Yesterday I fished with Howard Davis and Drew Delashmit. Our target was tarpon.
We began by poling a long edge in the backcountry, looking for a few sliding creatures. I was up first and, after a slow 45 minutes, had a shot at a pair of fish that cooperated: I dried off a 70 pound fish for a few minutes before the hook fell out and Howard was up. What followed was a flurry, shots coming at intervals of a few minutes, and Howard fed a fish after perhaps 30 minutes that didn’t stay tight to the hook.
We left for another edge, and soon found ourselves surrounded by groups of smaller (20-50 pound) tarpon. I caught one, and while I was fighting it Howard stepped up to attempt the double–a very difficult thing to do when sight fishing for tarpon. He managed to get an uncommitted grab from a fish while I broke my fish off near the boat:
After this, Howard spent another spell looking for a bite. The casts were good, though the pair of large sharks cruising the flats had the fish on edge and less than enthusiastic about eating a fly. He managed to hook an secure the leader-release on a small fish, however, and I was back on the bow to finish out the area. I had a number of shots at larger fish, though none of them responded.
Finally, at the end of the day, we left for a spot near home that is known for large fish that don’t bite very well. I was on the bow, and Drew and I fished hard together, looking for a bite from fish that were clearly as hard as they come. We had perhaps 12 shots. Of these, three resulted in a long follow and no bite. By the end of this 45 minute period, I was bent and ready for Howard to step up to the bow to finish out the day.
His first shot was slightly short of a large laid up fish, and his second at the same was simply ignored. While he was preparing to cast at the fish a third time, another large tarpon crept up from behind the first one, and Drew told Howard to forget about the first fish and focus instead on the second, fresher fish. Howard dropped the fly in the fish’s line, brought up the slack, and moved the fly when the fish was within a few feet of the bug. The great fish turned, elevated, and finally took the fly in great form, leaving a hole in the water and a fly line pulling through Howard’s hands and a straight rod.
I was so excited that I almost took Howard into the water with a congratulatory bear hug, and Drew and I watched Howard fight the beast, which put on a great aerial display:
I’d like to note to the readership here that this was one of the best moment’s I’ve ever had on the water: watching a good friend rise up against the difficulty and deliver a cast, retrieve, and hookset that is quite literally perfect.
Hats off to Howard for making my day, and thanks x1,000,000 to him for inviting me along to share the boat with Captain Drew Delashmit.
I’m fishing Monday and Tuesday with Joe in the park, and Tuesday Dave Dalu will join us. The following Friday I’m fsihnig in Marathon with Dave and Scott Collins. Reports will follow.