7/23/18 July Bridge Fishing for Tarpon in Islamorada

The weather looked a little nasty to start today.  We still had a stiff westerly breeze with several lines of thunderstorms rolling in early.  No way to leave the dock at my normal early departure time with all the lightning around.  We decided to wait and see what it looked like around 7 AM.  Things cleared up enough but I honestly still wasn’t super excited about going as we had a limited bait supply and with the conditions changing I knew fishing would likely be tough.  But I did have a good tip there were a few fish around some of the bridges and that may be a good option.  We looked around locally nearby first, and didn’t see much in a couple spots but eventually did find a school of tarpon.  We lined up and got in their zone, did have one come up and roll in our baits and thought we’d get him but no love.  After that they seemed to disappear.  I was bummed as I thought that may of been our shot.  Anyways after that I knew the tidal stage was right to try around the bridge.  We ran there and looked around and set up near where I thought some fish might be and soon we hooked a 40 lber!  Landed him and several fish followed him around which was good, they were there!  We got him and set back up and then another 10 minutes later hooked a big mean 100 lber.  This fish we battled for a good hour chasing him all over for 1.5 miles.  Got it boat side and rolled over but just as we did he went through the leader so we didn’t get any good boatside pictures, oh well but a good catch none the less.  After that I thought things may be over with as the tide started ripping and we had a good deal of grass coming through making it a little more difficult to fish.  But the boys wanted to stay and we still had a half dozen baits left so we gave it longer.  About on our last bait we hooked another 100 lb tarpon and we ran him down getting the wind on leader on to our rod tip for a technical catch, but unfortunately we got a little too much heat on the fish and he surged and snapped the line.  You always have to go kind of easy on tarpon in the beginning of the fight as they are big strong fish, the more heat you put on them when they are ‘green’ running hard, jumping, etc… the more likely they will either throw the hook, or snap the line.  After they settle down and you get in that 20 yard tug-of-war where they are just barely swimming along but not rolling over, is when you put the wood to ’em.  Oh well a great day very happy to see such good fishing with less than ideal conditions and off of my usual backcountry routine this time of year.  Looks like we will have similar conditions tomorrow though the winds will (hopefully) lighten up a little.  Bait might be a tough thing too as I’m out of my stockpile now so that will be first on the list to do.  3 for 3

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