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Huntington, NY

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  -Washington Irving

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Thank you to everyone who contributed to the 2009 Tournament For the Troops!

To view photos from the event please click here:

Montauk TFTT 2009







H. E. Puerto Rico Tarpon Trip 2/20/2007

          Headed out with Capt. Omar Orraca on Feb 20, 2007 in the afternoon.  I had read about Capt. Omar's backcountry tarpon trips a few years back in Sport Fishing Magazine and always wanted to check it out.  The weather was shaky most of the morning Tuesday so I rang Omar to check out the situation.  Called him about 1:00 for the scheduled 2:30 launch.  To his credit, Omar said the best bite was going on right now and to get down to the marina ASAP
to catch the outgoing tide in the backcountry.  Jumped in a cab from the hotel and was there in 10 minutes.  
Conditions:  ~75 degrees, Wind 12-15+mph, scattered rain, cloudy.  Outgoing tide.  Calm water. New moon (key).  Was the first "cold snap" of the season.

         The boat was loaded and we pushed off right away.  24' Pathfinder CC flats boat.  The run to the tarpon grounds was awesome....20 minute through a crazy gauntlet of tight mangrove channels and tiny snug harbors.  We had to pass under a few low traffic bridges (see photo) where the center console's windshield barely cleared the bridge beams.  Think Nissequoge river.  Very
cool boat ride.

          The maze of mangroves opens up to a large body of water with a view of San Juan and the airport in the distance.  Fishing area about the size of Northport Harbor I'd guess.  We get out there and Capt. Omar gets real excited.  "See those birds my friend? Those are frigates, and they're only around when the big girls (50+ lb tarpon) are feeding."  And feeding they were, it was almost a full boil of tarpon rolling and blitzing schools of bait fish (mostly Sand Perch, which resembles Northeast porgies in size and shape).  We rig the tackle (7000 series spin reels w/ heavy boat rods, outfitted with Fluorocarbon shock braid, and leader, tied to a circle hook).
 Live lining the sand perch....

          Within 10 minutes we get a screaming reel like I've never heard's on.  So I start the reeling and hang the fish.  Omar reminds me to "bow to the silver king" when he jumps.  The fish rips line for about 3 straight minutes on heavy drag, calms down and then takes a run to jump.  Huge leap and crash!  Monster fish.  6' long, ~150lbs.  The fight goes on for another 10 minutes giving and taking line.  4 or 5 huge runs and leaps, each time getting closer to boat.  So I'm really hoping to get it boat side, because I've read how hard it is to get these things near the boat.   But, one final leap about 20' from the boat and the leader gives way!  Damm!  So I bring the line back in. Turns out we were fighting on only 20lb leader so we changed over to 50lb test.  That was fishing! and I'm pumped.

          At this point the school is starting to disperse around the area.  We hooked into a few more fish who either threw bait, or got foul-hooked.  More fishing then catching.  It was amazing to see these fish crash bait though. Reminds me a lot of how big blue fish crash bait and rip line (and bust tackle).  You can actually see the tarpon leaping and attacking bait fish out of the water, and they're not even hung fish!  There were a lot of 100lb class fish there, seeing them swirl water and roll.  That alone worth the
price of admission.

          In the last hour I'm hoping to get a photo!  Omar was confident we'd get back into the fish as the school made its way back into their "hole".  Just minutes later, I hook into a nice fish.  Not near the ridiculous pull of the first fish, but have plenty of line out to make it a fight.  Finally boated the thing.... 50lber!  Big fish.  Omar was pro helping me land the fish and we were sure to get him dehooked, photo'd and back into the water very

          A great run back to the marina with some PR beers in the rain.  Enjoy the

-H. E.




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Last updated: November 02, 2009.