A note from John Agles:
“We have beach tarpon available a few months a year. Most of the time, their movements and feedings (on pogeys and glass minnows most commonly) are a hundred yards or more from shore. They’ll less frequently be much closer and potentially accessible by fly from the sand, especially during the early fall mullet run.
It wasn’t mullet, menhaden, or glass minnows in this case. Big schools of approximately 2″ long, bright silver fish appeared in the surf for a few days. I’d never seen them before, but some people I consider knowledgeable thought they were a type of anchovy. Whatever they were, the tarpon were gorging themselves, and a lot of it was happening close in with the bait trapped against the sand and breakers.
I was missing a lot of the action due to work, but I had just gotten home, and this fish was showering the bait close in, and the wind and surf weren’t too bad. A couple of smaller fish were working the outer edge, but this big one was in the middle and really shallow.
Trying to match the hatch doesn’t payoff when they’re keyed in on something specific; this was about a 4″ long fly on a 2/0 saltwater hook. I can’t remember the exact color scheme, but it had at least some chartreuse.
I was standing in knee-deep water, and the fish swam right by me a couple of times, cutting a wide swath in the bait school and then periodically surging forward and upward to grab a bite. I couldn’t always see the fish; however, I did my best to predict its location and keep the fly in front of it, which was pretty hard with the line getting washed around. This lasted for about 10 minutes until the fish saw and totally wrecked the fly. The take was a little towards me, but the fish turned its head away as it fell back in the water, which helped with the hook set.
The rest is pretty typical. The fish went ballistic and made a long run into my backing, jumping a few times on the way. I turned it and it did a couple big head shakes out of the water and threw the fly. Probably 45 seconds total. There were a lot of comments that the fish was uncatchable. It was but it just didn’t happen and I was totally fine with it. The best had already happened. You know the saying, “That’s tarpon fishing.”
This week’s Reel of the Week segment is from John Agles. Be sure to follow John’s fishing adventures on Instagram at @flyfishinrad.
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