Friday, February 25, 2011


8:30pm. Thursday night. I am skyping with my brother. Mark is telling me how he's spent the past week up late reading Andy Mill's comprehensive book on tarpon. I glance at my 10wt, stored near the ceiling above the fridge. It is rigged with 60lb flourocarbon tippet and a 2\0 black and blue Puglisi baitfish. I think, because you're 2000 miles away, still knee-deep in snow, I'll wet a line in your honor tonight.

I walk down to the corner to see if the swell is gentle enough that I don't get knocked around too badly in the dark, and to see if the fish are there. It is, and they are. As I stand on the rocky bank, two tarpon peel off from the school and swing past me, within 15ft of my feet. Their eyes glowing orange hot in the street light. They're in perfect position to be intercepted...

I head home and quickly change. Knots are checked, Puglisi fibers are combed out, drag is tested and I retrace my steps down to the corner.

I walk into position near the grounded pangas and strip out some line. A quick sweep with my headlamp reveals 20 or so tarpon milling about just out of range, so I wait for one to peel off and come close.

I stand there, perched like a heron, unmoving, footed to my shadow by the streetlight. I am sure they can see me up there. They know enough to not come circling past when I'm ready to cast. I'm convinced of this. In fact, in the 30 minutes I can stand still in this spot, I get exactly one fish that, unwittingly I am sure, comes within the range.

I lay the fly out there. Perhaps it lands a bit too close to the fish, but she doesn't spook. Slow strips and she turns towards it. Keeping pace with the dark fly I can begin to see her glowing eyes. A few more strips and the leader knots tic through the first guide at the tip of the rod and my fly is beached as the fish, inches behind it in less than a foot of water, nonchalantly turns around and rejoins the pod.

Oh well. After another 20 minutes I reel in and head home. Next time...


Mark Kautz said...

Hi Matt. I've had a couple of tussles with Tarpon when I was a kid living in Florida. I was using a 6' rod with a Penn casting reel and 20lb test Mono. I've gotten beaten by the Tarpon on all occasions. It would be dazzling to fight one on a fly rod.


Matt said...

They are quite the fish for a fly rod, there is no doubt about that. I usually use 60lb flouro as the tippet section in my leaders. 20lb would usually wear through in a few minutes.
When the wind dies i'll head back out for another round. Hopefully sooner rather than later.