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Quest for Ocean Tarpon in Homosassa Florida

Capt. Mike Locklear
May 6, 2010
Homosassa - Saltwater Fishing Report

It was May 2nd and "day one" of Donald Barrett from the far northeast corner of America. The sun is out over Homosassa's flats and tarpon with fly rod in Barrett's hand is ready. Armed with a hand tied fly by Jim Swann of Dade City, Florida. A rather long bunny strip fly and one-of-a-kind pattern, we did not know it but we were about to see in beautiful color the reaction to a well placed fly.

The single tarpon of mass size compared to any other fish we target, the estimated 80-pound tarpon instantly tracked the fly. The fly life like in the water, every hair of the hare pulsating with every strip. Perhaps Mr. Poon thought the offering was a nuclear worm as it was standing out like a pretty woman with every detail flawless.

As the nano-seconds ticked away the large shape was vivid and it's back was gleaming charcoal with dots of gold on its back. We had went to school deliberating the take and the reaction to it. We thought we had every detail covered to get the Owner SSW hook into some part of the huge gallon sized mouth.

Elevation is a key word that Stu Apte created when the poon is interested in the offering. This fish was so methodical or lazy as it took the fly like a Hoover. The mistake may have been as we later learned that we did not stop stripping the fly as we saw it eat. This is a controversial subject because so tarpon experts say wait until it turns and throw slack in the line. The other theory that is going on in the brain of the tarpon, is something does not taste right. He blew the rabbit out as Donald kept coming slowly stripping the fly Or so we thought at the time. Actually there was slack in the line, sometimes a tarpon will not turn away and just keep coming toward the skiff.

It had ever so slowly turned 45 degrees away and spit the fly out like a paper wad through a straw. We were exhilarated. This is fly fishing for tarpon not always catching. Donald never felt a tug. Not much later another single came to us and tried to eat the fly but I surmised he missed the fly. The poon was all over and when I could no longer stand it, I yelled hit him! This was enough to scare the wits out anything within ear shot. Instead of strip striking the poon I thought I saw a rod tip raised but do not know what happened there. We both shared an error on number two.

Then with the wind whipping 15 knots I spotted a pod of 7 or 8 poons out of casting range and sitting still with the slack tide on grassy bottom. It was enough to get to turn into the Incredible Hulk although at 54, I summoned the help of twin Great Whites by MotorGuide. I trolled at half speed up wind and inside as far as I could as I was against the shoreline trying to find a little lee out of the wind. Donald squatted down like Armstrong on his bicycle to gain least sheer for forward momentum.

With the tide coming in with the wind we were on cue to present the nuclear rabbit to the school. Before hand we talked about a method Tommy Locke uses to tell his clients. He once said to have the clients cast over the fish 10 feet and strip it through the fish. This works well for larger schools of 20 fish or more, just do not throw at the lead fish if you have a 45 degree shot.

Using the stiffest push pole in the world and the most expensive probably, I wedge the pole against the Hells Bay Marquesas rub rail to stop the skiff. It was "damn the push pole" I was stopping. Thanks to Stiffy and the lightweightness of the skiff. The pole flexed like a pole vaulter just before breaking tension was applied and physics finally resisted and the skiff came around. Donald cast the fly right into the middle of the school.

This huge fish came across the pack and by the third strip ate the fly text book except it would not leave the school. The lined was tight and we used the Billy Knowles method of hitting the fish sideways like Billy Pate does on his classic giant tarpon tape. It worked as Donald put the bend in the rod and strip strike at the same moment. Mr. Poon 3 shook its body and head and before you could say "Bow" it was up and the fly popped right out of its mouth.

Click to Enlarge Photo

Donald was amazed and so excited. "Baby steps", he muttered. Of course we were totally stoked.

Not 5 minutes after that Peter Moyer came tight on a poon but "Mr. Poon 4" pulled the hook before able to strike.

Click to Enlarge Photo

Sometimes you need some good luck on your side. Moyer had paid his dues for the one eat and second shot of 10 days fishing. Barrett, a long time friend of Moyer was on his first day and got the religion, while Peter had his own rabbit as well, his luck was not as good. It has been a tough season and we are technically too early from a long cold winter. We have not seen a tarpon the last few days and sat on the hill yesterday to rest. Anyway the weather was a little borderline dangerous for us to be out there with the predicted thunderstorms.

And this is what we call having fun. See you on the water. Be safe and enjoy.

Homosassa Fishing Forecast:

Water temperatures are perfect, waiting on the new moon to bring more fish next week

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