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More than tarpon

While we at Fish the Dream are having a very good start to the 2013 tarpon season to me and most of our guys on fishing holidays the Florida Keys are so much more than those big herring. Not sure why we are catching more tarpon than others here, I am fishing the same way I have done for over 10 years I use crabs, I only fish very early in the morning, I use mono and I still like J hooks. With a float as soon as there is any movement you hit hard and all of are tarpon are lip hooked as they say if it aint broke don’t fix it enough said. Well last week we had our 113 species to the boat one of the guys had a stunning fish to the boat and I had no idea at all. Back at the house we soon identified the fish a pudding wife wrasse yes you read that right a pudding wife wrasse with a name like that I assumed that there was a good story but nothing. I have asked all the guides and all the dive shops and spent for to long on the internet but to no avail so if any one knows please tell me.



Last fish of Alan’s week was a good fish for him an other right fish wrong rod a jack well over 10 lbs on the lightest rod on the boat what a fight and well done Alan. Video is an other ton plus tarpon by the boat I am getting a little better with the head cam and now can even edit a bit. Next up with the Go Pro will be some underwater filming not sure how that will go but I must get some shots of the tarpon run at Bahia Honda went hundreds of fish run the bridge.

Tarpon time

To say tarpon fishing is a learning curve is a massive understatement, no one this week had ever fished for tarpon before so it was all very new. One you have a very big fish, two you fish in the dark , three you have to follow every fish and lastly shark do like tarpon as well. Last week was a week of lows and very high highs, first day we soon had a tarpon on and did all the tricky stuff and were soon in open water and all was going well just the introduction you want. Then a massive run from the fish which normally means only one thing the tarpon is trying to get away from a shark but it only ends in tears shark wins and we no longer have a fish on. Day two we all decided to do a full day on tarpon at Bahia Honda bridge where you can fish all day just one bite then despite hundreds of tarpon rolling not an other bite all day so of we went bottom fishing to have some fun. Then a morning off we normally just do one morning tide for tarpon but the 4 am start every day is a bit hard core, and a very good day indeed shark to 300 lb and grouper to 250 lb and more important smiles back all round. Next day was very strange tarpon on very early then the fish did something I have never seen before it went straight to the shore and hugged it for nearly half a mile. Then it went into a dock and after nearly an hour it went under a big game boat and broke us off, why I don’t know maybe the shark were there not sure but in nearly fifteen years of tarpon fishing in the Florida Keys I have never had one do that. Next day our luck had to change and it did fish on and after some 50 mins fish in the boat and 60 in  x  42 in a solid 126 lb well done Glen. Things even got better on the last tarpon day fish on early and a very dogged fight hard long runs and big jumps but John had the measure of this monster fish so big we could not get it on his lap for the money shot and at 72 in   x  44 in it was a fantastic  174 lbs, pain for over an hour but what a result.




Video clip is me messing with a near 300 lb bull shark it may look a bit mad but I have been doing this for a long time and I still like to get the hook out if I can. A few days off then back to early starts and those mad 100 lb + kippers bring it on I still love it.

Right fish wrong rod

In the nearly 10 years of doing fishing holidays here in the Florida Keys I have witnessed some amazing fishing feats from Lee’s amazing over 2 hr shark fight to last years over 3 hr tarpon fights but yesterday what happened was right up there those. Alan and his friends Glen,Colin and John were after their first tarpon but as they arrived late we decided to have a day in the bay just to get them familiar with the lay out of the boat. We were having a fun day with shark, jacks and mackerel when Colin spotted a big fish in the chum slick unfortunately the rod that came to hand was a light mackerel rod with just a leader of 30 lb and a 3/o hook but bait on a short cast. The big fish was a shark near 100 lb and yes it was hungry and yes it took the bait and so started a long and to be admired fight. With an older anglers soft hands and the saying slowly, slowly catch the monkey Colin just worked away yes the fish was boatside but I knew I could not touch the 30lb  but lady luck was on our side and I managed to grab the wire and the fish was in for thew money shot.


First morning on the tarpon just two takes a bit late getting down there then one fish on for a very long time only to end in tears. In a very strong tide this fish did not want to leave the bridges and to put it mildly was a pain in the ar**. eventually the fish went with the tide ocean side  some long powerful runs then from nowhere a shark attack then no fish on. All the party were shocked and amazed that an over 100lb fish was a meal for a very,very big shark.


