FISH ON! FISH OFF!!!
Despite the howling winds and punishing 3-4′ seas crashing into the jetties, the chance to do battle with a chrome magnum torpedo wielding a head full of the sharpest serrated razor-like teeth imaginable is a real possibility right now.
The king mackerel is a fearless flesh shredder and will slice most any lines. Stories of sea turtles getting cut in half in one swipe can be heard on a distant rock out there. Normally I fish a 30-lb leader with a 1ft section of 50-lb bite tippet but with so many king mackerel around I’ve switched to 100-lb mono for the time being. It works pretty well as bite tippet but the kings can be so fierce that they will even slice 100-lb leader more easily than you can imagine. Just recently I went 0 for 6 on big kings, 2 of them pulled the hook and the other 4? well… they got the best of me for not using wire. There was one 41-incher though the day before that didn’t get away. My retrieve method at the moment it hit may have played a role in hooking the fish in the corner of the mouth. Certainly the best spot to help keep your line free of those gnarly teeth.
To be a successful jetty fly guy or gal, one must be sure to put in their T.O.W. (time on the water). You might even get to see a sneaky tarpon roll behind a wave eyeballing you like it is devising some sinister plan to torture you for chasing them. I’ve come to believe that the tarpon roll above the surface of the water to tease the angler, setting forth the churning and burning of every ounce of ambition. For some it instantly becomes priority. And while you continue to fling hundreds of fly patterns over time at these torturous fish over thousands of casts, you body will instantly cringe at the sight of a tarpon. Every time.
Then, in excitement, the grunting, moaning, and pleading usually follow along with the flailing away in a desperate attempt to place the fly where it needs to be. We fumble with the line trying impart the perfect action to the fly during the one handed and two handed retrieves and hoping that the bejeweled tarpon cannot resist. But many times, something catastrophic happens to reduce your odds and increase the shakes. The fish strikes while trying to get a grip on the line or the hit is so hard and fast that we simply cannot close our hands around the line fast enough to bury the hook. Or, just as you shoot line at the end of your cast, a beautifully complex knot forms in the running line and your cast falls short of a school of bait getting rampaged by an assortment of gamefish.
Don’t worry though! Just recover your line and make another cast! These are the laws of fly fishing; some casts dont make the cut, nonetheless, fish it anyway and try & try again. Never give up the endless pursuit of a fly fishing goal. These failing moments are bound to happen to everyone and usually right alongside the moments of success when you hook up and the fish clears your line without your help. It is always good to have a fishing partner to help you land the fish too and cheer for you when you hook up.
AND, if you want to learn how to cast a fly rod well, spend every possible waking moment casting a flyrod. Technique and form will always need improvement but by spending 30 minutes a day just practice casting, it will quickly build the muscle stamina and muscle memory necessary to cast well from the jetty or anywhere else for that matter. On the water, in the field, at the city pond and on your lunch break at work in the grass, take 15 minutes to string up your rod and reel and let a few casts fly. You can tie a piece of yarn on the end of your leader to act as the fly and is important to have on your line for it to cast properly. Last but not least, never cast a fly line over pavement, gravel or bare dirt. Do it once and you will clearly see the damage these surfaces can do to your fly line. And then, you might as well have lost it in the rocks to a big jack crevalle or some other creature!Keeping the hooks sharp,
Captain Ken Jones
Port Aransas, TX
Certified Tourism Ambassador
Certified Wildlife Guide