Tarpon Anonymous at Hawk's Cay chose Hawk's Cay Resort as its home base for its proximity to the best tarpon flats of the middle keys. In the last 3 years most of the tarpon tournament champions were fishing these flats around DUck Key even though they are rather far from the starting location of Islamorada. When these talented guides need to catch fish they bounce in the boat for 20 miles to get here, you will have a 5- 10 minute ride to these same flats. Occasionally we will wander to the back country or lower keys if we feel the weather, tides, or conditions dictate it. All of our guides can trailer their boats to any starting position they choose.
The day will begin with coffee and a full breakfast served at your villa. Fishing will usually start around 8 am but sometimes the guides may prefer a later start to fish the evening bite. If the tide dictates fishing late we fish late.
Sight fishing is the preferred method and you will find white sand flats, turtle grass flats and rocky coral bottom flats of many colors. Your guide will know exactly where the tarpon will be, even on a cloudy day we can find fish on some of the huge white sand flats in the area. If we have the luxury of full sun we can fish the cuts, banks and flats of the back country as well as the productive darker bottom flats as well.
Tarpon can be found holding in current actively eating, they can be found laid up in a slack tide, they can be found in migration schools or singles and doubles and everything in between. Each day and tide brings new opportunities for you and your guide. Our success will be largely based on the weather, the anglers skills and the fickleness factor of the tarpon that particular day. Tarpon during this time range from 40 - 200 pounds. The average fish we hook is 50- 60 pounds.
We will prepare you for your trip like no other outfitter. We will demand that you practice a few things before you get here. Can you cast a fly 60 feet, with no more than 2 back casts? Do you know what the guide means when he says "11 o'clock , forty feet moving left to right, cast now!" ? Can you punch a low cast into a stiff wind ? Can you throw an aggressive 40 foot cast yet land the fly and line like a dry fly? Ever attempted a two hand, rod under the arm strip into a stripping basket? Know how far to lead a tarpon when casting? Where to place the second cast to a school of poons? Know what to do when a tarpon eats your fly? How to set the hook? When to bow, how to put maximum pressure during the fight? We will supply you with a comprehensive guide to tarpon fishing that will help you understand the intense sport of tarpon fishing.
On the ocean side (the south or Atlantic side of the Keys) you may see hundreds of tarpon every day in their migrating paths, sometimes a hundred fish could be in one school. The problem is only a select few will eat on any given day! In the back country, where tarpon are hanging out eating or seeking some warm water, our percentage of takes here is greatly improved. One out of four fish eat a well presented fly, on the other hand we see far fewer fish than on the ocean side.
On an average day we should be able to get one fish to eat a fly with every 10 good presentations. The good presentation is the problem, you have a rocking boat, 20 huge tarpon bearing down on you, the wind in your face, the guide is spinning the boat and telling you to cast now!!!! You can imagine all the things that can and do go wrong! The first day of tarpon fishing usually means 1 out of 10 casts and presentations will be good even with a very experienced angler. So doing the math you can see the odds are in the tarpons favor, It may take 100 tries to get your first tarpon to eat! Fortunately your odds increase as you get the feel for it.
An expert tarpon angler would probably be able to get 9 out of 10 presentations right certainly increasing the number of hookups. Getting 5 or 6 fish to eat on an average day is not unusual for the better anglers on these trips. Of course weather steps in with either clouds or wind, further decreasing your odds. I think it this type of intermittent reinforcement that makes tarpon fishing so addicting.
"Practice before you get here" will be the mantra you will hear from us. Once you arrive it will be "listen to your guide". WE do see permit and bonefish and although they are hard to ignore we know that every shot at a tarpon could be the right one.