Spring Tarpon Run

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It’s May and that can mean only one thing for every Florida Keys flats guide and flats angler, ‘POONS BABY!! Hoards of the the mighty Silver King will be making their way through the Florida Keys for the next several weeks, culminating in a massive feeding frenzy on the tiny palolo worm toward the end of the month.  During this very special four to eight week period of time, from about mid-May through mid-June the Keys will be packed with tarpon cruising the flats, and major passes. Anglers dream of grappling with a 100+ pound slab of silver For decades, fly anglers from around the world have converged in the Keys to test their angling skills with the most spectacular fish that swims.  It is one of those romanticized fisheries that has been written about time and time again and nowadays filmed from every sort of digital recording device imagineable and put on YouTube for the whole world to see. Fly fishing is not the only means by which to chase tarpon.  It is the preferred method for many of us guides and anglers that sight fish for tarpon on the flats.  The casting, manipulation of the fly and the fighting of a large tarpon with a fly rod poses several difficult challenges not present with conventional gear.  Making just one tarpon eat a little piece of fluff tied to a hook makes all the time, effort and money spent well worth it. Use of conventional fishing gear in conjunction with live bait or artificial lures is extremely effective and in most cases more efficient than using fly fishing gear.  In this case just casting to tarpon poses little problem with wind direction, angles and direction in which the tarpon are moving.  With a fly rod, all these factors must be taken into consideration and adjusted for before a cast can be made.  Water depth is the other big issue.  Tarpon in deep water at times can be effectively pursued with a fly rod.  These are usually slow rolling tarpon, remaining high in the water column near the surface.  When tarpon are laying down deep near the bottom, if it is deep enough they may not be reached by a fly.  But for an angler using conventional gear, adjustments to the set up can be made get the bait to the same level as the tarpon far more easily. Tarpon fishing really is available to anyone willing to put in the time and effort, not just to those who can cast a fly rod.  And just like every other fishery, there are days we can’t find them and days they won’t eat. Then there the days we all live for, when the tarpon are everywhere, happy and eating anything in front of them. Whether you are an avid saltwater fly angler or a first timer in the salt dreaming of silver, now is the time to be in the Florida Keys chasing that dream.  Tarpon will be just about everywhere in these waters, from the shallowest flats to the deepest passes and harbors, waiting for you to make an offer they can’t refuse. Bartlett


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