I went 3 for 5 and Dad went 1 for 5. Not bad on the fly rod and we blew a bunch of shots early. Unfortunately, no big ones but believe me when I tell you 60 pounds of tarpon is plenty of fish. The triple-digit fish will be on the docket next time.
Our last day ended with fewer shots than the first two days but we executed our casts and presentations and each brought one to the boat.
Dad got a "little" one that would go 30 pounds and because the battle was a little less chaotic I was able to get a video. Hopefully, I'll be able to load it soon. I only got a portion of the end of the battle but I still captured two cool jumps!
1. The backcountry tarpon game is all about accuracy and I intend to ramp up the practice before the next trip - a hula-hoop and red paper plate should do the trick. The game requires putting the fly in a hula-hoop at 40-50 feet more often than not. Although the backcountry scene doesn't require long casts, as with all saltwater fishing, the ability to load a rod is helpful.
2. Tarpon in the woods don't seem to differentiate between fly patterns. Although we did not experiment, I'd bet the old adage applies - dark water dark fly.
3. Modern "fast-action" fly rods may be good for casting in a yard but they're not good for fishing (did some side-by-sides). I'll post a good-old rant later about this one.
4. Don't worry as much about "strip-striking" as people say. It's more important with other fish. I am not saying don't strip-strike. What I'm saying is that, in this case, the strike is not some extra action. With these tarpon, and presumably others, you want to keep stripping with the rod tip low. When the line gets tight hold on and keep it tight until the fish forces the line out of your hand and I mean hold it until you physically cannot hold it any longer. When they eat they get mad - the hooking process doesn't take very long. This is hard to explain if you haven't experienced it, but essentially if you keep the line tight they will hook themselves. That technique, as opposed to a deliberate strip-strike, was more effective (although it beat the crap out of my hands - don't use shark skin without gloves!) Also, down playing the strip-strike helped avoid the dreaded trout set.
5. Strip slow.
6. The trout set guaranties failure.
7. Over the years I've noticed that freshwater fisherman tend to under estimate the strength of their leaders myself included. If you tie good knots, a clean piece of mono can do serious damage.
8. Tarpon are the greatest fish on the planet with no equal.
Also, we observed some regular snook activity in places where we hadn't seen them since the kill awhile back - a great sign for Dad this summer and a better sign for the future of the fishery.
Great trip with just enough memories to keep me going until next year.