( Originally Published Early 1900's )
" But lo, each wave to silver turns." WILLIAM SHARP.
Few anglers forget their first view of the tarpon. One saw the fish make a thirty-foot horizontal leap. Another sprang aside as a large fish fell headlong into the boat, passing through the bottom. Another viewed the silver monster coming like an arrow over the edge of a seine and dodged in time to prevent a repetition of the tragedy which had happened before. An angler in a boat being towed behind a river steamer saw a tarpon leap over him ; and still another, sitting on the deck of a steamer, was made a target by one of these fishes, which fell headlong into his lap. Others have had a shark rise with their first tarpon in its mouth, literally shaking the silver king in their face ; and many incidents might be given in the yearly history of this grand sport, showing how deep an impression the initial appearance of the tarpon makes upon the man with the rod.
I saw my first tarpon under peculiar circumstances at Garden Key on the Florida reef. I had a platform built beneath a wharf, where I could fish and watch certain fishes unseen, protected from the terrific heat ; and one day when creeping to this vantage-ground I was amazed to see directly by my side, in water so shallow that its long dorsal spine was at the surface, a huge tarpon. It was perfectly stationary, and a better opportunity to observe the great fish with silvery armor was never afforded. The fish was at least six feet in length, and as I gazed down upon it, its back had a deep blue tint. I did not dare to move, fearing that the fascinating vision within my very reach would disappear, and for several moments feasted my eyes upon its fair proportions, when it slowly moved down the sandy slope into the deep blue channel and disappeared. What induced the great fish to take this position I could not conceive. "The following day, with a cast-net boy and fishing-tackle, I went to Long Key, which at that time, previous to a hurricane which I understand washed it away, was a sandy island, about four feet high, fifty feet wide, and nearly quarter of a mile long, which formed the western barrier of a large lagoon. Near the lower or southern end of this key the bottom rapidly dropped away from three or four feet into the deep channel. On the edge of this I cast a live mullet bait, which sank down into the channel, out of sight, my line resting on the sand over a windrow of shells, Portuguese men-of-war, Ianthinas, the purple sea-snail, and many more, tossed up by the sea. The coral sands were fairly alive with hermit crabs. Nearly every shell was preempted, and presently they were crawling over me with the curiosity of their kind; while out from myriads of holes came white spirit crabs, their glassy eyes alert, ready to dart back at the first alarm.
A strange place was this key, - not a tree or bush, nothing on or in the sand but crabs, and an occasional turtle's nest. While I was wondering how the young turtles escaped so many crabs, my line moved perceptibly, then ran into the water for a foot or two and stopped. By this time I was on my feet and had the line—not a moment too soon — as it ran swiftly out, I giving, hoping that it was a tarpon, yet fearing a shark. Perhaps fifteen or twenty feet of line slipped away then thinking that this was enough for even the mouth of a tarpon, I allowed the line to come taut and hooked my fish, hooked it well, as up into the air, fifty feet away, rose a mass of molten silver, which, caught by the sun, flashed and scintillated in a thousand rays, and while in mid-air the splendid creature shook its massive head in a desperate effort to rid itself of the hook. Then down it fell, not gracefully, but like the swordfish, upon its side, tossing the water in every direction. Like a knife the line cut the water, throwing the spray as the fish shot away, taking the line, garnering it in yards. Only by mere chance was the fish turned to the right, so that its rush was up the key, upon whose beach we had been running and slacking to wed the fish from the deep channel. It could now be seen racing along near the surface in the great arc of a circle; now leaping into the air, shaking its massive head, endeavoring to plunge down, tossing its tail out of water, then falling, stopping aimlessly to thrash the water into a flurry of foam.
There was but one chance to save the fish, and this was to keep it in shallow water and gradually work it in and as it rushed over the lagoon we ran, finally going out into the shallow water, waist deep, to save the line. The rush of the tarpon and our erratic movements started a school of large black nurse-sharks, which were sleeping here, into a wild stampede, which threatened the line. It was mere good luck that saved the tarpon, that now repeatedly left the water and sprang into the air, a glittering mass of molten silver, in the tropical sun. But foot by foot it was forced up the lagoon, and finally my bait-catcher, wild with excitement, literally threw him-self upon it as I led it into the shallows, grasped it by the gills and dragged it out upon the sands, if not the same fish I had watched the day before, one of equal size, a thing of beauty, a joy forever.
