- Published on Friday, 08 June 2012 15:53
- Written by Roger Miles of http://www.flyfishlondon.co.uk
Saturday 26th May 2012
Arrived at Miami, after being upgraded to club class, so had a really comfortable flight, great food, drink and seats went back to form a bed, so had a good sleep.
Flew through customs, went to baggage collect, and immediately spotted my bag, great start to my trip.
As we got through, driver was there so we on the road within 5 minutes.
Kept us interested along the two hourdrive, stopped for petrol, gave us time to grab a drink and stretch our legs in the warm tropical evening in the Florida Keys.
Having driven from Miami to the Keys many times on fishing trips over the years, it was really nice just being a passenger, as it gave me time to look around during our journey.
Arrived at the venue, beautiful two storey house with the latest mod cons. Dave was there to greet us with a cold beer in each hand.
Discussed the coming week's event in our very comfortable abode which was to be our home for the next 7-8 days.
Great to see our boat was literally only a few yards away, beckoning us, daring us to take it to the horizon.
Agreed to go shopping on Sunday morning to buy what we all individually liked to eat, drink and so on.
Dave said he would do ALL the cooking as long as we washed up and put the stuff away, great arrangement.
Few more beers and off to bed.
Sunday 27th May 2012
Did the shopping, we just chipped in a few bucks each and bought enough food and drink for six people, great as there was only three of us in total.
Got back, Dave did us a full English breakfast, and we then chilled back for a couple of hours, we had already decided to go fishing late in the evening between 5pm - 9pm.
For all you guys and girls out there early morning and late evenings shifts are the best way to fish the Keys.
At 2 pm Dave did a FULL Sunday roast with all the trimmings, including his famous Yorkshire Puddings.
Had a doze, so we were ready to rumble at 4.50 pm.
We jumped a couple of Tarpon, but although we played them we did not manage to get them to the boat for pictures.
Great couple of hours though.
I tell you what I did get to the boat after a 45 minute fight and had pictures of, was an enormous 50lb Permit.
I hooked it as the sun was going down, so the pictures was taken at the onset of the night.
What an un-believable, fantastic start.
Monday 28th May 2012
Started off at 4.30 am hooked a few shark in the dark, you do not want to try to take pictures of these critters in the dark, just let them go.
Got back and Dave did us a great breakfast, so off to bed.
Had Lunch/dinner at 2 pm, a lovely curry and chilled back
Went fishing at 5pm jumped a few Tarpon, but alas they were camera shy, therefore we did not get a chance to hold them for photos.
Please note: It is against the law to bring these fish on board, so photos must be taken alongside the boat or in the shallows(flats).
Got back at 9.30pm went to the Tikki bar to meet the locals and have some refreshment, got back, had the rest of the curry, off to bed.
Tuesday 29th May 2012
Had a toastie as an early bit of grub.
Decided to go out at 7am, the night before night have had something to do with it, but you know, when in Rome etc..
Now we are really cooking, jumped several and landed a couple of Tarpon 1 x 120lb and another 140lb.
Got back, had a great lunch/dinner of prawn pasta, and off to bed ready for the evening session.
Off fishing at 5pm, jumped several more Tarpon and got another to the boat for the piccy, about 145lb
Got back, shower change off to the Tikki bar to meet new friends (you can see a pattern emerging here)
Had the rest of the pasta when we got back and off to bed.
Wednesday 30th May 2012
Off at the crack of 8am (getting later now) due to unsettled weather, the beauty & the beast of the tropics.
Jumped several Tarpon, but none to the boat, tried to outrun the coming rain and just made it back before the downpour.
Dave made up for it by cooking us a enormous lunch/dinner of steak(lots of it) chips, tomatoes, mushrooms, and peas, all washed down with the beer of our choice.
Off fishing again at 5pm, jumped a few Tarpon saw dolphins, turtles and a manatee.
Landed another Tarpon about 140lb and had one on for over an hour saw it and knew it was over 170lb, towed us for over one and a half miles.
A Sherriff's boat was shadowing us and taking pictures, of the fish, so hopefully he will email them to us.
We just got the monster to the boat and the fly popped out.
