The Tarpon of Long Island

I can say I saw some of the tarpon of Long Island. I cannot say I caught one.

There is basically one, deep cut which holds the tarpon. There used to be a lot more of them around, but the last big hurricane cut through some of the canals and the baby tarpon vanished. The deep cut holds what few adults are still found there.

They come  up and roll and then head back down deep. The bend where they are found is a confusion of currents and boils and deep water. I saw a spinner shark glide beneath the skiff, but I only saw the tarpon roll at a distance of 50′ or more.

Dutifully, I pounded out some casts to the general vicinity of the rolls, but the fish were probably 10 feet below the fly and I doubt they ever saw it.

I did get to cast the new Sage Motive rod in an 11 weight lent to me just for this trip. The rod cast very well and even the guide was impressed with the line I was able to lay out with this purpose built tool. The rod is fast, as you’d expect. If you’ve cast other big, fast action saltwater rods, you know the experience. I liked the rod and felt comfortable with it. I’m sure it would have handled a big tarpon well. Alas, I’ll have to make that speculation and not report from experience.

Sage Motive 11

I never got a boil on the fly. I never saw a 5 foot shape loom up behind the fly. I can’t say I got close to catching one.

Still, I enjoy just seeing them. My knees got weak at the sight of them. My pulse sped up, my hands began to shake. I felt fortunate just to have a shot.

I did get to fish the Motive a little bit more, casting for sharks, cudas and trolling for jacks. I did get a fish on it, which was a nice bonus.

I might not bring an 11 on my next Long Island trip. Instead, I might revert back to my Redington Predator 10 wt., which I had along as well and which dealt with the jacks and cudas just fine, even throwing a big popper into the wind.

I sure would have liked to hook into one of those nice Long Island tarpon, but they are so few it might be better just to let them hang out and play with the locals.

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1 comment

  1. It’s always sweet to find some fish you don’t expect to find and those tarpon where sweet. There may be certain times when they’re eating more consistently, such as during a worm hatch or maybe some floating crabs or shrimp orgies. But I think if I went back again I’d bring a 250 grain tropical sinker and some baitfish flies. Try to figure out the drift, make a long cast, count it down, and then make long strips with a wrist flip at the end, keeping the fly moving. The big problem would be the way the current swirls and goes in different directions than the way the boat is drifting. It’d be hard to get a consistent retrieve. Earlier in the morning or even at dark would be another good tactic to try.

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