It is difficult to convey an adequate idea of the regal splendors of the tarpon to those who have not seen it. Imagine a plain herring or sardine lengthened out six or seven feet. Imagine its scales newly minted silver dollars, frosted instead of stamped, silver dollars which have had the nacre of the whitest pearl in their composition, and some conception may be had of the glories of this radiant creature as the sun's rays flashed upon it, glancing and scintillating in every direction. The fish which lay upon the sands was about six feet in length and weighed possibly one hundred and twenty-five or thirty pounds ; but this was an estimate. The tarpon is literally a gigantic cousin of the herrings, and its ties to the gamy ten-pounder, Elops saurus, and bone-fish, Albula vulpes, are still closer. It is included in the family Elopidae, and after many nomenclatural vicissitudes is now, according to Dr. Jordan, Tarpon atlanticus (Cuvier and Val.), differing but little from an East Indian tarpon, Megalops cyprinoides.
In appearance the tarpon is long, slender, and thin, or compressed — the typical herring type. Its mouth is enormous and strikingly oblique, and when open, the gill-covers expanded, showing the blood-red gills, as often seen when leaping, it presents an extraordinary, grotesque, even cynical appearance. The lower jaw is very prominent, suggestive of a determination not to be caught ; the teeth are minute, like velvet or plush (villiform), and the interior of the cavernous mouth is hard and difficult to penetrate. The eye of the tarpon is large and striking, and its glare has more than once given a novice a tremor, as the gigantic fish seemed to hang in the air dangerously near the boat. The dorsal fin is high but short, shaped like a lateen sail, the last ray long and slender, reaching backward halfway to the base of the tail. The latter is deeply forked, a powerful organ by which the tarpon leaps. The most remarkable feature is the scales, which are enormous, the largest being three inches and a half in length. One in my possession measures three inches and a half by three, almost one-half seemingly covered with molten silver. The upper portion of the back has a metallic blue cast, appearing green in the water ; the rest of the body is pure silver.
The tarpon is found along the Atlantic coast from Long Island to Brazil, but not in sufficient quantities north of Florida or the St. Johns River to assure sport. In the waters about the southern portion of the Peninsula, on both sides, it is very common, but is not plentiful on the extreme outer reef from Key West to Loggerhead. In six or seven years very few were seen. The localities famous for them on the Florida coast are in a general sense from the St. Johns to Biscayne, Indian River, Lake Worth, and Fort Meyer. Other localities made famous by anglers are Captiva Pass, Boca Grande Pass, Marco, Naples, Pine Island, and Homassossa. Here the fish is known as the tarpon or silver-king, but on the Louisiana coast it becomes the grand ecaille, and along the Texan shore tarpon and savanilla. The tarpon is a migratory fish, moving north over the vast area of the Gulf. One pronounced migration is along the coast from Mexico, so reaching Louisiana; the other possibly passing up the Windward Islands, so reaching Key West or vicinity, following up the keys to the Cape, some following the west and others the east coast. I infer this from the fact that if the vast schools moved north in the centre of the Gulf, they would have been noticed at the Tortugas group, where, as stated, the fish is rare. Around Cuba and other islands some tarpon are found all the time, but they are more plentiful in summer at the Florida points; schools have been seen all winter between Key West and Cape Florida, particularly at Caesar's Inlet. They appear in February, increasing rapidly in numbers in March, April, and May, entering rivers and streams as the Apalachicola, being seen, according to Stearns, eight miles from the mouth. I am indebted to W. S. Jenkins, chief engineer of the Aransas Pass Water Company, for much interesting data relating to the arrival of the tarpon in Texas. He writes: " The tarpon makes its appearance in Aransas Pass, lat. 27° 50' north, early in March of each year, coming from the south. During the months of March, April, and May they may be seen in schools of six to one hundred, coming up the coast from the south. Reaching the deep water of the Pass, they congregate in the gorge of the Pass for a while, as though to rest and feed, and then pursue their journey north along the coast to Galveston, Sabine Pass, and other points. From the middle of April to the middle of May they do not appear to take the hook or bait ; during this time they are congregated in large numbers in the shallow bays and flats and can be approached easily in a small boat without displaying any alarm, and no lure will tempt them to take the hook. Apparently this is their spawning season. . . . During the latter part of May and in June the tarpon take the hook readily and seem eager for the mullet.
" The smallest tarpon I have measured was 2' 9" long and weighed eleven pounds but September 22, 1897, I hooked a tarpon which appeared to be but twelve or thirteen inches long. I lost it, so cannot say that I have seen the young taken. About the first of December the tarpon disappear entirely from the Pass.
I believe that they go south or seek the warmer waters of the Gulf."
As to the spawning habits of the tarpon almost nothing is known, and the above information was in reply to some questions I propounded, hoping to obtain some definite facts. I watched the hauling of the seine several years at the Tortugas group, but never saw a young tarpon taken, so assume that it does not breed at this point. Mr. Barton W. Evermann found in his investigations among the fishes of Porto Rico, reported to the United States Fish Commission, that the fish doubtless made this region a spawning-ground. He says : " Common about Porto Rico, where it evidently breeds, as numerous immature individuals were taken at Hucares and Fajardo.
