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Chris Forrey with a close encounter of a
The Land of Giants
It appears that spring has finally
sprung in Florida. We experienced a long and cold winter this
year, setting several historical records. The NWS has forecasted
us to be in the upper 70s and low 80s for highs over the next
week. Equally or more important is that the nighttime
temperatures will reach the upper 50s to low 60s and onshore
winds will prevail throughout this time.
The cold water
sent the resident species deep into the backcountry waters and
migratory species were all but non-existent. This resulted in
difficult and unpredictable fishing the past few months. As the
hours of daylight and darkness became near equal in March, the
biological time clock triggered several species to move to their
spring haunts, despite the cold water. With the recent warming
trends in the weather pattern, spring fishing is now just
starting to gel.
spotted sea trout have been the bread and butter species to
fishing guides. The larger fish are massing together near spoil
banks and small keys that dot the waters just off the
Intercoastal Waterway in preparation for their spawn.In the open
waters just off these areas, trout are schooling in good numbers
and in typical “school” size.
Just inside area passes, those with keen eyes are
finding massive schools of giant black drum ranging from
20 to 50 lbs. In the metro areas, the fish have been
easy to find with the amount of boats fishing them.
However, these fish are also in less frequently traveled
water that is often gin clear and less than 4 feet deep.
I’ve recently fished both scenarios. Hands down, I would
rather spend a few hours searching from my tower in the
shallow, clear water than partake in the other. The fish
have been very receptive to sight-fishing with jigs and
There have been a lot of
spotty reports on the redfish. I’ve heard everything
from, “they’re not around” to “they just won’t bite”.
I’ve seen good numbers and sizes of fish in the metro
area. These fish have been very difficult to approach,
let alone catch, that I’ll agree with.
I have been doing best well to the
have been searching the limestone bottom for mullet
along the shoreline. Once located, I set up on point or
off rocks just west of the mullet schools and then
ambush the reds as they drop away from the shoreline
with the mullet on the outgoing tide. Using this
strategy, I have had many days with double digit catches
of redfish that are upper slot to over-sized drum.
Adrian Morris with an over-sized
I was successfully securing a
livewell full of scaled sardines on the past few trips.
This is what I call “winter trap bait”. That is bait
that was sent to the backwaters (trapped) after the
passing of the first significant front last fall. I find
this bait in a variety of locations, but most often in
deepwater holes, particularly if they are spring fed.
For over two decades knowledge of this early bait has
always been my edge. Each year a little more of what I
do slips into the hands of others, but for the most part
I’ve managed to keep that edge in today’s modern era.
While pockets of bait have been
staple to my success the past few weeks, that has
nothing to do with what we really need.What we really need is a good push of the
migratory baitfish to come in from the south and the
west. We are at least two weeks behind at this point for
this occurrence. I think everyone has their fingers
crossed that we’ll see some change with this waxing moon
and warmer temperatures.
The bait migration is the catalyst
to peak spring fishing. As the giant schools migrate
along the coast, their apex predators come with them.
Kingfish, Spanish mackerel, cobia, tarpon and grouper
will all be viable targets once this occurs. Expect
permit to show on the wrecks once the first word spreads
of the arrival of king mackerel.
To say top tarpon guides are a
little stressed right now by the cool water would be an
understatement. We can most certainly expect to see some
resident tarpon make an appearance just outside the
deeper rivers and waters influenced by power plants. For
now, the water cannot get hot enough for a tarpon
fisherman. If all remains the same with Mother Nature,
Father Time suggests that the dark moon in April should
show some improvement on the giant tarpon scene.
Chris Forrey and Jerry Lacasse land
a double of giant black drum.
Thea Blouch show she can do that
Each year tens
of thousands of tarpon congregate along out coast in
numbers second to none in the world. The beauty of this
fascinating species is its character traits of purity
and non-discrimination. Unlike other big game fish,
tarpon inhabit areas close to land that are accessible
by million dollar yachts, wooden row boats, or by
standing on a fishing pier. They care not of what class
of society you come from. They are not reserved for a
social drift during martini hour, Grey Poupon and fine
Cuban cigars. They like you just the same if you drink
Busch beer, enjoy Vienna hot dogs and chew Copenhagen.
They could care less if you offer them live, dead, or
artificial bait. They will burn the gears of a Penn
International reel just as they will a Zebco Rhino.
Tarpon are American built.
When I reflect back over my life, few memories stand as
vivid as the fury of a giant tarpon dancing off the bow
of my boat. Morning has broken as the sight of a
ballistic surface to air missile launches.
Blouch keeps her hands dry and warm with help from bo,
Adam Hartz with a jumbo black drum
taken in the gin clear waters of Pasco
time friend, John Moylan and son, John III were in town
for spring training baseball and a decent afternoon
The vibrations of
beating hearts (fish and human alike) travel through the deck at
mach speed and radiate up through my feet. Thunder fills my
vitality with complete satisfaction. No matter if it’s under
the cover of darkness, lost in time on a calm and gin clear
flat, or off a busy highway with the roar of morning rush hour
traffic as the backdrop, it is only silence that I hear while I
serve eyewitness to the mystique of stalking this relic of an
I find a peerless
nexus with those that share in my experience and take pride in
being able to provide such opportunities to people from all over
the world. It is the tarpon that creates perpetual bonds and
timeless memories with those I cross paths with in life. It is
these small snapshots in time that make the tarpon immortal and
not its incredible 100 million years of being. We are fortunate
not to catch them, but that they catch us and create treasured
experiences that can never be taken away or replaced.
From the outside,
the obvious attraction may seem superficial of small fortunes of
fame and personal gain for a tarpon guide. However, the truth
is, there is actually little of that in this sport. We do it for
the love, passion and for the freedom that we can. And we
The cost of freedom has never been easy in the shadows of the
principals of our founding forefathers. That is the American
tradition of the utmost consequence often missing in the bottom
line of the fine print of hidden agendas. Politics and special
interest have found their way into our fishery despite the will
of the people. I remain vigil and I will not back down in what
is equally fair in man’s meddling of tarpon.
For me, the intrigue of tarpon is found within the
theater of serenity, euphoric desertion and sovereignty
that I can share with many who have the same ambitions
as myself. The ferocious rattle of the gill rakers, the
majestic tail walk dance of the silver king, and the
stamina of the wild beast against man are all simply
bonuses. We merely play our role as pawns in a game held
in the king’s court. A challenge we refer to as our
annual calling. Many of you have become like family to
me over the years. These experiences we share will never
be taken away and I am looking forward to “catching up”
with you real soon
Each year my
entire peak season is a sell out. If you have the desire to
experience the best giant tarpon fishing in the world in 2010,
now is the time to contact me.
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