Tampa Bay Tarpon

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by urbnfly, Jun 17, 2008.

  1. urbnfly

    urbnfly Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2006
    Messages:
    79
    Media:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    So, here’s the story. My roommate from college plays for the Bucs and he invited me out to hang out with him while he’s in mini-camp. The plan was to play golf everyday, which we did, but I had to take one day to get out and fish. I did not know much about the Tampa Bay fishery, so I just booked a trip with a guide that I found online.

    We launched at dawn and our first fishing hole was literally two minutes from the boat launch. Within minutes tarpon started rolling around so tight to the beach that I swear we could have had shots at them casting from the beach. We had to wait for them to move outside of the swim zone before we could get our shot. It was too early to see them cruising, but they would roll quite frequently which gave me a great idea as to where to cast.

    After about an hour of casting to various pods of fish I was stripping my line in and it came tight. It was not a monstrous strike, but I knew it was a good fish by the weight of the subtle head movements. I’d liken it to how king salmon typically take a fly—subtle, but strong. I struck the fish twice with my strip hand, he jumped right at the boat, ran fifty feet, and jumped again before spitting the hook! I was disappointed for sure, but I was happy to have ‘jumped’ my first tarpon. The guide estimated that he was in the 70lb range.
    After the sun came up those fished stopped rolling, so we headed to our next destination across the bay. It was a huge white sand beach that was a hot spot for sun bathers, swimmers, jet skiers, dolphins, and apparently tarpon. Certainly not serene like the everglades, but if that is where the fish are then that’s where I want to be.

    The first pod of fish that we saw was huge—200 tarpon! Seriously mind blowing! We made casts to that school for about a half an hour but they were much more interested in spawning than looking at my fly. We let that school go and for the next two hours we chased smaller schools of fish (2-20) around with no luck. After several refusals on the black bug that I was throwing we threw on a chartreuse fly and the game was on. I immediately started getting follows with the new fly and I blew an ‘eat’ by trying to set the hook with my rod hand after I was a fish turn on my fly. :beathead:

    Not long after that I made a cast to the lead fish in a school of about eight. She followed the fly but did not eat. I picked the line up made another cast to one of the fish in the middle of the pack and she pounced on it after one strip! She jumped immediately, ran flat out nearly 200 yards before jumping again. We chased her down, I got her back on the line, and pulled hard to get her away from a second school of fish that she joined (see pics). The next ten minutes was a slug fest ending we me successfully landing a 100lb tarpon! The guide does not believe in gaffing or boating tarpon, so we released her boat side.

    Every fly fisherman should make it their goal to catch at least one tarpon on fly. It is an experience that you will never forget.
     
  2. CovingtonFly

    CovingtonFly B.O.H.I.C.A. bend over here it comes again

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    Messages:
    586
    Media:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Covington, Wa
  3. alpinetrout

    alpinetrout Banned or Parked

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,911
    Media:
    294
    Likes Received:
    78
    Location:
    Hiding in your closet
    Good stuff. My buddy in Clearwater has been getting into a bunch of poons lately too. Did you go outside the bay at all?
     
  4. urbnfly

    urbnfly Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2006
    Messages:
    79
    Media:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Yeah. We launched at Fort De Soto and we ran across and fished just outside of Anna Maria Island.
     
  5. Denny

    Denny Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2001
    Messages:
    4,109
    Media:
    100
    Likes Received:
    60
    Location:
    Seattle, WA, USA.
    That's so awesome; good for you! I have put in several days 'poon fishing in the Keys, with no grabs. A buddy of mine just got back from a week of fishing in the Keys, and he had 7 eats, breaking off I think 4 or 5 of the fish on the hookset. My wife just shakes her head wondering why we keep going there when I (a) get blanked, and (b) my buddy is counting his success by the number of bites he gets. :thumb:
     
  6. agent montana

    agent montana This Must be a sickness!! MARINATE!!!

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2003
    Messages:
    563
    Media:
    53
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Groove City!
    Hot! Hot! Hot!
     
  7. alpinetrout

    alpinetrout Banned or Parked

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,911
    Media:
    294
    Likes Received:
    78
    Location:
    Hiding in your closet
    That's the way it works, isn't it? I was in the Keys for a couple days last month with 3 other guys and we all got blanked. So far, I'm 2 for 7 on tarpon, but I'll still keep chasing them.
     
  8. urbnfly

    urbnfly Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2006
    Messages:
    79
    Media:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    They make you work for it. You can do everything right and still not get a bite.

    I talked to a guy who is 0 for his last 14 days on the water! I feel real lucky to have landed one.
     
  9. bjgavin

    bjgavin Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Gig Harbor, WA
    Were you on the Gulf side or the Bay side of Anna Maria. My family has a place on Anna Maria that I vacation at frequently, I just never seem to be down there during prime tarpon time. I might have to plan a trip down next June/July. Also what was the name of the guide you used?
     
  10. urbnfly

    urbnfly Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2006
    Messages:
    79
    Media:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    We fished just outside of the Bay at Bean Point (?). That was my first time to the area, so I don't know it all that well. I fished with Capt. Bryon Chamberlin (www.barbedsteel.com) and he worked hard to get me on the fish.
     

Share This Page