" The four examples are from Hucares, from 7.5 to 11.5 inches long, and were seined in a small, brackish pool of dark-colored water, not over 5 feet deep, in the corner of a mangrove swamp, and at that time (February) entirely separated from the ocean by a narrow strip of land scarcely 25 feet wide. The thirteen others are nearly all very young, of 2.25 to 3.25 inches, collected at Fajardo. No large individuals are seen."
The tarpon attains a length of seven or eight feet and a weight of four hundred pounds. Evermann states that a specimen weighing three hundred and eighty-three pounds has been harpooned, and from the descriptions of men who lived on the upper reef I am convinced that this is not the limit. In its habits the tarpon is a wandering, predaceous fish, preying upon sardines, mullet, and small fry of a similar nature. It devastates the schools, pursuing its course up the rivers into bays and over the flats, everywhere a rapacious fish, and by the fisher-men where it is liable to be seined, considered dangerous, owing to its habit of leaping to escape. The tarpon is not valued in America as a food fish, and many fishes hooked for the sport are released, the large specimens being mounted as trophies. The tarpon has a value outside of its flesh. The beautiful scales bring from ten to twenty-five cents apiece in the market. Dealers use them for various purposes ; and some anglers, as a piscatorial carte de visite, write their name, the date, and the weight of the fish on the inside, and send the alluring object to some distant angling friend, who is thus infected with the fishing-fever and made wholly miserable.
The tarpon, ranked by its devotees as the greatest of game fish, is perhaps the only one which is utterly scorned as a food fish. I found my negro oarsman poring over an old geography one day at Garden Key, carefully measuring a map of Florida from Loggerhead up, with a foot rule. Finally he said : " Boss, disher's a mighty out-ob-de-way place. I's jes' reckonin', an' hit's jes' two hundred and fifty miles from a watermelon patch."
" Well, you have a tarpon, the finest-looking fish in the world," I said, referring to the one caught.
" Yes, sa', hit looks fine ; so does hay. I'd rather eat hay dan tarpon, yes, suh, I would."
The great fighter is caught mainly for the sport it affords, its relations to the angler as game being similar to those of certain animals to the hunter, who often risks his life to obtain the skin. The tarpon season at Boca Grande, Captiva, Marco, Naples, and other places, is marked every year by remarkable sport, and now that railroads have opened up Florida and palatial hotels are found all alongshore, the angler can reach the best tarpon grounds- with every comfort. At these places anglers from all over the civilized world congregate and try conclusions with this marvellous game, and as a result, boatmen have developed, well schooled in all the requisites, and the sport can be fully enjoyed. Tarpon fishing with the rod is like tuna fishing — a modern sport -and was brought into public notice by Mr. W. H. Wood, of New York, the first tarpon having been taken in this way by Mr. S. Jones of Philadelphia at Indian River Inlet. This historic tarpon weighed about one hundred and thirty pounds and was six feet in length, and fought the angler over two hours before it was brought to gaff. The fortunate boatman who shared the reflected honor was John Weier of New Smyrna. I well recall the interest aroused among anglers when it was announced that an angler wagered the expenses of any one to Florida who would take a tarpon with rod, reel, and light line. This was rash, as the fish had already been taken by Mr. Jones, but it was the introduction of this remarkable sport.
We will assume that the angler is at some of the resorts mentioned, or at St. James City, at Pine Islands, to reach which the train is taken from Jacksonville to Charlotte Harbor. Once on the ground, arrangements can be made to fish in the vicinity or any of the localities farther south. The question of tarpon tackle is important and is much a question of taste. It will be noticed that the men who have courted fame by bringing their fish to gaff in a short time use " club " rods, built, as a certain boatman sententiously said, for " snatching a tarpon bald-headed." But there are others who temper their methods with a modicum of humanity, and use longer rods and the lightest line that the conscience of the true sportsman will allow. Such a rod may be of snakewood, noib wood, or greenheart. It has a single long tip with a short butt, and when jointed is seven or seven and a half feet in length. The line is a number fifteen or eighteen, and the hook a 10/0 Limerick, a Van Vleck, or an O'Shaughnessy of similar size. The snood, or snell, is a debatable question of vital importance along the tarpon belt. Some anglers use wire, but it is a shark country, and there are groupers, channel-bass, and various game which become vermin when the mind of the angler is concentrated on tarpon alone, hence a soft snood is preferred, that the shark may sever it and cause no delay in the real work cut out for the day. The hard jaw of the tarpon easily files off a slender line, so a compromise is effected, and a stout cod-line snood is used by some; others again employ a moose-hide snood, and there are others. A large multiplying reel is necessary, one that will hold six hundred feet of wet line, and this should have a leather thumb brake. The regulation tarpon reels are fully equipped, and in point of fact the tuna and tarpon outfits are alike with the exception of the snood, which in tuna fishing is always of wire and very long. The boats employed vary in localities and are ordinary light, serviceable, lapstreak boats, with a seat for the angler or anglers to face the stern.
