Tampa Bay Florida April 27, 2021

I had been staying near Destin, Florida with my family for the kids Spring Break when I was
trying to plan my next adventure to Tampa, Florida for the next month. After some things falling
through, I finally made the decision to just go! A friend who was supposed to go had to back out
last minute. One evening I had an idea to call one of my really good friends who happens to be
a writer and Photographer, John Wood. It didn’t take him 30 minutes to search flights to Tampa
from Montana when he said, I’ll see you there in April!

The plan was to paddleboard around Old Tampa Bay, Fort Desoto and other areas that were of interest. I loaded up the NRS Heron 11’ Paddleboards in my Toyota Tacoma and drove from Houston, Texas to Tampa, Florida. Once I
arrived in Tampa, I settled in and prepared to pick John Wood at the Airport that night for our
early morning adventure.

We set out the NRS Heron’s early the next morning where we immediately encounter curious
Manatee’s before sunrise. From a distance we were able to observe them surfacing and
enjoying a morning swim. John and I paddled to nearby islands where we watched Pelican’s
nesting Snook and Redfish in super clear water. The clear water made the fish extremely
spooky and hard to catch. The more we paddled the more fish we saw.

We witnessed numerous Bonnethead Sharks swimming all around us. That day we were able to catch some
Snook which got us overly excited. Hey, I even caught Mullet on the fly. They don’t call me “The
Mullet Master” in Tampa for no reason!

The rest of the trip was spent targeting Tarpon from a Skiff. John and I were able to hook up on
some juvenile Tarpon, but none landed until… a change of plans had us going to another
location for bigger 60-to-80-pound Tarpon.

Within 20 minutes of cast after cast I finally hooked up on a monster. 45 minutes later I had a 5 feet Tarpon gripped in my hands. A quick revive and the Tarpon thrashed off. John also hooked on to an absolute monster of a Tarpon. Within a matter of seconds, the Tarpon fully emerged itself out off the water and SNAP! It frayed the
leader and was gone!!

Tampa Bay area is a fisherman’s paradise that keeps me going back for more and more.

Especially for those Tampa Bay Tarpon.

Photos Taken by: John Wood
Besnik “Nick” Haxhijaj
ACK Fishing Team
Instagram: @nick_fly_fishing