A friend forwarded a link showing some great shots of Sarasota angler Nick Halloran fighting a 120-pound-plus tarpon from his standup paddleboard using medium spinning tackle.
The one-hour, 20-minute fight ended a mile downriver from where it started. I guess this dispels any thoughts about paddleboards being unstable.
After watching an ocean kayak angler hook a tarpon at Boca Grande and then being towed past my boat out through the pass toward the open Gulf at 10 knots or so I thought, that's pretty cool, I need to try that! One on one, in their environment, in their face.
Capt. George Tunison
Just then a huge fin broke the surface between the yak and the tarpon. The tarpon sensed the giant shark on his tail and shifted into high gear pulling the kayak out to sea much faster. The image of the three of them (two of which were in mortal danger) in a perfectly straight line with that huge shark fin between all heading offshore will last a long time.
At that moment any thoughts of wanting to fight large ocean going fish in shark infested Florida waters during tarpon season from kayaks, canoes or paddleboards instantly vanished from my mind. I'll leave those pursuits to younger, much more adventuresome and agile anglers.
I always advise anglers to carry multiple pre-rigged rods as you never know what you may run across in a day's fishing. This time of year, offshore as well as inshore, its good policy to have a cobia rod onboard rigged with a colorful bucktail or plastic eel. Of course, a well full of live eels is tops and a hand sized pin fish not far behind. Plastic eels as well as jumbo foot long Largemouth plastic worms in black have worked well for me over the years
While anchored in Charlotte Harbor dead baiting for tarpon, one of the crew spotted two huge cobes swimming not far off the transom. I handed him the pre-rigged cobe rod and he quickly landed the 10-inch black bass worm about three feet in front of the lead fish. Two turns of the handle, a giant boil, and then nothing but screaming drag as the two of them took off together in a long run.
As the fight neared, the hooked and free cobia stayed together which gave me time to cast a snook sized bucktail at the free cobia which was instantly inhaled and also bent the undersized rod all the way down to the handle.
Within three minutes the hook straightened and my cobe was free again. My angler didn't hook a tarpon that day, but was very pleased with his early morning, hard fighting, just a hair under 50-inch Charlotte Harbor cobia. Be prepared.
With folks in the water diving, snorkeling and searching for scallops and lobsters, boat operators all over the state need to be aware of and understand a diver's flag.
This from the FWC: The FWC reminds boaters that if you come upon a diver-down flag operators must slow to idle speed if they need to travel within 300 feet of a diver-down flag or buoy in open water or within 100 feet of one on a river, inlet or navigational channel. Divers, even those who wade in, should stay within 300 feet of a properly displayed diver-down symbol (red with a white diagonal stripe) on a flag or buoy when in open water and within 100 feet of a properly displayed diver-down flag or buoy if on a river, inlet or navigation channel.
Diver-down flags displayed on vessels must be at least 20 inches by 24 inches, and a stiffener is required to keep the flag unfurled. The flag must be displayed from the highest point of the vessel, must be visible from all directions and must be displayed only when divers are in the water.