After a successful first outing for tarpon in the front yard, we headed back out three nights later for another crack at them.
The wind was howling. As we approached the hole, we could see something weird floating in the water just off of the rocky shoreline. When we got within range, we realized it was the fronds of a palm tree. The whipping winds had snapped a 30ft palm tree off at the base, dumping it smack into the middle of the most reliable spot for tarpon the entire island! My best efforts could not budge the tree, the wood was more dense than water and was sunken and wedged into the bottom rocks by the motion of the sea.
The fish, however, were still there. Our eyes would catch the glint of moonlight and streetlight off of their scales when they rolled or went broadside. Their eyes burned ember-bright beneath the rolling surface.
Tom had on the same fly that produced earlier in the week. A long, skinny, black tarpon bunny. He waded into position and prepared himself.
I walked downshore, peering into the blackness for a daisy chain of those ember eyes. Before I made a spot, I heard a whoop from Tom and turned to see a leaping fish and Tom hard fast into the strip set.
All by his lonesome, he spotted, presented to and solidly hooked a good fish. I made my way back as the fish continually cartwheeled through the air. I could hear Tom's knuckles thwacking against the reel handle as the fish burned off more line. The tug of war settled down into a match that Tom was winning. Soon, the fish was within the range of the street lights.
I grabbed the leader twice, each time resulting in a freak out and cartwheel from the 30lb fish at an arm's length. Soon, I had it lipped.
Transferring the lipped fish to Tom proved almost impossible. The fish was still pretty green and at one point, a wave knocked Tom backwards onto his ass. He somehow managed to hold on to the fish with one hand as the fish thrashed and the waves bashed. I thought the fish would be lost before we could take a picture but somehow he held on.
Tom posed for some pictures and then made sure the fish was fit for release. He sent it off into the underwater night, satisfied with is record of 2-0-0 (landed fish, jumped fish, eats) versus the silver king. Not too shabby.
We contemplated the wind and the next day's plans. We were to head to bonefish mecca: a flat, coral atoll. Forecast was calling for 40kph gusts, 2-3 meter seas and 90% cloud cover. It would be, however, Tom's best shot at some flats action. There really was no question. We had to give it a shot.