Day 6: We Finally Got Our Tarpon!

We were supposed to be fishing offshore today with Capt. Lee Lucas but the seas were upward of 3 to 5 feet. So that didn’t work out. Instead, we were lucky to meet Chris and Christy Johnson with SeaSquared Charters at Porky’s.

We talked with them last night and made a plan for today. We were to meet them at 1 p.m. at the Seven-mile Marina. Until then, we had to run some errands first thing. Laundry was a must. We had free laundry facilities at Captain Pips, so we took advantage of that. We put in a couple loads of clothes and headed out to do some exploring.

We started off with breakfast at 7-mile Cafe then went exploring around Bahia Honda by car. I saw so many tarpon rolling as we were crossing the bridge! It was driving me crazy. I wanted to be out there so bad.

We headed back to Capt. Pips and Porky’s to pack up and write out our blog for yesterday. The waitresses here are all so sweet.

We went to the marina where we were meeting Cris and Christy a little early to do some exploring. Their dock slip is adjacent to an awesome little restaurant called Salty’s WaterFront Grill. It is such a beautiful little area, crystal clear water and a lot of hungry Pelican Petes.

We got on the boat at 1 and headed west in the bay to Bahia Honda Bridge. We anchored up at Chris’s favorite spot and huge tarpon were rolling everywhere. I was so excited and wanted to get my line wet ASAP.

We were drifting live crabs on 6/0 hooks at the end of a 15-foot leader under a backward cork with a splitshot. We would let it drift behind the boat with an open spool for about 80 yards then we would reel up and try again. The bite was kind of slow because the current was ripping so hard. We were at this for a good hour before the first hit.

My crab had only reached about 10 yards behind the boat before my cork disappeared. I didn’t say anything because I wanted to be sure that it was actually on, I was in disbelief! He started showing off his acrobatic skills as soon as I set the hook.

It was so incredibly exciting! This was my first hook up with a tarpon. Chris and Cooney went to work releasing the anchor and reeling in the other lines. I moved to the bow of the boat and we started chasing him down. He jumped 3 or 4 times and put on a hell of a fight. We leadered him about 15 minutes later. Chris said he was close to 100 pounds. Not too bad for my first tarpon ever!

After the fight we went back to our anchor and hurried to get back to fishing, I wanted another one! I also really wanted Cooney to get one. We went back to our drifts and were completely distracted about ten minutes later by a HUGE hammerhead shark attacking a tarpon about 150 yards of the port side of the stern! He was close to 15 feet and put on a great show for us! And it wasn’t hooked to anyone’s line. I love being on the water, you never know what you’re going to see.

Another 30 minutes pass and Cooney’s cork disappears. Fish On! His fight was a little different because the fish didn’t decide to jump right away, giving him more energy to pull the drag. The fish started jumping about 15 minutes into the fight but by this time he had pulled us at least 1/2 of a mile toward the ocean. The waves were ridiculous out here and Jeremy was having a hard time keeping his footing.

At one point, he stumbled into the rail which flipped the bail on the reel and we all thought the fish was lost. It wasn’t! It was still on, but because of the pressure that was released with the flip of the bail, the line had wrapped around the tip of the rod which caused quite the drama.

Chris was a huge help and got it unwound so Cooney could continue the fight. We ended up leadering the fish after about 25 minutes. Jeremy’s first tarpon was a 70-pounder We had to head back into shore around this time because they had a sunset cruise set up for a couple of honeymooners in the area. We were so grateful to them for taking us out and hooking us up!

They really made a sacrifice to make this possible! They are really great people and we’re happy to have met them! Chris blogged about our adventure too (http://seasquared-charters.com/2011/05/17/dream-fishing-trip-for-jeremy-and-meagan/).

Afterward, we went to Sunset Grill for a drink and some wi-fi to do some work. It was okay but we really wished we had just gone back to Porky’s which is where we finished off our evening. This was our last night here so we wanted to have a chance to say our goodbyes to all of the great people we had met on this leg of our adventure.

Joe Mama was playing. He had such a great voice and such a unique musical style; we couldn’t leave without one of his CDs (joemamamusic.com). We got to spend a lot of our last night with Barbara and Johnny at Captain Pips and Porky’s. They really made our evening!

We had to write on the wall and staple up a couple of signed dollar bills to leave our mark at Porky’s.

We capped off our night with another piece of amazing fried Key Lime pie all smothered in raspberry sauce. Then had to head back up to our room to pack up and call it a night.

We were able to reschedule our fishing trip with Capt. Lee Lucas for tomorrow. So now it’s time for sleep to get rejuvenated and ready for the Hump tomorrow. The itinerary had us visiting John Pennekamp for tomorrow, but we’re going to have to skip it. That’s just another reason to come back to the Keys soon. This day has been so perfect! It really worked out wonderfully.

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  • Ryan Quinn

    Hey guys, hope u had a killer time with sea squared, they are friends of mine. Its funny I was checking your blogs and saw them, they r good people and chris is one of the best fisher men i know…

  • Meagan Cooney

    They are great! We were so glad that we had the chance to meet them and they were so generous with their offer to take us out. We had a great time with them! I was so stoked to get that tarpon!

    We hope to head down there for another a visit very soon!

    ~Meagan