The Heat Is On!!! By: Capt. Mark Krowka

Tournament Tails // July 1, 2019
The Heat Is On!!!

By:  Capt. Mark Krowka
Some recent record breaking heat in South Florida has increased water temperatures and elevated the quality of shallow water fishing for bonefish, tarpon and permit.  As the boat traffic has dereased, and has continued to to do since the beginning of June, migratory tarpon numbers have slightly declined, but their change in demeanor more than makes up for fewer fish.  They no longer have to contend with a boat at every point, channel, and basin.  The silver kings are actually happy to see what you have to offer.  Those who chose to stay away from the heat are also missing out on two other fish that embrace it, the bonefish and especially the permit.  The following catches help to support this evidence, and were all made from the 18 Mirage HPX. 
Mike Palmer and John Harbilis from Tampa used shrimp to hook up on 3 covert bonefish up to 5 pounds during some blustery 25 mph winds as they worked the Cotton Key area of banks.  On their next day, Mike and John took 4 bonefish to 4 pounds out of 5 bites on kicking live shrimp while in nearly the same neighborhood. 

John Harbilas with nice bone!

Renowned veterinarian John Dee from Hollywood and son Glen banged out 5 speedy bonefish up to 5 pounds on live shrimp and 10 pound spin near Tea Table Key.  Glenn then casted to and connected with an explosive 45 pound tarpon that inhaled his fluffy toad fly, a young buck that jumped repeatedly before tiring.  The next morning, John hosted his brother David, top environmental lawyer from Tallahassee and watched him battle and defeat a 90 pound tarpon in the dark near channel 5.  This high flyer crushed a palm-sized live blue crab on 17 pound spinning gear.  Jon immediately answered with a formidable 100 pounder of his own, falling for the same bait, on the same tackle.  They also added a bonefish on live shrimp. 
Bill Curley from PA sight cast to a 30 pound tarpon and watched his crab annihilated on the surface.  Ten pound spinning wore the acrobat out after only 5 minutes.  A hook pulled from a bonefish, but stayed in for a tough 20 pound plus permit near Lignum Vitae Channel.  Curley’s next day went 1 for 3 drifting large live crabs in the dark near Channel Two but the one that stayed buttoned was the right one.  The 165 pound thrashing giant literally took center stage in the hand-held spotlight, exploding like depth charges in an old war movie until finally tiring for the release.  Curley also landed 2 bones on live shrimp and lost a permit.

Bill Curley’s 20 pound plus permit!

Don Armstrong from Park City, UT was all about silver kings for 3 days, using live crabs and flies.  He was 2 for 3 near the Long Key Bridge in the morning darkness on crabs, wearing down poons of 80, and then 130 pounds.  Only a short time later, near Upper Matecumbe Key a dark mouth opened and shut down on his red worm fly and he fought out and released a 110 pounder while flinging a 10 weight floating and clear line.  His second day was similar, as he went 3 for 3 on crabs, starting with an energetic 55 pounder, and then tacking on heavy twin towers of 130 pounds each!  On the same edge as the previous day, yet another 110 pounder inhaled the worm fly and Armstrong fought out and whipped the long running and leaping silver clad man.  His third day was a perfect 3 for 3 on the worm imitation, tied on a 1/0 short shank Owner hook.  In rapid succession, Don picked off fish of 70, 80 and 90 pounds, the last two each came from different wads of 50 fish, that dramatically stayed with each hooked animal for the duration of both fights, all the way to boatside!
Pierce Scranton from Ketchum, ID and Jack Train from Boston, MA teamed up for 2 permit and a tarpon.  Train landed 120 pound puffed up poon in the pre-dawn darkness on a live crab and 20 pound spinning gear.  The pair moved to a tide rip near Indian Key Channel and free-lined back smaller crabs for 4 crushing permit bites with 2 landed, Scranton’s 14 pounder, and Train’s very first permit of 18 pounds.  Their next day was a bust out event.  They stumbled upon a shrimp “hatch”, over active baby tarpon, audibly slurping crustaceans out of floating mats of seaweed for two straight hours.  Firing an 8 weight fitted with clear-tipped Air Flow floating flyline, 40 pound fluorocarbon leader and a Kwan-like shrimp imitation, this duo enticed 17 bites and landed 9 tarpon, including Pierce’s very first one on the fly! 

Pierce Scranton’s first fly tarpon!


Jack Train’s first ever permit!

Alan Routman from Fort Lauderdale, who never allows an opportunity to slam slip by, did it yet again with 3 bones on shrimp up to 4 pounds taken near the Peterson Key Islands.  In a tidal confluence near Lower Matecumbe, he let back a quarter-sized live crab that was eagerly accepted by a 15 pound permit for leg number 2.  Then close by on the Oceanside, Routman V-waked a live shrimp in front of a small group of 3 foot long tarpon and watched one suck in the bait and jump to complete the slam.  But then Alan took a mutton snapper near Shell Key, also on a live shrimp to stamp out his Super Slam!
Jim Pitts and Bob Puccinelli from Tampa, experienced back to back days of productivity in the general Islamorada area.  They took 4 bonefish up to 3 pounds on live shrimp and 8 pound spin.  In a deeper channel near the Swash, Pitts pitched a live crab into a school of 100 pound plus rollers in the daylight and was rewarded with a monster 160 pounder on 17 pound spin.  Their next day took an epic upward turn.  Pooch and Pitts teamed up for 2 bonefish on shrimp, 3 tarpon, a 55 pounder and a 130 pounder on 17 pound spin and live crabs, 130 pounder on a small crab and 10 pound line (!), an 18 pound permit taken from a school of 10 tailers on 10 pound spin, a 30 pound ‘mitt on crab while drifting back into a fertile eddy, and then 2 muttons on shrimp.  Each of them landed 4 species for an ultra rare double Super Slam!!!!

Jim Pitts with 30 pound plus permit!

Puccinelli & perm