The last two days I fished with Aaron Snell, and was joined by Dave Dalu for the first day. Andy Mill could not make it, so the second day Aaron and I pursued the six solo.
We began at a civilized 8:30, and the clouds were many and unfriendly. After a 30 minute run, we began to fish. We couldn’t see any fish, and staked off over some lighter bottom to see what would happen. I kept looking at the same dark spot on the bottom, and kept telling myself it wasn’t a fish. Until Aaron pointed it out, I had written it off as bottom; Dave had as well. However, once we got the fly in front of it, the fish elevated and did its business.
After a few jumps and a conviction it had jumped off (when it jumped at the boat) passed, the fish went in to a nearby cut. This was the best thing it could do, since the depth inside was 3-4 feet and we had the fish cornered. Our biggest issue was the heavy algae-laden turtle grass that could have broken our tippet, but we managed to keep it away from the fly line for around 20 minutes as we chased our fish around and cut him off every time he tried to get out the opening.
After far too many heartbeats in a short time, the fish gave a last shove towards the grass and successfully wrapped the leader in the grass. At this point, the jig was up and the fish broke off. Aaron said to me afterwards: “that’s the first time since we started doing this that I actually got a litte shake going”, telling words from someone who is typically so calm.
For my part, there has been a relatively constant shake from the outset of this pursuit, and this fish simply added to its mass.
Dave was up next, and fed the second fish he threw at (no suprise, coming from the man who first hat-tricked in all three tarpon tournaments in the Keys) and the fish came off after 15 minutes. I was up again and hooked a little one, seen here before we broke him off so as not to disturb our good thing.
Dave hopped up in short order, and fed the first fish he threw at (again, no suprise) and this time the fish threw the hook almost immediately. I was up next and did the same, and this fish was big enough to get a look at. An hour later in deep water and surrounded by mooring balls the fish broke off. Back to the spot we went, and Dave hooked an incredibly acrobatic fish on his second cast. This fish wanted to run shallow, and Aaron got this photo after the fly came out (I know it doesn’t look real; I assure you that it is!):
I was up and had a fish eat but the fly came out; another shot or two and we left for greener pastures.
Dave had the next three shots; the first one the fish ate and the fly came out thanks to the current. The second was a close cast to a fish that only Aaron saw at first; soon after the fish turned inside out to eat the fly we all believed (ended with a pulled fly….damn hooks). A third shot to a pair that didn’t show any interest and we left.
We stopped at a few more spots that afternoon, but didn’t get one to crack. We ended with a nice visual slam over some white sand, and called it a day–9 fish hooked, Dave going 5 for 8 on shots, and fighting two world record tarpon, once of which was very nearly weighed; today was an incredible day.
And I should mention that having someone as good as Dave on the bow makes tarpon fishing a great spectator sport. So do things like this, thanks to Captain Aaron Snell:
Yesterday Aaron and I set out together to capture a fish on 6; between the 25+ mph of West wind and the ridiculous cloud cover we did not get one to eat, though Aaron did provide me with about 10 shots. We called it a day early and went to eat with Elena and young Olivia Snell.
When I got home last night I heard about Jose Wejebe dying in his plane yesterday; we all feel very sad for the loss of such a great and talented guy.