FLY FISHING CORNER: A Slow Day of Tarpon Fishing

Having “Plan A” is always helpful and in fly fishing, it’s even better to have a “Plan B”!

Recently I fished my good friends Ron and Rick from Colorado. Ron jumped a giant tarpon last year and was excited to return to finish the job. We were running the beaches all morning but that day the beaches were empty. No bait, no tarpon … nothing!

After a reality check and accepting the fact that tarpon wouldn’t happen that day, I told them about a really exciting alternative. Sight fishing for blacktip sharks! This shark species is home to our waters all year, but especially during the summer months with calm ocean days they are a lot of fun to catch.

Drifting along the beach and watching these predators cruising right underneath the surface is a lot of excitement in itself, however, casting a fly to them brings a whole new level of an adrenaline rush. It is like trout fishing in a lake but everything is just bigger. The rods I’m using are 12 weights with heavy 100 pound fly line, leader and wire. These strong lines are giving me the opportunity to leader and land these fish quick and release them strong! The flies I’m using are pushing water on 6/0 – 8/0 hooks and my preferred colors are black, chartreuse and red. Sometimes I put a sailfish popper head in front which makes them ugly to cast but if you get a “take” it will blow your mind! Most blacktip sharks will jump and rip line deep into your backing in no time and they never give up. I’m hooked and I love it, man or mouse – let’s go!

Safety Tip: Build an emergency break off part in-between the fly line and the leader like a 40-to-60-pound mono, depending on what you can handle and make sure you have a second guy in the boat to help you. Use the right dehooker (offshore size) to stay with your hands far enough away from his teeth. Keep them in the water and hold them on their dorsal fin and leader.

Release: Hold them on their dorsal fin (in some cases move the boat slowly while doing this) until they swim away.

The Fly Fishing Column is written by Capt. Michael Mauri,,, (772) 485-3321.

Rick with a nice little blacktip shark holding it by the dorsal fin preparing for the release. Photo credit: Capt. Michael Mauri.