The boatman having secured a catch of mullet, you are off for the grounds, with a choice of methods depending upon the boatman, the place, or its traditions. You may anchor on the edge of deep water, anchor inshore, or your boatman may row, the gamy fish being taken in various ways. Some anglers refuse to have the boat cast off, preferring to fight to the finish from the anchorage. Assuming that the boat is anchored in a favorable position, the mullet is cast thirty or forty feet distant, and the waiting, that is an accompaniment of all sport, begun. If there has been a norther, if it is a late season, if cool weather has been the rule for some weeks, the wait may be a long one, and there is a tradition of a man who never had a strike, yet is fishing on and on, a piscatorial Wandering Jew. If it is very hot, there is more chance for an early strike, as the tarpon evidently prefers warm weather and the resultant warm water. Some wit has described this phase of tarpon fishing as sitting in a Turkish bath holding a string; but the heat in this part of Florida is cool compared to the still days where I have fished far down on the outer reef. Despite this uncertainty, the angler should take for his motto, Nunquam non paratus, and live up to it, as a strike is liable to come at any time. There are a thousand and one diversions in Florida to occupy the angler, who of course is a lover of nature, even if the fish are not biting ; and again it may be the day of days when the game is in the Pass and fish are seen at once rising all about, flashing here and there. Such a day Mr. O. A. Mygatt of New York found at Boca Grande on May 26, 1898, when he took twenty-two tarpons, which I believe is the record ; while at this famous locality Mr. W. H. Grenfell of London took one hundred fish between April 19 and May to, — both of which cases illustrate the possibilities in this sport of sports.
We may assume that it is a fishing day. Presently the line begins to run out, and you aid the big reel, overhauling the line, paying out, ze-ze-ze-ze! until perhaps twenty-five or even thirty feet have gone. This is the method of many successful tarpon anglers, but not my own. By this time you fancy that the tarpon has bolted the bait, and you give it the butt as the line comes taut, forcing the hook into its big throat. Up into the air it rises, looking so big, shaking so fiercely, that you wonder if such a monster can be caught. At such a moment a tarpon has tossed the baited hook yards away, dropped to the water with a crash and leaped, wild with fear, pain, or astonishment, still believing itself hooked. A tarpon in such a frenzy has been seen to throw itself an estimated thirty feet along the water. Sometimes it rises near the boat, again fairly alongside. But your fish is headed away, and as your boatman has hauled up the anchor, you are off behind this silvery king. Now it threatens to take you out into the surf in its wild rush for the Gulf — now it is in the air, a splendid glittering object, the type of activity. Two or three hundred feet of line have been taken in the succession of rushes, and despite your utmost exertion, your pumping and fighting, the .tarpon holds its own, is still king ; but in the end you win, and after half an hour, or perhaps it is two hours, the tarpon is alongside. Your boatman gaffs it and deftly slides it into the boat, and as you lean back, worn, weary, dishevelled, a finger nail gone, perhaps, two knuckles bleeding where the handle of the reel caught you at the last rush, yet you are happy and delighted ; and so far from being discouraged, you are now determined to hook a record fish if it takes all summer.
Such may be the experience of an angler in Florida. At Captiva Pass, Mr. Edwin vom Hofe of New York took his two-hundred-andten-pound tarpon, which was for many years the record, and I believe still holds for this particular region. It was exceeded by Mr. N. M. George of Danbury, Connecticut, who took with the rod, at Bahia Honda, April 8, 1901, a tarpon which weighed two hundred and thirteen pounds. Its length was seven feet two inches and its girth forty-six inches.
This, then, is the record for American waters. This catch was exceeded by Dr. Howe at Tampico, Mexico, his fish weighing two hundred and twenty-three pounds. All these catches stand on a weighing basis. R. E. Farley of Aransas Pass informs me that C. W. McCawley of Dallas, Texas, landed on July 17, 1901, a tarpon seven feet ten inches in length, with a girth of forty-six inches. This fish, unfortunately, was not weighed. According to the formula given, this would indicate a fish weighing two hundred and thirty-three pounds, doubtless the record fish ; but in a question of records weight alone is accepted. A fish taken in Corpus Christi Bay, near Aransas (on a hand-line, so I understand), was eight feet three inches in length and weighed two hundred and nine and a half pounds. I have seen a photograph of this remarkable fish, and it was very long and slender. If it had been in the best condition, doubtless it would have exceeded any fish taken with line.
