Tired of not being on the water due to some pretty heavy wind for the last several days, Don and I decided to get out there and see if we could put a serious bend in the fly rod anyway. The permit fishing has been pretty damn good whenever we have had a decent day but today was not one of those with the all wind and also some clouds that we would have to deal with. Spinners and blacktips were on todays menu.
We headed out with the Sand Key weather buoy reading gusts at 30 knots so the plan was to catch some bait, find some shelter from the wind, and start chumming.
Bait was easy to come by so we made quick work of that and headed for a nearby channel that had a mangrove island to cut down the wind for us. The running was pretty wet and brutal but it was all good once we go anchored up on the spot.
After getting our slick going it didn’t take long before we say the first fish come at us. Don took his place on the bow and made some casts at what we felt like were 3 different blacktips. His fly drew the attention of 2 of the fish but neither was quite ready to commit yet.
About that time we got some serious cloud cover that totally killed any visibility that we had. We knew we had sharks in the slick so Don kept his fly out in the zone. I started cutting some small chunks to give the fish a taste of what brought them to the boat and get them in a more cooperative mood. As I was cutting, I heard Don say something through the wind and turned around to see him clearing line.
His fish seemed a little slow for a blacktip and I was thinking lemon shark until it broke the water in the middle of the channel…POON! And a large tarpon at that! The jump was one of those halfway out of the water jumps that are so common with the big fish. Don was stoked to have a big poon on the fly rod during a nasty day in the middle of December and I was more than happy to see it, too.
This fish had no intention of getting anywhere near the boat, taking him way into the backing going up current. We didn’t want to have to leave the slick and motor after him but it was looking like we had no choice. We had 60 lb. wire to the fly so we weren’t worried about him chewing through but this fish just did not want to stop. Just as I was about to toss the anchor Don yelled that he had the fish turned and he was now running back at us. He kept coming all the way to the boat and kept going, down current now, on an even longer run. With even more line out and a few trap buoys in the area, it was now time to follow the fish.
I started the motor and got Don back on the fly line so he could really start putting the hurt on this tarpon. With the cool water temps, the fish had some serious energy and he put Don through a good workout. After about 15 more minutes and some cussing and grunting, Don finally had him beat and I leadered him and broke him off as he jumped. SIck. WIndy, cloudy, cool, mid December, wire leader, shark fly… tarpon?
Our day was made now but I wanted to pull on something so we headed back to the anchor. It didn’t take long to have the blacktips back at the boat and after one short strike and some other lookers, I was hooked up. My shark identified itself as a spinner soon after I got it on the reel as it came out of the water spinning like a top. If you have never gotten to witness a hooked spinner, I highly recommend that you put it on your list. These fish are extremely strong, acrobatic, and have some serious endurance. My fish gave us 5 jumps before we settled into the tug of war. After 15-20 minutes I managed to coax it back to the boat and get the release on it.
Don and I were more than satisfied now, so we took the sloppy ride back to the marina and called it a day. Sure beat sitting at home and watching the wind blow on a day with no football to watch!
That’s part of fishing that I love so much, you just never know what will happen or what you will see.