2/18/18 February Tarpon Fishing in the backcountry of Islamorada

Got out for a full day again with the Kurt Butcher group, same group of guys from yesterday but different anglers for me today.  I had Jay and Dustin out for the day.  It was Jay’s dream to catch a tarpon and I told him we’d have a decent shot today being as there had been fish around and we had decent conditions.  The winds had kicked up somewhat from yesterday but not blowing like crazy, a steady 15 mph or so.  We caught bait early to start the day but had some weather in the backcountry so we didn’t run back there right away.  We fished locally for little stuff and had good action with that.  We looked around the bridges for tarpon but didn’t see a whole lot of activity.  The rains cleared so we ran out back.  I fished a different channel I hadn’t fished yet this year, though my buddy said there had been some good tarpon there.  Well we had some company a couple other boats were there, but no matter.  We found fish right away and set up… No bites early on, a few sharks including a big bull, but could see fish rolling and swimming by.  The tide was starting to slack up and soon started to come in.  We moved around a bit and soon after caught a cobia.  Then we caught a big sting ray.  We hooked what I thought was another ray later on, and at the same time Jay put his rod down and had a tarpon grab his bait real quick but spit the hook!  Funny you can fish for hours like that and as soon as you set the rod down, that is when that tarpon comes!  Anyways was a little bummed about that, but then all of a sudden dustins ray jumped and turned out to really be a tarpon that just wasn’t moving or fighting much!  That quickly turned my attitude around and we caught the fish and got some good pics.  Later on Jay was rewarded with a tarpon of his own too a nice 90 lber that we fought for a good 45 minutes.  He didn’t want to cooperate for pictures though we finally turned him and had him laid out but unfortunately he broke off while Jay had the leader wrapped around his hands.  But Dustin got some good video for him and they both were stuper stoked to each catch a tarpon and other things.  Back at it tomorrow looks like the winds are suppose to kick up more, and Tuesday it’s really going to blow.  Will likely make fishing a little tough but hopefully we can find something that wants to feed.  2 for 3

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
Facebook: Islamorada Tarpon Fishing