»Florida Keys« – On the search for the Big Boys of the Flats
My dream finally became reality.
I´m standing on a flats-skiff in the Keys of Florida and my skipper Mike leads us in the tuerkis-blue lagoon. For a long time I prepared myself for the journey in the “Mekka of saltwater fly Fischer”. My throwing style I had to change totally. I stood for hours on the meadow, practising fly-fishing-throwing, during my neighbours held me for crazy. But, how else should I learn throwing with a 10´, 12´ or 9´ tippet? I absorbed books, US magazines and videos like a sponge. I bought and copied enormous amounts at Tarpon, Bonefish and Permitflies. Blindly I could rig leader-tippets, also during very strong wind. Now he must come me only before the rod, the Giant Silver King. Nearly after the exit we could see a lot of big tarpons. Unfortunately, this fish were to far away. Mike told me: „Our boat is a clock system, the stern is 6 o’clock...“.
Now, it becomes seriously
„Three o’clock, sixty feet away...“. Short fast Backcast - normal Vorcast - long Backcast - shot. The "Cockroach" lands two meters in front of the fish. I let it sink and pull with the left hand jerkily. Mike: „He will take...“. I see the gush, the Tarpon absorbed the "Cockroach". I fasten with the left hand. The Tarpon jumps immediately several times out of the water and tears line of the role. What now, he still jumps, but the role stops - sch... away. What did I make wrong? Mike: „wait two or three seconds longer...“.
One hour later we meet several fish
The second throw, a Tarpon becomes curious, changes his swimming direction and takes the fly. Now, I count to five, the same expiration and the fish is hanging!? With its first escape it takes approx.. 150 m. A not everyday-feeling, if almost the whole Backing rushes of the role. Mike follows with its electric motor. Now it becomes clear to me why there are so many "Flat Junkies". My Tarpon fights spectacularly and gives me reverence. He is more in air than in the water. It vibrates thereby its head again and again, in order to loose he will the annoying course. A secure stand, line up-reel, the jumps intercept and/or holding the line tense is not easy. With the second escape I sleep, now my finger crests certainly blue. After a half hour I get the Tarpon under control and he comes near the boat.
That tippet comes out from the water. Mike gribs the fish, pulls the Tarpon with the head out of the water, "Cockroach" out and leaves it with the words in the water: „Babytarpon, we will catch a bigger one...“. Well, his words in Poseidons ear. He estimates the "baby" between 40 and 50lb - I am silent. In the afternoon suddenly Permits come into boat proximity. Just so far they came, they are also away. Mike: „They don’t eat... maybe 10 to 30 lb...“. It doesn´t matter, away is away. For today it is enough, tomorrow we want to visit the Marquesas. There are Bonefish.
New day new luck
The rumor tunes, we catches actually three fish with approx.. 4 to 8 lb. The "Flat Runner" is really unbelievable. After dinner Mike calls me. He wants to fish with me with sunrise on Giants. He procures bait fish and fetches me at two o'clock. We install two 30 lb spin rods and anchor before a bridge between the keys. Here there is a strong tidal difference between the Atlantic and gulf from Mexico side. I have the impression to fish in a river. The bait fish float in the current. I fish the first time with Circle Hooks. Mike explains, not to set the hook in the classical way, that´s really important. I have to give the fish for about five seconds line, and then I can tenderly contact him. Mike: „Slow and steady are the guide for getting circle hook to find home in tarpons mouths...“
Slowly the darkness yields. Suddenly, several fish comes at the same time to the surface and rob. Directly at my bait a gush, I follow Mikes instructions and actually, I feel that the fish hangs and goes off. The Tarpon comes immediately out of the water and jumps - gigantically. My pulse impact rises and the knees trembles. Mike: „Good Fish... 100 lb“.After one hour and a lot of luck the Tarpon and/or we approach slowly. Several times it approximated an obstacle threateningly, twice the fish changed the direction, suddenly I had to point the rod under the boat, that the line don´t contacts the rotor. But luck belongs to stop. Now "my Giant" is not five meters in distant.
Exercise makes the master... Finally, Mike lands the fish. He pulls the hook out and releases the fish with the words: „Release the fish, catch the memory...“ On the following two days I still caught two "babies". Giants like the on of the first day. Unfortunately, the big ones don’t came any longer to the fly rod.
I came at my expense, it never became boring. One thing became finally clear for me. Also in the Mekka of fly Fischer trouble, ability, patience and the necessary portion of luck is necessary to catch a good fish.
Not exclusively insist on fly fish. Most of fish become also there imprisoned with crabs and bait fish! Behind reproached hand I heared 1:10. The Skipper has always Spinn and fly rods or their boats. Take a partner with you. In a Skiff standing for eight hours can be the hell. Pay attention therefore also to best shoes! Industriously at home practice is announced. Locally it is too late. They must be able to throw at least 20 m (60 ') without large trouble, this if necessary over hours! Avoid unnecessary empty throws. To the second, maximally third Backcast the shot has to come. Reel your Backing bone-hard up. Even if you are at home the "King of Trouts", with the "King of Flats" you always should absolutely obey the instructions and commands of your Skippers. Only so you have a real chance.