Tarpon mess with a person. An angler might have a sense of what they want out of fly fishing and life only to have their reality turned upside down by a rolling tarpon. Three years ago, I traveled to Florida for a fly fishing trip with an itinerary of one day offshore out of Jupiter and four days aboard a mothership in the Everglades. Tarpon would be the target for those four days, and ideally tarpon dreams would be fulfilled and Florida would be checked off my list. I had no plans to return any time soon after the trip and would instead take on new destinations. Plans change.
The Florida Everglades are mind-blowing for a lack of a better word or term. Attempts at describing how wondrous this destination is consistently proves futile for me. The ‘Glades are a place like none other and an angling destination that makes one feel like they are at the end of the earth. And it was in the Everglades two years ago that I saw tarpon rolling just off the bow of the boat … and it ruined me.
This week I returned to the Everglades for the third time in three years to fish for a second time with Capt. Jason Sullivan of Rising Tide Charters. Capt. Jason is a pro. One of the best guides I’ve fished with, he lives for these waters, and as he always does, he put me on great fish (including shots at tarpon). Oh, those tarpon!
After a great day on the water with Jason, I decided to go solo for a day and walk the beaches in search of snook. July in Florida, scorching heat and humidity, unfamiliar waters, and it would seem like this was a recipe for disaster, but it was a thrilling new experience, and I can’t wait to do it again. Fishing was slow, but spotting a 20-pound snook and putting a fly on it in the surf was awesome. Nice to be in warm ocean waters too!
Finally, day three took me back to Jupiter with Capt. Ron Doerr of Bite Me Charters. Capt. Ron is a workhorse on the boat and a guide that identifies an angler’s hopes for the day then busts his butt to make it happen. For me, I wanted to see some sharks and get into some big albies, and sure enough, after catching some snook and other fish, we had an epic day on the water with big sharks and double-digit false albacore.
Those who know me know I love sharks, and to be in the presence of sharks always amazes me. I can’t get enough of these incredible creatures! At one point, when I had the biggest albacore of my life on the end of the line, one of the sharks came and destroyed the albacore leaving little more than blood in the water. A shame for the albie, a meal for the shark, and a sight to see. And shortly after, I was able to get into some big false albacore, blowing away former catches and making the day one I will always remember.
Florida’s waters keep bringing me back, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I am back again soon. What a trip. Now time for a quick turnaround before a Rockies road trip!