My week ended before the crazy Memorial Day weekend with an unusual fishing charter. Captain Leo Orsi had booked a charter and I had not taken him seriously when he set it up as a “captain” so their uniforms were a surprise. He, along with his friend and her daughter were all decked out in PFT, “Princeton Fishing Team” embroidered logo outfits and carrying a case full of elaborate photo equipment. What had I gotten myself into? They were very nice folks and it was time to go fishing so we departed Stump Pass Marina at six AM as scheduled for our morning tarpon fishing.
We quickly found a school of happy Tarpon in the bright Full Moon light of daybreak. We eased into position with the electric trolling motor for our appetizing, live crab under colorful float, presentations. The Gulf was slick calm and our target tarpon were just below the surface, only their dark tails and fins silhouetting above the glassy surface. Our casts were out slightly ahead of the happy school of silver kings. Everything looked perfect; and the fish just swam by our suspended, swimming crabs. Not to worry we set up again as they were moving slowly south. Same results, everything looked fine just no interest from our target. Then a fast traveling school passed by and our school along with two others we had observed, decided to join up and head for Boca Grande Pass at a fast pace. Not to worry the sun had still not risen so we proceeded to look for another school of happy tarpon. We did find more tarpon but as the day brightened up our targets showed less and less. We had cruising fish so we set our anchor and let em swim by. They rolled right next to the ladies baits several time but the corks stayed at the surface. We tried minnows and considered dynamite but no one brought any along.
We found tarpon, we saw tarpon, but did not catch any on this trip. Back at the dock Leo gave my check and a copy of his book “Striper Chronicles” which I took home and started to read as soon as I cleaned up the boat and myself. It helped me know him much better and I now understood why they understood so well, that fish don’t always cooperate! Chronicles is all about his adventures and memories shared with friends and family during decades of striper fishing up at Block Island off the New England coast. I managed to go thru the entire book by Sunday afternoon and recommend it if you like reading. Maybe he’ll do one about the old tarpon salts down here and I can help?
Every day fishing in Venice FL is a new day, going backwards; on Thursday morning I started out late with one of my mechanics, Luke and his friend Brian. We did not find a bunch of happy fish; in fact we saw one tarpon roll and Luke got excited, insisting he cast at the lone fish. So we baited up and he made a fine cast into the area the tarpon had rolled. In about a minute his cork took off and he was hooked up to a big silver king. I can be slow, but quickly encouraged Brain to recast his crab back out just away from Luke’s crazy tarpon. Within a minute or so Brian’s hooked up also and we are battling two big tarpon. Luke was inpatient and tightened his drag down wanting to be sure his friend got his trophy. After a loud pop, we could concentrate on Brian’s tarpon. This one we landed and photographed to help Brian capture and share his special memories with his friends back home in Jersey. We even stumbled into a few big snook on our way home to highlight our trip. That’s the difference a day can make, or just good luck!
June the First started out challenging. I had changed fuel filters and still had a issue so my mechanic friend Luke Clim had fished with me recently and said he would stop by and check it out. Turns out it was the Yamaha engine filter and it can not tolerate ethanol fuel! The only places to get good “no ethanol fuel” are marinas at about a dollar per gallon extra; so Luke with help from Rick at Ingman Marine got me going.
I meet my clients at Stump Pass Marina at high noon. They flew in late from Washington State and I needed the AM for my unscheduled maintenance anyway. Craig wanted to try the fly for tarpon and daughter Juliana and his friend Mike wanted a big tarpon. We started out with fish in the back yard, fishing Venice as well as Englewood Beach, but not hungry so we worked south towards Boca Grande Pass. We landed a big fish and got a few photos then cruised back to the north. We came up on a very happy, laid up school of big fish. Craig hooked up on his fly but broke it off before he meant to. The Juliana caught a nice tarpon on a minnow by herself. She did a great job and we shot some photos before the release. I’ll put them up ASAP!
Robert Parrish and his friend Ted drove down from Sarasota Wednesday to fish tarpon. We found a school of fish in Stump Pass at daybreak but boat traffic did not allow us to work them. We found more fish along Palm Island and finally hooked up after a few close encounters. Ted got a nice fish and we played with several other schools before the heat got us. Ted Weyrauch is out of Bradenton and does excellent electronics installations if you need help call him at 941-708-0700. They said they will be back for more tarpon action soon.
Thursday’s fishing charter was Michael Habern his son Mike and friend Ford Gortz meet me at Palm Island for some fish catching. We caught several Snook including one big trophy. We also picked up a couple of fat trout and some odds and ends. The mackerel kept cutting us off. We fished mostly Lemon Bay because several thunderstorms kept us close to the marina.
Friday David, Eric, John, and Dr. Garry joined me at Palm Island and we went after some snook. The tides were slow and the fish played with us most of the day. We caught some fish and Eric, from The Citadel, managed a nice one. David got a big one and lost another to a gill cutoff. John, from Harvard, teased the mackerel. We had fun and talked fish because David works for the state and Dr Garry the Feds, both in fishery management. Everyone is worried about the long term effects of the oil but shared some real hope that damages may be less than our drum beating press predicts. I felt better with the expert’s opinions than the press!
We have plenty of fish and this will be a busy month chasing both giant tarpon and big snook. We do have opportunities for barracuda, permit, mackerel and many other eating fish if you are fish hungry. We should have tarpon from Venice to Boca Grande for at least the next few months, the peak is expected in late June.
Let’s Go Fishin’ soon.
Captain Van Hubbard