Monday, March 7, 2011

The Goal: Saltwater Edition

When Mark mentioned to me that his goal was to catch a carp in every month of 2011, I decided to make a goal of my own for the year: A tarpon in every month of 2011. The only problem was that it was the 27th of February, and I hadn’t landed a fish yet for the month.
What you are about to read is completely true.
It was Monday, the last day of February. During work, I was preoccupied with my evening’s timeline. I had responsibilities that would probably take until 8pm if I didn’t screw around. That would give me 4 hours of fishing with which to achieve my goal. No problem.
By 8:10pm, I was stalking a tarpon. For the next three hours, I drove to 3 different locations where I’ve known there to be tarpon at night. I had two fish eat, but they only grabbed the tail-end of the fly! I was probably stripping too quickly for them at night.
I adjusted my strip rate and changed fly after fly. Blue over black Puglisi: nothing. Purple marabou toad: hit, set, jump, off then nothing. Tan rabbit toad: eat, miss then nothing. Purple over black puglisi: hit, set, failed knot! Huge purple gurgler: scared them all away.
I moved locations to my ‘home waters.’ A little pool of street light a mere 200 meters from my apartment. I waded into ankle deep water and found myself with a chartreuse toad on a 1\0 gamakatsu. There were so many tarpon there, but they were very spooky. Lines slapping the water and false casting puts them down. I am sure they can see me standing there, as well. The best technique is to wait for one to unwittingly head towards you.
On the first cast to the first potential candidate, I had a charge but a turn away at the last moment. This gave me confidence in the fly and I thought that I would easily make the midnight deadline, thus keeping the goal viable.
Forty minutes flew by as the fish stayed out of range. It was 11:57 at night on the last day of the month when I started Hail Mary blind casting as far as I could out into the darkness.
Defeated, I glanced at my watch. 11:59.42. I literally said, outloud, “one more cast.”
Now, you probably won’t believe this. At first, I didn’t believe what was happening, either. After 4 hours of stalking and carefully casting, the last, blind, desperation cast of the evening resulted in an unseen take. I strip-set into the weight of a tarpon as it leapt and reflected in the darkness. I was connected.
After an acrobatic fight, I landed the fish in the ankle-deep water. Some kid, riding past on a bicycle, took a picture for me. It was roughly 12:10am on the morning of the first day of March, but I hooked the fish in February! So, according the rules and regulations of a contest that I am both the participant in and administrator of, I say it counts!
Call "bullshit" if you want, but the thought of the mythical "one last cast" hookup always crosses my mind when it comes time to pack it in. It has never once worked out, except when I needed it to the most.


Mark Kautz said...

Hooked in February and caught in March is a February fish. I fought many a shark that took 10 to 12 hours to land and many into the next day. You're good for February in my book.


Bigerrfish said...

I beleive it! not hard to believe at all and an awesome story,, good luck with 1st-last casts for the rest of the year...

With out a "last cast" theres no first!