Got out with repeat customer Irv and his buddy Billy. Irv lives down here in the winter and has fished with me for quite a few years now, as does Billy. We were able to make a last minute skip trip happen this coming week (leaving tomorrow) but luckily Irv was able to go today as we were suppose to go tomorrow. Conditions looked great we had fairly calm winds and it’s gotten nice & warm lately – spring has sprung! I was able to catch some bait Friday since I was showing one of my new captains a little about fishing and saved that for the day. We got out early at 6:30 AM and made it back to the tarpon grounds quickly. At first glance we didn’t see a whole lot… I spent some time rigging and scanning the horizon but alas, not much as far as visible fish jumping and splashing as they like to do. Then we ran another couple miles north down the beachlines and bingo – huge tarpon airing out free jumping, sometimes 3, 4, even 5 at a time! A few fly fisherman were in on them too but for the most part it was a lot of wide open water calling us! We set up and had the last trickle of falling tide for an hour or so. It was dead low tide but the current often runs about an hour or so after the level hits low. Sure enough we got into some good groups of fish we could see them splashing and marked them on our fish finders. We had to put a little time in and there was no by-catch, just sitting and waiting for a bite! But we hooked into 4 good tarpon and landed all 4 of them. Not monsters they were all 40 to 60 lbs… fun size as I like to say as you get a good fight and nice acrobatics but you aren’t pulling on some monster for an hour +, and you can often get good pictures by the boat as they’re more cooperative with that. I think Irv landed 3 and Billy got 1. We had a couple others grab the baits and just spit ’em out before we even knew what happened. Once the tide turned the tarpon seemed to spread out a lot and then the sharks and other junk moved in. We decided to give the tarpon a break and tried some large snook spots which was productive… we landed 4 big snook in the 15 to 20 lb range. What an unbelievable finish to just an awesome day! I don’t have too much left in March but I do have a few days open, and I still have a few dates left in ‘prime time’ April & May. I have a feeling we’re on the verge of some epic fishing this year as the water quality seems much improved in the backcountry and I guess call it just gut feeling but I think we’re due for a really good season. One thing also I know the red tide up the coast is very bad right now and while it’s a terrible thing there, it sometimes leads to good fishing where we are as the fish don’t want to go north into that stuff. Time will tell I suppose!
Capt. Rick Stanczyk
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