When most people think of tarpon fishing, the picture they usually have in their mind is something like the following: a skiff easing along gin clear water, the guide standing atop the poling platform, eyes focused like lasers into the water, an angler on the bow with a rod in hand. Both looking for a silver flash, a green or brown back, as a large fish moves through the water column. Both angler and guide aware that if the moment presents itself, it may only be for a brief time. Then waiting, as the presentation is made to a fish that may be 50-75 years old. Both hoping the tiny hook and group of feathers at the end of the leader will be irresistible. Then their heart beat increases as the fish locks in and decides it wants the offering, moving its tail a little quicker, turning slightly and accelerating to "attack" speed. Then a mouth the size of a bucket opens up, engulfs the fly, and all hell breaks loose. 150 pounds of silver goes ballistic, as the hook finds a home into the bone; the fish explodes from the water, shaking its head violently, as line is peeled from the bow of the boat. The angler's only attention is to clear the line and make sure nothing breaks. If everything goes well, after a lengthy battle, the fish is landed, a photo taken, the fish released, and the guide and angler laugh, shake hands, and have shared a moment of true exhilaration. Hey, I love this picture and love any time I can make this moment come true. But for many, this thought is intimidating. They have no desire to try and catch triple digit fish; maybe they can't imagine the ability to do so, or maybe they don't have the physical ability to do so. Either way, they decide tarpon fishing is not something they can do. Well, nothing could be further from the truth!
I happen to be blessed to live in an area where juvenile tarpon are abundant. These fish range in size from two pounds to fifty pounds. While they may be smaller in stature, these fish do not lack any other qualities. In fact, for me and many others, these fish are even better than their larger brethren. Baby tarpon provide some of the most exciting action a fly angler or light tackle angler could ask for. They are readily available, they love to eat most things that get in front of them, they attack offerings with gusto, and they give 110% to the fight. These fish are perfect for anglers new to saltwater fly fishing or those anglers who want a tarpon, without the heavy gear or fear of fighting a fish for long periods of time. In addition, these trips can be taken with or without a boat; making it another option for people who just are not comfortable on boats. This is one of the favorites types of fishing for my wife and I. We love to spend a few hours at the end of day relaxing, casting flies at them, and enjoying the world around us. Add in some great photo opportunities for wildlife, sunsets, sunrises, and nature, and its hard to beat.
Wondering what you need for this? Well, if you join me, you don't need anything other than time to enjoy the adventure. But, if you want to bring your own gear, I typically suggest the following: 5-7 weight fly rod, 9 foot leaders (10-12 pound tippet), and 20 pound bite tippets. Not into fly fishing? That's ok, an ultralight spinning outfit is perfect too. We use our crappie rods, which are loaded with 4 pound braid, 8 pound leaders, and capable of throwing 1/16-1/8 ounce jigs.
Come join me for a new adventure and enjoy some baby tarpon fishing! I guarantee you'll be amazed at these little guys and you won't leave disappointed by what they give you: smiles, laughs, and tons of memories.