Afternoon Session of the second day:
The afternoon session, on this second day proved to be our best so far, and one that is certainly going to remain in a happy place in my memory until I’m old and grey. The session started by landing a number of big Jacks, in the 15 to 40 pound range. These fish are ferocious fighters, and their strength and endurance is amazing to behold.
It wasn’t long before I connected with a small tarpon, of roughly 70lbs, which I bought to the boat in relatively quick time. A couple more tarpon were jumped on fly. The pace of the fishing was so quick that while we were focusing on fighting a big jack, we had failed to notice a ball of feeding tarpon, within a couple hundred meters of our position. Solly spotted them, and after the jack was successfully released, we repositioned the boat. What followed must be one the most exciting fly fishing experience I have ever had the privilege of witnessing:
Within 20 meters of the boat there were upwards of 30 tarpon, all aggressively smashing bait fish on the surface. All of these fish were well in the 100 – 160lb range, with some fish possibly getting close to 200lbs. I had to take a number of deep breaths to try and calm my nerves before presenting the fly, into what was definitely going to result in a take. One of those situations where I think a well presented lemon would have been eaten. On that first cast, as soon as I made contact with the fly, I felt the undeniable bump of a tarpon, simultaneously I could see a fish of roughly 140lbs rolling on my fly. A solid strip-strike, and the tarpon took off at an incredible speed, launching itself into a series of acrobatic somersaults, before throwing the hook on its third or forth jump. I started to retrieve the fly, to try and make another cast to the frenzied tarpon, when the fly was within 10 meters of the boat; another similar sized fish rose from the depths and rolled on the fly once again. The combination of witnessing such an amazing fly fishing sight, along with adrenaline that was still pumping through my system from jumping the previous fish, left me completely weak. I tried to strip into the fish, and although it was “on”, I knew I hadn’t stuck the fish sufficiently. With the fish tearing towards the horizon, I lowered the tip and gave it three solid strikes from the butt of the rod. Unfortunately, it was a case of too little too late, and the giant tarpon threw the fly on its first jump. Once you are on the back foot with one of these fish, your chances seem to be near the zero mark. There is absolutely no room for any error, or half measures
Some quick work on my frayed leader and it was time to make another cast. There were still a number of poons around the boat, so I picked out a massive fish within casting distance, and presented the fly two yards in front of the cruising giant. One slow strip and the tarpon freely rolled on the fly. This time I was ready for the strike, and stuck the fly home. I thought in my mind that I was in control of this fight, until the fish launched itself in front of me, and I suddenly realized the situation I was in. This fish I jumped was close to the 200lb mark, and I am almost thankful that it threw the fly on it first jump. The sheer size of that poon pushed my heart rate through the roof, and left my legs in like jelly.
Having jumped three tarpon, in the space of 10 minutes, I was determined to get one to stick. I had to once again repair my leader, before making the next cast, and this gave me time to settle my nerves. Once again I cast to a bunch of
feeding fish, and the same result. A big fish instantly rolled on the presented fly, and this time three strip strikes, and a number of rod strikes set the hook properly. An hour later, and 5 magnificent jumps, and the tarpon was boated. A fish estimated at around 160lbs.
During this period, I was so focused on my amazing experience, that I didn’t even realize that both Dave and John had both jumped a couple fish. One lost to a snapped hook, and one to a broken leader. The tarpon were still there, but hooking one at that late hour would have resulted in a fight well into the night, so we were happy to leave them for the next day.
This brings me back to my current position. Sitting writing this blog update, waiting for the wind to die back. I must say that I am feeling a little more rested, and all I can think about is pinning another tarpon. Time to tie up some new leaders and hold thumbs the weather settles soon!
Cheers from Costa Rica