Much debate has been had about Tarpon Lake. Heated discussions around bars with long time residents on the island, past fishing guides and people with any number of theories about how the Tarpon got into the lake, do they breed, how long do they live etc, etc. Of course my theories on all of the above were correct. I had it all figured out, based on countless trips to the lake, my own research and observations, the following was abundantly obvious and all other suggestions were just wrong!!
The lake was open to the ocean and at some time blocked off trapping a population of young Tarpon seeking safety in the roots of the mangroves.
Hurricanes were not the source of all of the fish in there
They absolutely don't breed in there, as all of the fish caught are (within a pound or so) exactly the same weight and length. Period. No debate. Listen to me I am right. And the experts will back me up - they breed in aggregations far out to sea.
And then I took a lovely young couple fishing with me, Conner and Daniella. Daniella had never been fishing before, and Conner had some experience. We fished with our light spinning tackle as neither had fly fishing experience. All of the same questions above were asked, and answered CORRECTLY!
Thats about the time Conner hooked up something I had never seen before. The smallest Tarpon I had ever seen. I caught a look at it from the corner of my eye as it jumped pretty close to the boat. I was speechless! And then it threw the hook!! With all seriousness in my voice I looked at Conner and asked him to very kindly catch it again. Which, to my amazement, he did!
There was no fighting this one, just straight to the boat, in the net and weighing and measuring began. 1.2lb and 14" long. A far cry from the standard 7 - 9lb 34" fish we "always" catch. HOW???? WHY????
So, do they breed in Tarpon Lake???? I guess, maybe?? There will be a certain amount of 'tail between my legs' at the next Tarpon Lake debate meeting. However, on a slightly brighter note, if they are indeed breeding, this means that I no longer have to worry about the current stock of fish dying out and we are left with an empty lake - silver linings for our Silver Kings?
Oh, and Daniella, who had never caught a fish before had an absolute blast and jumped a couple of fish. So amazing to see young people getting 'hooked' for the first time fishing. Here is a video of Daniella catching the correct size fish. Sadly we couldn't get it to the boat, but it gave a good fight and Daniella was thrilled with the experience.