If it's good enough for Bouncer...
FLYC Trip Report 9/8/03
If there's one reason we keep fishin, it just may be this. And what's that? Well, it's to experience a special day, when (a) you're in the right place, (b) at the right time and (c) you are ready for it.
Let's start with being ready. Chef Mike has had years of solid experience fishing - from the shore and surf, from boats and finally from his great love... from a yak. Mike has learned the hard way - from many thousands of casts, reading, trial and some top guides. He's purchased good equipment and learned how to use it. He's caught many good fish, and lost a whole lot more.
He's learned. My story is similar, and today Mike and I had the itch for new water, i.e. "the right place". The place - Dumfoundling Bay - just a mile or so north of your favorite nude beach, Haulover. Dumfoundling and the Haulover ICW and inlet is one of Bouncer Smith's favorite hangouts, and where he's caught several thousand BIG tarpon. So the place was right.
Last is the right time. Frankly we were a bit late. High was about 8 am, and we didn't launch til Maybe 9. But the ICW and Dumfoundling tend to run behind, but not much. There are several canals, one in particular from Lake Maule that dump into Dumfoundling, creating a huge feeding trough for predators, notably many resident tarpon and medium to large Jack Crevalles.
To be truthful, I was pretty sure we might see a couple of rolling tarpon, and maybe if we got really lucky get a cast or two at them. I'd bet that we'd maybe hit some nice Jacks and that this alone would make a pretty good day.
But I wasn't remotely ready for what did happen. The first surprise was right upon entry into the bay. Mike opined "...it may have been a mirage but I thought I saw a tarpon rolling". Wishful thinking crossed my mind. But we paddled to that area, and darn if we didn't see a couple 4 to 5 footers rolling. One finally took to the air chasing bait and landed with a thunderous splash. What a thrill! That alone woulda made our day.
Mike and I were rigged with topwaters on one rod, Mike with a soft Storm on his other rod, and I also rigged a new big Yozuri tarpon crank lure. Nice. Well, we did get a couple casts, when Mike saw a bunch of gulls circling and diving. Bait at last, the first real bird bust I've seen since last years bait runs. So we hightailed across the bay (and it's a big one).
This blew maybe 10 minutes or so, but the bust was still going on... turns out it was birds, jacks and tarpon. And MANY of each! It was astounding. Action all over the place. I hooked up first, nice 4 lb Jack on my M/L lite gear... need I say fun... Mike hit on this topwater. We had numerous opportunities at tarpon, but the jacks kept picking off our baits, and in Mike's case, a couple gulls as well.
Not sure how long the bust lasted but suffice it to say that we landed probably 8 or 9 nice jacks between us... all in the 3 to 5 lb range. We both love cuda, but we're gettin cuda'd out. Sure loved having those beautiful yellow tipped Jacks ripping off line and making those sizzling runs. Finally the action tailed and we decided to check out Lake Maule and a small adjoining lake, and make one more stop at our original site. Just in case you know. We both stayed rigged for tarpon of course.
Didn't look good, but just as we were about to head for Maule, I spotted some large silver flashes. We headed over and spotted a couple "bubble" patches that meant either rolling tarpon or manatee. Then we spotted them 2 or 3 big tarpon not 30 feet away. We both got casts, and as I turned to blind cast the now absent poon, Mike flipped his topwater 20 feet and BANG! Immediate hit, and he screamed "I'm on...I'm on!!". Thought he was kidding til I saw his medium wt. rod bent to the butt, Stradic singing praises to Neptune!
It was a good hookup and as I reeled in to clear the water and stand by, the tarpon erupted in a series of 3 or 4 leaps, some not even 5 feet from Mike's yak. It was at least 40 lb.! Mike screamed "..get my camera - in the blue bag..." and I quickly did so, fumbling but finally finding it.
As I was getting in position, the tarpon ran under my yak, and jumped on the other side. Mike's yelling "...you're over the line, back up, back up". I'm standing my ground, knowing the line wouldn't snag on the yak, and afraid if I dipped a paddle he'd wrap it. Fortunately, I was able to slide back and the fight continued.
I quickly snapped off two or three pics, and was advancing the film hoping for a jump when the poon exploded, not two feet from Mike's yak, maybe 5 feet in the air, and the lure popped out! Splash...then silence...
You all know the feeling. But truth is this was a good and solid hookup and fight. Lots of jumps, sounded and sat once, and gave us both a thrill we won't ever forget. To see that ancient shining creature suspended up in the air not 5 feet from Mike, rod bent and on his yak was a picture I almost captured. But will never forget.
As Mike so well put it "...it was surreal". And it was. Just like those pictures and images we've all seen, with a distant angler with bent rod, the line stretched tight down into the water, and emerging hooked to the ancient jaws of a huge leaping silversided tarpon. Except this was real, and was mere feet away from the both of us. Almost like a dream.
Few tarpon are landed and most don't last much beyond the first jump. This was a solid exciting fight that was completely rewarding. That plus the sound and fury of a major bait bust, bird wheeling and screaming, reels singing, tide ripping and wind blustering... well, it just doesn't get any better.
These are the special moments, the kind you get maybe once a year, or maybe even only once every few years. But they are so special they really kinda reward all the water experience and time spent. Don't get me wrong, this is not why we fish, but it is the dessert we earn for fishing well and paying our dues.
Thanks Mike, thank the fish gods, and thank god for the Paradise we enjoy. I won't forget it. Won't bother you with our explorations of Lake Maule, the adjoining lake, and the long meandering river through Oleta and back to the ICW. We must have done 10 or 12 miles, and we were bushed.
Sue Sea, so sorry you opted out today, we wish ya could been there...
ps. To get to Dumfoundling Bay, take 595 east, US1 south, Dania Beach Blvd east to A1A, then south to Haulover. Marina entrance is on the southbound side at the north end of the park. The paddle is north along the ICW, under one bridge, maybe 1-1/2 or 2 miles. Sounds a bit long, but the waters are protected.
When you reach Dumfoundling (huge bay,can't miss it), just cruise around and look for bird busts. Even if you don't see any, be patient, and WAIT, watch carefully. The busts are easy to spot, the rolling tarpon are less obvious.
Use topwaters, big swimming plugs, long streamers for fly fisherman. Big live mullet, or super big live shrimp are killers. Medium or heavier gear, maybe 40-50 lb leader (we used 30, didn't care if we got cut off). Ten pound line is fine, it's a huge open bay. Spot your tarpon, cast well ahead of the school, hang on.
Hope ya enjoyed this page! For more incredibly satisfying info...Ft Lauderdale Yakfishing Club
Capn Jimbo's Forum in Paradise
Contact Capn Jimbo, Chief Yakker