The question of records is an important one to the angler, who has, it must be confessed, a single weakness manifested in pride in the capture of a large fish hence certain safeguards must be thrown about the question. There are records with the harpoon, records with the hand-line, but the true record of the sportsman-angler is the rod record,— in a word, the catch made in a sportsmanlike manner, as that of Mr. George or Mr. vom Hofe; and there is an unwritten rule that the record weight must be that shown the weighing, and shall be attested by witnesses. I made the draught of the original rules of the angling tournament of the Tuna Club, and suggested that the club demand that contestants use a fairly light rod, theoretically not over twenty-six ounces in weight, a line not larger than a twenty-four cuttyhunk; that the fish must be brought to gaff unaided, any breakage or assistance from boatman debarring the angler. This assures a contest between one man and the fish, the chances on the side of the latter. It is astonishing how a fish will grow in the hands of a determined and enthusiastic boatman. I recall one who always claimed that the scales were "shy four pounds." He then added two pounds for loss of blood while playing, two more for certain " shrinkages and evaporations " before it could be weighed ; then this true and cheerful soul would throw in an extra pound for luck, and was prepared to take affidavit that the weight was correct. My catches were the envy of the reef when Billy had the weighing. And then to hear him announcing the weight to others ! Then it was that he soared to the very empyrean of the imagination. The arguments that he had to sustain his premise, the impressive manner in which he swore to the double weight, the evident fact that he convinced himself that he was right, were all delightful features in these fishing days when records were not thought of. I once caught with his aid a three-hundred-andfifty-pound jewfish and frequently told the story. After several years I met Billy, and in his presence related the experience ; but when I mentioned the weight, his face assumed an expression of surprise. " Why, sir," he said, " you forget, sir, that I weighed that fish, and it weighed five hundred pounds, sir," this so seriously that no one could hold out against it; doubtless it was five hundred pounds, and I was mistaken. This boatman was an Irishman, a second Paddy Farrell of Kinsale, whose angling lines have made John Lander famous in the annals of angling poetry. You will remember that Paddy thus writes to his friend Thady Mullowny and beseeches him to come down and try the fish of Kinsale, sending him a hake through the mail as a sample of the big fish then biting: —
" We've a choice set of books for the student who wise is, The eel of true science to seize by the tail; At all seasons a skate you can have where no ice is, Or a sinecure plaice you may get at Kinsale."
Back to Paddy came this rollicking answer: --
"Dear Paddy — I got your poetic epistle,
Along with the hake that you sent by the mail ; But what could bewitch you to sing, or to whistle, In strains so melodious the praise of Kinsale?
" In all baits you're well skilled, you cod-dragging curmudgeon, To hook every fish, from a sprat to a whale ; But your lines shan't catch me—by my soul, I'm no gudgeon To flounder or starve in the streets of Kinsale.
"I know your design is, as usual — sell—fish; For catch what you will, my old boy, I'll be bail, You'll jolt off to Cork your best hake and best shell-fish, And leave barely a claw for the town of Kinsale."
Texas should add the tarpon rampant to her escutcheon, as sooner or later the fame of this splendid fish and the remarkable fishing found along her shores will become one of the prime attractions of this region. That I might speak from first hand and describe the capture of the Texas tarpon from actual experience, I made the trip to the Gulf coast in July and August, 1902, finding the fishing at Aransas Pass far beyond my expectations, and what was more surprising, the grounds tempered by a cool breeze which made the sport enjoyable and in every way satisfactory.
The tarpon is found all along the coast of Texas, but the centre of interest is Aransas Pass, a narrow cut between St. Joseph's and Mustang islands, eight miles from the mainland. On the former stands the fine club-house of the Tarpon Club, whose hospitality I enjoyed through the courtesy of Judge A. W. Houston, its vice-president, a devoted tarpon angler of San Antonio. On Mustang Island is the little town of Tarpon and its one hotel, Tarpon Inn, where the angler will find excellent entertainment, good boatmen, and tackle, if perchance he is without it. Aransas Pass is reached from New York or California via San Antonio, the Sunset Route being the most direct in either case. At San Antonio the Aransas Pass road in a few hours takes one to Rock-port, from which there is a daily mail-boat down the fine bay of Aransas fifteen miles, to the Tarpon Club or Tarpon Inn. The fishing sea-son here is from April to December, and possibly the angler would find it cooler in October, when, I was informed, the fish are in the inner Pass; but I found the conditions excellent in August, a cool breeze blowing night and day and the fish biting. I fell into the hands of one Mateo Brujen, one of the many skilled boatmen here, and in ten minutes after reaching the Pass I was playing my first Texas tarpon ; and of six boats which made up the party, all had fish or strikes soon after reaching the ground. I fished with a rod eight and a half feet long, a twenty-one cuttyhunk line, using a large tuna reel of Edwin vom Hofe make, containing six hundred feet of line, a Van Vleck hook with a three-foot phosphor-bronzed wire leader, or snell, the boatman doubling the line for about a foot beyond this. The bait was a live mullet not over four inches in length, hooked through the lips, and with thirty feet of line out I began fishing.
