Joined: Dec. 2004
||Posted: Aug. 17 2005,13:02
Good afternoon everyone!
First, thanks Capt. Jimbo for bringing the thread to my attention. I don't get to visit here very often...am jealous of you guys over there who fish for bonefish, permit and barracuda, not to mention tarpon on your flats.
I guess I have been lucky that none of my tarpon from a kayak, canoe or powerboat have ever knowingly been hit by a shark, though I did witness a friends fish, caught from a boat in Boca Grande Pass get eaten by a giant hammerhead.
When I started tarpon fishing, years ago, I would do everything I could to bring a tarpon to and into the boat for pictures. As I became a little more educated and through close friends who are charter guides as well as observation of big game fishing I have adopted a different practice with regards to releasing a tarpon.
When you take the leader of a tarpon at boatside, then either land the fish by the lower jaw with a gloved hand or lip gaff, that fish is going to expend the last of it's energy to get away. Remember that animal is fighting for it's life. It's not angry, it's not any of those human qualities and emotions which we try to give it.
I have always noticed in real life as well as in film that big gamefish which get away right at the boat swim off just fine.
Most of the professional guides in my area prefer a leader release with large tarpon: grabbing the leader and breaking the fish off without ever touching it. Reeling the line to leader knot through the guides or touching the leader in any fashion constitutes a caught fish by most tournament and IGFA standards.
I go one step further, if a large tarpon is on longer than 20 minutes, that fish is going to be broken off. In a kayak it works as I can paddle right up to the angler's hooked fish, grab the leader with a gloved hand and yank hard. Not the safest, but I am the guide and willing to put myself in that position.
In my humble opinion this is better for the fish and angler both. In that 20 minutes the angler has gotten the best of that tarpon...the "thump" when it takes the lure, setting steel, the spectacular leaps and more than enough of the slugfest.
Yes, as mentioned in a previous response, it's all about the angles you put on the fish; rod low to the water, always pullling the opposite direction from where the fish wants to swim.
Not to mention the risk from sharks, it's very difficult to revive a tarpon from a paddle boat. I have read accounts where fish have sank to the bottom after a yaker thought he had the fish revived. Many of those folks lip gaff the fish, put the gaff loop around their toe and paddle. To each their own, it's their tarpon. What these paddle anglers might not realize is when a fish is gaffed that is considered possession and by law they must purchase and carry the FWC and state's $50 tarpon kill tag. EVEN IF THE TARPON IS INTENDED FOR RELEASE!
From what I have read from our own FWC, the two leading scenarios that most contribute to post mortality release is water temperature, ie. fighting a fish too long in warm/hot water and gut hooking, ie pulling on that part of the fishes body during a prolonged fight.
Something else to consider and from my soapbox, with all the angler education that's out there, it's unconscionable these days not to use circle hooks with live or dead bait. Even the anglers in Boca Grande Pass must use circle hooks with their artificial baits during the tournaments.
Hope this helps clear some of the release issues when targeting tarpon and other big game fish from paddle boats.
Lastly, the fish on my homepage was properly hooked and fought for less than 20 minutes. I leaned over the canoe to tape her out, my husband lifted only that much of her out of the water for a picture then she was revived and released. My husband and I were in his tandem canoe. I back paddled for no more than five minutes when she ripped herself from his hands and took off. That tarpon taped out at 165lbs. and we were very proud of her.
Please everyone, feel free to e-mail me with questions or comments. I don't always get to read the boards...I know, my bad.
Paddle Fishing Website
(Capn's Note: Thanks to Chrystal (one of our early forum members) for responding to my email and sharing her experiences here. Thanks C.)
Edited by Capn Jimbo on Aug. 17 2005,13:35