-By Rich Miller
Well I arrived at my vacation destination today. It is Sunday afternoon and my buddy has been sending pictures to my phone of the fish they have been catching for the past two days. He and his dad have been catching some monster red fish and I couldn’t get here until late this afternoon. My buddy is coming back down later in the week and hopefully we can get on some more of those big red submarines.
This year we are taking our vacation about a month and a half earlier than we usually do. Normally we are here during the end of July to do a lot of shark fishing. Shark fishing is normally very productive and they prove to be a great challenge. While we are shark fishing we also get a chance or two at some of the big tarpon that migrate through the area that time of year. We usually catch a lot more sharks and stingrays than we do tarpon, but when we do get a tarpon on, it is worth the wait.
Once we hook a tarpon, we can’t sit there and fight him like we do the sharks and other fish. As soon as the tarpon starts dancing across the surface of the water it turns into a mad rush trying to get rods out of the water and get the anchor up before the fish takes all of the line off of the reel. Whenever we are lucky enough to get a tarpon, they never seem to be small fish either; they usually weigh a hundred pounds or better. That is why we have to pull up the anchor and chase the fish.
Last year when we were shark fishing, we were missing more than we were catching. We got a lot of bites but the fish weren’t taking our baits very well, and we would lose them as soon as we got them on. So when the reel on my side of the boat started acting up I really didn’t get too excited. I picked the reel up and had my thumb on the spool letting the fish slowly take line out. About that time my buddy Robert yelled “tarpon” and when I looked up there was a huge fish jumping out of the water right behind the boat. When he got the slack out of the line my thumb was still on the spool and that wasn’t a good thing. With the spool screaming it only took about half a second for my thumb to turn white and have a blister on it. I am not sure how big the fish was but he looked to be well over a hundred pounds and he was treating the drag on my reel like it didn’t exist. I might have had the fish on for about two minutes when he broke off.
The reason we lost him was one of the crimps on the cheap leader we were using pulled loose. With a fish that big it doesn’t take but the slightest little thing for a fish to get off.
I doubt that I will have to worry about catching a tarpon this year, but maybe some big red fish or other species will take my bait. That is a shame too because even though those bull red fish do put up one heck of a fight, they are not even close to what a tarpon can put on you.