Weekend Tarpon Scout 7-15-22
Updated: Nov 7, 2022
By David Graham: July 18, 2022
I feel like since moving to Southwest Florida roughly four years ago - I have really procrastinated hard on my pursuit of tarpon. It's really inexcusable, as it may very well be the most exciting fight of any fish in the state.... or country for that matter.
While I have caught plenty of the juvenile tarpon, I just haven't landed that triple digit class fish yet. I have had my share of missed opportunities both in the river, and in Boca Grande Pass... but the big resident tarpon in our rivers are so intriguing to me. I had one night where I was totally outclassed by man sized tarpon on the Caloosahatchee River while fishing out of my canoe - it was a real eye opener. I've not felt so inferior against a fish in my entire life... still, I had the gear up to the task.
The Caloosahatchee, Peace, Myakka rivers - and their respective tributaries all have very big tarpon that spend most of the year if not the entirety of the year in them... for whatever reason setting up shop as residential fish that never seem to leave. Unlike their oceanic counterparts, they are darker in complexion... matching the stained tannic waters flashing darker colors and golden hues. They are really a monstrous fish to behold. The prospect of landing a triple digit fish in a blackwater river surrounded by overhanging oak trees and Spanish moss just really does it for me... and I am much more interested in doing battle with them in that kind of environment than in a pass, under a bridge, or out on the ocean.
Friday (July 15th) after work I took a bucket full of mayan cichlids to a Peace River tributary where I have seen tarpon basically every time i've ever been there. I dropped the Sportspal canoe in at about 8:15pm and fished into the night. For the most part, I got bombarded by sailfin catfish and longnose gar... losing bait after bait. I lost atleast one tarpon for sure, and possibly a couple others before I was down to one lone cichlid. I managed to catch a 'fun sized' tarpon on the final bait.
I hauled the fish over to shallows where I could get out and safely handle the fish in the water - it was a little earie scanning around with the head lamp at dozens of sets of glowing alligator eyes out in the darkness... but with the canoe positioned between open water and myself I snapped a few quick shots and released the fish to grow bigger.