Tarpon Report - 5/12-5/14
Sorry for the delayed report.... Got called away for a few days with work...
We took our first trip down south last week to Boca Grande. It's always nice to get away, and this trip was no different. We arrived at Palm Island on Wednesday night, and got prepared to fish with my long time friend and guide Phil Dugger the next morning. Woke up before dawn, met Phil at the dock, and we were off to Boca Grande Pass. The west wind would have made fishing on the beach impossible, and the reports were the fish hadn't been on the beach in any event.
When we got to the pass it all made sense -- all the fish were there. Thousands and thousands of them -- as many fish as I can recall seeing in BGP at one time. We got one right at first light, then the fishing slowed down. We changed tactics, fishing deep, and got two more bites during the lull, with very few people hooking up. Many puzzled looks from other boats with what looked like jig rods in Phil's boat (for those of you who don't know him, he abhors jig fishing), to which Phil explained, "We're fishing crabs!". Later, around mid day, the fish moved north near the edge of the pass on the edge of drop off from the shoal, and the bite was on. We got four or five more bites there in about 45 minutes, landing a few and losing a few more (I hadn't changed 40lb braid from last year, d'oh, and broke my line twice, we also missed a few bites resulting in the dreaded crushed crab).
All told we jumped about a half dozen fish and missed three or four more -- a very good day for the quarter moon all-day incoming tide (typically a slow fishing tide, in my experience). Here are a few pics:
Dee hooked up:
A few jump shots:
The next day, Friday, I had a few conference calls in the morning, which meant we couldn't get out there early. Got on the water about ten, and I ran the beach in a desperate search to find fish away from the crowds, but just as was reported by others, we found none, despite running more than 20 miles looking. Sad that we couldn't fish on the beach like I preferred, we got to the pass about one. It didn't take long for us to hook up on the deep rod. Unfortunately, we didn't get a good hookset and it jumped off almost as quick as it was hooked. Learning from the mistake, Dee got a good hook in the second fish which we fought to boatside. I hooked another one about thirty minutes later, and landed it a bit later breaking the fish off after getting the official release. Then the bite died about two, and we drifted through the fish without another bite. Here are a few pics:
We would have stayed into the night (my favorite time to fish), but the east wind picked up, and so did the thunderstorms, so after checking the radar and evening wind report (out of the east at 15), we ran back just about six PM just ahead of the storms. Thank God we did, because the wind started and the sky opened up as we were leaving.
Saturday morning we woke to winds out of the east at 20. Not a good omen, and with an incoming tide that means a very sloppy pass. I decided to again check the beaches, and found a very large pod of about a hundred fish in about 20 feet of water about a half mile off the beach, and we had them all to ourselves. Heaven! I made two drifts through them, but the strong winds gave us only a shot or two before moving us past the fish and we didn't get hooked up. Noticing the fish weren't moving at all, and remembering that I had an anchor, we decided to switch techniques. I got well upwind of the fish and set up for a drift. When I got about a hundred feet away, we dropped the hook and tied off the anchor line in perfect position to cast to the fish which were about twenty yards off the stern. Dee got her crab crunched twice on a slack line, and after a friendly reminder that she needed to keep her line tighter as to feel the strike, the third time was a charm. She hooked a beautiful fish and it was a jumper. I threw the anchor line and buoy and gave chase. About 15 minutes later we had the fish boatside, registering the release before tightening down the drag and pulling the hook. We had to check out of our room in about an hour, so we headed in pleased that we had hooked a fish in the difficult conditions.
All told we jumped 10 fish, missed probably a half dozen more bites from angler error (getting the rust out, I suppose), in two and a half days of fishing -- a good trip given the circumstances.
Already looking forward to next month....Mike