My boatman rowed slowly along the jetty, not ten feet distant, where the water was shallow. The tide was slack, the water smooth in the channel, but breaking heavily on either side. That tarpons were plentiful was evident, as every few minutes the back of one would be seen; and as the boatman rowed out beyond the jetty I had my first strike, and with the best of luck hooked my fish. Up into the air four or five feet went a splendid mass of molten silver, to fall with a crash, only to go up again, this time tossing the bait at me with such force that it fell on the gunwale. As the fish reached the surface, it made a fine run of one hundred and fifty feet which was irresistible. The boatman shouted that a shark was after it, so I forced the fighting while he backed water. Up into the air went the silver king on the crest of a big roller, falling broadside and still hooked, as I had with the big multiplier kept a taut line; then it stopped and came toward me, sweeping around in the arc of a circle, making a splendid leap so near the boat that I fancied I heard the boatman gasp; perhaps it was myself. Nothing could be more gamy, more magnificent, than the play of this fish, as rushing, leaping, coming in, bearing off, always on the surface, it fought its gallant fight for fifteen minutes or more, until I brought it successfully to the boat. As near as I could estimate, the fish was six feet in length, as we lost it after having towed it nearly to the beach a mile distant.
By this time two other anglers were playing tarpons, and the scene was intensely exciting and sensational, especially as a gaffed tarpon very nearly wrecked a neighboring boat, overturning gaffer and angler in the melee. Tarpons were now leaping here and there, and I turned my attention to attempts to photograph them, one angler forcing his fish to jump for my benefit and with a thirty-seven cotton line endeavoring to trip or throw it in the air.
At times, when a dozen or more boats have been fishing here, six or eight tarpons have been seen in the air at the same moment, and the lofty tumbling productive of much entertainment. A large fish hooked by a member of the Tarpon Club leaped over the boat of Judge Houston ; and a fish hooked by another angler leaped into the air and struck the chair of the occupant of another boat, almost knocking him overboard. In such a whirl of excitement it is evident that angler and boatman must be on the alert, not only to secure their own fish, but to avoid the air rushes of the frenzied game of some one else.
The second tarpon I hooked was kept at short line especially to observe the leap, in a hope to photograph it; but when the splendid creature went into the air higher than my head, not ten feet distant, hurling the spray over me, I confess that all thoughts of the kodak vanished. When in the air, the fish was apparently headed for me, but it dropped alongside with a crash, and as the warning of the boatman came, fearing that the fish would come aboard, it dashed by me three feet under water, canted upward at an angle that caught the sun's rays, a blaze of silver, and before the boatman could whirl the skiff about I saw it gleaming in the sunlight over my shoulder, high in air again ; then, despite my pressure on the rubber brake, it was away, fifty, a hundred feet, literally to rise into the empyrean like a bird again and again, and with wide-open gills endeavor to throw the deadly hook from its jaws.
While I was trolling, ten-pounders, here called skipjacks, were darting into the air, their leaps being very. similar to those of the crazed tarpons. For fifteen minutes or more this gamy creature fought and leaped, then coming to gaff with vigorous protest, and was only landed in the skiff after great difficulty, though only five feet three inches in length.
Having taken all the tarpons I desired, I devoted my time to observations of the vaulting feats of this gallant and spectacular fish. Those who have read the lines on tuna jumping will, perhaps, have noticed my reticence, as I realize how easily one may be mistaken ; and in the case of the tarpon I have the same hesitation, yet fear I may do injustice to this marvellous jumper if I do not refer to it. I was particularly desirous to determine the effect of the side swing of the tarpon in mid-air on a taut line, and began trolling with a line not over fifteen feet out --- a seeming absurdity ; yet my boatman assured me that along the jetty this was often effective, and he was a true prophet. The strike soon came and I responded at once, possibly giving the fish the benefit of a foot by dropping my tip before striking, then repeating it twice at least; in a word, attempting to hook the tarpon as I would a tuna on the instant. In every instance this was successful, and I did not miss hooking a fish, trolling at a speed of two and a half miles an hour ; those lost, with one exception, were while I was towing them in after I had brought them to the boat —a disagreeable process and one that would be unnecessary if a good raft was anchored in the lee of the jetty. When I hooked a fish with the short line, it went into air so near the boat that my boatman feared that it was coming aboard ; but, fortunately, I was able quickly to give the reel handle a twirl so that the fish was in mid-air with a taut line. The tarpon had its mouth and gills open, and as nearly as I could judge it made two convulsive lateral swings before it fell, merely jerking a foot of my line from the reel, the anti-overrunning drag coming into play here. The fish dropped heavily, and I held it with all my strength, right thumb on the reel-pad and left thumb and forefinger on the line above the reel, stopping the tarpon despite its struggles and resulting, as I had expected, in another frantic leap almost alongside.
