Another lazy Sunday. Well, almost.
Waking up at 5 AM every Sunday for the last year has really been getting old. Quite annoying when you just want to sleep in on the laziest day of the week. But no, 5 AM it is, to be at work by 6 and deal with everything I wish I was doing instead of working. Fishing.
Fellow Team Awe Son member, Bently and I had planned for a week to do some fresh water kayaking Sunday evening. About mid week another team member, Gus had the idea to fish the Keys Sunday evening. Though I was excited to hit the lake and target some big peacocks that had been scouted at the beginning of the week, hearing THE KEYS from Gus got me even more excited. THAT’S where I want to go Sunday.
All I could think about at work was going out to one of our trout spots and getting on a beast trout. I lost my big Zara Spook the week before, and we were sold out of them at work. So I was looking for something new, and the biggest thing we had was the Live Target mullet. Though a bit pricey, it was my only option. I’ve been wanting to try one of these things for awhile anyway, so I went for it.
Finally got out of work, headed home, rigged up, loaded up, and headed out. On the way down to the Keys I contacted Gus only to find out his plans had changed and he would not make it. Kind of upsetting not getting more of the team together to fish, so I had to give him some shit. But I was on the way.
Met up with Bently at the spot, unloaded and started to head to the trout flat. The wind had picked up pretty significantly, but I figured we would have some type of cover from it. WRONG! We get to the flat and its just no use to stay there, the wind was so bad. After 5 minutes on the flat, we turned around and headed to Heartbreak cove. A tough spot which got its name by all the monster fish that have been lost in the area.
We get to the spot and start blind casting. Usually trout and snappers can be caught there, and quite a few big snook have been lost there. But nothing today. 45 minutes pass, cast after cast, wind blowing us off the mangroves only to have to paddle back every few casts. The usual kayaking in the wind deal.
Thats when Bently spots a tarpon roll. I turn and see the wake, to which my top water was somewhat close by, but no interest in it. A few more casts and I have to start paddling back towards the mangroves.
Then I saw it. Some kind of tarpon, big or small, I dont know, but it rolls. I grab my weapon and cast the Live Target ahead of its path, perfect. Give the lure 4-5 twitches and BAM! The tarpon comes up and nails it! The way it struck you could tell it’s hungry, no question. I pick up the slack and come tight on it as it launches clear of the water. Just as I go to “set the hook” (not that I think thats really needed for a top water, but for a tarpon, I may as well, cant hurt) it jumps again. After the 3rd jump it starts coming right towards me as I pick up the line.
Before I knew it, it was right next to my kayak. I could see a few inches of my leader out of the water, and I only rigged a 2 ft leader with the plug. So we are just drifting along in the wind right next to each other! I wish I had my waterproof case on my Go Pro, for I would have had some great underwater footage. Oh well.
Still drifting along I see a small post coming out of the water in front of us. Im pretty sure the fish is going straight towards it to try something sneaky, but I maneuver us past it. Thats when I drop my anchor. I knew right when I did that, it should get interesting.
Just as I stopped drifting in my kayak and the line came tight enough for the fish to feel pressure, it cleared the water again. Another jump!! This is great! However it never really ran and took line. Once it got within 15 ft of me, it never got any further away. It jumped several more times, I think I counted 10-12, but all in circles around me once anchored.
I knew it wasn’t going to throw the lure as I could tell it was IN its mouth, but I was worrying about my leader. Since I was really going for big trout with this big lure that day, I only rigged it with 30# fluorocarbon. You could tell the fish was pretty tired at this point, nearing the surface and not jumping. Thats when Bently came up in front of my kayak and grabbed it. It shook pretty good and almost threw him from his yak, which was pretty funny to watch. Once he finally got a hold of it, I got my fish grip on it so we could take a few pictures of this beast.
Measured it at 57″, but didn’t get a girth. Definitely the biggest fish I have ever caught, other than a shark. Got the lure from its mouth and looked at the leader. Sheesh!!! glad it was over, anymore jumping and rubbing on that and it was going to have my new 12 dollar lure as a tumor in its mouth.
After reviving it for less than 2 minutes, I let it go, and it disappeared. Both covered in tarpon boogers and wore out, Bently and I had a victory dance and started to head back in, stoked. Sorry for Gus that he couldn’t make it.
-Superduper Jason Arles