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Capt Bob LeMay

Tips for fishing baby tarpon (fish less than 10lbs mostly)

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Here's some advice I provided today to a fly angler over on another forum.  I figure it's good enough to pass along for anyone headed down to places that hold the small fish... 

https://www.microskiff.com/conversations/flamingo-advice.128586/#convMessage-257155

The place mentioned, Coot Bay, is the first bay you come to when you fish out of Flamingo (Everglades National Park) and head back up into the backcountry up Buttonwood canal...

 

As always "Fly anglers wanted"

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That's a puzzler... the link is working just fine for me... Perhaps, because it was a conversation instead of a regular posting - I'm the only one who can access it... I'll try to copy it and post it here (if moderators will allow...).

Glad you asked about "smaller tarpon" since the big ones can be tough - depending on the exact situation you're in when you find them...

Coot Bay is a great starting point for baby tarpon (fish less than 10lbs mostly and they're thick as long as water temps aren't too cold)... We use a 7 or 8wt rod with a floating line for them and our flies are rarely larger than a #2 hook... Mostly maribou flies like this one - my version of Norm's Crystal Schminnow on a #4 hook... (no need for ex-strong hooks for baby tarpon - just a Mustad 34007 hook).  For leaders we do without a bite tippet and only use a Poor Boy leader (heavy butt section about four feet long, 30lb for a 7wt and 40lb for an 8wt of mono - then a four to five feet tippet of straight 20lb fluorcarbon...).

 

4SSXs4c.jpg

I do quite a few flies with wire weedguards if at all possible- you can fish flies without weedguards (actually snag guards since you're fishing up against solid mangrove jungle shorelines...) but it handicaps you...

and also small popping bugs at dawn and dusk... like this one a SpeedBug (very quick to tie...it would have a weedguard if I could ever figure out how....)

pVXI1MK.jpg

with a soft foam head (pre-shaped from Perfect Popper) on a Mustad 34007 # 1 hook)

 

Now for the "how"... all of the fish in Coot Bay are along the trees and up under them all around the perimeter of the bay and we always try to fish the side of the Bay that's protected from the wind (where the water is clearer and the casting easier...).  We try to always fish ahead of us (if fish see something large and  slow moving coming their way you won't get a single bite since that's just how a shark, dolphin, or other big predator comes at them...).  The maribou flies are allowed to sink right at the edge of cover before slow to medium strips back your way (and remember baby tarpon may make several passes at  a fly or bug before connecting... so once you starting moving the fly don't stop and only strike when you actually feel the fly getting bit... We do the same with poppers except for two things -the first is to try to get the bug up under overhanging branches if possible or to the back of any pocket that will allow you back into it with your bug and the actual stripping is much different... We're trying to make each bug look like a struggling minnow at the surface with short sharp six inch strips (helps to have the tip of your rod in the water to eliminate any slack line at all...).  The idea is to make that bug "talk" with little blips each time you strip the fly... The fish will find it by the sound alone (no large pops or bangs unless you're out in open waters...) and all of this is as close to the mangroves as possible...

 

Hope this helps - the big tarpon are something you have to be shown - and it's a great idea to hook up with another angler and book a guide that fishes the area you're interested in... The only tip I can give is that rolling fish aren't feeding fish and each time a big tarpon gulps air at the surface it then sinks back down to the bottom - since that's where they live when they're not going somewhere.... and tarpon wherever you find them really, really don't like motors.... so be quiet and move slowly coming up on big tarpon...

[/Q

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The link doesn't work for me, either.  No problem with you posting it here, Bob.  

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