The east wind that had blown so strong all day finally subsided to about 5 knots by 8 p.m. It was now about 10 p.m., and we were starting to feel that what we had seen two nights ago had been just a dream.
We knew they were here; we had seen the telltale black logs lurking just beyond the shadow-line on part of the bridge that is now a fishing pier. Every so often one would come out of nowhere to obliterate one of the jumbo shrimp that swept by with the tide.
These weren't juvenile fish that lived in the bay all year; no, indeed, these were full-blown Megalops atlanticus and they were hungry. In early March, however, it just didn't seem credible.
Then we saw her. The two hours of waiting had been worth it. She was a tarpon of at least 120 pounds and she had no idea we were ready to ambush. A well-placed cast with the rubber lure landed just 10 feet beyond her nose. "Reel it right in front of her," I instructed. Just then she sucked the lure in. "Set the hook!"
As 100 pounds of silver fury bolted into the air I knew I wasn't dreaming.
_ Eric Shapiro charters Light Tackle Fishing out of Tampa. Call (813) 963-1930.