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Though it's hard to leave N.J. striper fishing at this time of year, the lure of tarpon fishing in the Florida Keys is hard to resist. Fishing for beautiful inshore game fish that often exceed 100 pounds and provide spectacular leaps is a special thrill. I flew to Florida on Monday in order to fish out of Key West with my nephew Todd Correll of Fort Lauderdale, on his 62-foot Viking, Niza Niza along with my other nephew, Bob Correll from Bay Head. We had some interesting fishing (more about that later in the week), before I drove up to Islamorada to fish for tarpon Friday evening out of Bud & Mary's Marina with old friend and retired marina owner Richard Stanczyk – the pioneer of daytime swordfishing. Until the tide was right, Stanczyk ran his skiff a short distance from the marina to stake out on sand flats and cast shrimp around an area that didn't look very promising. Yet, we caught two small bonefish along with five bonnethead sharks, two blowfish, a blue runner, a ray and a small barracuda as the light spinners were busy on the end of the incoming. Then we went back to the marina to swap the light tackle for Shimano 30-pound conventional tackle with live crabs for bait – and pick up his girl friend, Joann Aromandi. Rather than waiting for the ebb to start running locally, Stanczyk made a longer run to an area where he had a hunch about a change of tide bite. He warned me to come tight on even the slightest bump – and that's what I did to hook a tarpon that half-emptied the reel after jumping once. Stanczyk steered the tarpon around some crab trap buoys, and it made a quick change of direction that spun be around before later releasing a 120-pounder. Stanczyck then ran closer to the marina where I hooked and released another tarpon the same size that never jumped. As I was fighting that tarpon, Stanczyk noted that there must be an accident on the bridge as everything was stopped. Most of the excitement was still to come as Joann was hooked into an even bigger tarpon that ended up taking us under the bridge and out to the ocean. Yet, she refused to give up on the big fish and after several attempts I was able to grab the leader and control the tarpon alongside for a few photos before the release. After days of good weather, a brief storm was approaching as we ran back to the dock after three big tarpon released in about as many hours. What more could we ask for! Unfortunately, the bridge accident was so bad that traffic was stopped in both directions – and I couldn't finish up by casting from the sides of bridges for smaller tarpon.   Bud & Mary's is now run by Richard's son, Nick – who's also a world class charter captain and swordfish specialist. There are many fine skippers running out of there for everything from flats fishing to offshore – and April to May is prime time for tarpon.

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