I saw my first Florida Keys tarpon in May of 1991. I didn’t catch one that year, but they caught me. Since that first visit, I’ve gone back for twenty-one consecutive Mays with my wife, kids, parents, brother, sister, nieces, and nephews. We’ve had years with epic weather and fishing; and years with rain, wind, and scant fish. Most years the tarpon swim past in droves during our May 25-June 1 window, but sometimes (like last year) we miss the peak of the migration.
At age six, my son Blake caught his first tarpon. Captain Doug Kilpatrick cast the plug into a bunch of rollers and set the hook, but Blake did the rest. Fortunately, that fish tilted 40 instead of 140. From that day on, I would cast the fly, hook the fish (enjoy the jumps) and hand the rod to Blake. Before he ever caught a tarpon on fly, he had yanked on a bunch of them. Nowadays Blake has his own rod, and he’s casting and hooking and jumping and fighting tarpon like a man possessed. Sometimes he out-fishes his dad. And that makes me proud.
And this year’s trip? Epic again. In fact this may have been the most tarpon we’ve seen in the two decades we’ve been going. Guide Chris McCreedy parked us on one concentration of fish near Key West that stayed put for five straight days. And up at Marathon there were a couple of days where the procession of singles, strings, pods, and meatballs came by almost non-stop. And to what should we attribute this year’s tarpon bonanza? I honestly don’t know. Does anybody?
Click here to see the rest of the shoot.
Note: getting a monkey to climb a push pole is easy. Teaching him exposure is the tough part.
Albert Ponzoa with a macrame project
Shiny happy people
See that massive dark smudge at the end of Blake’s fly line? Those are tarpon.
Drying one off
Oooh, bad worm
Oceanside at Marathon
Blake with a Key West jumper
Hurry up, take your time