Outbreaks reported in Big Pine Key, May 2017 by Joel Gourley
By now the CDC has probably dispatched some representatives to investigate reports of this recent epidemic, but it may be too little, too late. It was widely reported that symptoms of an attack of this year’s Tarpon Fever included increased heart rate, loss of coordination, difficulty speaking, tunnel vision (on the lead fish), loss of hearing (guide instructions). As the peak virulence of this exotic contagion subsides, those infected with the Atlanticus strain may have survived, but will likely never be quite the same again.
Luckily for those infected, symptoms will diminish and dissipate with time, however reoccurrence is likely if exposed to certain stimuli such as tarpon at close proximity, and can come back twice as strong if certain prophylactic measures are not taken before the next trip. It appears the road to recovery and strengthening your immune response toward this debilitating disease is correlated to how seriously you treat this condition.
For those of you who like to be proactive, rest assured, you can remove the quarantine tape from your fly gear and your Buff will never need be swapped for a surgical mask, there is help on the horizon. Cutting edge research into this serious issue has produced results in final trials allowing some new less invasive alternatives to be brought online and released mainstream in the Florida Keys.
The best all of us ‘Chasers of Silver’ could hope for is a one stop – cure all vaccine… but unfortunately, current research suggests that a total cure is likely not possible. However, there is evidence that a partially-effective vaccine, similar to the Flu-shot used around the world, exists and is proving successful in mitigating the frequency and severity of reoccurrence in the long term. This vaccine is rumored to be able to reduce symptoms to nearly non-existent levels if administered correctly each year. The beauty of this new vaccine, known as the Miracle Megalops Vaccine (MMV), is that one of the highest quality and most potent formulations is available in Big Pine Key through the Epic Waters Tarpon Program.
It is compounded from several Key (pun intended) ingredients in ample supply in the waters of the Bahia Honda Channel and within sight of the Blimp. The active ingredients are: more time on the water, a good set of polarized sunglasses with a tint that truly enhances your ability to see fish earlier in those particular water conditions, and a guide with good eyes and patient demeanor to maximize time to get set up and create as relaxed an atmosphere as possible. The serum, in which these ingredients should be suspended, is something that us as individual tarpon fisherman can create simply and inexpensively. The serum tying it all together is prepared in the form of a mantra: relax, breath, stay calm and confident while listening to your guide. While this inoculation of the complete MMV is effective, in can work in concert with other treatments to improve potency.
The easiest way to obtain a healthy dose of this potent cocktail, is another tarpon trip…but that being said a small skill supplement regime administered over the off season will greatly enhance its effectiveness. The skill supplement regime should be designed to improve a few key areas of your Tarpon Fishing Health in order to maximize your resilience while standing on the deck of a flats boat next season.
The key supplements include: improving on or developing a competent double haul, becoming proficient with a back hand cast, practicing a smooth single and two handed retrieve at various speeds, reviewing fly presentation angles for different scenarios, practicing quick accurate delivery to a target with minimal false casts. Preliminary results when using an 11 weight salt water rod indicate a correlation between the use of these supplements, the MMV, and the ability to maintain a salubrious state while in pursuit of the silver kings.
I am not a doctor, but personal experience is leading me to believe that this Miracle Megalops Vaccine for Tarpon Fever is proving to be an effective treatment. After more than a month in Big Pine this year and having been enthusiastic about following the skill supplement regime in the off season, my bouts of Tarpon Fever were less virulent than last year, and there frequency definitely diminished over the month of May.
Although I will likely battle with Tarpon Fever for the rest of my days and struggle with the occasional relapse, I hope that in years to come those episodes will become the equivalent of a slight sniffle while skiing down a fantastic powder run. It seems doubtful that I will ever be cured or develop complete immunity, but I intended to keep up with a strict regiment of exposure to a modified form of the original virus.