Being a charter captain in the Florida Everglades has many special rewards, but it leaves little time to get out in the backcountry, far into the Everglades to fish on your own. It is not often that good fishing friends and busy Florida guides can even find the time to fish together. I was eager to share a new area where I had been consistently spotting Tarpon in good numbers so I invited my friend, Captain Buddy Ferber, owner/fishing guide of ‘Sprit of the Fly’ to go with me. Buddy runs a successful fly fishing charter business out of Chokoloskee at Everglades City and is no stranger to long days prowling deep into the ‘Glades’ to hook up his fly-fishing clients.
Late August and September may not be consistent with encountering dozens of Tarpon feeding on the surface but I had returned to one special area again and again over 4 weeks and this time I expected to get in some good fly-fishing for Tarpon with Buddy.
Tarpon are the apex of any fly-fishers’ goals and multiple hookups in a single area is a fly-rodder’s dream. Today was to be that day for Captain Ferber. Buddy was using his favorite Sage One graphite 10wt rod with a Nautilus reel spooled with a weight forward Rio Tarpon fly line and 250 yards of 30lb backing. I suggested he might be undergunned with big Tarpon on only a 10wt rod. He assured me he was up to the task. Our anticipation was high as I slowed my 18ft. Action Craft to a drift and rounded the last bend. As the area grew quiet, we witnessed one of those rare experiences I had hoped for.
Dozens of Tarpon in the 80 to 120lb range were breaking on the water’s surface. We drifted silently through mazes of feeding Tarpon when the first one of the day took the black and purple Enrico Puglisi Tarpon fly. Buddy instantly strip-striked . . . then the fly line began peeling off his Nautilus reel. The first aerial leap of a hooked Tarpon pumps instant adrenaline through your body when you realize what a thin thread is connecting you to that magnificent silver fish leaping in front of your eyes. A back and forth battle ensued as the fish fought with his whole weight near the boat, around the boat and under the boat as I maneuvered over 40 minutes keeping Buddy directly in line with the fish. Taking the leader to land a 110lb fish is exciting both to the fisherman as well as the guide. The Tarpon exploded, i eased off the leader and four more times we tried to boat the fish. Successfully subdued and landed, Captain Buddy Ferber takes a moment with this Tarpon, one of many he took on fly over the next three weeks. Nirvana for both fly rodder and guide!