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Old 04-13-2018, 12:32 PM   #21
Permit Rat
Windknot Light Tackle & Fly
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Wow....I just saw this thread and no wonder, was started in 2009.

I "grew up" as a light tackle guide in Key West in the 70's and 80's, the hey day of the light tackle movement. Both the local tournaments, the MET and the Key West tournament, adhered to IGFA rules, so a diligent guide or serious angler, never left the dock with an outfit that was not rigged according to the IGFA. Back then you just never knew what fish might come along and 2 out of the 4 WRs that have come into my boat were "accidents," where we just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

There is a lot to be said about "outlasting" a fish on light line, such that it cannot recover after being released. I believe it depends on the species and here in Texas, the only species that I can think of offhand where this would apply, is the tarpon. They WILL fight to the death and I submit that a lot of big fish caught on light line, are duly revived and appear to swim away healthy, when in reality they eventually plane to the bottom and lie there until they suffocate to death, out of sight and out of mind. (I have actual evidence to back up this theory)

So as the result of having a client, early in my career, literally drown a smallish tarpon (63 lbs.) on the end of a fly rod, I began to impose time limits on my anglers and I made them aware of this at the beginning of the day. That limit was 30 minutes, which is quite liberal, considering an accomplished angler can get the average Keys tarpon (75-80 lbs.) to the boat using 15 lb. line (either main line or tippet) in under 10 minutes. So y'all here in Texas who like to pursue tarpon, might think about that too.

For decades, the world record tarpon on 4 lb. has been over 100 lbs. I submit that this is not so much "trick fishing," as some have noted with outsized billfish, but rather, the angler or guide's intimate knowledge of the species itself. They know what the fish is going to next in the fight, almost before the fish does. Therefore, no surprises.

With tarpon, WHERE to fish is also very important too. You don't want to try for a 100+ lb. tarpon on 4 lb. (for example) in open water, as in off the Texas beaches. In the Keys there are scattered little shallow basins, where tarpon "lay up" overnight and rest. The locations of these spots is a tightly guarded secret. Guides enter these spots when it is still dark out and are gone (win or lose) before the masses are even out on the water.

After all that, one then needs THE RIGHT FISH. Most tarpon, no matter their size, will jump and they will jump more when in shallow water. Jumping takes a lot out of a tarpon and if they jump a lot and you can manage to stay buttoned to it through all that, you have a better chance. But every once in a while one hooks a fish that does not jump, but rather just makes a beeline out of the basin like a scared bonefish. If I'm serious about catching a big tarpon on light line, I pop this puppy off. I pop off any big fish that makes it to deep water as well. When that happens, you are fighting his weight (however little that may be, but it all adds up) in addition to his fighting ability.

I guess I got into sort of a rant here. But only because tarpon are available in Texas and maybe some might like to try for them on really light tackle. I too am glad this forum exists and am really happy to see light tackle fishing make at least somewhat of a comeback in terms of popularity.
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