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tarpon fishing at night in Key West

Report Date: May 4, 2008

Blow- wind blow. That seems to be the thought that has been going through my head each and every day while out fishing the last few weeks. I keep optimistically anticipating that at some point in time the wind will just blow itself out. The fish are around if I can just manage the boat in the wind long enough to give my sports enough time to get a shot off at the traveling tarpon. Yes itís late April and now early May and the wind is still blowing. The migrating tarpon are showing up on the beach (ocean side) in small string or schools, each day more and more. Enough fish to leave me with great eagerness for the next day of fishing. A week or so ago we had a day or afternoon and evening of light and variable winds. Taking into consideration the recent fishing, I jumped on the opportunity to get my customer out for some night fishing. We had fished all day and had little success, however by early evening after I arose from afternoon slumber on the couch I noticed the wind had gone soft. The grass in the back yard had that luminesant grey green glow and the ocean canal behind my house was slick calm. I noticed small swarm of bugs above the water. All of these are the signs to me that it is time to load up the fly rods on the Maverick and go jump some tarpon.

I had the fly rods loaded and the mercury rumbling when my sport showed up at 8 p.m. Out the Key West harbor and past the coast guard station we headed. What lie ahead was any ones guess, however, I knew one thing for certain. Even if we did not hook a single fish there is no one place in the world more beautiful than the flats of the lower Florida Keys at night.

In the evening just at sun set when conditions are right the shrimp, crabs and the squid or coddle fish to be exact rise to the surface to drift in the current. This occurrence means one thing to the tarpon! Chew anything that wiggles. I fish live crabs, casting plugs rigged with single hook instead of treble hooks. You may land less fish with the plugs rigged with single hooks, however, the single hooks are not a tough on the tarpons face and jaws when hooked. When fly casting I use black flies. Doesnít matter what kind to me as long as they are black and wiggle. Some may argue this choice, however, it works and itís simple. When you did this for a living you need effective and simple solutions to produce fish. Especial at night, when you may go through a dozen flies or half dozen plugs or two dozen crabs in a four hour session of fishing. The world goes quite as the sun set and then we enter as I call the twilight zone. Like a switch board on a sound machine the ocean comes back to life with sound of gurgling tarpon, barracuda blasting ladyfish, turtles breathing, egrets and herons squawking from there perches on old abandoned lobster traps which lay just above the surface of the flat. At night there is a whole new group of sound to hear on the flats.

Once to the spot we did manage to jump four fish and land two more. My customer after hooking several fish let me have the fly pole and try my luck. Surprisingly I managed to come tight on a tarpon and get him all the way to the boat. Surprisingly I say this in jest, because, most of my time is spent telling and directing or guiding others how to hook fish. So I laugh to myself whenever I hook a tarpon and do all things correct enough to successfully get him to the boat. If you never thought about evening or night tarpon fishing you should check it out. I use a 2 million candle power spot light to spot the fish when hooked and my boat has plenty of courtesy lighting in the cockpit, so need not worry about safety and being out fishing in the dark. You will love, just like the tarpon love it.

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Capt. Lenny Leonard
Phone: 305-304-0154
Email: heylenny@bellsouth.net

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