Monday night, Vicky and I had a pretty incredible few hours of tarpon fishing at night with Captain Lenny Leonard. We found a few fish early, and the bite turned on as the lights went out. We hooked about 20 fish and, as is often typical of fish at night, they proved to be difficult to get the hooks out of. Towards the end of the night, we released a few smaller fish boatside–none of the larger fish would tolerate our hook removal attempts, and just as well. Sometimes it’s better for the fish (and the fishing) to break them off and jump another one. I would like to congratulate Vicky Linville on her induction into the “more than one” tarpon club.
Yesterday, Vicky fished again with Lenny, and I went out with Captain Paul Dixon. We had a few rods with 3 kg (6lb) tippet and appropriate gear, and set out for a morning record attempt before the afternoon, when we had a plan to find some fish in an area less accommodating of our record pursuit.
We began by feeding a fish that immediately jumped off–a product of the light (but necessarily so) hook set with light tippet. After an hour, we saw a very large fish roll in 7 to 8′ of water, and slowly sink to the bottom. On our approach, we could see the discoloration on the bottom that usually indcates a laid up tarpon. Our first cast landed just up current, and on the slow swing of the fly a different but still quite large fish rose up to take a look. No bite, and it sank back down. We continued to stare at the water and took another two casts in front of the fish, trying hard not to blow them if they were in a wad.
Finally, we tried the “last cast” attempt–the one that usually follows something like “let’s try them one more time”. The fly landed, began it’s swing, and Paul and I watched as a large fish rose up, cocked back, and inhaled the fly. I would like to say that I waited for the mouth to close in order to ensure a solid hook up, but I think I mostly waited while my brain tried to produce the extra “how cool is that?” chemicals to properly process the experience.
Off to the races on a fish that would, almost definitely, have broken the existing 3 kg tippet world record.
We did not land the fish, though we had it on for close to an hour before she broke off. It is something else to be up against that kind of a record, and I am nothing but grateful and happy for the opportunity to fish with such a great guide, with such great equipment, for such amazing fish.
Tonight I leave at 6:33 PM for more tarpon madness courtesy of Captain Aaron Snell, and a report and photographs (hopefully) courtesy of Fitz Coker to follow.
Until then, here is a photograph of a leaping tarpon, caught while fishing with Captain Bruce Chard, courtesy of John Jarosz: