Tarpon, the Ultimate Teasers

There’s a club here in Key West called Teasers where, so I’m told, young ladies don’t wear very much. That is one kind of teasing but when tarpon roll and roll continuously behind the boat, in front of the boat and beside the boat yet largely refuse to feed that is teasing in the nth degree.

Today Tom and I experienced such a day. Capt Colin put us ‘on the money’ so many times yet we managed to avoid hooking up until after our final move.

We started ‘out front’, in front of Fort Zac beach and caught yellowtail, mangrove and mutton snapper. We had a group of barracuda under the boat eyeballing our snappers but managed to avoid them…deliberately.

A ‘flats’ skiff moved right inside us onto a rock pile next to the swimming pool and immediately hooked up a junior tarpon of 10-15lb on livebait but they didn’t come behind us.

As the tide slackened we ran into the harbour onto the same marks where we had tarpon all over us yesterday but today it was shark city. We had a few nice mangrove snappers but then the sharks arrived and that was it. Almost every drop down our baits were taken, the fish would run 50yds or so then we’d come back with no hook.

The weirdest thing about the day was the tide itself. It should have been more fierce than yesterday but for some reason, in the harbour it never happened like that so we headed north towards Pearl Basin which empties through a narrow channel into the harbour so the flow is enhanced.

Immediately we anchored we were into decent mangrove snappers and in 5mph of current they really hang on, even though it’s only 10ft deep.

After several of those, including one half a snapper to Tom after a cuda attack, I hooked our first tarpon of the day. The jump was even more spectacular than usual, a complete 180 in the air. Imagine the fight in that flow…simply incredible and it’s a waste of time trying to impose your will on them.

Imposing my will…yeah right!

About 400 yards downstream the ‘Reel Lucky’ was anchored up with two customers fishing from the stern. Of course my nasty tarpon ran over the anchor rope and, after some attempts to unwrap it, we had to give the rod over to the captain of that boat.

To you…

He passed it under the rope and gave me the rod back…complete with birds nest tangle around the reel.

To me.

Luckily it didn’t take too much sorting out but then the hooklink broke where it had chafed on the tarpon’s jaw. “Oh dear.” I said and the boat returned to the anchor.

To cut a long story short, on what turned out to be the final trot down of the day, I hooked another tarpon, with an equally spectacular, but more conventional leap following.

A pontoon boat carrying sightseers had just arrived and they gave a huge cheer as the fish jumped.

Sightseers cheering and me so shy!

The tarpon ran from one side of the channel to the other, always running AGAINST that roaring tide. How they don’t tire I have no idea but they certainly don’t give up. It went up on the shallow flats on both sides and must have rubbed the line against a ledge.

On the shallows, if you look REALLY closely

I use 20lb Daiwa Floorit fluorocarbon for my tarpon fishing which is as tough as old boots but some parts of it felt really rough.

Eventually the leader went into the rod rings and that was it…my first tarpon of the trip and you can’t say I haven’t worked for it.

Working hard for a tarpon

Sadly Tom didn’t have much of a chance today but I’m sure his turn will come, even though we only have two more days fishing left.

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