Hooking Big Time at Indian Pass

August 25, 2015 by Larry Pentel

Been over at Indian Pass for almost two weeks now on the annual Tarpon and Triple Tail hunt. As always the 1st two days were spent cleaning and fixin' at the fish camp to get it ready for my anglers.

The evening of the second day my wife and I took the truck down to the beach to drive a bit and check out the Pass and Gulf. We hadn't gone a quarter mile and Mary said "I just saw a couple tarpon". I stopped the truck and we sat and watched a great feed right in the pass for about 15 minutes.

The fish were still crashing bait in front of us but I noticed a lot of birds working a ways down the beach so we went on a bit to find the full on Tarpon show stretching for over a mile. Fish jumping, crashing, knocking dozens of baits out of the water and just generally 'going off". Naturally there was not a boat in sight!

The next morning we went out to "scout" and cast net some bait for my upcoming trips. We hadn't gone more than a mile from the pass when once again we came upon the full on tarpon show. Birds bombing, fish crashing and bait flying everywhere. We stood in the tower and watched for over 15 minutes just taking in the spectacle.

I finally climbed down, threw the net a couple times for baits and put a few out. About the time I got 4 rods out a catfish ate the first bait and no sooner than I got him unhooked a perfect (little) tarpon about 80# was in the air right behind the boat attached to my short rod. Mary told me to take it so I asked her to wind in the other 2 baits still out and I got to catch a tarpon. While I have wired up and pulled the hook out of hundreds this was the first fish I got to catch myself in about 15 years ! Let me tell you, it is still exciting!

We got run in to the ramp about noon by a big black cloud and wind that was the advance for the weather the next 4 days. On my trips the next several days we spent more time on the hill watching it rain than we did fishing. My folks still got to catch a lot of Triple Tails but the tarpon and the bait always seem to scatter or disappear when it gets rough. 

The Gulf has been slick calm for a week though now and the Tarpons are back at it, eating Pogies with great enthusiasm ! We had my oldest daughter and her fiances annual birthday bash this past weekend with scalloping and Tripletail fishing for a bunch of their buddies with good success. Yesterday was the "actual" birthday and my daughter got to catch her first tarpon! A big fish around 180 pounds, it made 7 fantastic jumps before she had it to the boat in about 30 minutes. She had all ready caught her 'have to have" birthday tripletail so it was quite the treat.

Here's a few pics from the closest thing we have left to "old florida".


SoWal Local back at the Fish Camp with his first Triple tail.


These 2 SoWal gals not only caught a couple sharks and a few 'tails they also jumped a big tarpon and one of them got jumped by a tarpon! She was on the bow casting towards some feeding fish with her bait just in the water and a big fish tried to gulp the bait right next to the boat. She yelled, jumped 3 feet up and 4 over and snatched the pogie right out of his mouth.


These 2 caught 19 Tripletails before that black cloud in the background ran us in! We kept their 4 fish limit and released the rest for a fantastic day of sight fishing.


Daughter and soon to be son in law with a birthday 'tail.


Hard at work shucking the birthday scallop dinner. The scallops aren't thick this year but they are big! It took 9 of us about 3 hours to get our 12 gallon "all we want to shuck" limit.


One of the better fisherman at the pass. Resident bald eagle looking out for an easy fish dinner on St Vincent island.


Teaching the potential son in law to Tripletail fish has been great fun for everybody! One of his 2 keepers on the birthday trip.


Darcy's birthday Tarpon! Chris took this pic just before I wired him up and everything went chaotic. After 8 years of being at the Pass on her birthday she went BIG.


After coming here and tarpon fishing (all of july and august a lot of times) for 16 years straight I had something happen this year that was a first. I was up in the Bay with a group of anglers chasing triple tails and one fellow had just caught a nice fish on a crab buoy.

I was on the deck unhooking it when another fellow hooked a smaller fish on the same structure. He had the fish halfway to the boat when all of sudden there was a huge swirl and splash and a (big) tarpon is greyhounding away from the boat. I yelled as fast and loud as I could "Loosen the drag" and slammed the engines forward to chase the fish.

The water was only about 3' deep and the fish couldn't jump up, just away and fast. It was a valiant attempt but the 12# light spinning rig was no match for the 125# Tarpon and it was all over in a couple minutes.

The Tarpon came back up one more time, swirled and spat out the tripletail. The 'tail laid on the surface for a minute, twitched twice, spat out the pogie strip it had eaten and took off!

We all just stood and looked at each other for bit trying to take it all in before everybody started talking at once! One of the best things about this job is you will NEVER have "seen it all" 

I have a couple days off to catch up on "must do's" and then a few more trips at the pass. I look forward to launching a few more silver kings before I am back to fishing at Grayton on the 1st of Sept.


Larry Pentel's picture

Captain Larry Pentel is a native of South Walton, growing up just 300 yards from the beach. Having fished the local waters for over 40 years, he is very familiar with all the different types of local fish, their habits, and most importantly - their habitats. Captain Larry is the owner of Dead Fish Charters

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