. He found Capt. Jeremy Alderman had an opening, so we took it.

---------- Post added at 08:14 AM ---------- Previous post was at 07:10 AM ----------

Captain Jeremy Alderman told us to get to the marina at 6:30, an hour before the other trips we had, so we knew he was serious about getting us on some fish. He said he likes to leave early to get first water. We were on-board with this and thought he was different from the other two guides we had.

He was waiting when we got there promptly at 6:30 and we made a long run to start the day. We were chatting, trying to get a feel for each other, and it became clear that Capt. Jeremy was passionate about guiding, and fishing in general. He has been guiding for 5 years, but only has around 100-150 trips per year, as he has another job and likes to fish himself. On his days off, he is on the water, finding fish, improving his techniques, etc.

Once again, the conditions were not ideal, but we pressed on. On the first spot, we saw (and got shots) at 5 groups of tarpon that were laid up. We didn't connect, but the highlight of this first stop was when we came up to a group of six tarpon that were 20-30 feet from the boat and didn't spook until I made a poor cast over the body of one. The melee that ensued was ridiculous. Six, hundred pound tarpon exploding right in front of you was quite impressive, to say the least. After seeing that many BIG fish in one spot, we knew the day was going to be great. I mean, in the first hour or so, we had 5 legitimate shots. That was more than the previous two whole day trips combined.

After polling around for another 30 minutes or so, we made another run to find some more tarpon. We saw a few at the next spot, but only had 1, maybe 2 shots as the conditions were getting worse. He asked us if we wanted to go find some Redfish, and we made another run.

The next couple spots were not short of Reds, but they were really difficult to see with the wind up, clouds in the sky and water a little muddy due to the weeks-long wind that had been blowing. We saw tons of Reds, but only got a few shots. They would spook before we saw them. Most of the time, we were within 15 feet, we wouldn't see them until they took off. It was really, really tough. So we made more runs, and more of the same until we came up to one particularly fishy-looking spot. We were protected from the wind, the sun came out and we were in business.

We were able to see the Reds before they spooked and made some shots. After one Red that I made three quality shots to didn't take, I was feeling pretty defeated. I mean, I actually made not one or two, but three perfect casts (according to Capt. Jeremy) to one fish and he didn't eat, I was wondering what I did to **** off the fish gods. Just about the time I was stepping down off the platform, Capt. Jeremy said he saw something big in the mangroves and to stay put. We got over to the shore, and there was a big Snook. I made a marginal cast, and he went deep into the mangroves. Capt. Jeremy decided to wait it out for a few minutes to see if he would show again.

As we were waiting and about to move on, I hear Capt. Jeremy whispering to us, "Stay still, HUGE Snook right here 3 o'clock 6 feet." My heart immediately started racing as my eyes scanned the water back from the shore. Sure enough, there she was, and I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get the fly there. I made a mediocre roll/flop get the fly out there no matter how ugly it is cast. The fly got there (I guess the fish gods felt sorry for me), now it was time to strip. At first, I didn't think the beast saw it, but I could hear and feel the excitement in Capt. Jeremy's soft commands of "Strip, strip, strip!" The fly passed the nose of the Snook, and I thought I'd blown another shot until I saw the flash and felt the tug.

Holy ****! "Strip strike, strip strike" is all I kept saying to myself. Yes! I had the beast on the end of the line. She immediately went for the mangroves and I kept pressure on her. I was amazed how hard this fish pulled. I thought I had a firm grip on the line, but she gained some line and broke me off. All this happened in about 3 seconds, but my heart kept pounding for the rest of the day. Capt. Jeremy said that was one of the biggest Snook he's seen take a fly. He estimated it at around 15 pounds, and he kept talking about it for the rest of the day. He was genuinely excited for me and that showed. I think he may have been more excited than me, which, to me, shows that he genuinely passionate about fishing, whether behind the rod or push pole. I think that is a great quality to have in a guide.

Anyway, I let my brother in-law fish for the rest of the day to see if he could get an eat, but no dice. We hit a couple other spots, but it was time to get back to the marina.

After the trip, we decided Capt. Jeremy would be our guide from here on out when we are down there. It was his enthusiasm, working his ass off to get us on fish, and just general attitude that meshed well with ours that made us feel he is the perfect match for our needs. Don't get me wrong, Capt. Mark was great too, and he's our second choice.

Sorry for the long-winded posts, but I needed to relive the trip while I'm sitting at my desk on this dreary Monday morning. I have been bitten by the salt, and think I'm infected with something that only another trip down to the Keys on a skiff can cure.
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