All photographs on this page are available for purchase

All photographs on this page are available for purchase

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A few hours to kill, Tarpon, and one huge Thank You!

When I was leaving work the other night and heading back home, I got a call from a good buddy of mine Capt Paul Fisicaro.  He is the owner of  Strip Strike Charters down here in Marathon in the central keys.  He knows I have been working a lot and have not had much time to fish.  This is never a good thing for a fly fishing junky....I was starting to get a little bit Aggro.  He knows that I like chasing down anything that swims when the opportunity is right on foot with my personal fishing guide Chowda, my noble and ever so loyal Chocolate Lab.  Capt Paul had recently got home from a guide trip and found a good pod of Baby Tarpon roadside off the Overseas Highway.  He gave me perfect directions to the hole, and told me to try a small white fly because he had seen the mother load of Glass minnows there earlier that day.  So, after that call I found his spot, pulled off the road, strung up the 9 wt., and waded out around to the corner and started looking for rollers.

As soon as I rounded the corner, I saw a Tarpon smash a school of Pilchards.  This got the adrenaline flowing to say the least.  Looking out, I could see probably 20+ Tarpon feeding and rolling around all within 100 yards of where Capt Paul told me to go to. Desperately wanting to jump one of these Poons, my guide Chowda and I waded into a good casting position where we could get a decent back cast off without sending a fly line into the mangroves.  I stripped off about 80' of line from my reel and we began the waiting process.  After about fifteen minutes standing there waiting for an opportunity to arise, Chowda was over it, said screw the Tarpon, and decided to chase Pilchards and Blue Crabs around to pass the time.  Some guide he is!  Good thing he rates are reasonable, and he takes payment in the form of dog bones and other treats.  During Chowda's play time, I do have to admit I was a bit distracted by him, and was laughing at watching him aggressively trying to step on and crush anything that moved in his general vicinity.  I typically find, that when you are least expecting it, and most of the time not even remotely ready, is when you have a great opportunity pass you by to sight cast to a fish. This proved to be true once again!  A Tarpon boiled right in front of me.  I slapped a half ass sloppy cast out there as fast as I could in pure desperation, but didn't get a strike.   So, pissed off, I stripped my line back in, and started scanning again praying for another shot.  I was seeing bait cascades and boils near me, a good sign that fish are dying falling victim to much larger predators having dinner on the flats.  The boils got closer and closer, and then I saw a roller right in front of me.  I made a false cast and dumped the fly right in the path of a feeding Tarpon no more than forty feet in front of me.  I stripped my line a couple of times and then felt it go heavy.  I strip set and launched a baby Tarpon into the air.  The fish ripped line off of my reel and proceeded to cartwheel across the Gulf in an effort to spit my fly from his armor like mouth. All of this commotion drew the attention of my fishing guide from his crab chasing and he crashed through the water to my side to see what was going on. The baby Poon made about 5 jumps total, and fought tremendously hard, but , I was lucky enough to be able to hang onto him and land him.  I eased the fish over to where I was standing and grabbed him by his lip.  I made sure to keep this fish in the water while I fumbled for my camera. This is a crucial part of catch and release fishing!  Obviously, if a fish is out of the water they can not breathe.  The best analogy I have ever heard explaining this situation was from a former client of mine when I was guiding in Lake Tahoe, he said, "Run a marathon, then, as soon as you finish, stick your head into a bucket of water and keep it submerged."  This is the exactly what you do to a fish but in the reverse order by having them out of the water. Help them out and keep them breathing after you exhaust them.  They will revive quicker and have a far greater chance of survival.

All in all, it was a great experience.  I had a great time on the water with my best fishing buddy, and it was a successful trip.  I owe a big thanks to Capt Paul Fisicaro for the kick down.  I owe you again Paulie! He is an amazing guide, and an incredible photographer.  Look him up if you are ever in the Keys and have interest in stalking the flats.  Check out his website at


  1. very nice Kiddo! love reading your adventures.
    hope the keys are a good fit for you!