Monday, August 8, 2011

Tarpon Bonanza Off Matlacha

Here are a few shots from Sunday morning in Matlacha Pass and my buddy Capt. Mike Bartlett showing a bunch of tarpon the business end of his 8-weight Colton fly rod.
Mike caught this nice 20 pounder on his very first cast of the morning.

The same 20 pounder trying to get loose after running under the boat.

Bowing to the King.

An all white deer hair fly did the trick on every fish we hooked.

One of three fish that we brought to the boat.
This tarpon season has been a real struggle but our success this day was thanks to a combination of everything going right.  For starters we had flat calm water for the entire morning which is the most important ingredient when you're looking for rolling fish.  Throw in the very warm water temps, almost 90 degrees on some flats, along with the insanely high humidity and the tarpon were popping up on every flat we hit. 

These calm conditions usually make fly fishing a necessity.  Tossing noisy lures like Zara Spooks just makes too much commotion.  On Saturday I was out on a charter and we got exactly one hit in over an hour of casting topwaters at the same school of rolling tarpon.  Mike and I had no fewer than ten different fish eat a 2/0 white streamer the next morning.  A quiet, slowly retrieved fly almost always gets better results on in calm, shallow water. 

Finally, there's no substitute for experience and having my buddy Mike on the bow, who happens to be the best flats guide in Key West as far as I'm concerned, made all the difference in the world.  He hooked more tarpon in two hours than all of my charters in the past two weeks.  I've fished with some good anglers recently but obviously none of them had as many tarpon under their belt as a veteran Keys guide.  Knowing how to get the fly to the fish quickly and accurately is crucial. 

August is prime time for chasing pods of these smaller tarpon in Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound.  They'll be here for a couple more months so if you've got a fly rod that you're looking to bend, or maybe break, give me a call.