Stan and I made a couple "not-much-to-report" trips to the Charlotte Harbor flats with only a couple small trout to show for it. Then yesterday we took a drive down to the canals near the Tamiami Trail in the Everglades. We fished there briefly a couple weeks ago when Stan caught a Jack. This time it wasn't too windy; was a little warmer and the fish (and gators) were more active. The gators were sunning themselves in some of the good fishing spots.
I saw schools of baitfish "raining" on the water, so I knew that they were getting spooked by a predator, probably a tarpon, since we had seen some rolling on the surface. I had put on a weedless, white tarpon fly and tossed it about 20 feet in front of me into some cloudy water at the end of the canal, where the baitfish were swarming out of the water. The line came tight and I set the hook hard and the fight was on. This thing ran, jumped, jumped some more and generally went berserk! This big gator made a beeline towards the commotion and stopped about 20 feet way from us.I put a lot of pressure on the tarpon to keep it away from the gator. It was hard to land the fish, since the bank of the canal is about two feet above the water, and I was not about to get down into the canal with that hungry gator! I was using a 12-pound redfish leader, with 18-inches of 30-pound fluorocarbon as a bite-tippet to protect from abrasion from toothy critters and sharp gill covers. Here is some video Stan shot.
As I was pulling the tarpon up the bank, it lunged and broke the leader. I estimate it to be 24 to 26-inches and somewhere a little less than 10 pounds. Two-bites for a gator!
After making a few more casts, we decided to move down the canal a ways and fish another spot, where we had seen another fly fisher earlier. When we got there he was putting his gear away in the truck and I noticed it had Maine plates. As we pulled up, he turned around and I recognized Danny Legere, proprieter of the Maine Guide Fly Shop in Greenville, Maine. We chatted for a while, exchanging info on some local spots. You never know who you are going to run into on the water!
This is probably my last report, since we are leaving Saturday to head back north. Hope you enjoyed this mid-winter interlude, even though it is "off-topic" from New England Fly Fishing.