Stuff to tell grandchildren
Got back, Tikki bar to see more new friends, back to chip butties and off to bed.
Thursday 31st May 2012
Weather really thundery and heavy showers, but manage to get out for an hour or so, but the falling barometer seem to have put the fish down, not easy when you are trying to tempt them with a floating flyline. Changed to a heavy sink tip, so we manage to jump a couple of Tarpon, and also had a few lady fish and other bits and pieces.
As my targeted species was Tarpon & Permit Dave made sure we stayed on track for exactly that.
Got back to another fine breakfast, off to Worldwide Sportsman Retail Outlet, a fantastic place for the saltwater fly angler, every time I go to the Florida Keys I always visit there. Bought a few bits and pieces (be rude not to, wouldn't it?). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoHH_hEbABw
Fantastic lunch/dinner of massive 100% beef burgers with cheese and chips etc.., boy, that Dave can really cook.
Due to the weather we only managed to get out for another hour or so, the Tarpon was not coming up for the fly, so we adjourned to the Tikki bar.
As we had pizza at the Tikki bar we just went to bed wondering what Friday will bring.
Friday 1st June 2012
As you can see from the colour of the date this was, for me, going to be a red letter day.
Great breakfast, and started off around 8.30.am.
Again jumped a few Tarpon, but hooked into a beautiful 150lb Tarpon.
After playing it for 45 minutes we realised it had taken us near the flats.
By the way when you play big fish, you do not need to horse it, it is all about technique.
Let the fish play against the weight of the boat, when it goes left, lean right so the fish has to pull against the boat to straighten it up.
Only then you lift, pump and wind etc.. When it really runs, the skipper runs it down as you retrieve line and keep in contact with the fish at all times. The only time you give slack is when the fish jumps, and they can jump up to ten feet out of the water. We call this "bow to the king".
To try and land these fish when wading only ...well it is a brave man with a strong back that can do this. I do not know of anyone that has done this with a 150lb Tarpon.
We got my Tarpon on to the flats and the pictures tell the rest of the story.
It is not easy to hold and get fully upright 150lb of fish that is over five feet long. Usually someone gives you a hand, but Dave was taking the photos.
But hey, I am not complaining.
Be aware Tarpon is the staple diet of Hammerheads, and I have seen a 100lb plus Tarpon bitten in half whilst being played, by a Hammerhead Shark
Got back had a fantastic lunch/dinner, I am truly on cloud nine.
Went out at 5pm had another one to the boat, about 145lb
Tikki bar again, showed the English lads there my photos, I did not need to buy another drink as they celebrated with me my good fortune, late into the night.
Everyone one of them shared my experience and we all agreed that if you like big Tarpon, it is a dream come true to be able to cradle one of these fine fish in its natural environment.
Off to bed.
Saturday 2nd June 2012
Going home day.
We had to be at Miami Airport late afternoon, so after a good breakfast Dave asked if we wanted to go out for a few hours.
I said that I was so pleased about the events of the previous day, I would give it a miss.
But when I went outside and as I felt the warm air I changed my mind.
We had four hours fishing and boy, was I happy as we landed another THREE tarpon.
Glad I made the decision to go out after all.
We also jumped about another four.
Time to go back and when we got there Dave gave us a wonderful lunch, making us ready for our long trip back to the UK.
So there you have it. Islamorada - Dream maker or Back breaker - You be the judge.
I will add this as a footnote:
I have fished all over the Florida Keys for a lot of years and Dave Plummer is the best guide I have been with, he works in two four hour shifts per day, no one else does that, we were the top boat on all the keys the week I was there.
Tarpon are predominantly sight feeders, so I made sure the week I was there would be moonless nights. Therefore in the morning the fish are very active, and also in the evening, as they will be "feeding up" reading for the moonless night.
My target species for the week was Big Tarpon and Permit.
So do your homework on your guide, and on the moon phases and weather etc.. I did, and it paid off. I do realise though, that in all fishing you have to have a slice of luck, and I had a large slice.
Not a cheap trip, but the memories and photos will always be there long after the cost has been forgotten.
Now where are them damn big bonefish?
See you out there, somewhere.
P.S. Next week I will be trying to catch grayling on the Tenkara method with Louis.