Hooking Up! Poon Fever with the Mangrove Coast - Temple Fork Outfitters

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Hooking Up! Poon Fever with the Mangrove Coast

Waking up and hitting the beach every morning with my setter is some- thing I know is really special. I see the Caribbean from my porch, and often see tarpon rolling from the nearby dock. I am immersed in the fly fishing guide community in San Pedro. I have a fly shop and guide service. Right now, I’m the only female licensed captain in Belize. Which is a shame, so we are working on that. I do find a great community among generations of fly fishing San Pedrano guides and nearby guides from Sarteneja. There is a unique language out there and a strong brotherhood that join forces on the flats. I love going out with my guide buddies. They have taught me a ton about this fishery. One recent morning I headed out with two of my young posse – #1 guide Captain Eduardo and my 16 y/o fly shop manager, Joseph.

I was wondering about my passion for fishing…wondering if I could really go out and get lost for a bit. It had been awhile. This is what happened.

The rain started and didn’t quit for hours. I was just getting ready to call the day – I mean really, water was pouring in places that just made it miserable for my body! My soul was saying, “don’t wimp out…hang in there… this is a rare day for all of us to be out here…this sucks!”

We decided to leave the mainland where we were casting to snook that had our number and moved back toward Ambergris hitting Savannah Flats on the way. Savannah is one of my all time favorite places to fish for tarpon. It’s shallow water with fish anywhere from 20 to 80 pounds that will give you a great shot once in awhile – and eat!

Eduardo was poling, Jospeh had been fishing and he was up on the deck. We saw the fish coming – all of us were in perfect timing with tracking the fish – Jospeh cast and missed his target. Me – having not fished in a bit, got up on the bow and grabbed the rod – “My turn!”

The sun came out and the sky was blue for miles. The water at first was a little mirky then we poled out to just a little deeper water, about four feet.

They they were! For reference, it took me ten years to land my first tarpon. I had everything “Murphy’s Law” go wrong for many many years. Now, I can go whenever I want! And I was wondering if I still loved it?

There I was…heart pounding. We see the fish. It’s a nice school of eight or so… they were moving right to left across the bow, a great shot. This was my first time tarpon fishing with the new 10wt Mangrove Coast fly from TFO. I was super stoked to check out the action.

The TFO Mangrove Coast in Belize. // Photo: Lori Ann Murphy

I had 80 feet of string out – ready to go. One cast, “OK got it, feels good, there he is…second cast, GO!” The fly – a green toad (of course), landed what I thought was going to be “short” – we all watched the fly move down through the water table softly and then the outside fish just slightly turned and inhaled the fly! Fish on!

Such a hot fish – it ran right to the boat, passed the boat, jumped several times, and each time I felt like I was dancing with a great partner on the best dance floor in the world. Blocking out everything, feeling the connection with a fifty pounder – a fish that this planet has known for over one hundred million years.

Tarpon On! // Photo: Lori Ann Murphy

Sensing the next jump, reeling up line. I kept a softer drag than I usually do but stayed with it. I had visions of some of the greats I was able to fish with in Islamorada back in the day. Making the most of each movement with grace. Watching an eighty year old Ed Corlette bring a ninety pound Islamorada fish to hand in less than 15 min – making each move count to get the fish landed.

Ruoff would say, “Murphy, watch and learn.” Ed was a native from Dade County. One of the great old time Miami lawyers. He always would ask me what in the world I was doing hanging out with Ruoff! Well Ruoff, now the oldest guide in the Keys, taught me ton about tarpon. So it was kinda worth it.

We got the fish to the boat. It broke the 40 lb shock and swam away. I reeled up the line and thanked my new rod. I loved feeling connected to that fish. The action – that dance – like having the best shoes that glide and twirl upon command, the Mangrove Coast flexed and held strong from the “take” and throughout the fight. We all say, “tarpon are best the fish to fight on light tackle.” I mean really. They jump, second guess you and run, run, run and the eat is sensational.

On the way home I was already planning my next day to get out there. Yep. I still love tarpon fishing with a TFO fly rod in my hand.

Blog written by TFO Ambassador Lori-Ann Murphy. You can find out more about her work with Reel Belize here, or Reel Women Fly Fishing here.

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