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Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Club
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Kingfish Medallions Recipe

By Walt Durkin


Cut four medallions from the skin and bone of the kingfish steak. Bread medallions with Vigo Bread crumbs and brown in a skillet in 1/8 inch olive oil. Remove fish from pan and set aside on a plate.
To the skillet add: ½ jar of sliced mushrooms, ½ jar of capers with juice, 3-4 ounces of white wine. Add a few pinches of bread crumbs to thicken as mixtures cooks down. Just before you add the fish to the pan, add the juice of one lemon to the mixture and cook for only one minute.
Add fish to the mixture and spoon the sauce over the fish and sprinkle with parmesan cheese; cook only long enough to heat fish.
This is great served with pan seared fresh asparagus with soy sauce and nuts.

Andy Constantinou’s buddy John wrote this article for the Rutland Water Fly Fishers magazine "The Big Puddle“
Tampa, Florida - also known as “Cigar City” because of it’s popular Ybor cigars, also home to the Superbowl winners, the Buccaneers, hop off point for Busch Gardens and Disneyland and – oh yes, Megalops Atlanticus otherwise known as Tarpon.
Sitting on the Gulf coast of the United State’s fourth largest state by population, Florida (aka the “Sunshine State”), is an angler’s paradise with a wealth of species to pursue both offshore and inshore with bass, and tarpon perhaps the most well known.
Having been a regular visitor to Florida with my family over the years, I was recently able to take advantage of a kind offer to stay with a close friend (and excellent fly fisherman) who resides for the best part of 9 months each year in the Tampa Bay area, with tarpon our main target.
My travelling companion and good friend Harley Smith also made up the party at the end of April this year, who has caught several of the species up to 180 pounds from the Florida Keys area in previous years using bait and powerful rods and multiplier reels, whilst our pursuit of this enigmatic species was going to be exclusively using a 12 weight fly rod and Orvis large arbour reel with an incredibly strong disc drag (more about that later).
According to our young (but very experienced) guide whom we booked for three nights, the resident tarpon which we were seeking, as opposed to the migratory Gulf tarpon which are a later arrival to the bay area, feed mainly at night using the shadows cast by the highway across the bay to make surprise attacks on their prey.
With just one night and day to overcome any jetlag caused by the five hour time difference, we set off in the evening of our first full day, meeting our guide at one of many launch points around the bay before setting off in his powerful skiff in the increasing darkness across the bay to our first port of call, namely bayside boat docks attached to the many large, impressive and no doubt hugely expensive properties dotted around the shoreline.
Whilst waiting for the optimum tide, we delayed our tarpon quest for an hour or two in pursuit of snook which inhabit the illuminated boat docks, swimming very close to the wooden structures, requiring some precision casting to present a bait pattern to (we all at one time or another managed to miscast, ending up hooking the structure; sometimes with the fly coming loose and other times not).
I have to say that fishing so close to these mega properties, it did feel like fishing in someone’s backyard, rather akin to poaching but it was perfectly legitimate and judging by the number of other boats around the bay, a commonplace activity.
Having successfully hooked your snook, it was essential to clamp down hard on the fish, otherwise it will bolt swiftly into the wooden piles with an almost certain loss of both the fish and the fly. Once clear of the structure, they fight very hard but can be quickly subdued on a 7/8 weight rod and line before being released to fight another day. Apparently, they do make good eating but we were happy to practice catch and release, going from one boat dock to another after landing and/or losing a fish, causing the small numbers of other fish present to disappear.
Back to the tarpon at around midnight, we found ourselves in the shadows under the highway bridge spanning the bay with only the pale light of the overhead lighting and no more than 9 feet or so clearance above our heads, the skiff being held in position using the electric trolling motor, as we search from bridge pier to bridge pier after our quarry.

