Venezuelan Tarpon
Fly Fishing

Venezuelan Tarpon

Close your eyes and imagine –  You wake up at half five and it’s raining hard with strong winds blowing all around.

The sea looks very angry.   What do you do?   That’s right, you head straight back to bed until about 11 am if you have any sense at all.

Now all the electricity and fans are off on the island and you sit up quickly from your short sleep. A quick look out of the window gets the blood flowing. The storm has just passed.

Like firemen who respond to emergencies you know, it’s time to move and be quick about it.

All the alarm bells in your head are ringing loud and clear, its time to fish for tarpon.

You grab your gear and set sail in your little one-man belly boat.

Understanding the food chain – Birds + minnows = Tarpon, you row your heart out. (without forgetting your fishing license of course.)

The odds are always stacked against you.   All the locals going about their daily business look on for a moment, quickly realizing its just the crazy gringo in his doughnut boat again.

Row – row – row and spin. The sweat starts to pour down your face but your eyes keep scanning the water for those telltale signs.

The island and the rest of the world are now miles away.

Birds are hammering down on the water like it’s their last supper. Billions of minnows scatter and then immediately join back up together.

Keep looking they must be here!!!

Then you see them they just appear like great silver ghosts!

One thing is for sure, there is no mistaking five feet of silver.   Now poised perfectly in the middle of the minnow school, your heart rate increases dramatically.

You begin to cast, paying special attention to every strip back knowing that you could lose it all if you’re not careful.

Keep the concentration up. Don’t tighten up, keep the casting smooth.

The tension gets even greater as they roll and you cast – you cast and they roll.

Its almost unbearable the tension rises the heart rate gets faster.

Just as you start to consider the odds of one of these giants taking your fake minnow tied with such conviction on the vice the night before,  the line goes scary tight.

Time stops. Your heart misses several beats. Then some 40 feet of line that was sitting beside you disappears.

You look up just in time to see an unbelievable 5 footer rocket an honest 10 feet out of the water – Splash.

This brings a smile to your sunburned face!  Followed by the shout of sheer relief then you have to come to terms with what you have hooked.

You can’t help but glance back towards the island to see where you’re going to drag the beast ashore when you notice that dozens of tourists and locals all saw it in the air.

Then it leaps again for the sky – and again.

At this point, you begin to pray to your god then to all the gods just to make sure.

Rowing like a man possessed the whole time trying to keep some semblance of control.

Trying to kick – row and reel at the same time with 75 pounds of silver madness jumping all over the place. You wished you had learnt to juggle and do more training in the gym.

Believe me, you are the action as everyone’s eyes are on your back and looking forward to seeing this silver monster.

As you finally approach the shore the locals begin to gather.   “Sabalo – Sabalo”, all the young fisherman that should be in school shout.

Now that you are out of your toy boat, standing on the beach reeling for dear life, you notice that you are surrounded by an army of new friends.

“Who knows how to work a camera?”, you ask.

Then after all that effort and maintaining the connection with your soul mate for an undetermined amount of time – there is suddenly nothing.

The line goes slack and you are again left alone to reel up the memory.

As the curious wander away and the island returns to normal, you hear one of the passers-by say ‘Haven’t I seen him here before?   No, I don’t think so, he is just another fisherman..”

‘El Pescador’.

Do I feel depressed? perhaps a little.

I lost three more big ones this afternoon. But I had some fun with them anyway.

Just to put things in perspective I’m including a shot of a baby of 35lbs  I landed a couple of days ago.