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April 30,  2003

Key West Flats Fishing Report
The weather is stable, the water temperature is right were it should be, and the fishing is excellent!
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 to work.
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
Tight Line.

Capt. Larry Cohen
903 Eisenhower Drive
Key West, FL 33040
305-294-7670 houseboat
305-923-7100 cell


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