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My Silvery White Whale - IRL 6/23

This day off started the same way as any other weekend in the past 11 weeks. I woke up early and packed up my kayak, ready to get on the water at sunrise. I had caught a couple small tarpon at the beginning of April, and I've had complete tunnel-vision since. I studied my quarry during the week, readying any material I could get my hands on. Despite this wealth of knowledge, the next 8 trips, I went home empty handed. Jumped and lost 8 fish in a row. It was a heartbreaking stretch. One lost fish at a time, I refined my tactics. I guess by now, you can tell where this story is going.

8 AM - I'm casting the backwater creeks parallel to the mangroves, where I know juvenile tarpon are holding. They like the deep water and freshwater inflow of that area. Lord only knows what they're eating in those waters, but today it was my Yozuri Pins Minnow. As I cast around a corner, my line goes tight and the rod starts bouncing. Yozuri strikes again. With an array of panic inducing jumps and strong runs, this is the kind of fight I live for. Sitting on my 10 foot kayak, I felt like an Iditarod musher with a runaway dog. Ten minutes into the fight, the fish starts wobbling from side to side with exhaustion. I net the beast and I let out a huge sigh of relief - or maybe it was a howl. Scales shimmering from the rising sun, I felt like a king.

Maybe I'll finally take next weekend off..but you know, probably not!

Replies

  • Panfishangler1Panfishangler1 Posts: 885 Officer
    Awesome report, and very pretty fish. Nice photos !
    Panfishanglersigdownsized.gif
  • avidone1avidone1 Posts: 139 Officer
    I'm looking to take my kayak up the IRL for those juvie tarpon...without giving too much away, if you could point me in the general direction I would appreciate it.
  • NSB PhotogNSB Photog Posts: 539 Officer
    Very nice. Those little tarpon are a lot of fun on light tackle, and are certainly addicting.
    Florida Impressions | Adventuring in the Sunshine State
  • bostonsox2904bostonsox2904 Posts: 129 Deckhand
    Thanks for the kind words guys.

    @Avidone1 - Take a look on Google Maps for areas where the mosquito impoundments run through culvert pipes into the lagoon. Any small creeks off the main lagoon potentially hold juvenile tarpon. You'll see rolling fish once the sun comes up, if there are any there. Finding these fish if definitely a smaller part of the whole equation than with other species. Good luck man, hope to see one of your reports soon!
  • SpaceCoast SlayerSpaceCoast Slayer Posts: 3,527 Captain
    Nice job man... They are hard to keep hooked but there are things you can do to up your chances.. start looking in the freshwater section of fishing stores.. look for crappie jigheads with hooks that are not so thin the poons will easily bend them, but not so thick that penetration becomes an issue.. light wire hooks penetrate much easier and if you play them with a lighter hand they will usually not bend.. I like the roadrunner jigheads with the spinnerbait blade molded into the head, they seem to have a hook that has a compromise between strength and slimness..
  • bostonsox2904bostonsox2904 Posts: 129 Deckhand
    I'll have to check out roadrunner jigheads. Thanks for the advice. They do look good for tarpon, and it would help get the bait down in the deeper water.

    I don't have a lot of experience with tarpon, and I know people prefer single hooks instead of trebles, but I have had some good success with the trebles. 2/3 is a tiny sample size, but the one miss was due to my error at the boat. I've been pleased with the solid hookups, and i've felt comparatively at ease after hooking in with them.
  • bdolnikbdolnik Posts: 20 Greenhorn
    I guess I'm on the same path as you bostonsox, have found them, and for the last 2 days have been trying to get them to eat.

    This morning they were definitely eating, and I got one hooked up. Getting it to the boat was a different story though, it cleared my head by just a few inches on it's 3rd jump, and spit the hook right after that.

    Funny how quickly they turn off though, they went from feasting on everything around me, to completely disappearing. Guess I'll try again tomorrow.
  • SpaceCoast SlayerSpaceCoast Slayer Posts: 3,527 Captain
    bdolnik wrote: »

    Funny how quickly they turn off though, they went from feasting on everything around me, to completely disappearing. Guess I'll try again tomorrow.

    I believe this is directly related to how pressured the fish are.. I have a few spots that I know gets fished by a good handful of people and these fish usually shut down after you jump one or two.. Other spots I have you can jump them many times with no consequence because they never see people and hit anything you throw at em.. Tarpon have a tendency to get boat shy when they're fished heavily and sometimes shut down just from feeling the pressure wake of a yak or a boat..

    Best thing to do is find a whole lot of **** spots and rotate them.. I'll never hit an area more than once in a couple weeks when I'm heavily **** fishing (haven't done it at all this year) and it has helped to keep my stupid fish stay stupid..

    Another thing you can watch to indicate their behavior is the fashion in which they roll.. slow rollers are the best and seem to cooperate best.. After you jump one or two usually they begin to roll faster at which point they become more difficult to get to strike.. and then after that they go to tail slapping, which usually means they are mostly shut down.. I think they do that tail slap thing to warn the other poons to shut down.. The juvi **** really is an interesting fish to chase..
  • bostonsox2904bostonsox2904 Posts: 129 Deckhand
    bdolnik wrote: »
    I guess I'm on the same path as you bostonsox, have found them, and for the last 2 days have been trying to get them to eat.

    This morning they were definitely eating, and I got one hooked up. Getting it to the boat was a different story though, it cleared my head by just a few inches on it's 3rd jump, and spit the hook right after that.

    Funny how quickly they turn off though, they went from feasting on everything around me, to completely disappearing. Guess I'll try again tomorrow.

    Great to hear you've found the juvies too. Sounds exactly like the fish I've been chasing Lol.
    Tarpon will break your heart over and over.


    Great info SpaceCoast Slayer. I noticed what you mentioned about their rolling behavior too. Those slow, shallow rolls tend to indicate a relaxed fish staying near the surface. Once they start those quick, sharp rolls, it shows that they're diving back down towards the bottom. I'm realizing now it's probably due to them feeling the pressure, and finding refuge in the deeper parts of the canal.
  • SpaceCoast SlayerSpaceCoast Slayer Posts: 3,527 Captain
    18 million years of evolution brought them to this point in time, they have good instincts!
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