As the sun was setting, my blue balloon started to shake then took off headed back toward the boat. I thought the attached ladyfish had gotten another burst of energy or something mean was causing it to panic.
Reel-ing the circle hook perfectly into its jaw, the fish took off popping the balloon. The rod bent deeply and the fight was on for only a few minutes, then came abruptly to a stop. I kept the rod bent just in case I was hung up and the fish was still on.
While moving the boat around the "snag," suddenly whatever it was broke free and continued to fight. The tarpon rod put a quick end to the battle and a beautiful 12-pound grouper came topside.
Capt. George Tunison
What reef was I on? How far offshore? No reef and inshore are the answers.
I was anchored in three feet of water in Matlacha Pass fishing a favorite 10-foot deep tarpon hole. This particular grouper swallowed a 12-inch live ladyfish with gusto and the 100-pound test line was shredded from the typical grouper "hide under any structure when hooked" behavior.
If I hadn't been using a tough fluorocarbon leader I never would have seen this fish.
Throughout the pass there are many deep holes, or troughs, holding fish that never see a hook. Most anglers never actually read a map trusting luck and past experience to bring home the bacon. A map and the ability to interpret and understand the information presented combined with a decent depth finder and GPS puts you 10 steps above the angler blindly casting away with little reward.
If you find a 10-foot deep hole surrounded by miles of two-foot deep flats there is a good chance that at some point in the day it will hold fish, and maybe some big ones. So just find a deep spot on the flats and start casting? Not all will consistently hold fish and other factors beside depth come into play to make one particular hole better than the other. Factors such as current and proximity to main channels are parts of the puzzle as well as many other factors.
With the flood of snowbird anglers this past season, finding your own spot is becoming more and more important. Fish find comfort and safety in the depths. Get a map and put in the time to understand it. Find your spots then put in the time to see if they are productive, which usually means more than one visit.
Try fishing your hole on different tides and conditions with different techniques. You may find that an afternoon outgoing tide or morning incoming tide best suits your particular spot.
Hard work usually pays dividends and today's maps are treasure houses of information for interested anglers looking to get an advantage over those wily fish.
Tarpon are here and many anglers are plying the waters in hopes of getting the big bite. Tarpon addicts can stalk their fish on the flats, in the passes, in the river, nearshore or off and can be caught on foot or from a Jonboat as well as insanely overpriced hi-tech fishing machines.
Tarpon fishing can be as simple as casting a jig or tossing out a hunk of catfish letting it sit on the bottom while you eat a sandwich. The mighty tarpon will eat a live bait as well as fish cleaning-table scraps, or chase down a well presented fly or plug sipping it in with hardly a ripple or exploding in a violent strike. Big, powerful, sometimes violent and always unpredictable, the mighty tarpon is a must for any angler and one of the ultimate tests of your fishing skills, knots, and equipment.
Want great, cheap snook fishing? Grab a rod and a white bucktail jig and cast the surf zone along the barrier islands while on foot.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or email@example.com, or www.flyingfinssportfishing,com.