This jump may have been seven or eight feet. I attempted to throw the fish from its position in mid-air merely as an experiment, but failed to effect it ; with a heavy line this could easily be done, from all of which I deduce that with a good drag there is no reason why a taut line should not be kept when the tarpon is in air. As to the height the tarpon attains when leaping, Mr. Waddell states that he saw a fish, hooked by Mr. L. G. Murphy of Converse, Indiana, make an initial leap of twelve feet and follow it with six leaps all equally high. He says, " The ordinary height a tarpon leaps is from seven to eight feet." This agrees with my observations, and that the fish attains the highest jumps of the tuna is shown by the statement of Mr. Mason.
The time of my visit was considered an unfortunate one, owing to the fact that the recent floods had filled the water with mud, which seriously interfered with the fishing; yet, at its worst, I doubt if there is anywhere else such tarpon-fishing or so many fish constantly in evidence. This is best illustrated by some of the records of the Tarpon Club and the Tarpon Inn. Up to August 8, 1902, the rod catch of the latter place in the half season was over three hundred, and Mr. J. R. Wainwright of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, had taken one hundred and seventy-four fish, ranging up to six feet in length, his best catch being thirteen in one day, the fish ranging from five feet ten inches to six feet three inches. A number of ladies have made records at the Tarpon Club, and Miss Houston, daughter of Judge Houston, vice-president of the club, killed the record fish of the season of 1902 after a hard contest with the gamy silver king, which was six feet six inches in length. Miss Hampton, daughter of General Wade Hampton, brought fifteen tarpons to gaff during her visit to the club.
Not alone in Texas do ladies hold records, as previous to the capture of the two-hundred-andten-pound tarpon at Captiva Pass by Mr. Edwin vom Hofe, the record was held by Mrs. George T. Stagg of Kentucky, who, single-handed, brought to gaff in May, 1901, a silver king which weighed two hundred and five pounds.
From July 20 to August 17, 1901, Mr. J. T. Mason of Denver took eighty tarpons at Aransas Pass, and his record for 1902 was even more remarkable. Mr. Mason observed a tarpon leap fifteen feet over a boat containing two men, clearing the men's heads by ten feet ; and doubtless this is sometimes exceeded. If the records of this exciting fishing-ground could all be told, they would test the credulity of many who do not go down to the sea to fish. Judge Houston and a friend landed nineteen tarpons in two and a half days' fishing, which is a remarkable feat when the activity of the fish is considered.
The fishing at Aransas Pass is mainly trolling, and nearly all fish not desired as trophies are towed to the beach, hauled up, measured, and after a scale is taken, released. Few fish are weighed here. If the angler is curious as to the weight of his catch, he uses the following formula, which gives a good general average : Weight in pounds is equal to the square of the maximum girth in inches, multiplied by the length in inches, divided by eight hundred. The Texas tarpon is by no means particular as to bait. I found that live or stale bait was equally acceptable, and a variety of fishes can be used as lures. The tarpons begin to gather in the Pass in October, and the first "norther" in November sends them south, the season closing by the first of December, when tarpons appear to be crowded out by the ducks. To Dr. H. W. Howe of Mexico lovers of this strenuous sport are indebted for the discovery that the tarpon winters as far north as Tampico, and that there is excellent fishing here in January, February, and March ; hence the travelling angler can find tarpon fishing if desired every month in the year, between Florida, Texas, and Tampico.
In an interesting and valuable series of articles in Forest and Stream, Mr. Waddell gives many interesting facts relating to this gamy fish in its winter home. He believes that it is more gamy at that season. According to Mr. Waddell, the Mexican tarpon ascends the river Panuco forty or fifty miles, and a small one was taken in the Papaloapam River one hundred and twenty-five miles from the Gulf. The Mexican tarpon record, according to the same authority, is a two-hundredand-twenty-three-pound fish, six feet eight inches in length, caught at Tampico by Dr. Howe of the city of Mexico.
This catch will stand as the world's record. In a letter to me Dr. Howe said : " My fish weighed 223 pounds six hours after it was caught. Its length was only six feet eight inches, but it was built more like a jewfish than a tarpon [that is, very deep]. It showed its head above water but twice." Dr. Howe played this record fish from eight in the morning until half-past eleven, or three hours and a half, before it was brought to gaff.
The Texas tarpon, like other fishes, varies much, some medium-sized fishes making a fight that involves the angler in a long and arduous contest. One, despite his efforts, took Mr. Cotter of Tarpon down the Gulf coast through the breakers for several miles. Others are brought to gaff in from fifteen to twenty-five minutes, and if the shark was not a factor to be considered, a number fifteen or eighteen cuttyhunk line would be admirably adapted to the sport ; but when a shark appears as a contestant, demanding its pound of flesh, sometimes the entire spoils, it is necessary to force the fighting, which can be done with a number twenty-one cuttyhunk line and a short rod.
