Luther Kelly Hall Rhode Island Surf
— Ron Swanson - Referring to Scotland (via collapsed-empires)
It’s definitely not a striper
I bet this would be a really sweet rod for sight fishing stripers
East River, Brooklyn.
Last weekend I made my first foray into dinosaur wrestling, that is fly fishing for tarpon.
It was an amazing trip. I spent a few days in Islamorada fishing with Jared Raskob and a few of the best tarpon guides in the keys. For the most part the conditions were excellent. We had calm mornings with some clouds that gave way to blue bird afternoons. I had done plenty of reading before hand and was familiar with terms like, “laid up”, “daisy chaining”, and “rolling fish”. I had also been warned of the tarpon’s finicky behavior and their penchant for rejections and quickly spitting flies. Now I KNOW what all of those things look like and mean.
This is what rejection looks like
I’ve never fished for a fish that was so hard to catch even after you got them to eat the fly. But this is sight fishing at it’s finest. 2’ to 3’ water and fish that are the size of logs.
This is what it looks like when you “jump” a tarpon. Which is when you hook up usually just long enough for the fish to jump once or twice and she’s gone.
Seeing fish is difficult and one of the lessons I learned was to really see the fish before making a presentation There may be a fish at a better angle than the ones you see first. And angle of presentation is the most important element of the game. I’d read and heard it countless times before but it was amazing how critical presentation is. I’m not the world’s greatest caster by any means but I can hold my own on the bow of a skiff. I had plenty of shots that were precisely where thy needed to be, only to get ignored, never seen, or followed then refused because of some minor imperfection in my retrieve that I was unaware of.
The other major lessoned learned was about fighting fish. These were by far the largest fish I’ve ever caught on any tackle and by extension the hardest fighting. On day 2, late in the afternoon, 11th hour for the day, after a tough morning, I was on the bow with fish all around us in very clear water. Schools of hundreds of fish. Jared was loosing his mind because for the life of me, I could not get an eat. I’m sure my boat mate was going nuts as well. After dropping down from a 12wt to a 10wt with a clear line and blowing one more shot, I still had the fly in the water and was getting the line on the deck organized and about to pick up for another shot when I had a nice fish come up from below and smash the fly right at the boat. Finally hooked up. I had leadered one the day before but had yet to touch a landed fish and the guide new that so he says, take it easy. Most guys start making mistakes after 15 minutes of a fight. I don’t think I’ve ever fought a fish for longer than 10 min max on an especially large albie. I’m not a slouch on fighting fish either. I know about side pressure and keeping them confused but I learned some of the finer points of fighting tarpon like finding their weak side and “head standing” them, where you bring their head up then apply a huge amount of pressure straight down their back low to the water, nearly flipping them on their head. Talk about pissed fish. Doing that wears them out but also makes em jump.
And that last photo is the sight of the leader parting after a 20 minute fight. I got the leader through the top guide of the rod three times, which for the laymen counts as a “caught” fish, and three times after leadering the fish she took me back into the backing.
It was a fantastic trip and I was very pleased with my stats and the lessons learned. I can’t wait to go back. Spring fishing and sight fishing for stripers is right around the corner but I fear casting to 24” fish cruising the flats of LI is going to leave me wanting more.
Here are a few more photos so that you dear reader are not left wanting more.