Tripletail are most unique creatures. Most folks have never heard of them, or seen one. To the freshwater fisherman a tripletail looks like some kind of sun bream with a hormone problem. Yes, they grow quite large, and tripletail in the 20 to 30 pound range aren't uncommon. Tripletail not only look strange, but act strangely, too. The make their homes around crab trap boys and FAB's suspended near the surface. They will usually suspend within a few feet of the surface near the rope or chain that attaches the buoy to the bottom.
Because of where tripletail make their homes, the method of fishing for them is quite unique, also. The drill consists of running the boat along lines of crab trap buoy or FAB's, running within a few feet of the buoy, and actually looking into the water for the fish suspended near the buoy as you drive by. When a fish is spotted, the guide circles back and anchors upwind of the buoy within casting distance, and baits are presented as close to the buoy as possible.
Tripletail will eat a variety of baits including shiners, shrimp, jigs, and flies. The take is usually characterized by the fish rolling on it's side as it eats. When the angler sees the flash of the fish rolling, it's time to set the hook. When you set the hook, you'd better be hanging on to your gear, cause the tripletail is a fierce fighter. He essentially has three tails with which to fight you, plus he has tremendous side area given by his unique shape. The combination makes for one hell of a formidable foe. To add more excitement to this scenario, the tripletail willoccasionallyy jump. There are even wild stories of them jumping right into the boat and tearing the hell out of things.
Tripletail fishing is probably not for the casual angler. This is serious fishing. The methodology is a bit different, too, and may not be for just anyone. Fishing tripletail typically involves lots of riding and looking. It's kind of like tarpon fishing. One day you might run occasionally for hours and not see a fish, and the next day you might catch 10. When it's going right and the fish are on the buoys, they are usually quite willing to eat a well placed bait.
I can remember catching tripletail of monstrous proportions as a kid growing up on the islands. Not only do they get big, take a bait readily, and fight like hell, but they are fantastic on the table. Also, this fishery doesn't receive a whole lot of pressure, as there just aren't that many folks that fish for them. Better yet, they are a year-round resource. Of course, this is sight fishing of a sort, so conditions have to be right, and there may be many days throughout the course of a year that you just can't fish them, either because of visibility or rough seas.
Finally, I'll have to admit that I've been so caught up in my love of flats fishing that I have totally ignored tripletail fishing for many years. I just recently decided to run the buoys as I was on the way to fish snook on the beach, and spotted a large tripletail hanging on a bouy. I decided to go back and let my client try to catch it. I forgot what suckers tripletail are for a well presented bait, but was soon reminded of the thrill and excitement of fishing for them, and decided to add this unusual brand of fishing to my repertoire. It's not for everyone, but if you're looking for a new angling challenge, this just might be your gig.
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