It was dawn on the oceanside of Duck Key and it was dead calm, the skiff was facing west about 200 feet from shore. I was up front on the casting platform looking for any sign of tarpon. the guide whispered “Don’t move, Don’t rock the boat”. I froze solid thinking how am I ever going to cast in this frozen position. I knew something was up as my guide , Ed, is a man of few words when he is hunting tarpon.
“See that bulge of water at 11?” The words floated forward from the poling platform, I searched in vain, then more from the back of the boat “About 200 feet, The fish is about 5 feet in front of that bulge, when that bulge is about 70 feet cast 20 feet in front – make sure to cross his line” I had to respond, “I don’t see it” “Point your rod,,, yes, thats it… it is just bulge, no wake”. Suddenly I saw it, it seemed so clear why couldn’t I see that before? ” I got it” , “Ok -go ” was the command and in 2 back casts laid it 60 feet a bit to my left. ” A little long. give me 2 long strips… wait” I did as commanded, “Ok, give me the Toad strips” From coaching earlier in the trip I knew he wanted fast, constant 3 inch strips that made the toads marabou pulsate. I couldn’t see a thing out there the bulge was gone, I kept stripping – then I felt it and then I heard it “He’s got it, big strips and SET”… There was nothing but solid weight and then my a picture etched into my soul, 6 feet of tarpon came out of the water into the low streaming sun, arching in pure gold with a rainbow of water spraying from his shaking head, I bowed with my shaking hands but I saw the fly shake free.
What seemed like a Volkswagon hitting the water, I knew it was over. Then from the back, Ed hopped down and gave me a fist bump “How cool was that!” without a hint of disappointment . “Nice job”, I was shaking for about 5 minutes almost relieved it didn’t stick, I don’t think I was ready for that big a fish. ” Let me see the fly, I see a group coming this way”.
I never did land a fish those three days but it was the most fun I have ever had even though I was technically skunked!