After the two days with Justin, I had Aaron booked for the Superfly tournament and the day before. This is the report from the day before the tournament.
We started in the morning, early to look for tarpon. While we met at the dock at 6, after I forgot something at home and Aaron forgot his leg sock (it’s not worth explaining here, but it has to do with an injury sustained from a kite board) we didn’t leave until 7. Then Aaron remembered he forgot his glasses, and we went back home once again. This put us on the late track, and while we found a school of tarpon and got the leader release in the first hour we were unable to scout for a body of small pons for the Superfly the next day, something we had hoped to do. Here’s a photo of me pulling upon the pon:
Later, we found a flat with bonefish on it, and while the first cast never connected it didn’t take long before a group of three bonefish appeared over the white sand and one made a mistake, leading to this capture:
With two in the bag (and a good idea of where to find each the next day), we left to find a permit. Over the next five hours, we went from flat to flat, on varying tides, searching for a body of permit. We found three individuals throughout the afternoon, and only had a shot at one of these three.
At the final flat of the day, the school of fish that had been present for Aaron the last few weeks were not. Aaron pushed us along the mangrove edge as the tide died, and as we had to go meet my mother at the dock this was to be our last flat of the day. Within 50 yards of the end of the flat, I spotted a single permit cruising the mangrove shoreline. Aaron spun the boat, and my second cast landed on target. The fish elevated, tracked the fly, and when I let it fall the deed was done, in fine form. Elated, we cleared the line to the reel: permit attached, slam assured if captured, in the eleventh hour and final minute of a day defined by difficulty. To our horror we watched as the fish ran for the adjacent overgrown shoreline, straight towards the largest conglomeration of dead mangrove roots and tippet-hungry overhang. I lay on the deck and put my rod as deep as I could below the growth, winding when I felt slack, and soon we were on the other side of the snag and the fish took a left into the open basin. The tension dissipated as we fought the fish in the open water only to return with great urgency when the permit decided to return to the mangrove channel. There, the lights were lit and bright-hot. A move to either side of the channel was one into overhanging dead falls, barnacle covered rocks or submerged logs, any one of which was surely a death sentence to our capture. Aaron grabbed the fish once by the tail (we had no net), but the fish was large enough that he kicked away once more. Under a sunken tree he went, and as I tensed to jump in after him and planned how I was going to get my rod (not to mention my frame) under the tree without getting stuck or breaking the fish off, he turned around and swam back out the way he’d come. At this point he was nearly done, and after a few half-hearted attempts to return to the snag I had the fish next to the boat, on its side, and Aaron grabbed the great fish by the tail and lifted him into the boat. We staked off, across the channel from the tree that almost ended it for us, and I stepped out onto the flat with the fish for some pictures:
After we got the photographs we wanted, I released the animal back into the depths, where he quickly retreated to the snags and underwater trees he’d tried so hard to lose us in:
With that we’d slammed, and headed home, but there was one more thing I had left to do. While we’d caught a tarpon earlier, I measured my shock leader and found that it was longer than the 12 inches required for the catch to be IGFA legal. Since I wanted to apply for a slam certificate from the IGFA, I had to catch a tarpon on a proper leader.
At 8:37 PM, with a properly rigged and measured leader, I caught a small tarpon from a local pier and released the animal for the proper slam–#3 for the summer. Witnessing the capture for the IGFA application was Kathryn Vallilee.
I’d like to thank Aaron for what was an incredible day on the water and for what must be the greatest inshore capture I’ve ever had the pleasure of completing.
The tournament day is the next report, Superfly part THREE of THREE