Light tackle and Record Tarpon

Report Date: May 27, 2003

There have been some big challenges in our fishing this week. Last Wednesday we fished all 8 and 12 pound tackle in place of our normal 20 pound. We had some rough luck keeping the fish on the hook that day, but did get 1 of 5 sailfish, a 30 pound blackfin tuna, a couple big barracuda, kingfish and bonito. We will have a lot more work with the light tackle this week as we have 3 days with 4, 6 and 8 pound tackle scheduled.

Thursday our angler had to cut his fishing short. He only had 3 hours to fish and wanted a tarpon. It was rough, the water was dirty, but the tarpon were home at Government Cut. Early in the trip, we had a couple fish on. They both got off the hook to our dismay. Then about half way through our allotted time to fish, we hooked up again. The fish ripped 200 yards of line from the reel before her first jump. She then headed for the ship channel. This was a rough spot, with the outgoing tide fighting the strong SE wind. The tarpon and I played hide and seek with a freighter that was entering the port. Finally our angler wore the 100 pound tarpon down to the point that he could bring her alongside for the release. It was a good morning and time for his business meeting.

Friday it was fair action live baiting along the reef. We got a sailfish, a blackfin tuna, several big barracuda, a couple kingfish and plenty of bonito. On the way back we stopped to catch a 120 pound tarpon at the inlet.

Saturday we had the same group as several other days during the past 10 days. We ran out to fish our live bait, but there was no wind. It was hot and humid with no drift. I decided to change our game plan. We wound up the lines, rigged bucktail jigs and plugs on several light spinning outfits and headed offshore. We cruised along at about 20 miles an hour watching for birds, jumping fish and floating debris. It worked out great. Over several hours we had steady action with dolphin fish from 3 to 8 pounds. We would stop within casting range of a board, swimming turtle or feeding birds and the guys would cast their lures to the fish. A fast retrieve would produce fish most of the time. We lost count of how many fish were caught and released. 3 fish stayed aboard for a great grilled mahi lunch at the marina raw bar. Several dozen were released to catch again some day. A quick stop with the live bait produced a bonito and a 28 pound blackfin tuna on the way home.

Sunday produced good live bait action after the dolphin failed to appear offshore. We got a couple nice tuna, a sailfish, a couple kings, a couple mutton snapper and plenty of bonito.

The Sunday evening trip was the challenge of the week. 10 year old Martini Arostegui would turn 11 on Monday. That would move him from IGFA Smallfry division to Junior division. Before the move he wanted the tarpon record. A great young man named Buddy Smith held the record for many years. Buddy had moved on to the Junior class and Martini wanted his title before he moved on. We got on site to try for this tarpon at 5 PM. We planned to fish till 9. Martini was hooked up by 5:20. It was a nice tarpon, but not nice enough. This 80 pound fish was released after a 20 minute fight. Shortly after 6 Martini was hooked up again. This fish fought hard, but it didn?t jump. Was it a tarpon? Was it big? We could not know till it showed itself. 20 minutes later Martini released this 80 pound tarpon. The wind died, the tarpon quit feeding. It looked bad for breaking the record. It was after 8 the drift was dead. Would we get another shot? We had 2 strikes in 5 minutes, but neither fish got hooked. We moved back in position the make the same drift again. As soon as the baits were out, the fish struck. Martini is hooked up again. The fish appears to be close to 90 pounds. The battle is a test of wills. Martini is winning. The fish is winning. Back and forth they battle. Finally Martini wins. The fish is along side the boat. We weigh him once. 94 pounds. Weigh him again. 95 pounds. One more time. 94. Again, 94 pounds. Martini?s dad is heart sick. He thinks he knows the record is 97 pounds. Martini is beat, it?s 9:20 and time to go home and get some sleep for a busy day tomorrow and the fish is 3 pounds light. I tell Marty not to worry. I know Buddy Smith well enough to know he will be proud that his tarpon was the record for years. He will set many more records over the years. Records are made to be broken. Way to go Martini Arostegui. You beat the record!!! Buddy?s tarpon was 93 pounds. If approved, you will have a new world record for your birthday.

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Capt. Bouncer Smith
1521 Alton Road, #505
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Phone: (305) 439-2475