2/24/17 Catching a big tarpon in Islamorada in February!

Got out with Doug and Caroline today who fished with me yesterday as well.  Yesterday we did snook and snappers and had a pretty good 3/4 day.  Today we decided to mix it up as the winds laid down some and tried other stuff.  We caught mackerels in the morning along with some mangrove snappers, then decided to give the big stuff a try.  It was still on the chilly side from the minor front/rain we had a couple days ago, water was in the low 70s.  But it was fairly calm and sun was coming out, and looked like a tarpon-like day otherwise.  We looked in a couple areas and didn’t see much, so we just put baits out on some numbers I like to sit at sometimes.  We caught a few sharks, and then Caroline hooked a gigantic tarpon!  It jumped immediately and I could tell it was big…  It screamed about 150 yards of line off as we spun the boat around and got the trolling motor up to give chase.  Caroline did great and kept the rod pointed at the fish early on, which is imperative when fishing circle hooks like we do.  We caught up with the fish and it did some violent head shaking and made a couple more jumps right near the boat which we got good pictures of.  Finally after one last jump it more or less gave out, a fairly short fight for a fish this size, only about 20 minutes or so.  Once we got the fish boat side I realized how big it was… It was easily 7 foot long, but what stuck out in my mine was just the girth of the fish.  All the way to the tail it was very thick, and most of the pictures don’t do it justice.  But one shot that Doug snapped really shows how thick she was.  We tried to measure it but we were in deeper water and the fish wouldn’t lay still easily, and I didn’t want to mess with it too long and possibly kill it.  Though I’m guessing close to 200 lbs, and I don’t throw that number around often like some people like to.  Anyways it’s easily one of the top 3 in size that i’ve caught and we were thrilled with the catch.  Just goes to show you, you never know if you don’t try!  1 for 1

Capt. Rick Stanczyk