Several years ago I bragged to Captain Blake about my childhood trout and salmon fishing tales. Captain Blake countered that I hadn’t really had the ultimate fishing experience until I had caught a tarpon.
A few weeks later when the spring flood tides were running Blake called me out to try hunting for tarpon with him. I knew by reputation that Blake was a world class professional fishing guide so I was honored to take up the challenge.
I could write for hours about the amazing experience Blake provided but, suffice to say, that trip was a mind bending incredible experience that I will never forget. At about 6:30AM when we put in his flats boat it started as I was inspired by the beauty of the sun peeking over the river to the east with the full moon setting over the gulf 180 degrees to the west.
But I should cut to the chase. By late afternoon the high tide was pulling the crabs off the shoreline and pulling them into the tidal flow while they clung to the seaweed trail in Redfish Pass. We got there before the tide peaked and waited. Blake knew. All of a sudden there they were, a whole school of tarpon feeding on the crabs. They had done this before! The tarpon
knew where and when to appear. We finally hooked up with a big one and while passing the tiny rod across the flats boat we were actually jostled by the rambunctious school of feeding tarpon bumping the boat so much that I almost lost the rod over the side of the boat. Wow, I couldn’t believe it. The combination of a 130 or 140 pound 6 foot long tarpon fighting at the end of the tiny rod with which Blake had furnished me was electrifying. I felt like I had hooked a tornado during a full scale earthquake.
I managed on that 95 degree beautiful summer afternoon to bring the tarpon up to the boat eight times, but each time the fish saw the boat he spooked and off he’d go again. Three hours later I was drenched with sweat and totally exhausted when I pulled that tarpon beside the boat for the last time. I didn’t know it then but later I looked around and realized the tarpon had pulled us out of Redfish Pass and over two miles out into the gulf..
I was in awe of this noble fish. What spirit and strength. Just as I thought he was all done he spooked again and I watched the line plunging straight down into the deep. Then it turned around and began rising fast until the tarpon exploded out of the water leaping high in the air twisting and turning until he spat the hook right back at the boat. And with a huge splash he made his exit. He was gone.
I was spent – nearly totally exhausted. But I knew right then that I had just had one of the very greatest experiences of my lifetime. I can never thank Blake enough for giving me this experience and teaching me so much about a very different and amazing kind of fishing that few people will ever experience.
I can only say that if you ever have an opportunity to hunt for Tarpon with Captain Blake you better take it. Since then I say that Captain Blake must have been a fish in a former life because he knows so much about his avocation of guiding. If you take the opportunity you could very well be in for your own experience of a lifetime.
Submitted by Ned W Downing
Crystal Lake, New Hampshire
About Blake Matherly
Captain Blake Matherly is a full time Spin and Fly Fishing guide. Captain Blake holds a United States Coast Guard 50 Ton Master Captain's License. Your Captain is fully insured and supplies a Florida Fishing License for all clients. He is a member of numerous Pro Guide programs including, Simms, Sage, Temple Fork, DOA Fishing Lures, Hatch Fly Reels, Power Pole, Penn, Calusa Cast Nets, Patagonia, and Columbia.