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Rockets and Tarpon

Living and fishing on the Space Coast of Florida has some advantages over anywhere else in the world. Where else can you anticipate the flight of a manned rocket, while waiting for giant, silver rocket to destroy to your lure and fly into the air? I cannot think of another place where this is possible.

Today marks the official day that the United States will try and return to manned rocket launches; I remember the last launch, right at nine years ago, of the Space Shuttle. That day was a sad day for those of living along the Space Coast and marked an end to an era. The launch days of the shuttle were always electric. Thousands of people would travel to the area to witness history and feel the rumble as the shuttle lifted off into space. Almost everything else in the area ceased to exist, as everyone would focus their attention on watching that beautiful ship rise into the air and disappear into the skies above. Every launch resulted in cheers from the crowds and an upwelling of American Pride as the shuttle cleared the towers and rose ever higher in the sky. My clients would stand on the bow of the boat, watching the launch from as close as legally possible, staring in awe. Then they would get to feel the rumble. You could hear it approaching, coming through the mangroves and palm trees, growing louder and more intense at it approached. On the calmest days, the water would begin to dance as the pressure waves approached, when it reached the boat you could feel it into your very soul. Sure, it messed up the fish for a few moments, but not a single client ever cared.

That electricity returned a little bit with some of the recent rocket launches, but nothing compared to the shuttle days; that is, until now! We are hoping for a safe return to manned space flight and once again, thousands upon thousands of people are flocking to the area to witness the launch. Unfortunately, it appears that the weather may not cooperate (right now there are numerous thunderstorms in the area). Still, the excitement will not go away, as we know weather changes and the launch will happen at some point; either today or in days to come. You can bet that I will be on the water, no matter which day it goes up, to watch the historical launch; preferably with a client standing on the bow with a rod in their hand.

While rocket launches bring a lot of excitement, there is one other thing that has also returned to the area, for their summer travel, that brings tons of excitement: Tarpon (aka The Silver King). During the summer, tarpon venture into our area and are here in good numbers. Anglers have the option to chase tarpon from 2 pounds to more than 150 pounds. Every angler has their personal preference and I enjoy chasing them all. While these fish can be extremely difficult to fool, there is something about tarpon that most anglers cannot pass up. Perhaps it is the spectacle of watching that large mouth come

up out of the dark water, engulfing a lure or fly, that brilliant flash of silver as the fish turns, and then the almost immediate explosion as the fish feels the pressure and launches itself from the water, into the air, like a missile. No matter the size of the fish, they put on a spectacular fight and leave nothing behind. Anglers must have cat-like reflexes to set the hook and "bow to the king", then they need the stamina needed to apply maximum pressure and defeat a fish that doesn't want to lose. A successful fight will give us a chance for a quick photo and then a proper release so someone else can enjoy the excitement. Most of the time, the results are a few jumps and then they set themselves free; still not a bad ending. Yes, tarpon are the only fish where we count the number of fish that sniffed the offering, ate the offering, jumped, and landed. More times than not, those numbers decrease as the categories go by (10 sniffs, 4 eats, 2 jumped, 1 landed).

Of course, not everyone wants to chase the Silver King and that is ok. This time of year also brings

forth a large number of Snook (aka the Linesider). Over the last decade their numbers have dramatically increased and we now have some wonderful opportunities for them. Sight fishing these fish in the mangroves is one of the favorite ways for the majority of my anglers. There is something about trying to place a lure or fly into the twisted maze of mangrove limbs and roots, trying to get it close enough to entice the fish without spooking them. If that mission is accomplished, you have only overcome one of the easier obstacles. Once these fish eat, their power and ferocity is unmatched by most fish. They pull like an ox, leap into the air like ballerina, and use their intelligence of their cover to wrap your line around every obstacle they can; we also cannot forget the razor sharp gill plates they use like a knife to cut through your line. These fish are the backstreet brawlers of the flats, and they are so much fun it should be illegal.

Not to be overshadowed by any other fish, redfish and seatrout are the most popular fish that people want to target. Summer is perfect for both of them. Early morning means fish will be tailing and backing through the shallow waters. In the afternoon, when the sun starts to peak, they will usually seek some shelter; either shaded shorelines are drop-offs to deeper water. The high sun angle allows the fish to remain visible and gives anglers plenty of opportunities throughout the day.

Summer provides plenty of variety for fishing and it also provides some spectacular weather. After being cooped up for the last couple of months, it is time to come enjoy the outdoors! Besides the great fishing and a rocket launch here and there, the wildlife will keep you mesmerized too. Dolphins, manatee, sea turtles and more are abundant this time of year and there are ample chances for some spectacular photographs. Give us a call or email and let Captain John Tarr provide you with a relaxing day on the waters of Florida.

Call: 386-314-5998


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