The last two days I fished in the Islamorada Sharkfly tournament with Joe Rodriguez. The Angling Company would like to congratulate Captain Rob Fordyce and his angler CJ Nelson for their victory, and Captain Steve Friedman and his angler Greg Friedman for their placement as runners up.
As for my own fishing in the tournament with Captain Joe Rodriguez, I hope the shark gods will forgive us for opting on the first day to throw some six pound at tarpon instead of shark fishing.
Joe and I left the dock later than we could have, waiting for the water to warm and the tarpon to go about their business. In a few short hours (and after a lemon shark nearly ripped the pole out of his hands) Joe found us some targets–it didn’t take long for us to spot a large fish laid up shallow and feed it a fly. After a great bite and a number of jumps, the fish settled into a rhythm that seemed perfect for light line capture: not running, jumping a lot, and apparently quite tired. We estimated the fish at about 100 pounds, but given how it was acting we decided to grab the fish and get a better look before sealing the deal. After fighting the fish on the leader for a half hour, we were quite sure that had we elected to take this fish it would have been simple. As it was, we wanted to land the fish and get a length and girth measurement before taking the final jump. The fish jumped, and as it landed on the 6 pound it broke off–no matter, if it isn’t the right fish it isn’t the right fish.
We went on to hook another few fish, both of which we leadered but both were well under 88 pounds and we broke them off too. All in all, a great day on the water and one that I was happy about, especially that we let a potential record fall (willingly) though our hands. Sometimes if it doesn’t feel right it might not be–both Joe and I agree that we did the right thing.
With the wind and the clouds (and since we were technically enrolled in the Sharkfly tournament), we elected to shark fish. We began a drift with bonitas and butterflied ladyfish, and within a half hour we had a number of small blacktips circling the slick. In short order a large lemon shark showed up, which we caught and entered in to our scorecard. Even though the blacktips were too small to qualify as a scoring shark, I couldn’t help myself. For those of you that are interested in the exact amount of my self control that is lacking, it turns out that the absolute minimum number of small blacktips I can catch in three hours of tournament shark fishing is three.
When the wind died and tied slacked, we decided to tarpon fish some more. While we had a few shots and a lean or two I couldn’t seal the deal, and when the clouds moved in it was time to call it a day.
I’d like to thank Joe for a great two days of fishing, and I fish Monday and Tuesday with Aaron; a report and photos will surely follow.