In this must-watch episode of Silver Kings, one of our favorite personalities, Capt. Jako Lucas takes to the bow in Islamorada, Florida to take on the challenge of fooling some of the pickiest and largest laid up tarpon in US waters. After we checked out the full episode, we knew we needed to sit down with Jako and pick his brain about the incredible experience!
Flylords: How do Keys tarpon compare to the tarpon you’ve chased on the western coast of Africa?
Jako: Man, it’s worlds apart. Like honestly, that’s the first time where I fished a fishery as well known as Islamorada, and in an area that’s fished that hard. Luckily enough, I was probably with one of the best guys I could possibly be out there. So the crazy thing is, I mean you see thousands and thousands of fish in Islamorada, where we were fishing, and I didn’t expect to see that. In Africa, we still see a lot of fish, but because you’re fishing, usually water that’s a little bit, I’d say sort of tannic, or just colored water, you’re not always seeing that many fish. You’re kind of seeing them rolling.
But it’s two absolutely polar opposite destinations, whereas, in Islamorada, I’d literally, if it wasn’t for Jared to explain to me how to fish for these fish, I think I would’ve probably not jumped a single fish. It’s such a delicate game. Your margin for error is literally six inches by six inches. If you don’t cast within that area and do exactly what he said with regards to stripping or not moving the fly or just holding the fly, then that fish just doesn’t eat.
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So they’re definitely pretty well educated. I mean we jumped a ton of good fish, so it was very spectacular. But I mean, if you take a fish in Africa, like the one in the video my friend Christiaan did when he was in Gabon. There the fish basically does a 180, and it just runs that fly down and smokes it. It’s like those fish just get zero pressure.
It’s two very polar opposite destinations when it comes to fishing for Tarpon. One, you can just smack the fly down, and fish huge flies in Africa. Whereas in Florida you’re fishing tiny, tiny flies.
Flylords: What are some tips you have for someone chasing large tarpon for the first time?
Jako: You have to put on your big boy pants, because I mean it’s like going and standing on a stage, like a performer, where you’ve got a guide whose career revolves around, basically, fishing through you. And I mean he wants to get the fish for you, but from a guide’s perspective, your client is the extension of what you are doing as a profession. It helps a lot for your enjoyment of that moment if you can step up to the plate and really make those shots count.
And honestly, yeah, I mean you just have to have serious sort of, just try and calm yourself in the moment. You know for me as a guide, from that moment, I’d take a client that can cast accurately 100% of the time more than a client that can cast like 90 feet, but with no sort of accuracy. Fly placement and the movement of the fly, insanely important, especially where tarpon are concerned. For instance, with GTs, you can still make a mistake, and the fish can eat that fly. But with those fish (tarpon), and especially in Islamorada, there’s no room for error.
Flylords: How do Tarpon stack up against the other big game fish you have chased?
Jako: A lot of people have asked me what’s my favorite fish to catch on the fly. And usually, I’ll refer back to a GT, just because I’ve based a huge amount of my career, and spent so much time, and landed so many, guiding and fishing myself, that it’s difficult to ever say that there’s a better fish than a GT, but a Tarpon has everything that a person could possibly ask for, for a fish to target on a fly rod.
Firstly, you’re actually able to cast a fly. You know, usually when you’re casting… When you’re fishing giant fish, you’d think you’d have to use massive flies, in particular, to target fish that are potentially not possible to catch with a fly rod. But these fish allow you to cast smaller flies, and that makes the fishing a little easier. And then you’ve got Tarpon who grow gigantic, jump and fight really hard. I mean they’ve technically got every single column or aspect of a perfect fish covered, every single thing you can want from a fish, they’ve got it.
Flylords: Was there one memorable fish or eat from that shoot, that stood out to you?
Jako: I mean that one drone eats that they managed to get was… I mean it’s hard to see actually, how big that fish was, but that was my first Tarpon encounter. Literally, first fish, first cast in. Jared literally ran me through the ABCs, right through exactly what I needed to do. And honestly, because I’m so used to the fish actually charging the fly harder, just to literally keep it in the zone, the eat was so subtle. You can’t even actually even see when it sips the fly, it’s so gentle, and then obviously chaotic. So I think it was a fish north of 100, which was just awesome. I mean that was just mind-blowing.
It’s literally a zero control moment. I mean you can keep the line away from the rock, but it’s, it’s a moment in time where anything can happen. Line wrap around the reel handle, come around your neck or whatever it may be. It’s just like, what do some of the guys call it, they call the line “nuclear spaghetti”. It just starts popping up, and just all over the show. There’s no control. Then they just take off.