Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cesspool Tarpon

Exploring a coast line a few weeks back, I was rewarded with something ridiculously unexpected. We spied a small pool of sick brown water about 5 meters back from the rocky shore. Closer inspection yielded a view of a small ditch full of still water, meandering through a thicket flanked by tall grass, a rusted chain-link fence. and crumbling fill dumped there who knows how long ago. Think small stream through the middle of a construction site in the caribbean. 200 yards uphill from where we stood is an open-pit trash incinerator. Disgusting.

Yielding to the reflex of flipping a fly into any and all bodies of water, I lowered a brown clouser into the cloudy puddle at my feet. I have no idea why I even did it. It looked like nothing could live in this filth. I joked that I would have to re-tie my entire rig as this polluted water would dissolve my tippet before our eyes.

Within a second, a silver flash was visible in the murk and I set the hook, missing the fish. I dropped the fly right back in the same spot and in two more seconds had set the hook into a nice baby tarpon.



Perfect fish from imperfect water.

Baby bucket mouth.

Back into the filth from whence she came.

My friend flipped his fly into the same spot, into the middle of the 10ft diameter puddle, and on his first cast he hooked and landed a 10 inch tarpon.

Do they even get any smaller?

As we landed the fish, rainbow clouds bubbled and spread through the surface of the water-filled ditch. Oil.

Two small tarpon in two casts and just like that, it was over. No more fish were coaxed to strike. I think we caught them all and turned them off for the rest of the evening.

Two weeks later I went back. In the first puddle, no fish were summoned from the turbid sickness, a mixture of oil, runoff and tannins. Crawling and slithering along the crumbling concrete that made up one bank, sometimes grasping the rusty fence for balance, I penetrated farther into the thicket to a nice little pool about as big as a van. I had 20inches of leader beyond my rod tip, and I used it to swim a black clouser through the pool, back and forth, under the branches of trees and over the snags in the water. An invisible take, inches below the surface, pulled the leader and I set the hook on probably the same tarpon I had previously caught. I hauled her ashore as best I could, lipped her, and almost dropped the camera in the water as I went for a picture. She thrashed and I lost my grip on her, instead.

A heavily polluted strip of what looks like runoff from the nearby open-pit trash incinerator yielded three small tarpon. This is water that I would be surprised to find a carp living in. But instead, we find perfect specimens with dark, mercurial scales and long, healthy thread fins.

How the hell are you surviving in there?

Recent rains have swollen the water level of this ditch and connected it to the sea. I hope they made a break for it.

1 comment:

Bigerrfish said...

thats a wild story man!!