Chris and I returned to the Everglades last week to redeploy our acoustic receivers that had been outfitted with new batteries. We decided to spend the night at the Shark River chickee to give ourselves some extra time to deploy the receivers and to look for and hopefully tag some tarpon. Over the course of two days, the receiver deployment went smoothly and we are now set up to listen for some tagged tarpon this season.
On Thursday, after we had deployed the southern portion of the acoustic array, we headed into ‘Tarpon Pond’ to look for tarpon. As we entered the system, I was casting a terror eye trying to catch some ladyfish when right beside the boat a huge tarpon flashed near my lure. We exchanged our bait rods for heavier gear and starting looking for and casting at tarpon. About a half an hour into our search, Chris hooked up a beautiful tarpon with a hogy lure and the fight was on. This area is characterized by a series of larger and small ponds connected with narrow mangrove channels. Immediately after taking the lure the fish went up a channel and around two bends taking our line underneath dozens of mangrove prop roots. It was still reeling out line as we frantically tried to untangle the line from the prop roots so we could chase the tarpon further up the channel. Luckily it slowed down and in 5 or ten hard minutes we had the line free and were able to catch up to the tarpon. The fight was intense for at least 20 more minutes before we were able to slow the fish down and start to bring in and keep line. This tarpon was at least 100lbs; a tag-able fish. More time passed and I could tell we were getting close to our chance to tag it (I got to the leader once) then all of a sudden the hook came out and the fish was gone…. We were extremely disappointed as this was a perfect fish to tag and track as the serious cold fronts start moving through the Everglades later in the winter. We tried several more spots that night and the next day and were only able to jump a small tarpon.