In a content collaboration, the team from FishingBooker caught up with Captain Craig Lahr from Skinny Water Charters, one of the captains running regular Tarpon fishing trips out of Tampa. They talked guiding, Tarpon and the future of fishing in the area we are stoked that they shared the interview with our audience – Enjoy!
How would you describe the fly fishing scene in Tampa? Has it changed over the years?
I would say it’s pretty underrated. I mean, our Tarpon fishing here is good, it’s as good as it is down south but it’s just a different style of fishing. Growing up here, I’ve never had a problem catching Tarpon.
Is there one aspect of fly fishing for Tarpon that stands out more than another —feeding them, or the jumping, or the fighting?
I think it’s when they eat the fly which is probably the biggest rush. You know we’re only in five to seven feet of water and the fly doesn’t go down very far. As far them jumping, they do that all the time but it’s watching them take the fly that’s the best thing.
Is there a specific strategy you use for fishing for Tarpon on fly in Tampa?
We’ve got these big, giant sandbars that go a mile offshore and what the fish do is they come across those bars and we post up and look for the lanes on the bar that the fish are going over. And you can see them for a good distance cause the water is so clean and shallow. Sometimes you’ll see two or three fish at a time coming over the bar and other times you might see twenty. So you just gotta position yourself in your boat and see where you want to present the fly so you can try to get multiple shots as those fish are coming by, and after they pass by you just wait for the next school to come over the bar.
Are there any particular fly patterns you prefer?
Mainly just the Black and Purple Tarpon Toads.
And what about your preferred outfits?
I use Lamson fly reels and St. Croix fly rods for fly fishing. Usually nothing less than a 10 wt. Usually I throw like a 10-12.
What’s the key to being a great fishing guide?
For me it’s being true to what you believe in and showing customers a great time and giving them the best experience. It’s not about how expensive your boat is and wearing all this new fishing garb that comes out. Everything you see on t.v. is how most fishing guides are now and for me that’s just too commercial. I’m old school, I’ve been working on the water for a living since I was fifteen and I just keep it simple as possible. I try to make it so that people are learning something from it. I fish hard, I’m up at three in the morning catching bait to make sure we have bait for when we go out. Some guides, if they don’t have bait they’ll just take their customers bait fishing. So I have everything prepared for when we’re ready to go.
How did you adapt this style of guiding?
It just comes from growing up around all the great fisherman I fished with. Everyone did different stuff and it’s about combining their styles into your own style and not getting caught up in all the commercialization.