The June Bug
No need to run. No need to hide. You’re going to catch it. We all do down here. It’s familiar. The temperature rises, the wind falls. The tarpon bite is on, and we’re going to enjoy the fever while it lasts.
Let’s start by going with the wind. We deal with the wind in March, April, and even May sometimes, but this season is when it lays down and lets us enjoy a respite during which the shots become more presentable. No longer are we dealing with the going against wind when positioning a boat, thereby making our shots more accurate and anglers more successful.
So to prepare for the sickness, here are some tips for getting ready to catch that June bug, and hopefully a thing or two more. For those of you on the fly, having a few different bugs will suffice; don’t overwhelm yourself with too many shapes, patterns, and hooks. Remember, many flies are designed to catch the fisherman and not the fish. Go back to the basics. A fly that has good movement with a minimal amount of effort works well. One that can glide in the current into the strike zone with an easy hand-over-hand strip can be very effective. Dark colors at the low light of morning are my go to baits. As the sun gets higher, switch up your flies to a brighter color that these ‘poons will be more likely to be fooled by. When the light again becomes low, reach back into your arsenal to find those dark colors for a shot at sticking a hook in a monster. Remember, tarpon usually don’t want to work too hard for a snack. Try to make it impossible for them to refuse. Always be sure to have a bunch of palalo worm flies on the boat. If you find yourself in the middle of a hatch, technique goes out the window. Bend down the barbs, start casting and see how many you can put in the air!
When you’re spin casting you can choose from a variety of lures. I prefer the classic. Go with a Hogy and circle hook combination, especially early in the morning. Who doesn’t want breakfast? I wake up hungry, and so do these guys. First light is when you will grab most of these bites. Find a tailed up school of tarpon and slow roll one of these into their strike zone. They can’t resist. I also like a variety of hard baits.
Suspenders and topwater plugs will work. I like to change out the hooks however. For the most part, factory hooks don’t have the strength to hold up against an angry tarpon. Also, a tarpon with a set of treble hooks in his face shaking around boat side can be a dangerous situation. I change out to smaller, stronger j hooks like the Gamagatsu SC17 tarpon hook in 3/0 size. Later in the day, you may find laid up or cruising fish that need a small crab or a fat shrimp to get ‘em interested. Small hooks and light leader will help get more bites of course. A float will keep these offerings above the fish, just where they like it.
Many bobbers and balloons come in bright colors. Spooky fish in clear water can see this from a mile away. Try a natural, subtley colored float. Wine corks are an excellent option.
If you still want a way out of catching this June bug, there is a remedy. The permit and the bonefish are here and as challenging as ever. The action isn’t over yet. It’s a whole other sickness, but one locals and visitors alike will enjoy. So get out there and try your luck at catching all that June has to offer. Catch the June bug instead of the ol’ Duval St. “brown bottle fever.”
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