The hunt for juvenile tarpon starts before sunrise at the marina where I meet my guide. We set out in an 18 ft. skiff designed for the shallow drafts, I made sure I have my Polarized Sunglasses. We head for the everglades’ mangroves, because the water there is almost crystal clear. Besides, it is 2 feet deep at the edges of the trees above all, perfect for flyfishing juvenile tarpon. Due to the early sunrise light and we scanned the water for juvenile tarpon. Most importantly, I looked for slight wakes that they make in the calm water. The juvenile tarpon swim together almost in a daisy-chain behavior perfect for flyfishing.
FlyFishing for Juvenile Tarpon
Most importantly, wearing my sun protection shirt, UPF 50+ and neck gaiter I put on sun gloves for the day. First of all my Orvis Helios 3D 10 wt. 9 ft. fly rod and also a Mirage V reel, is a great set up. Most noteworthy, it is spooled with PRO Saltwater Round Textured Fly line and a purple bunny tarpon fly. I am ready. My guide stood on the aft-elevated platform as he polled the skiff 50 feet from the mangrove islands. The juvenile tarpon are almost where the water is moving out of creeks near their edges. The water temperature of 79 degrees, a breeze and low tide is ideal for sight fishing the flats at its best.
Suddenly, at the mangroves edge on the surface there are ripples in the shadowed quiet waters under the limbs. The school of juvenile tarpon are now on the move. Most importantly, my guide has now polled the skiff into position. My cast had to stay ahead of the school and above all to not spook them. Finally, I sight casted with a roll cast to get under the branches well ahead in the shallows.
Bringing in a Show-Off Jumper
The juvenile tarpon kicked up sand and charged my fly that landed in the water just ahead of them. Five juvenile tarpon speed toward what looks to them to be baitfish. Because of the tarpons’ forked tails, fast and sustained swimming speeds are permitted. Finally, the fly line jerked straight, propelling a juvenile tarpon out of the water and the battle is on.
After acrobatic show-off jumps and a continued fight, I bring in the 3 foot juvenile beside the skiff. I take pictures as he is jumping and underwater with a GOPRO . I released the tarpon after I carefully removed the fly. What an adventure, so wow is all I can say! You must certainly start yours with a guide of Flyfishing the Florida keys.