Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Time For Predators

As the sun sets in the Caribbean it is gradually replaced by the moon, which, depending on its phase, can be pretty darn bright. For a fly fishermen, the night is a time for predators. Usually, the darker it is, the better. Tarpon, cuda, jacks, snappers, and of course, sharks are all on the prowl. All one has to do is find a source of light shining into, on, or in the vicinity of water and you will find predators. The light draws in the prey, baitfish and other assorted goodies, which, in turn, makes them an easy meal for the big guys.

On my first few trips to these islands, most of my fishing took place at night. I was all about the tarpon. My brother and I zeroed in on a few spots and found a few others. The fish were untouched and obliged on cast after cast. On the last two trips, the fish had grown weary of our techniques and flies and were much harder to catch. Subsequently, I had grown more fond of stalking fish on the flats. The tarpon were more of an afterthought. On these islands, the fish are resident juveniles. Only around fishing docks, where the fish gorge on scraps, do they approach one hundred pounds. On average, they are around 30-40 pounds.

Tarpon and barracuda tend to position themselves in areas where they can ambush their prey. They congregate on the edge of the light or lay and wait in deeper areas around structure. Tarpon's eyes have evolved to be highly effective nighttime hunters and are angled upwards to see their prey. Fishing towards them is all about having a silhouette against the light and purple tarpon toads are usually the fly of choice. For the cuda, one will have a much better chance with a spinning rod. It is hard to trick these monsters into taking a fly because you can't generate enough velocity to get them to take.

My brother and his friends have made it a habit to routinely get together for an evening session of fishing. In these gatherings, fly rods, spinning rods, and hand lines join forces to catch a wide variety of fish. All three disciplines usually receive action, which can make for a great night out. 


Mark Kautz said...

And all the times we swam at night, predators never crossed out minds.


Clive said...

Nice cudas, those monsters always eluded me - hooked em a few times, never landed a big one!