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Key West Flats Fishing
The weather is stable, the water
temperature is right were it should be, and the fishing is
Tarpon Fishing 101...
I personally like to have a lot of action when I go tarpon
fishing, so that is why I mainly fish for them at night.
tarpon are basically night feeders, so keeping that in mind,
your best opportunity is at first light in the morning and
then back again from sunset on. If you are bent on stalking
tarpon for that perfect presentation with a fly rod or a
live crab, then of course you need to do that during the day
and you will catch fish. However if you are looking for a
whole lot of fun, try the night bite and be ready to go into
battle for the next couple of hours.
Fly fishing at night is great. I would
recommend that you know how to double haul so you can get
some distance before you come on down. But by all means you
don't have to be a World class caster. Just keep in mind we
are throwing 12wt. rods and if you are not used to loading
one of these guys, it can seem a little big. As far as flies
go, take your pick. Personally I like to throw patterns that
are dark in color and with a bit of a collar so that it will
push some water. Make sure you have a fly reel with a very
good drag and a lot of backing and then you are ready to get
Throw them a plug. Keep in mind that these
fish run in all sizes and shapes, so you need to be prepared
and ready for anything that may come your way. I personally
use a 7'6" Redington rod 30 lb Power pro line (dacron no
strech) and a good spinning reel with some balls, bearings
that is! So keeping all that in mind you are going to need
something with some good hooks that will not explode or fall
apart on you. I have been using wind cheaters, large Rebel
minnows and a new plug called A-Salt (check them out at
Now that your tackle is all dressed up, it is time to go to
the dance. Find a spot with some current and preferably with
some rolling fish. If you are going to anchor, attach some
type of a float to it. When that fish gets hooked up, simply
drop the ball because you sure won't have the time to pull
up the anchor.Throw your plugs up current, down current,
cross current. The idea here is to cover as much real estate
as possible. Vary the speed of your retrieve. But most of
the time a slow retrieve works best. Don't be afraid to
experiment a little bit.
Once you feel that your lure is being grabbed by something
like a freight train, it is time to act, and fast. Strike
that fish with all that you have and then some. Keep the rod
down and low, sort of like a reverse golf swing, and reeling
all the time.Then hang on. The next few minutes are
sometimes a little bit out of control (but that is why we
are here). The fish have a bit of an attitude at this point
but keep a tight line and when the fish comes up to jump, I
tell my people to put the rod tip right in to the water.
This will help keep some of the slack out of the line. Enjoy
the fight and be prepared to spend a little time here from
20 minutes to an 1 1/2 hour battle. It is all up to you and
the fish. Use a little common sense when it comes time to
handling these guys. I usually lip gaff them. You don't want
to be messing around and you want to be able to release a
healthy fish back as soon as possible.
I hope that some of this information will be helpful to you.
So remember to keep a
Capt. Larry Cohen
903 Eisenhower Drive
Key West, FL 33040
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