Biscayne nights and Everglades days
Capt. Bob LeMay
July 30, 2008
Biscayne Bay - Saltwater Fishing Report
We've been concentrating on night fishing recently with great success. On Monday night Matt Santamaura from New York and friends fished the Bay with me. We got on the water an hour before dark and hit a few trout spots while waiting for the sun to go down. That evening we were fishing light spinning gear armed with only artificials. The 1/8 and 1/4oz. jigheads tipped with Gulp shrimp were all that was needed for trout up to about 19". Two of my anglers were a father and son team who were just learning to cast a spinning rod, but the fish didn't seem to notice... As the sun set we ran south to our first tarpon spot. Jonathan, age 15, had missed the few trout bites earlier so it was his turn in the bow. With a bit of coaching he was casting a DOA shrimp just right and a nice 25lb tarpon was up and jumping before he even knew the fish had struck. With only 10# line and a light rod, Jonathan was barely able to react to a fish that did everything short of jump in the boat with him.. The fish was on one side of the boat at one moment, then under the hull and jumping on the other side - it was just wild. I managed to reverse the skiff and work the fish away from the structure we were next to and it was down to working the fish in open water. A few minutes later, Jonathan had his first tarpon at the boat for a quick photo then a careful release.
The rest of the evening the tarpon fishing just got better and better. Our next spot the fish were right at the surface in the shadows and you could pick the one you wanted to cast to. An angler with a fly rod would have been blown away by the number of fish and the way they'd turn after anything that came with the tide. Matt caught and released another fish, both Jonathan and his Dad had lots of shots but the fish just took them to school, shaking the lures, jumping off, breaking off after long runs. One crazy tarpon actually slapped the side of the boat so hard that I thought for a moment we'd struck the concrete piling on that side... All told we jumped 8 or 9 tarpon using nothing but artificials with two beginners aboard. It will be like that for the rest of the summer when the tide is right. Pretty close to tarpon heaven for small fish up to about 40lbs.
Although I've been concentrating on night fishing when not in the shop tying flies, the backcountry out of Flamingo has been good as well. This time of year the big tarpon are starting to show up in Gulf-side rivers north and south of the Shark River. If you can stand the heat, insects, and the certainty of thunderstorms every afternoon the fish will be there. An added bonus is that in those same rivers, what I believe is a spawning aggregation of huge black drum occurs. These can be sight-fished if you know the spots they frequent and the little ones are larger than 10lbs. I've seen them as large as 50lbs almost daily. We weighed one of the little ones at 15lbs on the Boga-Grip before being returned to his friends...The gear used was just 10lb spin.
An hour later that same rod was hooked up on a solid 80lb tarpon in a river near Lostman's. That fish stayed on for one long run, lots of jumps, then found a submerged branch to finish the fight.
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