Tarpon time

As I sit here in Northumberland watching an other light flurry of snow I am packing the bags for my trip back to the Florida Keys for the start of Fish the Dreams 9 th tarpon season. These fish to many people sum up the Florida Keys and an over 100 lb tarpon to the boat ticks so many boxes. In fact when surveys have been done the tarpon is right up there as the top game fish in the world, they are big we have had them over 200 lb, they jump, run like nothing else, and can be very hard to keep on the line. Maybe that is why we all love and hate the silver king but once you have contracted tatponitis there is no known cure, you just have to take the medicine every year. Tarpon facts still blow my mind, they are prehistoric and have been around for over 100 million years, living for over 45 years and start spawning at 10 years old. Large females can produce over 12 million eggs and spawn in shore and offshore during there migration thus spreading their young over a massive area. Some days at the bridges the sight of hundreds and maybe thousands of fish just leaves you speechless and numb. We have more than once seen endless shoals offshore just a sight that we stay with you for ever. I was recently given a photo of just what is under you at the bridges wall to wall and top to bottom fish just staggering.




Above also two cracking photos one by me and one by my friend Henry Gilbey try as I might I will never be in the same class as young Henry but its fun trying. So what will happen this year, a bigger fish than 209 lb not sure, a longer fight than 3 hrs 40 mins maybe not but what I am sure about there will be smiles and tears but then that is tarpon fishing bring it on!

Is big best ?

Having two very cold weeks back in UK  before the start of our main tarpon season. Going through my camera cards one thing very strange has come up just how much fun we all had in the last session catching smaller fish. On our last trip with John and the lads from the north east we had fantastic day fishing a coral head in the reef offshore. Soon we were all catching pompano not massive just a few pounds but boy did they scarp tiny 3000 reels and screaming drags. At one stage the fish were so on the feed they came up the chum so far we were able to sight fish top sport. Then a few weeks before my fly guys from Jersey found a deadly way with light fly rods to catch the fish called a lookdown. Again not big, they are members of the jack family, but boy did those tiny fly reels take a hammering and again top sport.



On the other side of the coin there is big. During our nearly 10 years of doing fishing holidays in the Florida Keys we have done big and I mean very big. My boat has a few PB’S I am very proud about, biggest has to be Lee Jasper’s 1000lb + hammerhead shark a few years ago. Our first over 200 lb an honest 209 lb tarpon, last year grouper to near 600 lb and this year again Lee’s over 500 lb bull shark. Five years ago we had not one but two giant saw fish over 700 lb just how big do you want to go.



So there we go as they say you decide what you want and enjoy your way, Lee’s face after his 2 hr 25 min battle with that shark just said it all and I know if you asked him he would say big is best. At Fish the Dream you make the choice I will never force big on anyone but if you want big no problem.

John’s roundup part two

Before I start this blog I have to tell a very sad story about John’s week poor Derek lost his case and as I do this blog the case is still missing. Let this be a warning to all anglers on fishing holidays what you check in you might never see again if you have anything that is very special or expensive best to put it in carry on but be warned there are airlines who do not like line on reels check first. You should also have a very secure label on your bag with your home address and have it also inside the bag as well but as they say shit happens and in Derek’s mind I think his first 100 lb + tarpon made up for the case. On the last few days we did have an incident that might surprise a lot of you, on a bank in Florida bay a very large rabbit fish came up the chum slick. These fish get their names from an incredible sett of near rodent teeth that can even like parrot fish cut wire. The two rods sett up with wire had smallish circle hooks from some sharking we had just done but no matter what bait we tried or method we tried this fish would not stick. As they all wanted this fish to add to a very long species list I removed the circle and tied a J hook first run back fish on and what a strange fish a member of the puffer family. This goes to prove that there are some fish with mouths that a circle hook will just not work so if you are having trouble using them try the good old J hook.


That rabbit fish


Stunning mackerel good fun, bait and food !


John’s goodbye gift from the Florida Keys

It was more than fitting the last fish of the holiday was hooked and landed by John the organizer a near 100 lb shark I know what a job this can be. At breakfast on the last day next years trip was planned and booked and I can say I am looking forwards to their trip as much as they are.