Charlie Neymour and I started out around 7:30 and proceeded to Middle Bight. Charlie stopped to fish on a flat just west of Honeycutt Creek. Moving up onto the flat, he asked me to set my tarpon rod out where I could get to it quickly if we spotted a tarpon. I knew I has going to get a shot at a tarpon right then.
We were on bonefish quickly and were catching them quickly. A hot flat. We were heading towards a small creek that emptied into the bight which was probably where the bones were coming from. After crossing the creek, we continued to catch fish. We didnt make 9X9 but we did make 10X10.
About 10:30 and 15 bones later, it was "reel in your bonefish rod. We have a tarpon out 300 feet at 12 o'clock. Be real quiet, you have plenty of time."
I was trying to keep calm. I looked out and saw the tarpon as I reeled in my bonefish line, then stored it and quietly picked up the 11 weight tarpon rod. I pulled off some line and made a couple of casts to shore, away from the fish, to get the feel of the rod. I was really glad I thought of this. It really helped my cast later I think.
As Charlie and I approached the fish, I asked which way the fish was pointing. I could not tell from that distance and I sure as hell did not want to cast to the wrong end.
Two false casts and the fly went. It landed about 5 feet in front and to the side of his nose. The tarpon turned and ate it.
The tarpon was coming towards us when he ate the fly so I stripped all I could and set the hook as far back as I could. Then the tarpon turned and headed for Havana. I kept setting the hook. My rod tip was in the water. He jumped and came half out of the water but never cleared it.
I looked down at my reel. I was deep into my backing already. And the line was feeding under a loop. Damn it! Just my luck. But the line held and the fish finished his first run. I was able to get back about half the line, thank goodness. I remember my knees shivering and turning weak from the excitement. It had been a very long time since that had happened to me.
Forty five minutes of fighting the fish and we had the 70 pound tarpon caught, photographed, and released back into the water.
It is now 11:30 and we have a tarpon and 12-15 bonefish. You know what comes next. Do we go after a permit for the slam or not. I wanted to go after it, but I also knew that we could easily spend the rest of the day looking and not casting at anything. Charlie mentioned that since the flat was hot and we had not had lunch that we should fish a little more and save an hour at the end of the day when the tide was right to try the permit.
So we caught another 7 or 8 bonefish and took photos.... in case we got the slam.
It was about 2:30. Charlie and I headed for Sunken Rock. I had never been there. I also had never cast to a permit before and not really sure that I had even seen one before. When we got there, we slowly entered the area. Charlie saw a 40 pound permit immediately, got really excited, and almost came off the tower. I never saw that one. I cast where he said but I was probably 30 yards behind that fish. He was moving really fast.
After 30 minutes we saw another permit! He was just floating in the waves, that fin sticking up. I cast a tan Clouser to him several times. He ignored it. We decided to try a crab. I sat down in the bottom of the boat, cut the fly off, tried to tie a crab on without using my glasses, finally putting on my glasses. Nothing like a little pressure while you are trying to tie a fly on in front of a permit. Finally finishing the knot, I did not bother to trim it as I stood up on the deck as quickly and as quietly as possible.
The fish was about 50 feet out, was quite large and moving slowly left. I cast about 10 feet in front of him. The permit charged the fly, hit it, the line went straight, and then.....nothing. He was gone!!
My knees grew weak! Again! For the second time that day!
We eventually cast to 3 or 4 more double permits that day. The fly would go to the bottom. A permit would go down on the fly. I never felt a fish. Nobody took it. I stripped really slow once when a permit was down on it. He turned tail and ran. Everyone was just sight seeing today.
Finally, as the sun was sinking very low, my heart and my knees just could not take it anymore. So Charlie and I left this unforgettable place, went back to Tranquillity Hill and had a beer.
Thanks Charlie Neymour.... for an unforgettable day!!