0 for 2 on adult tarpon yesterday... user error x2

I've been good this year Santa. Let me get a nice 100 pound tarpon to the boat today. These were my thoughts (not really) as I dropped the boat into the water and waited for my latest guest to arrive... who's name was Keith coincidentally... another tarpon fanatic. As we got onway I was shining the banks with my super fancy (Walmart's finest) and expensive ($9) spotlight looking for some snoozing finger mullet. Finger mullet don't really snooz but I like to believe they do and it's my story so there. I found a big school, threw out the perfect pancake (huge banana) and immediately knew I had a huge haul with all the mullet I could want. The net was heavy and as I pulled it to the boat I was grinning with thoughts of all the airborne mullet missiles we were in store for. Then I saw the 40" long gar in my net thrashing around and ripping hole after hole in it (22 holes to be exact... I repaired it today). I threw out a few curse words, detangled the freak of nature I wish was never born... threw a few more times to try to somehow manage a mullet and ended up with two. Dang. Oh well, two is better than none.
So as we get to the super secret spot (everybody knows about it but doesn't realize there's huge tarpon here all year) I settle into the trolling motor and there are tarpon, mullet, and other fun fish all over. The place is packed with life.
First cast brought a 16" redfish to the boat. Next couple of casts had some hits. Ohhh boy this is going to be a good day I thought. After about 20 minutes the rod with the mullet on it starts getting the nervous mullet dance action... then we could see it darting back and forth in the water trying to evade the river monster. Then it was as if the skies opened and an angel came down to play the most glorious instrument... the sound of drag peeling off the Boca 80. I'm not sure what has a higher pitch... the sound of the drag or my girlie scream when a tarpon gets hooked up (totally me). Reel down! Let it run! Man it's screaming drag! Then *DINK*.... and silence. *pause for a minute here to listen for the silence*
What happened... I asked my companion. Come to find out he was tightening down the drag. Insert facepalm here. **more silence**

Fast forward another hour or so and he's hooked up again. This time on his own rod (smoke 40 with 15 lb mono on it). The fish is pulling drag nicely and he's getting nervous about getting spooled. He's never hooked into a good tarpon before. He asks if I'm going to chase it... not yet I say... we have plenty of time. We're in the middle of nowhere and he probably has another 100 yards of line left on the reel. I go on the other side of the boat to get the other lines in and then I turn to see him cupping the reel to give it more drag! Before I can tell him not to do that ... silence.

And that was it. The rest of the day brought another gar to the boat (this time with a fishing pole... not at the expense of my cast net)... and that was it. Could have had a glorious Christmas Eve two tarpon morning but instead we were shut out. It was a bummer but we still had a good time... and now I know to tell everyone that steps on my boat to not mess with the drag or cup the spool for any reason unless instructed to do so.

Tarpon... everything else is just bait.
Captain Keith Magnussen - Crooked Rod Charters
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