By Adam Mailliez
Covered in hydraulic fluid from head to toe and frustrated for missing a perfect day on the water – that is how my Saturday started.
Not exactly the best start to the weekend, but it happens, just had to roll with it and before I knew it was time to get cleaned up and get ready for a gathering of friends at Jeff’s house. We get to let the kids play and enjoy some drinks while telling fishing stories well into the night. These gatherings don’t happen nearly enough but they are always a good time. We arrived, and I was still frustrated about my broken boat and my lack of time and ability to fix it, I thought that it meant no fishing Sunday either.
After a few hours of cannon balls and shark attacks in the pool, the kids all vanished into a playroom. This allowed the drinking and story telling to reach epic proportions.
One minute we are shooting pool and the next minute Vince, Phil and I have plans to wake up early and chase tarpon the next day. I wasn’t exactly sure how that happened, since my boat is still broken, but we were all pretty pumped about it. The plans were in place, we all share serious doubts about it actually happening since it is 1a.m. and we were no where close to calling it a night.
I got home around 2:30 in the morning and bleed the sea star to the best of my abilities. All I can do at this point is cross my fingers and hope that it works. We had agreed on a 9 a.m. launch time. At 8 a.m. I got a call from Phil, he is on the road and so am I (Vince won’t be heard from until around 11a.m. this day). So it’s Phil and I on a quest for tarpon.
There is a new spot I have been fishing for the last few weeks so we headed there. We ran to the spot and there was nothing so we waited. Finally, after about an hour some deep tarpon swam past. No rollers, but at least there were fish.
We saw a few small groups over the next hour with a few legit shots, but nothing great. I was on the bow and Phil was on the pole when he called out, “fish at 3 o’clock.”
I spotted the fish and laid a cast out way in front of them. With the line floating on the water we waited. Phil calls out, “tick, tick, tick.” I comply. “Stop”. Again, “tick, tick” boom!
The largest of the group opened up, sucked down the fly and made a 180 next to the boat. The line cleared quickly and the fish headed for Mexico! No jumps. No head shakes. Just a blistering fast long run.
We started the motor to chase the fish down. Shortly into the fight, my fingers are cramping and my coordination is failing while trying to get my backing back.
Finally I could see the fly line; it was time to put more heat on this fish. The fish wanted to fight deep and we were doing our best to not let it.
Mid fight I looked down and saw two fish under the boat instead of just the tarpon. It was a shark and it was massive. In my mind I was going to break the fish off to give it that slim chance to get away. I leaned over to get look closer and I saw that it was the biggest nurse shark I have ever seen. It came to check out the commotion and just as quick as it appeared, it was gone.
After a half hour fight with zero jumps and only a couple halfhearted headshakes, we landed the fish.
After all this fun it was Phil’s turn. We made our way back to the sandbar and got in front of some good fish.
Unfortunately it wasn’t long before thunder and lightning pushed us off the water. Hot, exhausted and hung-over, the final result is a day on the water that I thought wouldn’t happen, and one that I will never forget.
Vince may still be sleeping.