Captain Chris

 Captain Chris, Marathon, Florida

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Captain Chris' clients score consistently on big tarpon in the Florida Keys.  You've seen enough pictures of Chris in our Newsletter to know he's got the inside track on some "good ol' bigguns". 

"Marathon, Florida is a great place surrounded by a wonderland of flats and keys.  Chris know this vast playground intimately.  When you are with Chris, you're going to get your shots"!
Mark Bachmann, 2006

Capt. Chris Morrison
Home Phone: (305) 743-6948
Cell Phone: (305) 393 - 2353

Giants In The Middle Keys (Reprinted from April 04, 2004 Newsletter).
In early April schools of giant tarpon start sneaking into "Back Country" ; that amorphous conglomeration of mangrove islands, reefs and flats on the Gulf side of the Florida Keys.  When Captain Chris Morrison of Marathon, Florida invited us on a tarpon hunt in the Back Country we jumped on it.  Chris told us, "The area around Marathon in the Middle Keys can be loaded with fresh, laid-up tarpon that haven't seen a fly.  Many of these fish will weigh 100-200 pounds.  You will get lots of shots, but don't expect these fish to be easy.  They are shy and hard to hook and when you hook one they will be exceptionally powerful in the oxygen rich cool water."

A school of giant tarpon prowl the Florida Keys.  Photo Mark Bachmann 2004.

  I had been tarpon fishing several times before, but had never landed one over 70 pounds.  Plus we hadn't fished the Florida Keys, which is the most famous tarpon fishery in the world.  That gave us the perfect excuse.  It's research you know.  We have always wanted to see what fishing for large tarpon in Florida is like.   

We joined Chris on the morning of March 29.  After a short run in his Dolphin flats skiff we were over tarpon almost immediately.  They looked like black logs suspended lazily just below the choppy surface.  For me they were difficult to see.  It had been a long time since I had done any of this kind of fishing and my skills were terribly lacking.  It wasn't long before the first spot was completely trashed with bad casts and all the fish were down. My performance in the next spot wasn't a lot better, but after several missed shots the fly landed in the sweet spot two feet in front of and three feet beyond a fish that was quartering toward me.  The tarpon took fly turning away with such force 
A giant tarpon tears line of the reel.
that the line burnt my hand.  I struck back several times. Then the fish went berserk; rocketing its seven foot long body high into the air several times as the line melted off the reel.  There aren't words that can describe the helpless feeling.
Keep your center of gravity low and enjoy the ride.

The twelve weight rod that felt like such a "stick" before I left Oregon now feels puny against such ferocious power.  After ten minutes and several more sky walking jumps, the hook which had been driven so deep into the flesh pulled free.  Twenty minutes later the second tarpon took  the fly coming head on toward me and pushed enough slack into the line that I thought it missed the fly completely. Chris who saw the whole sequence from the poling tower, yelled for

me to set the hook, which I did as the fish went passed the bow of the boat.  To my surprise, it was hooked and bolted a couple of hundred yards of backing off the reel without jumping.  It stayed down and nearly half an hour passed before we saw the size of the this fish. Then it jumped twice.  Chris said it was a little smaller than the first fish.  Who Knows?  It didn't look that much different to me.  Tarpon are able to gulp air into their swim bladders and absorb 

Landing a big tarpon takes endurance.
oxygen from  the atmosphere.  This action enables tarpon to live in oxygen starved water or supercharge themselves as they are being
Mark and Capt. Chris.

played on a hook and line.  The trick is to keep a fish from gulping by pulling its head down by sticking your rod under water and giving it a "down and dirty".  I wasn't able to keep this tarpon from gulping and the fight went on for two and one half hours.  Finally Chris grabbed the tarpon by the lower jaw with both hands and hoisted it across the bow of the boat for a quick picture and a length measurement  and a picture.  It was 78"; easily the largest tarpon I had ever landed.  Chris estimated the fish at 130 pounds.  It was returned to the water where it revived  instantly.  I, however was exhausted. 

Capt. Chris Morrison
Is a real good guy to know if you are going to fish the Florida Keys for tarpon.  Chris works hard and is very much in tune with the incredibly productive environment that he guides in.  He is very well organized and extremely energetic.  Chris is quietly controlled constant motion.  He uses a immaculate, Dolphin flats skiff with a perfectly tuned 90 hp Yamaha motor.  He is liberal with flies and quick at rigging very strong, reliable leaders.  Chris understands tarpon and where they will be concentrated. He sees well and gives quiet, precise directions. 
"I guess the best thing that I can say about Chris is that I plan on fishing with him the same week next year", 
Mark Bachmann

Capt. Chris Morrison
Home Phone: (305) 743-6948
Cell Phone: (305) 393 - 2353
Web Site    
Capt. Chris Morrison

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