Tucker Strickland runs Emerald Shoals Excursions out of Carrabelle. The son of a fly fishing guide, Tucker grew up on these waters. Specializing in sight casting to Tarpon and Redfish, Tucker has been helping anglers from all over the world catch the big one for seven years now. While primarily based out of Carrabelle, Tucker also follows the Redfish to Louisiana later on in the year.
Wheat and I were lucky enough to count ourselves in those numbers a couple of weeks ago. We arrived bright and early on the most beautiful morning. It was perfect for in-shore fishing and sight casting: the water was like glass. And if you’re thinking that “Carrabelle” and “Emerald Shoals” don’t quite match up, the pictures in this post should sufficiently disprove your theory.
Tucker first took us over to catch some bait. That man throws a pretty cast net. And can drive the boat with his foot at the same time. It’s truly impressive. He did ask his bride to drive a couple times, though. ;)
After we caught what Tucker deemed a sufficient amount of bait fish, we switched over to what we came for: fishing. We started hooking Trout right off the bat.
Then Tucker’s wife Lauren (of LGDunston Gyotaku Fish Prints – you’ll meet her more thoroughly in the next post) caught a Flounder that she thought she might demonstrate a gyotaku fish print with for us. It didn’t end up working out, mainly because this Flounder looked like what my father, the good Doctor, likes to call “groceries.”
Next up: more big, beautiful trout.
The family that fishes together, stays together.
A fish straight out of the water is truly a thing of beauty, and something I’m grateful to say I get to see fairly often. I know Tucker and Lauren consider themselves fortunate to get to do it daily.
This Trout Wheat caught is an excellent example.
Tucker and I both caught a couple really pretty Redfish here. Now that is a fun fish to catch! Not to mention beautiful. The spots on their tails are all unique, and their pale pink undertones get after this fish-loving girl’s heart.
THE BIG ONE
Finally, Tucker took us over to the Tarpon Flats. Not many people even know it, but there is world class Tarpon fishing here in the Panhandle. And with a guide like Tucker, you are setting yourself up for the most exciting catch-of-the-day ever.
Tucker is a pro, but as long as you can fly fish, he will guide you right down to when to throw your fly and where. He can predict exactly where the fish will be, on which side of the boat, and will let you know when you’ve got your “shot” and where to put it. He likens Tarpon fishing to deer hunting: you wait around in a spot you know they like to come, and then you’ve got one shot at them. We didn’t have to wait too long before Tucker got a shot, and it was quite possibly the most fun I’ve had while fishing and not catching a fish ever. He hooked a Tarpon on his fly in short order, and while the rest of us watched in awe, this 80-pound dinosaur jumped, rolled, and generally showed off.
Even if you don’t fly fish, (or even fish at all!) one trip like this makes you want to learn. The thrill in the air is palpable. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…
We called it a day after the Tarpon broke the tip of Tucker’s fly rod. Even so, it was a fair catch, since Tucker got the leader to the tip of his fly rod before the breaking occurred. He tried to get in the water with him, but the Tarpon went under the boat and that was that. We headed in for some cocktails and a meal of freshly caught Trout, some fresh shrimp, grits, and homegrown veggies from Lauren’s garden. (She claims to be best at catching vegetables, leaving most of the fishing to Tucker.)
Remember these shrimp: You’ll be seeing them again tomorrow.
Thank you so much to Tucker and Lauren for an amazing day on the water!
Want a Tarpon fishing thrill of your own?
And tell him I sent ya! ;)