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Tarpon Fishing Key West, And So It Goes............

Report Date: March 31, 2004

So, it is the end of March and the weatherman has finally dealt us a good hand. When planning a fishing trip the weather is always a gamble, however, most of the time, the odds are in your favor down here in the U.S. tropics. Key West is home of some of the greatest Tarpon fishing found anywhere in the world, and on a good day I?d say Tarpon fishing in Key West is unsurpassable.

As I left the dock and headed across the North West channel this morning with my anglers from Missoula Montana, I had a sneaking suspicion that the Tarpon fishing would be great today. The winds were down and the seas were calm, I could smell Tarpon. Now, I don?t know how to describe that to you land lubbers, but if you ever been West of Key West at sun up, looking at slick calm seas where the horizon meets the ocean you understand what I?m talking about. Perchance you might call it intuition.

Arriving at the fishing ground I eased the boat off plain, and staked the boat on the edge of the flats in hope to see the mighty silver king. Now going through the ins and outs of fly-fishing for Tarpon we threw a few blind cast and came up with a few Mangrove Snapper, but we never saw a Tarpon roll. After an hour or so and very displeased, we relocated and were now going to try a go at some Permit on fly.

Well, as the story goes only a couple of tailing Permit and not one good shot. As a rule, you win some, you lose some. Knowing now we needed some action and not willing to give up, I suggested we look again for Tarpon. So, a quick change in location and fly, we were back to Tarpon fishing.

Tarpon release on the Flats

Going back to the same location and setting up shop again, we waited. No body was home, and certainly no tarpon to be found until suddenly it happened. Here they came, one by one like a heard of cattle, crossing over the white sand and sliding into the deeper channel where we sat anxiously awaiting their arrival. I was right in my intuition about finding Tarpon. Unfortunately, we were too early. I had beaten them there.

Even so, we were happy to have some targets to throw at. We made several casts with the fly. No bites or even follows. So, a quick change in fly we were back in the school. This was it, our queen of hearts, a royal flush. We jumped a fish however we never cleared the line and he was off. The rule being, 1) strip set all fish, 2) then clear the line from the deck and 3) get that fish on the fly reel.

Next cast perfect, the fly landed two feet outside the daisy chain and one peeled off and slurped up the fly. A nice hook set and then gone, something happened and we might never know what, however, we came up with no fish.

Next cast was a pretty short cast almost a roll cast, five feet in front off the lead fish and that my friend was all she wrote. Head slurped up the fly and what happened next is describe by anglers as one of the most gut wrenching experiences ever. As we tried to clear the line it came off the deck in one big clump. All forty feet of line lifted off the deck in one huge ball. As the big knot heading towards the first guide of the rod, in a panic we tried to free the line from itself, but in our haste to free the knot the fish spit the fly out.

So as ?they? say three strikes and you?re out. Well, we kept casting and had no more eats and as quick as the Tarpon came, they left. We searched for another hour and did find a few more Tarpon, however, no luck. And that my friend, is the name of the game.

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