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.
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 before...it'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
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