Finally

Tarpon are my favorite fish. What’s not to love? They eat flies, they jump like crazy and are incredibly strong at any size. But unfortunately over the past decade or so they have not returned the love.

I can’t say that I have really put in the proper time, a few shots here and there with bait near home in SC and a few winter shots at unhappy fish in the Glades during a stint as Artist in Residence. It was not to be though, and I remained in a decade long tarpon slump. This year I hoped would be different. I was able to study them closely at docks in the Keys during shoots with Into The Blue and even got an eat after hours during an Everglades Saltwater Experience shoot with Blue Moon Expeditions. But again, I was unable to seal the deal. So, I scheduled a return trip and shoot in May with Captain Shafter Johnston to try to get my elusive Tarpon and hopefully some snook on fly shots I needed for an upcoming project. Unfortunately my arrival coincided with a week’s worth of torrential rains and 20 mph winds. We explored the Glades hiding from the winds in the tiniest of creeks and while we got plenty of snook and redfish shots only managed one baby tarpon which Shafter launched. The jump shots were great, but it was small and not hooked by me. So the quest continued.

An Everglades Baby Tarpon launches.

An Everglades Baby Tarpon launches.

Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long and I lumped a couple of days onto the end of another Into the Blue shoot and met Shafter back in Islamorada where we would be stationed for our expeditions into the Glades. After 4 days of shooting in slick calm seas with Into the Blue the wind and rain returned for my turn to fish. We stuck with it though and on our second day I put a nice Glades Tarpon in the air. It was certainly not a monster at 40-50lbs but was perfect for me. I got to see the golden flash as he inhaled the fly right under the bow, set the hook with authority and after the first two jumps handed the rod off to Shafter so I could shoot photos.

A jumping Everglades Tarpon

The last moment of the jump.

Captain Shafter Johnston, Blue Moon Expeditions fighting an Everglades Tarpon

Captain Shafter finishing off my Tarpon.

A black and purple fly in the mouth of an Everglades Tarpon

Black and Purple is what gets eaten in the Glades/

Taking a DNA swab from the tarpon for Bonefish and Tarpon Trust research.

Taking a DNA swab for Bonefish and Tarpon Trust research.

So the monkey is finally off my back, but I believe the addiction is now stronger than ever. What was once a distant memory is now locked back into my brain and with every photo I edit the need to jump another poon increases exponentially.

Captain Shafter Johnston, Blue Moon Expeditions, preparing to release my Tarpon back into the dark Everglades water.

Captain Shafter Johnston, Blue Moon Expeditions, preparing to release my Tarpon back into the dark Everglades water.

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