Fishing with John O’Hearn

Fishing with John O’Hearn

It’s a fine thing to be booked with a great guide on two fantastic weather days, and as much as I fish it’s still a surprise when the weather lines up with the days I’ve got scheduled. Earlier in the week the weather had been poor, cold and windy; by the time John and I fished things were to a warm normal and improving. We started out early on the first day, looking for a rolling fish and finding many. I had a number of shots at the fish before figuring out what these ones wanted, and once I did got a bite from a large herring that climbed its way out of the water to dry itself off:









We fought this fish for 15 minutes, nearly reaching the grab when the shock broke as I pulled. No matter; in a fun day of fishing, landing every fish isn’t a necessity (nor a possibility, let’s be honest). We stayed nearby for a while, hoping to find another participant, but in short order figured out that things had changed and moved on.

The later part of the morning was spent in search of, and while we never found a huge group of fish we were able to squeeze a few bites from fish in a few places along the way. At the end of the day John had us in a place that was, by his own admission “just to kill some time while the tide gets right somewhere else.” This proved to be a fantastic bit of filler, packed with roping schools of freshly-arrived tarpon (not to mention more than a few permit, which kept things chaotic). We coaxed a bite from one roiling knot, losing it on a jump but feeling confident that we would be able to make things happen again with the number of fish around.

In a little over an hour of fishing we were able to get a few follows from these fish, but not another bite. We finished the day with plans to go back the following morning, looking to exact some revenge.

We started the next day with a pass through where we’d started the day before, getting a pair of bites from large tarpon in the early morning slick. the first stayed connected until we decided it was time to break it off in search of another, not wanting to ruin the morning’s opportunity in pursuit of a face grab. Our second bite was harder to get, however, and we worked hard after breaking number one off to find another volunteer. I was able to get a bite by changing our retrieve, though this fish did not stay attached and we were thereafter off in search of what we’d left the prior afternoon.

The fish were there as we’d hoped, though things were different: what had been large knots of newly minted schools had fractured into spooky strings of tarpon, cautious in the morning calm. We often approached a thin group that would keep moving as we closed the distance, then flush violently when we started casting in their direction. At times, it felt like just the thought of swinging a rod was enough to put the fish out, but we kept at it for reasons of principle. Eventually John was able to get us in front of a pair of fish that were swimming slowly through some off-color water, and from these we were able to get a pretty grab. We fought the fish for a while, losing it toward the end game but getting a few pictures of the leaping in the meantime:








With that we were ready to get ourselves elsewhere. John relocated us to a few places he wanted to check, and on in to the afternoon we were able to get only another single bite before John made a final stand at another place to kill some time before we returned for a planned round two at the morning’s schools.

John’s attempted time murder again proved to be awesome for our fishing, and we finished up with some truly amazing fishing without ever going to where he’d planned to return to. We had a number of shots, this time with a fair number of bites to show for them. I started off by hooking a fish that jumped off, then came tight to one that stayed connected long enough for us to get a close up:

















We kept on in the area, missing a few more bites and jumping a few before we ran out of time and had to call it a day.

I’d like to thank John for a pair of great days (as well as the universe for its delivery of such superb weather) , and I’m looking forward to our tournament season together.

I’m a week behind in these reports–after the above days I fished with Drew Delashmit and Ted Margo for a day, and then one with Ian. I’ll get those reports up, hopefully before I fish this Wednesday and Thursday with Ian.

More to come,



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Nathaniel Linville

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