So this past Father’s Day I joined my good friend Dave Robinson for some beach tarpon action. Now in the past it’s been a great debate with me whether to fish or take pictures of my buddies. I keep telling myself "Today I'm not bringing the rods", but they always seem to find their way into my truck. This morning was no different. So we arrived to find the beach pretty calm and we quickly got out and started catching bait, which were palm sized pinfish. As we loaded up it wasn’t long, 06:30am to be exact, and I started seeing pods of tarpon rolling behind us. I had one pod so close behind me I could hear them exhale or "burp" the air in their air bladder as the rolled by. "This is going to be a good morning" I thought.
The preferred method here on this beach is to anchor up with our backs to the beach and wait for the schools of fish to come by, disconnect from the anchor and get in position to present bait out in front of them. Most of the time we are setup pretty close to the beach, as these schools are only a 100 yards or so out from the breakers. Since Tropical Storm Andrea came by, the water has been a bit dirty and the schools have been a little further out. The typical travel direction is from the north, towards the south, so we keep an eye out towards the north and you can usually see them coming from a pretty good distance. I had a good feeling that someone would hook up this morning, little did I know that someone was me.
My first fish came out of nowhere; i just looked up and saw my bright green egg shape bobber going under at warp speed. Then it happened, a huge tarpon came soaring out of the water, "Fish On" I yelled, quickly disconnecting my anchor line. This fish was big, mean, heading for Mexico and dragging me along with it. Tightening down my drag just a little bit more, I saw the line coming up towards the surface and once again the big tarpon jumped clear of the water. When it landed I felt that all to familiar sick feeling when a fish comes off your line. "Did my line break?" I wondered. Nope, my hook broke.
"What the heck do I have to do to catch a break?"
Re-rigging a new hook and fresh pinfish I set back up on the anchor and waited. Dave saw a big school further out and set off to chase them down. After a short time he returned only to tell me the same thing happened to him. “Broken hook” he said. Is the dark rain cloud that seems to be hovering over me enveloping him as well? We discussed the reasons, none of which made much sense and went back to watching the water. It wasn’t long before I caught sight of a big school further to the north, inside of our setup. Dropping the anchor I kicked the Phoenix 14 into high gear and quickly got into position. Glide is something this kayak has plenty of, so I drifted into perfect position. As the fish approached I noticed one of the tarpon had a huge gash just below the dorsal fin, most likely caused by a shark. Wishing I had taken some pictures I made what I thought was a perfect cast, only to have it ignored by the entire pod. Quickly reeling in, I made another cast and it sat there mere seconds and "BAM", another fish on. No jump from this one, it just dug in and took off. Making sure the circle hook was set good, I felt that sickening feeling again. "What the frick?" "Another broke hook?" Nope, my braid broke. "Tail whipped?" Who knows, all I know it’s getting personal now.
With no more good shots for the rest of the morning, we called it quits just before 10 am. Loading up and making the drive home I made the decision, this would be the summer I catch a tarpon. I can’t remember the last time I caught one off the beach, I caught a bunch on my last trip to the Keys and my beach trips I am usually trying to capture someone else’s fish on the camera. Not this year. I'm putting all my efforts into landing one.
So the quest begins..................