The Thrills and Spills of Tarpon Fishing

The Thrills and Spills of Tarpon Fishing

Tim Kempton | Monday, 3 June 2019

I have just returned form a trip to Florida fishing for the elusive tarpon. I was fishing at Carrabelle in Florida. Keyed up with excitement is an understatement.

I usually fish with a Sage Xi3 12 wt with an extended grip, and a Nautilus Silver King reel. This outfit has worked well on tarpon, sailfish and marlin.  

Paul has designed a 12 wt Hot Torpedo. As I am the proud owner of the full HT series, ie 4wt, 6wt, 8 wt and 10 wt, Paul asked me to trial his 12wt. As usual Paul is not about making just another rod. He asked a lot of questions and  realised that big fish require a lot of torque in the butt section. So he has made the butt section from fibre glass, and the top three sections from graphite.  He also made a butt section from graphite  for comparison. The lifting power was amazing.  My superstrong son tested both combinations and the fibreglass butt gave incredibly more lifting power with much less effort.

So off to Florida I went with high hopes to test this new rod.

[edit: this concept came from Sakari on the Board - Paul]

It was early in the season and most of the fish were “wrong ways”, ie they were swimming west to east.  The main migration is in mid June to July when the fish swim ”right ways”  in strings of 20 - 30 fish from east to west. 

There were ones , twos and occasionally three wrong way fish. We only saw one string of right ways. 

The idea is to anchor near white sand, and watch for the fish to swim from the weed beds over the sand.  Because they are so large they are usually easily seen. They are swimming with purpose, and so it is necessary to make fast, accurate casts.  Sadly most of the fish were swimming deep, and because they were swimming at the boat, there was not enough time to get the fly down.  There were a few fish swimming high and happy, but they were not interested in the fly. 

On day 2, I had one eat.  A huge mouth opened, the fly was sucked in, the fish turned, the  line and leader shot to the right...keep stripping expecting it to come up tight…nothing...bugger.

After three days of staring at the white sand, time to go home. Obviously the fish had not read the Tarpon Times.  What did I learn. 

1.Pauls HT 12 wt with the fibreglass butt was a dream to cast. It was not stiff like the Sage Xi3. I left it for the guide to test during the season.

2.Fishing for wrong ways fish early in the season is hard and unrewarding work. There are not many and from all reports they were not feeding. The guide said he caught 5 the day before I arrived.  “You should have been here last week” is the typical guides tale to keep us coming back!

3.These fish are huge. We saw several mothers swimming over the sand that were called at 150lb. They were serious fish.  I recall the 130lb I caught last season. It looked like a horse when it jumped out of the water.

4. Fish the “right ways” migration, if you can get a spot.