Intro to Tarpon
Been meaning to file a report, just haven't got to it. Basser hooked us up with a morning charter in san juan before we boarded the cruise ship. We fished with Til Bruaer (Quicksilver fishing dot com) in the lagoons around the airport. We met Til at about 5:45 am and we're off in the dark to get some bait, just in case. While Til was casting the net we could hear fish splashing around. It was a bluebird day and fac. We the made our way to a channel, several miles long, that connected the two major lagoons. Right after passing under a highway (rt 26) we had juvenile tarpon breaking in a back eddy. Basser was hooked up on his first cast and brought the fish to hand with an 8 wgt. It was still dark. We played around there until it got crowded with a couple of other boats. Moved on to the west side lagoon and hunted around. The tarpon were rolling sporadiclly and we moved as needed. Settled in on a drift over a shallow shelf where fish were breaking fairly consistently. We were blind casting for the most part. I had a few bumps on a retrieve, cast again and was hooked up, though not good enough. First leap revealed a 4 or 5 foot tarpon and a sh!tty hook set as the fish came unbuttoned. We had fish around fairly consistently but Til felt they were on something specific (Til called the specific bait something like margano, Basser speculated mullet). Til was throwing bay anchovies around (these were 4 or 5 inch bait) trying to entice fish to stay close. Basically it was a slow day, probably a little too nice a day. We made our way back through the channel and cast to small tarpon along the bank but no love.
Time was getting short. We stopped in cove in the east lagoon that was the deepest water in the system, about 60 feet. This area also holds the largest tarpon, 100# plus. Again we had fish rolling and we're blind casting. I got a couple of bumps and then a hookup. Never saw this fish but had him on much longer than the first. Til was thinking he'd better call the cab and tell him to hold off awile. He was starting the boat to give chase as the fish finally started to run. But alas he came unbuttoned. Not sure what I'd do with him if he didn't.
My take on this particular system is that mobility is a huge advantage. I'm not sure shorebound DIY would put you in a fraction of the potential and didn't see a lot of wadable shoreline (for juveniles in the above mention channel I don't think you would want to wade). The tarpon appear to be resident for the most part and depending on where your fishing size varys from juvenile to 150# plus. The lagoon on the eastside lagoon is back country pristine, you wouldn't know you were close to san juan except for the occasional low flying plane and it has big fish. The west side lagoon holds more fish, mostly in the 50# or less class. I suspect (never fished for tarpon so I really don't know) this is an ideal place for the flyfisher with some experience to take his first shot at tarpon. I suggest a good guide though.
Next: tarpon 101, breaking off tarpon.