Florida Fishing Report: Florida Fishing Charters

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Chris Forrey (R) and mate Brian Timmons (L) heft a giant tarpon taken on a live threadfin herring recently.

Mystery Solved-2004 Giant Tarpon Return With a Vengeance

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A life of fishing guide is a dream to many. Who would not want to go fishing everyday and get paid? After 17 years of full time guiding, the fishing aspect of this business is like clock work. Behind the scenes there is another life. We are jacks-of-all-trades. Most guides are small time proprietors who are skilled in marketing, auto and boat mechanics, accounting, tax records, paperwork, booking/travel agents, communication experts, entertainers, private therapists/shrinks and among a whole host of other acquired skills in today’s modern era, skilled computer geeks. There are not enough hours in the day and a fisherman’s job is never done. It’s a full life and one I am very fortunate to live in as a success. I get many emails when my reports are tardy inquiring if the fishing is slow or it must be red hot and that I am keeping that under my hat. The truth is, it has likely been some of both. I appreciate all of you in following my chronicles of being a farmer of fish. When I simply cannot get to the keyboard, I do miss mass communicating with all of you who have followed the site for many years. I am not sure I could ever accurately reflect all my eyes see in a day of my profession through a keyboard and Windows XP, though I am aware it is missed when it is not there at all. My sincere apologizes and I appreciate all of your loyal followings.

R to L: James Crouch, Brian Timmons, Ross Hebert and James's dad Greg were in 
awe when James took this giant tarpon in late June.

  So what’s up? The tarpon are on fire! It was a late, cold and windy spring. We got off to a late start with the tarpon compared to the past couple of years. Into May we fell into a more traditional pattern/cycle of tarpon. We like to think we know fish and predict their patterns and habits. It is just when we do, we learn we have nothing on Mother Nature. As a lesson learned through Father Time, man's time on this planet is not even a drop in the bucket. We are ignorant, yet eager students of wild animals. The fish were as thick as we have seen them in recent years and they are showing no signs of slowing down.

Depending on where we were fishing or by the request of the angler, we used a host of techniques to catch giant tarpon this past spring. Livebait, deadbait, MirrOlures, jigs and flies all produced fish between 60 and 200 lbs all the way through June. My business has always been to catch the fish. I am by far not your definition of “passive” tarpon fisherman. I am always fully loaded with whatever we need and too, will go wherever I need to test our clients’ mettle against the silver gladiator of the emerald seas. This is my reward and fruits of intense preparation and concentration. Perfect water temperature/clarity, good weather and an abundance of bait have all been contributing factors to one of the best tarpon cycles in recent years.

Jamie Pinter (aft), Ritchie (left) and mate, Brian Timmons, are all smiles while they are triple hooked up on the natural phenomenon crab run known as the "hill tide". We had two moon phases where the crabs and tarpon went off for as long as 5 afternoons per moon phase. Rock on fellas!

During the spring, tarpon congregate in our area as part of their pre-spawn ritual. By nature, tarpon are of a docile temperament until they feel the power of sharp and cold steel. Additionally and like most animals in the rut, getting them to eat is a matter of working them relentlessly until one decides to oblige to your morsel of offering. For this reason, tarpon are not a fish for everyone. On my best days (all day) this year I have jumped 17 and caught 10 on live bait and jumped 19 and caught 13 on artificial lures (not to include the "hill tides" where we had as many as 30 fish jumped in 3 hours). In between, tarpon fishing can be like sitting in a tree stand waiting for a 12-point buck. It seems no matter where they are or how we are fishing them; we are doing a lot of hunting/waiting than we may be actually catching fish. Megalops atlanticus is one of the last two species of tarpon that have existed for a 125 million years. No man is going to tell them where to show or when to eat. They live in their own world and on their own time. We like to think we play a game with them on a piece of thread and a stick, but it is not until they allow us to do so. Man is simply a pawn in their theater and kingdom. It’s my passion and job to be there just as I always have and will be.

I would say the fish are off pattern by at least 4 weeks from the past 4 years. There was a nasty infestation of sharks around (more food source-more predators) resulting in the fish moving and/or reluctant to bite on the moons, but the weather and the lack of any red tide had the fish settled in for what is now extended play for 2004. I am a firm believer in the cycles of fish as well as fishing the highest concentrations I can find. The 2004 cycle is strong and I have found the “missing” fish of the past two years. 

         Brian, Jamie and Richey with one of the fish taken in a triple landing.

In typical summer fashion, the fish are now spread out throughout their range while visiting us. Tarpon are still being caught on the beaches, passes, flats, and rivers, as well as inside large bays. Tarpon season is far from over.

Summer tarpon fishing might be drifting a livebait under a bridge, casting flies and plugs to fish crashing in the potpourri of bait or slinging a shad on a rocky point or dredge hole. The crowds are all gone, but the fish remain for those in the know.

I will attempt to get as many images from 2004 on the site as possible and if you have any images/video of decent quality-you are welcome to send them along for inclusion.

Giant tarpon will be my main focus going into September. Its not too late to get your arms pulled off and feel the power!

Screaming Drags and Tired Arms!

Robert McCue


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Last Update 16JUL04
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