Sunday, 8 August 2010

72 inch Tarpon... its a kinda magic!

I've been so busy with Bug-Bond recently and a well earned holiday has been and gone... I arrived back a week ago... some exciting stuff in the pipeline... But here is the holiday report!!
I spent an age tying a variety of saltwater flies destined for the UK shores and pattern wise I was generally happy with them BUT it is quite difficult to score in the UK waters in comparison to other waters around the globe... especially if you are new to SWFFing (pike being my thang).

So a family holiday in the Caribbean was a potential solution and had me tying a hell of a lot more flies... the final death throes saw me getting a few flies from Oz at UKsaltwaterflies and my pal Dougie tied a few flashtail whistlers up for me as well... just to try!!

I did a lot of homework and with the help of a UK based forum member I was able to tap into the local knowledge... he having relatives there.

Over the course of the 10 day holiday I was able to go out on a local boat and hookup some Bonito/small tuna... the local fare tho' had to be the very obliging horse eye jacks that never failed but the bigger jacks were moving offshore even whilst I was there... so by the end of the holiday I was getting battered by smaller fish... I did have a superb follow off a couple of bones but I ran out of water... the area doesn't really have flats.

All the above were taken on a combination of shrimp patterns, poppers, bush pigs and candies that I've posted on forums and facebook over the last few months...

THE highlight of the 10 days was being told of a secret location for tarpon... now my downfall here is that I'd only tied two pukka tarpon flies one a Marquesa Sunrise (a copy of Brian Gent's) and a Black Death... on my 3rd/4th day I found myself with a local who was spinning for jacks, he and I worked together spotting fish for each other. I saw a shadow of about 3 or 4ft and my local angler shouted back to me "tarpon"... I tied on the Black Death and put out a couple of casts to no avail... some 15 or 20 mins elapsed and I saw a group of 3 similar sized fish and cast well in front and let the fly sink a little... I then started to strip and frankly to my disbelief I had 3 big eyes and mouths turn for the fly and I stripped quicker... then next thing that happened had me gob smacked and trembling afterwards, the water erupted and my fly was buried... line went thru the rings at a rapid pace and my inexperience got the better of me... the tarpon jumped... but it wasn't a 4 footer but based on the local estimate given to me it was a fish of about 6 foot and they said that it was in the order of 120lb... in the morning sun at about 0630 I saw the biggest slab of silver I have ever seen in my life... these are tremendous fish... needless to say I was bust off, my impunity treated with disdain by this magnificent fish. This was the biggest fish I have ever been connected to... even for the very short period of time I had with it!

I saw a tarpon of a similar size the following day but fluffed the shot completely... I had numerous follows from other smaller tarpon but no hits... next time I'll major on tying the Black Death and a lot of them!! They wouldn't touch the Sunrise even though they would follow it.

Here are a few snaps from my hols... proving that some of my flies work :D sadly none of the tarpon BUT a memory etched on my mind indelibly for ever... and I'm firmly caught by the bug of wanting to land a tarpon...

As a footnote... the vast majority of fish were released... obviously the Bonito/tuna weren't and there is an expectation by the locals for fish to end up in the pot... they couldn't get to grips with me putting fish back... they'd take what I would term relatively small fish for the pot. I even got adept at losing fish off one particular popper ;) when fishing in front of one family... a further comment on the size of the tarpon - having done a bit of research this evening a 6ft tarpon is guesstimated at somewhere between 100 and 120lb... I'd be quite happy with the lower estimate!