Adventures with a fly rod — Epic Florida trip for two Texas anglers

Written by Conor Harrison, Lone Star Outdoor News

Austin friends Christian Harmonson and Brodie Sherman wanted their final spring break of college to be memorable.

A 36-hour roundtrip roadtrip for the chance to take shots at big tarpon and snook with a fly rod along the Gulf Coast of Florida near the Everglades certainly qualifies.

Harmonson has been fly-fishing for years, and met Capt. Scott Sommerlatte on a trip to Seadrift with his dad. Sherman learned to fly-fish in Colorado, but had never caught anything bigger than a rainbow trout.

“I caught two little whitefish and was hooked,” Sherman said.

“I met Scott on a trip with my dad and was really impressed with his ability to put you on fish,” Harmonson said. “I knew he was guiding in Florida, and I’d never caught a tarpon or a snook. We really didn’t know what we were walking in to. It was a gold mine.

“From the moment we got there, we had tarpon rolling around us like crazy. The fishing was spectacular.”

The four days of fishing produced multiple shots at 100-plus-pound tarpon for each angler.

“I ended up landing a 100-pound tarpon,” Harmonson said. “I had another fish, probably about 130 pounds, jump out of the water. It was a late-in-the-day, last cast kind of deal at sunset. He ran into the current and was gone.”

Sherman never landed a tarpon, but did have an experience he won’t soon forget.

“I thought I was hooked before,” he said, “but that first hookup on the tarpon was like a freight train. My adrenaline went through the roof. I was throwing at a smaller fish, about 60 pounds. The tarpon was really close to the boat — about 10 feet. This much bigger tarpon ate my fly and immediately jumped right at the boat. Then he dove straight under the boat. It took about half-a-second for me to realize what was happening, but I tried to get the rod around the front of the boat, got it caught on the trolling motor and the rod snapped.”

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Harmonson said it was fun to watch.

“Brodie was a little heartbroken after that one,” he said. “That fish was around 150 pounds — a real monster.”

Even after the disappointment of not landing the huge tarpon, Sherman redeemed himself with several trophy snook.

“I did catch several nice snook,” he said. “It was super cool. Once I got a few snook to the boat, my confidence went up. I think my biggest was 28 inches.”

Sherman said he learned a lot on the trip.

“I became a better angler,” he said. “I’ve only been fly-fishing a little over a year. Scott was very helpful and a lot of fun. We were hunting these fish, not just throwing out a bobber and bait.”

Harmonson said fishing in the Everglades was like going into Jurassic Park.

“Scott took us into the Glades and the fishing was just awesome,” he said. “The weather, tides and fish all cooperated. It was better than we could have hoped for.”

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Photos by Scott Sommerlatte, for LSON