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Baby Tarpon.

Posted: Sat Mar 23, 2019 5:46 pm
by John Finn
What can you do to hang on to these fish? This is the scenario. Years and years of trout fishing behind me I convince my dubious wife that it would be a good idea to go to Mexico for some Winter sunshine. There's Mayan Ruins , great beaches, and
"oh yea I've booked two days fishing with a guide"
First day in the mangroves, standing on the bow casting at showing tarpon in murky water. The only thing on my mind is , you only have two days, don't trout set. Surprisingly I managed to control this urge , but what to do next ?
The first good chance resulted in a jump ,but as soon as I felt the fish was on I kept the rod low and swung it to the right and bent it . Result, fly launches into space. I am delighted to have jumped a fish and I look at Bernado for feed back. NO NO you lose your mind on the strike. He had told me before we started just one firm strike not too hard , these are not big fish. No playing these fish on the reel. Always have slack line in your hand ready to release on the jump. This made sense to me but he didn't think my sideways lean after this was a good move. Just point the rod tip at the fish and control it by hand.
This first fish turned out to be my best chance. Several plucks and slight touches but no hook up.
Next day into the mangroves again at low tide after snook. This was electric as you could see the fish. Messed up a couple of takes again,.my sideways lean was blamed. I don't get it. Snook are real interesting.
Finally finally we change location to finish up, and I manage to land my first tarpon. This was clear water mangrove so I saw the whole thing. :yeahhh: Can't help feeling that the good hook hold I got was by accident rather than design. This fish was not coming off no matter what side strain I put on him.
Is this hand lining them gently a recognized technique in playing jumpy baby tarpon and this might seem crazy to seasoned tarpon anglers but would lighter wire hooks not give easier penetration and better hook holds . Was using size 4 and 6 hooks.............................John

Baby Tarpon.

Posted: Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:43 pm
by Mangrove Cuckoo

Your account sounds about right for someone who does not spend most of their water time chasing baby tarpon. I, on the other hand, pretty much specialize in chasing them.

Do you gently hand-line them almost the entire fight? No. But you do hand-line them almost completely at first - to get/keep them stuck. Any rod bend, whether it is up or sideways, at the very beginning of the fight (the hook set) will reduce pressure on the hook point. Once you feel the line come completely tight, to where you think the tippet is going to break, you can then lift the rod and let the tiny acrobat show his stuff.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes no matter how well you come tight, the hook just does not find a sweet spot, and they will throw the hook. That is tarpon fishing. You know you are doing it right when you smash a few leaders on the hook set. If you come tight with the strip strike at the same moment the fish turns away you are going to break some off, even if you are using 0X tippet. Again, that is tarpon fishing, but if you get to where that happens once or twice a day you will bring many more to the boat than the commonly reported low percentage.

Lighter wire hooks? No, I do not suggest that. The tarpon will open them up, and once they bend the will bend easier the next fish. I like stout hooks, and ones with larger gaps than most folks. For me, a size 4 or 6 is a bit small. I like a size 2 SL12S for most of my baby tarpon flies.

Baby Tarpon.

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 4:01 am
by queenfish
Tarpon, you have to loose some otherwise its not tarpon.
Over here when they are around the fish are from 50 to 70cm.
I use 24LB fluro tippet T8 or T14 line depending on the current.
hooks tarpon hooks or similar 2/0. clousers with heavy eyes or baitfish pattern rapped with lead or small sinker on the loop.
These fish bust up on the top, you can only hook them on the bottom.
hook up as its been mentioned, rod straight to the fish, strip strike as hard as you can.
When the fish jump, it all depends how lucky you are whether you hold tight or loose line, doesn't make any difference.
Tried circle hooks it wasn't more successful either.
All I can tell they are very exciting fish to catch.
And I am talking about the fish here not anywhere else.

Baby Tarpon.

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:06 am
by John Finn
Thanks Mangrove and Queenfish, that makes perfect sense. think I may have misinterpreted what the guide was trying to tell me. Handlining gently at the start wouldn't achieve much. What a fish . Trout season has just opened here , seems a bit tame now. Problem is, this could become an expensive obsession. Tarpon are scarce around here. Ireland ........John

Baby Tarpon.

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 11:02 am
by Paul Arden
Hi John,

I personally only play fish on the reel if they take line off to get to the reel. In the case of a 40lb baby tarpon I would expect this to happen quite quickly! But if it didn’t then I would play by hand.

Personally I find I have much more control fighting by hand; I can easily alter force, giving maximum force when the fish doesn’t do what I want, giving little force when it does what I want, I can strip faster than I can reel and finally I can suddenly reduce force almost completely which can destabilise the fish.

Cheers, Paul

Baby Tarpon.

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:00 pm
by John Finn
Will have to work on my footwork. Always play good trout on the reel in a boat after losing a real good one due to standing on the line.Still pains me many years later. Thanks Paul.

Baby Tarpon.

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 6:23 pm
by petevicar
Hi John
How big were the tarpon hat you were fishing for?

Size 4 and 6 are very small flies for tarpon. Even the very small fish have pretty big mouths.


Baby Tarpon.

Posted: Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:29 am
by Lou Bruno
Mangrove Cuckoo wrote:
Lighter wire hooks? No, I do not suggest that. The tarpon will open them up, and once they bend the will bend easier the next fish. I like stout hooks, and ones with larger gaps than most folks. For me, a size 4 or 6 is a bit small. I like a size 2 SL12S for most of my baby tarpon flies.
How long do we want to "play" the fish? A lighter wire hook allows the fisher to end the fight, and better hook set, yes? Therefore, giving the fish greater odds on survival.
Owner 2/0 mosquito hook, extremely sharp, offset.