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Moons & Weather

Giant Tarpon Chaos

In typical May fashion the tarpon bite is in full swing. The building full moon got fish moving the past week. Fish are available in the passes, along the beach and on the flats. In the Boca Grande Pass (Gasparilla) fish are stacked 30 to 60 feet in height a half-mile long and a quarter mile wide.

On the beach, well presented flies, crabs, herring, and pinfish are the baits of choice. The fish are not rolling or staying up for long. The water remains slightly on the dark green side. Bright sunny bluebird days help in staying with the black masses when the fish are daisy chaining along the white sand. On the flats, threadfins and fresh menhaden fished on the bottom get the nod. Plugs and flies will work, but unfortunately the water remains a little murky and some additional effort is required. In Boca Grande, the deadly jig remains the best and most consistent way to put a fish in the air.

15-foot hamerheads and 10 foot bull sharks are still in the area. They seem to have dwindled in numbers from a few weeks back, but just when you think it is safe to go back in the water, they are back. Bullsharks come to the shoreline in part of their migration in route to lay their pups in lower salinity water. They will stop and munch on the tarpon early and then work their way into the bays and the harbor to finish their reproductive cycle. This appeared to be the case last week when their numbers dwindled in the passes. At about the same time, tarpon began to "breakout" in the afternoon in route to conduct their spawning rituals along the continental shelf offshore. They are always sure to attract the attention of a few giant hammerheads on their return. This year is being no different. Sharks eating tarpon like candy is a natural occurrence and is nature’s way of keeping balance. While it is a disappointment when one takes your trophy, you too will catch enough tarpon at this time of year to be impressed with the unfolding dramatic events as you actually witness this act of God. On Sunday the tide topped out with crystal clear blue water and the wind was calm. Donald German was in battle with an 80lb. tarpon on the bow when a 16 foot hammerhead began to circle the boat. What took place the next 5 minutes will be well implanted in his memory the rest of his life, in addition the tarpon action he experienced on Saturday and Sunday morning. If you’re coming with us this year, a video cam is encouraged.

While sharks are natures way of controlling it’s own balance, molesting tarpon is not. I was saddened this week to witness a fishing guide run his arm through the mouth and out the gill plate of a tarpon and lift it from the water several times while it was photographed from another boat. Despite resuscitation efforts the fish was released dead and unfortunately did not even serve the food chain as shark dinner. The state statue states that all tarpon that are killed or not immediately released is fixed with a $51 tag. The money is used in research of this most mystifying specie. While I see no problem with handling a fish for awesome photo opportunities, the fish too should be tagged, especially if you are going to stick your arm along the lung of a fish. The gills are millions of micro organs responsible for transferring oxygen from the water to the fish’s brain and heart. Like corral, touching them just for a second kills the exposed area. Now tag the fish! The fish visiting the Gulf Coast now are sexually mature fish. Tarpon reach sexual maturity at 7 to 13 years of age. There are many fish out there now over 50 years of age. They are slow growers and the mortality starting at the point of larva is very high due to natural and man enhanced factors. The population is strong due to research and conservation. If you are going to kill this non-edible resource, at least donate some money (it’s the law) back to the resource. The research funded by the tag program is in trouble as not many fish are being killed these days. Guides, captains and anglers who plan on handling or killing fish need to purchase the tags in advance. If you do not use them, consider it money well spent in protecting your livelihood or recreation. Nothing gets under my skin then those who profit from preaching conservation and then acting in the opposite and unprofessional manner on the water. When you consider the money spent in chasing this most glamorous specie and the revenue gained via charters, the cost is chump change. Tarpon are resource much too valuable to waste…get with it!

There is a very limited amount of space available through the peak. Please keep in mind as many have learned over the years that these fish often bite best in the afternoon. Insisting on a morning trip is not always a good idea. For those who have never fished tarpon in the Giant Tarpon Capitol of the World, the fish set themselves in patterns that are dictated by the tides and their pre spawn movements. While you’ll get a few at anytime of day or night, trying to predict the big bite as early morning is strongly discouraged. As those who know me can attest I stay extremely busy running trips twice daily April through July and can be difficult to get a hold of. When all else fails, I can be reached between 9:30pm and 11pm EDTat my house in Boca @ (941) 473-4672 daily. Serious inquiries only on these few available dates I have just opened and that had originally been held as make up dates for clients who lost time due to weather…PLEASE. Action will remain hot day in--day out, throughout the first weeks of July, but only in Boca Grande the next 7 weeks. If you have ever dreamed of catching the ultimate of big game fish…now is the time.

Screaming Drags and Tired Arms!!!

Robert McCue

Past Reports

1999 Report Archive  11JANOO  19JAN00 29JANOO 11FEB00

20FEB00 29FEB00 15MAR00 25MAR00 29APR00

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