So the whole reason for our beach vacation was for the fishing. Tarpon fishing at a destination known only as "Location X." Ohhhhh...sounds exotic and mysterious huh? Yeah, well, you know - that's how we roll. You can read all about how we discovered this magical undisclosed location HERE. It's become a yearly trip for us and our own special place. Ryan has the same 2 days booked with the same guide every year from now until...the end of time, maybe? We take an entire week, rent a house on the beach, take the pups and fish, relax and eat. And we plan on going every year until...the end of time, of course.
Our tradition is that Ryan fishes with the guide his first day, to get "warmed up" and get over the nerves (it's pretty exciting and built-up by the time you wait 363 days until the next time you can do this). And the second day, I join them and try to document the day with as many pictures as possible. This year I think I took around 1200 pictures on that one day. That's insane! I really really need to be a little more selective. But it's so exciting! When a fish jumps, it's really hard not to take a couple hundred rapid-fire photos because you just don't know what will turn out. It all happens so fast!
Anyway, back to the story. Our day began at dawn. I always love watching the sun rise over the water and watching everything light up and come alive. Dawn is an exciting time out on the water and you can see some really cool things, like dolphins playing, turtles swimming around, sharks on the prowl and tarpon rolling. It almost makes getting up at 4:00 a.m. worth it. I said almost.
Tarpon fishing is very visual. You can't fly fish for a tarpon unless you see him first. And then you cast to him and him alone. It's a one-on-one battle between fish and fisherman. It's not luck, it takes skill. It's spotting the fish, waiting for the fish, casting to the exact right spot at exactly the right time, hooking the fish, fighting the fish and ultimately getting him to the boat. It's a dance. And it's thrilling.
Once the sun is high enough, it lights up the water and we can start to see the lay of the land and the tarpon. Ryan readies himself at the helm in position and on the lookout.
Our guide (who is quite possibly the best tarpon guide in the world) is on the fish. He helps Ryan spot the tarpon and coaches him on exactly where to cast.
And Ryan hooks him!
The most amazing thing about tarpon is their jumping skills.
These fish perform the most incredible acrobatics, jumps and flips to try to throw the hook. A lot of times it works and the fish gets away, but if the fisherman knows what he's doing, he can anticipate the jumps and keep the hook in through all kinds of somersaults.
The jumping is by far my favorite part of tarpon fishing.
That's why I've spent a fortune on high speed telephoto lenses.
I love taking photos of the jumps!
Ryan works on wearing the fish out and getting him to the boat so he can remove the hook.
Those tarpon (even the tiny ones) put up a tough fight.
As the fish get closer, you can start to see just how beautiful they are.
Silver and green and purple.
This is a pretty small tarpon (if you consider 60 lbs. small).
But even the little ones do not come in easily.
Our guide fights him for a while right next to the boat.
It's pretty amazing to watch.
Lots of splashing and thrashing.
Eventually he gets a good grip on the bucket-like mouth of the fish.
And the fish calms down.
So now that he's officially "landed," it's photo opportunity time!
Did I mention how beautiful these fish are?
Absolutely gorgeous creatures.
The scales are a beautiful rainbow of greens, browns, blues and purples.
And those big golden eyes have seen more than we'll ever know.
Needless to say, Ryan's pretty happy with his catch.
On to the next one!
Ryan ended up jumping and landing quite a few more throughout the day.
And it was so fun to be there alongside him taking photos.
Not a bad way to spend the day.
Some were "small."
And then there were some giants.
Check out this guy.
This one was not so small.
This guy made my day.
He jumped for us SO close to the boat!
Unfortunately he broke the hook before Ryan could get him to the boat.
A few more fish made it in for a couple (hundred) more photos.
And the final fish of the day ended up breaking Ryan's rod in the fight.
You can see part of the rod tip down by the fish's mouth.
This might be my favorite photo of the day.
The end of a good day.
(By the way, this reel was my wedding gift to Ryan. Am I not the best wife ever?)
And one photo of me, just to prove I was really there.
Until next year!
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