Tarpon Bay kayak on the fly

ifitswimsifitswims Posts: 176 Deckhand
I rented a kayak yesterday and fished Tarpon bay for two hours. Its clear that I still have so much to learn. I spent more time trying to id fish and their movements. The fish were rocking. I got blown up twice, both on a deceiver, white and chartreuse. I failed to get locked up with either fish.

I felt like I was in some Redfish so I used a crab style fly and made some casts that did not spook the fish but I was refused several times.

I was able to cast about 60' comfortably in the kayak with my 8' 10 wt. but still could not manage a hook up. Or consistent chases.

Do these fish ever want the fly sitting still for more than a few seconds? I tried a variety of strips...never felt like one was worse than the other or better.

I reckon I will go get me a kayak and get back out there and keep on learning.

Question: Can I get out of the kayak and walk around on the sand bars in Tarpon bay?


  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    Is this your (basically) first time in salt water sight fishing? And are you from a fresh water trout background? I ask because it appears that you are vision striking your fish, like one might do for a dry fly on a trout stream. In both scenarios, anglers often strike too early and come up empty. If the fish really "blew up" on your fly, then chances are, they wanted it. Next time, resist the urge to set the hook and just keep stripping, until you actually feel the weight at the end of the line. Easier said than done at first, but eventually you'll grow nerves of steel.

    One thing to improve your casting distance, would be to move to a 9 ft. rod. One time, I mistakenly brought my Mega 10 fly rod to tarpon fish with. This rod is for offshore and is only 8 1/2 ft. long and not the 9 ft. rod I intended to bring. I didn't have any trouble casting the required distance for the tarpon, standing in a skiff, but I noticed that considerably more effort was involved in doing so. A longer rod will help you a lot.

    Crab flies are somewhat of a paradox. Whereas they are excellent patterns for everything that eats a crab, here you are trying to imitate a live crab and the fly fishing retrieve does not lend itself well to making a crab fly look like the natural in the wild. This is most important when fly fishing for permit. Most of these fish are taken as the fly sinks, right after landing on the water.....no retrieve at all. If the permit does not take and a retrieve is necessary, the fish often spooks, because the fly is not acting naturally, like the real thing. That said, sometimes redfish will climb all over a crab fly, no matter what you do. But if I were using a crab fly to start with and got a refusal, I would be quick to change to something else and fast. There are tons of patterns that will take redfish, depending on the water depth, clarity, etc.

    Walking on the sand bar: You mean is it legal? or would it be productive? As far as the latter is concerned, that depends. Your silhouette is going to be higher, so the fish will see you sooner, relative to being in your kayak, so longer casts might be in order. But on the other hand, there are some shallow water aficionados who believe the fish become warier as you approach shallow water from deeper water, in a boat or kayak. The reason for this is that you are cutting off their escape route and they don't like that at all. This is one reason why kayaks are so effective: an angler can sometimes get inside the fish and cast out to them. Hope this all helps...just my 2 cents.
  • ifitswimsifitswims Posts: 176 Deckhand
    Great stuff Rick. I think you made an excellent observation about not letting them take the fly...I am used to trout for sure. These nerves of steel are something I had to get accustomed to while steelhead fishing...let them take it! I will make this transition as quickly as possible.

    I was meaning Legal...I like stalking fish and just hanging out and being stealthy. Did not know if it was legal in Tarpon bay but I assumed it would be. Could not find anything written about it.

    I have many rods and I happened to have my 8' 10 wt with me. It's a rod I use to fish BASS tourney's with is why it is so short. I did not know if casting farther than 60 feet was a necessity or not. Seemed like I was hitting the spot adequately just wasn't doing the finer things correctly.

    Sounds like you have a great deal of info on this subject and I thank you for chiming in.
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    If you're from a trout/steelhead background, then for sure you are well versed in the "hand-twist" retrieve. I theorize that this would be the ticket for retrieving a crab pattern over the bottom, once it has sunk. Very very slowly, and let the sea grasses impart the "motion" to the fly's legs as it moves across the blades of grass. Might work, but I have not tried it yet, since I have not used a crab pattern for permit or any other species for that matter, in over 25 years.
  • ifitswimsifitswims Posts: 176 Deckhand
    your response about the fly, of course begs the next question. ?
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