Anyway, Having thought I had found the perfect sunset, and catching 2 Tarpon on two consecutive days, on two consecutive casts almost 200 miles apart, I figured it was time to check out Florida's sunrises.
With my wife happily shelling during pre -dawns low tide, I wandered out to the beach from The Blue Dolphins Cottage where we stayed. The Blue Dolphin is located adjacent to beach access #7 on West Gulf drive, Sanibel Island. I worked my way North along the beach 4 - 5 hundred yards to a place not very noticeably different , but has rocks just off shore that are under the water. There is a large dead snag standing on the shoreline that marks the area of the rocks. This snag can be seen silhouetted as you walk north along the shore. (Be sure to weight your bait a pinch as that snag is the home perch of a local Osprey that visited my bait a few times).
Arriving here in the dark I prepared some dead bait fluorocarbon rigs with different hook sizes. 2/0 up to 6/0. Only having one of my famous 29.00 K-Mart special poles, I wanted to be able to switch - up in a hurry. To be ready to present different sized offerings at different targets as diverse opportunities presented themselves.
Working without good gear, I cheated and tied a swivel to the end of my 50 lb power-pro. I then tied a swivel to the end of several different lengths of fluorocarbon line and tied different sized semi circle hooks to the other end. Snapped on a rattle bobber and used split shot weight just big enough to sink the bait ahead of the birds.
Now being early, and having fished until sunset the night before, the local bait store was closed. The live pin-fish I had bought the night before were long since dead. They spent the night in the small freezer in the cottage where we stayed. I hooked up a frozen trophy pin-fish (about 6 inches long) and tossed him out in the warm waters of the Gulf to thaw. About the time of my first cast, still 45 minutes from sunrise, a local fisherman shows up. He starts casting a surface plug. He hooks up immediately and I set down my pole and watch him work the 100+ lb Tarpon. Or maybe I should say, I watched the Tarpon work him. He has the right gear and I can tell that this is not his first rodeo. He skillfully works the tarpon the best he can until the Tarpon is visited by something even further up the food chain. Evidently a shark decided to take advantage of an easy meal as all Harry retrieved was a large head of a decapitated tarpon. Harry shakes it off with some comment about at least getting his hook back. Hmm, Maybe my wading chest deep is not a good idea!!
Another fisherman, Cliff, shows up still before sunrise. Cliff is a frequent visitor to this island from Daytona Beach. This guy is set up. He has a big tired beach wheel barrel with 5 gallon live tank, 12 volt battery, and fishing gear to conquer the planet. He is a professional and has come prepared for anything. He and Harry exchange a few words and I lean close as possible as most good idea's and information are stolen.
I learned a lot from these 2 gentlemen. During the next 2 days. It was tough at first as they didn't take me seriously standing between them proudly brandishing my K-Mart special. It wasn't long before I shook off a couple Tarpon and beached a legal Snook. That helped open dialog and I enjoyed some sharing of information and tactics used around the country. This is the type info that takes years to gather. Times like this is when you LISTEN!! Heck, They accepted me, even being a tourist and all especially when I provided some needed Alaskan water information. Met some nice Floridians on the beach.
Anyway the fishing remained good, but the fantastic flurry of gaggles of tarpon jumping at the same time subsided to a much more tempered level. Still a place to return to, but if you ever go there in season....take a gun as the Tarpon are everywhere!
After three nights of torcher on Sanibel, my wife and I moved north to Homosassa area. Not finding anything of interest there, we moved back south to the Clearwater area. I didn't stumble onto anything there so back down south to Boca Grande.
Set up that evening on the point at the south tip of Boca Grande. After about an hour, I left my wife tending my now famous K-Mart special and went up to move the car out of the parking lot that gets locked up sunset. I had wedged my pole securely in the rocks and loosened the drag in insure that it remained on shore. I returned after 4-5 minutes. My wife meets me 50 yards from the rocks. "I'm sorry honey" it's gone. Well a tarpon had grabbed the bait and my trusty K-Mart special had locked a gear and went hydroplaning into the gulf. Darn. It is now just approaching the "magic" hour and I am pole-less.
Off we go about an hour's drive to find a better quality pole. We found not one but 2 at the nearest Walmart. Spent 19.00 dollars each! Then bought 52.00 worth of 65lb power-pro and topped them off. Back to the Inland Inn on Boca Grande to grab some sleep
Out before sunset to grab the last AM of fishing before driving back to Orlando to catch hop home. I figured out how to catch bait and enjoyed the AM working one pole with live bait via a balloon carried out of casting range by wind and currents. Meanwhile working the other pole casting an assortment of baits and artificials just playing around doing some research.
After an hour or so my balloon jumps and the drag starts screaming. I jump on over with second pole in hand, lay it down and cinch up the drag on the live bait pole. Ain't no stopping this run. Spool starts showing and I'd like to say I was quick enough to tie the second pole line onto the first pole and toss the first pole in,,,but by the time I decided to do so...it was too late. Immediately after the line finished regurgitating from the spool and that sickening whip-pop was heard, a huge "I'm told by a few witnesses 200lb", tarpon ejaculated himself into the air. Off he goes jumping with balloon in tow.
Now using a 6/0 semi circle hook and the high quality Helium balloon tied snugly to the line, and 300 yards of line to hold the balloon, I might have a chance!
I grabbed my gear and ran to the car. Drove a couple miles to Whiddens bait store. Whiddens place looks like something out of the movie Deliverance. These guy's are the true locals and have been around forever. They looked at me, heard my story and probably thought I was full of dog poop. Well Wayne Whidden asked me a few questions about what bait I was using, type of hook, type of line and after apparently passing his scrutiny and interigation, has me jump in his boat. He puts his boat on step in a 2 'chop. That man can drive a boat. Now I realize this is the Boatless Fishermans site, so now all can see that I am a sinner. I would love to tell you the rest of the story as we follow the balloon and 200 lb Tarpon out off shore, but that would have to be another story. Cause you see having sinned and left the shore in a boat....the rest is censored.
we cannot complain; we've got it good! we do not make pimple's on the butts of the old timers that did it all, and more..... way before, "Cabela's".... see ya in the spring... dfb