On Tuesday I had the pleasure of fishing with Jason Schratwieser, the conservation director of the IGFA. Jason and I have known one another for a while, but we had not yet fished together until now. I booked Aaron Snell for a day of fishing, and while the weather left much to be desired we elected to go anyway.
We met at the marina at 6 AM, and despite the total cloud cover and intermittent rain showers we made a go of it. As it turned out, this was a good call.
We began by looking in the back, in a basin that usually holds tarpon. The fish were there, but so were the clouds: we fished for four hours, during which time we only had a few decent shots where we saw the fish before they saw us. After this we stopped for lunch, enjoying a burger and taking our time before getting back on the water for more punishment.
Our next stop was also piled high with fish swimming through, and while Aaron could see them pushing from a few hundred yards away we were unable to see them clearly, even when they were nearby the boat. Consequently, we only had one bite from one fish–a bite that I promptly screwed up in its entirety. Jason was up next, and he had a few shots, then me, than Jason again. Each time, we would have a few shots at pushing fish without a bite. I managed to capture a yellowtail (that buried a spine in my hand despite my best efforts to prevent this very thing from happening), and we were on to the next place.
And here, it’s worth mentioning that we had fished our eight hours and then some. Disregarding this fact, Aaron had us on another spot after a half-hour run. It turned out to be a great decision. As soon as he deployed the anchor, a school of backcountry giants approached. Even though the anchor pulled and the boat was drifting away from the school I was able to get a shot off at the lead fish, which immediately accelerated and ate the fly, just like a boss. It was a very large fish, well over 100 pounds, and I fought her for maybe 15 minutes on 20# before she broke off. Jason was up next, and he had two bites from the next group of fish: the first pulled out, but with the second the hook found a home and the fish raced off, leaving only a single loop of fly line to wrap around the reel and end the game as soon as it started.
I was up next, and had a shot with no bite due to a fouled fly. Jason followed with another bite and a homeless hook point, and I was up again. I may have had another bite from a tarpon before I made trying to catch a jack off the back of one of the large passing bull sharks my top priority. I managed to get one to eat the fly and stay hooked long enough for its giant wing man to elevate and try to devour it, but the hook came out and the jack was safe.
As I recall Jason may have had another bite, and at this point it was 5:30–easily a twelve hour day by the time Aaron delivered us, happy and full of tarpon thoughts, to the dock.
I’d like to thank Jason Schratwieser for joining me for a great day on the water, and I look forward to fishing with him again.
Thursday I fished with Captain Chris McCreedy and Fitz–a report will be posted here shortly.