I recently had the chance to fulfill a lifetime dream of chasing Tarpon on the fly, but as is the case with most fishing trips booked months in advance, the weather and conditions were not what we were hoping for. With winds up, water clarity down and visibility of only a foot or so, dreams of casting to cruising strings of tarpon in clear water were dashed. But poling quietly through the back bays looking for laid up fish has an appeal all its own. We were fishing the slicked-out crescent of a beautiful back bay early on the morning of our last day, silent except for the songs of warblers in the mangroves and the occasional jumping mullet, when our guide Captain Drew Naeckel spotted two inches of a tarpon tail casually wagging in the shallows. The tide was falling and so the fish was in only two feet of water. The next question was which direction the Tarpon was facing. It was almost impossible to tell. I took a guess and threw a cast as if the fish was facing left. It would have been a great cast had the fish been. Of course as soon as it landed Capt Naeckel said "He's facing right! Pick it up and re-cast! Pick it up!!". I began stripping in fast so I could pick up and re-throw. As fortune would have it, just at that moment, the fish happened to turn, see my fly running away and we saw one big swirl... The Tarpon charged and inhaled the fly. For a trout fisherman, I got a great set into the fish and we were off to the races. Multiple jumps and 150 yards of backing later I started gaining on the fish and we were able to lip it boat-side. A few pictures and we set it free. Tarpon are amazing creatures. The variety of water types and depths that they inhabit is incredible for a fish of their size. We are still learning about their migrations and life stories. Join us in support of this research and join the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust today in support of the Silver King. And if you find yourself in Tarpon country, make sure to bring a couple of cold IPA's, because you may need them to settle your nerves after a Tarpon encounter...
See more from Captain Naeckel at Mangrove Maniacs.