The last two days, I fished with John O’Hearn. The first day we were throwing some light tippet at permit, and the second day we used the nice weather to look for tarpon. Here’s how it all went down:
We started far away from Key West, on a nameless edge, looking for a large permit with which to play. I have decided that in addition to the six pound tarpon record (which has provided me with a ton of fun over the last few years) I am interested in either the 4 or the 6 permit record, and as such John and I set out with some four pound tippet and a light rod to give the four a run. Our intention is to capture and weigh this fish on a flat, preventing us from having to kill the fish.
We had maybe a half dozen shots at fish that would make the grade (24 pounds on 4), and none of these fish bit the fly. As we worked our way towards Key West, we found a few bonefish, one of which I hooked on the light stuff. This didn’t last long, and the fish broke the four pound early into his run.
We had another few shots throughout the day, and when the fish got smaller we changed our tippet to 15# to simply try to catch one. John had a couple permit shots, I had a few, and when the light became too low for us to see the permit we found some white sand and ran out the clock looking for bonefish. We saw a large school of small permit and had two bonefish shots, hooking none before we called it a day.
With the wind lighter than the day before and the water warm, we decided to stick close to Key West and look for some tarpon. This turned out to be a good idea.
We started one place and didn’t find them, but at our second they were there in great supply: over the course of a few hours we had many shots, and I jumped one and John hooked one. After the third fish we hooked, an argument ensued: I contend that, technically (and I do indeed mean technically), a fish that eats the fly with the leader in the rod tip is a legal “catch”, by the logic that a fish hooked with the leader outside of the rod tip is “caught” when the leader is drawn into the rod tip. John disagreed, and we brought Drew Delashmit (via text message) in to act as arbiter. He agreed with John, but I still think I caught that fish. After leaving fish to find fewer, and then finding more at the last stop, the same thing happened again: I fed a fish with the leader outside of the rod tip, but drew it into the tip when I set the hook before I broke it off (I know, I haven’t tarpon fished in a while).
So we either hooked four and jumped one, or caught two, fed one, and jumped one. However you do the math, it was a lot of fun and I was glad for the opportunity to be reminded how far I have to come before next tarpon season.
Thanks to John O’Hearn for the guiding, not-so-many-thanks to Drew for not seeing the truth, and here’s to actually catching one next time.
Week after next I’ve got a few days with John and my father, reports will follow.
In other news, the blackfin tuna are around. Go get them.