The tides were right, wind and weather too. I was on the kayak heading out to catch the afternoon incoming. I was thinking about tarpon, but in my mind I knew the the grass flats near the tarpon ground might hold redfish, even though I had not seen them on the times I fished that spot. This was my juvenile tarpon place not a place for reds, bones or others. Normally I would rig out my 10 wt only, but the tide and timing made me think I should bring the 8 wt. So, I rigged up the 10wt for tarpon and brought the 8 wt along. Even though my Boy Scout days are long past, I should have remembered the motto: Be Prepared. Brining the rod along isn’t the same as rigging it and having it ready.
The late afternoon sun was blocked by a passing shower, but that didn’t stop the kid tarpon from rolling along the mangroves. I chased them down the key, letting the kayak drift with the breeze. The weed was giving me fits, fouling my toad on almost every cast. The low light and cloud cover made spotting rolling fish the only option. I scanned the water up current, on the look out for rollers. A few hundred feet away I saw what I thought were a couple of bonnet heads nosing around in the grass. A small tarpon surfaced within in casting range, so I focused back on the edge of the mangrove. I’m not sure what it was but I looked at those bonnetheads again…this time they weren’t bonnetheads, they were at least four permit tailing in the grass.
Quickly, I stowed my 10wt and switched to the 8, the un-rigged 8. I looked up, and saw the fins disappear under the water. I fumbled with my bag to find a leader and grab a merkin. While I uncoiled the leader, fixed the loop connection and tied on the merkin, I shifted from working the knot to scanning for the tails. The fish appeared again, just out of range. I worked to get things squared away as I closed the distance on the fish. I stood up and stripped line off the reel, and got ready to make a cast. Just when I was in position, three large swirls just inside of casting range took all the wind out of my sails. The fish gone, shot blown and opportunity missed. It’s not often that you get a shot a a school of tailing permit, from a kayak.
I can only think back to the basics…. learned at an early age…in the Boy Scouts…always Be Prepared….