Sadly, on the first night despite seemingly excellent conditions, we failed to find a single tarpon and with Harley unexpectedly suffering from an increasingly painful toothache, we cut our night short at around 2 am for the hour’s drive back to our host’s canal side villa and a very welcome bed.
The next morning, with Harley spending an almost sleepless and painful night, we are fortunate to find a local dentist who was able to see him almost immediately, prescribing antibiotics to subdue the pain and prevent any further infection.
Later that day and with a combination of lack of sleep and a still painful jaw, Harley decided not to join Andy and I for our second attempt at tarpon, so with hopes high and again good conditions, we set off for another short spell initially after snook, returning to the gloom of the highway bridge where our eagle eyed young captain summons up all his experience and skill to spot the tarpon moving along the shadows in search of prey.
Anyone used to the average 5 or 6 weight reservoir rod and reel will immediately find the heavy 12 weight rod and line something of a “beast” and whilst only short casting is necessary once a fish is spotted, in the almost total darkness, it can be virtually impossible to judge just how much line you have out in order to load the rod and execute an instant, targeted cast once the guide has spotted a potential quarry.
I don’t mind admitting, a combination of remembering not to cast overhead for fear of smashing the rod against the underside of the highway bridge and calculating how much line is outside the rod tip to cast to a fish which you can’t see, all in the Stygian darkness is about as far removed from casting a size 16 dry fly to a rising fish on Rutland as you can get!
When it happened, I don’t know who was more surprised - the fish or me, but suddenly I was attached to a more powerful fish than I have ever encountered in my life, which made off into the open water of the bay, taking line against the tightly set drag with consummate ease.
The guide meanwhile, has moved the skiff out from under the bridge, so that I am able to stand at the prow with the rod upright (for a change), but despite the heavily set drag, I find myself almost incapable of slowing the leviathan at the end of my fly line, which is now so far away with only the backing showing.
It is impossible to judge in the darkness before the dawn, but I instinctively feel that at least eighty or even a hundred yards of line must be outside the rod tip, when the fish to decides to leap full length out of the water, shaking it’s head furiously in order to dislodge the hook. It is the first time we get to see the fish, albeit in the distance and the relative darkness, which the guide estimated at between 80 and 100 pounds (he tells me later).
Sadly, but not unexpectedly the line eventually goes slack and I realize the fish has gone, but having caught smaller “baby” tarpon on previous bonefish trips, I am only too aware that, due their very bony underslung mouths, tarpon are notoriously difficult to hold onto and success is often measured anywhere between 1 in 5 to 1 in ten landed to fish hooked (or jumped, as it is known).
Because I am aware of this statistic, my disappointment is somewhat tempered at the loss of the fish, as to have connected with something so big and powerful in the relative darkness was an experience that can only be described as “awesome”.

        

 

                                                          Fly Casting 101

                           By Capt. Pat Damico with Illustrations by Joe Mahler                                            

All sportsman who excel, execute fundamentals with a minimum of error. The Federation of Fly Fishers, has a booklet entitled, “The Essentials of Fly Casting.” These five essentials, when properly executed will result in fly casting proficiency. They apply weather you are using a three weight or a twelve weight.

There must be a PAUSE at the end of each stroke, which varies in duration with the amount of line beyond the rod tip. When fly casting, the weight of the line, not the fly, bends or loads the rod. A pause is needed to allow the line to straighten between the backward and forward cast, thus loading the rod. Failure to do this will result in a sloppy cast.

SLACK LINE must be kept to an absolute minimum. What causes slack? Movement of the fly line by outside forces such as wind or water, starting the cast with the rod tip too high, rough, jerky application of power, and poor timing between the backward and forward cast. The belly of line that forms when the rod tip is held too high at the beginning of a cast is the most common.

In order to form the most efficient, least air resistant loops, and to direct the energy of a fly cast toward a specific target, the caster must move the rod tip in a STRAIGHT LINE PATH. The loop refers to the shape of the fly line during the cast. A tight or good loop is where the top and bottom strands of line are relatively close together. The larger the loop, the more air resistant and inefficient the cast will be, resulting in a loss of energy. If the top strand of fly line drops below the bottom strand, a tailing or crossed loop will result. This is always a fault in fly casting and causes “wind knots” in line or leader.

The SIZE OF THE CASTING ARC must vary with the length of line past the rod tip. A short line requires a narrow casting arch, a long line, necessitates a longer one. The casting arc is the angle between the rod at the beginning of the casting stroke and at the end of the stroke. The casting stroke is the movement of the hand and arm to apply power to the rod. The backward and forward movement of the rod during false casting is an example.

POWER must be applied in the proper amount at the proper place in the stroke. Power is applied slowly at first, gradually increasing to a peak at the end of the stroke. The amount of power needed for each cast is influenced by a number of factors including the amount of line to be false cast, the total length of the cast, the wind direction, the weight of the rod and line, and the type of cast to be made. Lefty Kreh refers to this as, “a speed up and stop.”


Julie Nelson, a FFF staff member, gave me permission to use their booklet as a source for this article. Their website is www.fedflyfishers.org.



 

 




                     


 
 
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