Chewed up and spat out - part 2

I have rarely had fishing kick me so hard - the Florida Keys have decided this year to teach me a lesson !! We headed down to the Bahia Honda bridge today, a place stacked full of tarpon that feed throughout the day because of the deeper water under the road bridge. But the trade off is that Bahia Honda is an extremely difficult place to actually land the tarpon. These mighty fish might well be hungry, but nine times out of ten they head straight for the various line-busting structures that festoon this area and smash you up with a scary degree of ease. With a fish this powerful there is simply nothing you can do to stop them - ok, so we have been losing some good fish this week, but big powerful fish that want to make your life hell are going to from time to time. It's one of the main reasons we keep coming back for more......

Check out the photo above for the kind of tarpon fishing that goes on down at Bahia Honda - hook the fish, fight it hard, trust your skipper to be able to weave in and out of the pylons, and hope to hell that the fish doesn't do you in. But tarpon are not the silver kings for nothing.

I got done four times today - and I mean done properly. On one fish the hook simply pulled, on another the leader parted, and on two others the mainline parted like a rifle shot on the running fish. I wish I knew why the mainline parted, but that is fishing I guess. On at least one fish I felt I had the upper hand from the first minute, but of course that was simply false hope - this is tarpon fishing after all. I am totally in awe of these fish and it seems like a long time ago now that I did actually successfully land one of nearly 150lbs up at Islamorada. The soothing fog of distant memories !!

Scott came the closest today, on a really big 150lb plus fish that hit him hard, ran around some structure, came free with some seriously excellent boat manoeuvring by Rodney, and then snorted out into the bay to do its stuff. After about half an hour we thought that this fish might well be ours, but the brute decided to edge its way back to the bridge. Scott did all be could to turn the fish (check the photo below), but suddenly it ran straight for one of the pylons and broke the line. I say it again - you simply can not stop these fish if they want to run. You simply have to hope that they run into clear water. To say we were gutted would be nowhere close to how beaten up we feel at the moment. John also got done a couple of times on structure. This is some of the most exciting fishing on earth, and the levels of sport are incredibly consistent in the Keys - each year the huge numbers of migrating tarpon offer months of extreme sport fishing to countless anglers. Get yourself out here as soon as you can - contact Rodney Goodship here.

I am flying back to the UK tomorrow, but the timings allow me time to have one more crack at the tarpon in the morning. After that I head off to Miami airport to catch an overnight flight back to Heathrow. I hear that the weather is still great, so save some for me please. I can't wait to see my wife, two daughters and of course my sheepdog Jess. The UK in summer is a very special place - hopefully there will be a few bass around. Huge thanks to Rodney, John Aplin and Scott Rice for having me along on this trip, I have had a blast - and it ain't over yet. Tomorrow is always another day........