Suede and I decided last minute this morning to try a run on the tarpon that should be cruising the Brevard County beaches right now. I picked Suede up from his place at around 5 am and headed east. Without much in the way of tarpon tackle on hand and no time to hit Bass Pro Shops we decided to just pick up the assorted things we needed (big hooks, big floats, ect.) from a local bait shop, bad idea. The bait shop didnít have anything remotely big enough in the way of hooks, so we got the biggest they had and hoped for the best. Catching bait on the beach we were going to can be next to impossible sometimes so, after leaving the bait shop it was time to catch some good bait. We pulled up to a small bridge and Suede took off with his cast net while I went to work around the bridge with my sabiki (tipped by the way!!) After 20 minutes the tally was a half dozen mullet ranging in size from finger to jumbo for Suede; and for me a dozen pigfish, a couple pins, and two keeper sized mangrove snapper!! We were set to start the day.
We headed to A1A and began checking beach launches for acceptable surf, bait, and fish activity. We only had to hit a couple of cross-overs before we found an acceptable launch area. We launched to find widely scattered pogies and a few rolling tarpon ranging from just outside the surf to a quarter mile from shore. The water close to the surf was really muddy so we paddled until we found some clearer water and began drifting our baits. Almost immediately we began hooking up. I jumped a couple tarpon and caught some sharks on pigfish and mullet. Suede put out a jumbo mullet and had a tarpon chase it to the surface and leap completely out of the water trying to eat it, all this just feet from his kayak. Neither of us landed a tarpon first thing in the morning, but we had fun trying. Once the morning bite slowed we tried trolling some stingers and diving plugs out farther offshore. The only fish yielded was a huge bonito and a tiny barracuda.
About the time we were tired of trolling, the pogies began concentrating and bunching up just outside of the surf. There were so many crammed together they were stirring up the water and making it completely brown. Naturally this congregation of bait caused a feeding frenzy of tarpon and sharks, all less than 100 yards from shore!! We decided to match the hatch for better success and started snagging pogies with our stinger rigs one at a time as we needed them. Suede and I jumped around 5 tarpon each and caught lots of small sharks, we were having a blast. Thatís when it happened; I saw a large tarpon cruising just below the surface. I pitched my pogie to him and he devoured it. I got a solid hook up and the fight was on!! The tarpon was leaping completely out of the water and peeling line off of my reel at an alarming rate, this was no 60 or 80 pound tarpon, this was a big one! The fish took over 375 yards of my 425 yards of 65 pound Power Pro on his first run. It was time to put the brakes on and take control of this fight. I cranked down my drag and began regaining line. I got the fish close and began fighting him on a short leash. I was palming the spool and putting my Ugly-Stick to work, pulling as hard as I thought my 65 pound Power-Pro and 80 pound fluorocarbon could handle. I was able to whoop the fish and grab hold of his huge bucket mouth in about 15 minutes. After some photos and a couple more jumped fish for Suede, it was time to call it a day. The surf landing was uneventful.
A video is currently in the works and will be posted soon!