Select Page

Florida TarponJanuary 12, 2010. The Naples, Florida air temperature was an unusually cold 34 degrees. It is very sad to hear of a large fish kill when abnormally cold air temperatures hit a generally warm weather climate such as Florida. We knew the surviving fish would eat after they warmed up. Bruce and I wanted to see for ourselves, test some new flies that we had tied and it was warm enough to cast. We headed down The Tamiami Trail after noon. Before the cold front hit Florida, I had fished for Tarpon several times at various spots along the trail and there wasn’t much activity to speak of. Sure, we had the occaisional bump, but we were not seeing rolling fish or fish chasing bait. On this day, we saw rolling tarpon right away and there were schools of small baitfish here and there in the shallows. The canal system we fish is open-ended to the Gulf and fish that wander up the river will eventually get to where we fish. We theorize that the cold water temperatures in the Gulf might drive fish up the creeks in search of warmer water and food. This day we were right on the money.The hardest part about landing bigger tarpon on foot is being super careful not to break their jaws by supporting their bellies. The full weight of a bigger tarpon suspended from his jaw can actually break the jaw. Luckily, a passing biologist-guide came by as we were fighting this larger tarpon and lended us his Boga Grip.We swabbed some DNA from the slime on my hands after releasing the fish and sent it off to Florida’s Tarpon Research Center. This was one of our best days of fly fishing on the Trail.