The tarpon angler will be puzzled by the different weights of fish of nearly the same length. I brought to gaff a tarpon which I estimated was six feet in length, yet it was long and slender, and its weight doubtless not over one hundred and twenty pounds. Mr. vom Hofe's record fish was but six feet eleven inches, yet weighed two hundred and ten pounds ; and Dr. Howe's tarpon, which weighed two hundred and twenty-three pounds, was three inches shorter than the above. The truth is, that the maximum length of the tarpon is about eight feet, a long, slender fish; but mature fishes, or those which have had very favor-able food conditions, fill out, become exceedingly robust, thus materially adding to their weight without affecting the length.
The midsummer tarpon grounds of Aransas Pass are tempered by a cool, constant breeze. The health conditions are apparently perfect, with a complete absence of malarial taint and few, if any, mosquitoes. In fishing from eight to twelve, or four hours, daily, and sometimes in the afternoon, the angler may expect to take from one to five tarpons a day. In a month's fishing by Mr. J. T. Mason, referred to, he drew but two blanks. On nine days he took four fish and over. On eleven days he took either two or three daily. This, with the remarkable average of Mr. Wainwright, of one hundred and seventy-five tarpons for but half of the season of 1902 or up to August 8, will give the reader a fair idea of the possibilities of sport in this part of Texas.
This chapter gives experiences in fishing in Florida and Texas, but possibly the would-be tarpon angler and novice may desire some explicit directions, which, however, are naturally influenced by personal likes and dislikes. I have frequently in these pages voiced the sentiment that anglers obtain the fullest enjoyment in the possession of their own tackle, and that it often means the capture of the fish goes without saying. We may assume, then, that the layman has been enthused to the tarpon-taking point and looks about him for an outfit. Many experienced tarpon anglers advise the making of tackle, that is, the snell or leader, some even making rods. I note that Mr. Mason made his own rod. A very successful rod can be made by selecting a good bamboo pole, cutting it down to seven feet, buying a reel seat and German silver guides and attaching them ; yet I would not advise it. Good tarpon rods are works of art, and they are produced by experts in their line by the great tackle dealers of the country. In this sport one wishes to take no chances, hence I would suggest to the would-be angler to buy or order from some one of the old firms a tarpon rod complete. Personally I am an advocate of rods longer than those generally made for the purpose, and have demonstrated that tarpon can be taken with them ; but the regulation rod is of noib wood, greenheart, or split bamboo. I would suggest the first — a species of greenheart of excellent properties. One which I have used has a short, hard rubber, silver-mounted butt, with a long tip with double bell-guides, and is six feet nine inches in length and weighs twenty-six ounces. With one tip the rod costs $17 ; with two tips $22. An excellent rod is made of split bamboo ; indeed, Mr. vom Hofe took a six-hundred-pound fish with a standard tarpon rod of split bamboo seven feet in length. Another noib-wood tarpon rod is seven feet three inches and weighs twenty-four ounces. My best tarpon rod was eight and a half feet in length, but the novice should remember that the difficulties in landing a fish increase with the length of the rod. One rod of this kind is sufficient, though two are better, and they should be carried in a stiff leather rod case made for the purpose. How much depends upon a reel every veteran angler knows, and there is but one for this fishing, the best ; not necessarily the highest-priced, but one 'of a make that has stood the test.
A cheap reel will go to pieces sooner or later. The desirable reel costs from twenty dollars up-ward. It must hold six hundred feet of wet twenty-one cuttyhunk line, or some good line of equivalent size. It can be fitted with one of the several good drags on the market if desired, and should have a leather or rubber thumb-pad fastened to the cross-bar to press against the line. The line must be of the best quality ; a number eighteen is large enough for a cool, skilful angler, and with it the largest fish can be killed ; but for an angler in his novitiate a number twenty-one or twenty-four is better. Such lines cost from three and a half to four dollars — and the fisherman will do well to have several, especially if the fishing is away from the haunts of men or dealers. In the matter of hooks, quality and quantity both must be observed. The Van Vleck is a favorite with all tarpon anglers, and is the result of keen and intelligent observation on the part of an ardent tarpon angler. The 10/0 O'Shaughnessy is an excellent hook. The latter is fastened to a leader or snell of phosphor-bronzed wire at least five feet in length, divided into three lengths, each connected by a swivel. The angler can make his own leaders. If so, a small vise and pincers of several kinds and a supply of wire are necessary. This gives one something to do on rainy or off days ; but I believe I am offering good advice when I suggest that the angler lay in a supply of ready-made leaders, several dozen at least from the best makers. These will cost from fifty to eighty cents apiece complete. I would suggest that the angler have a box made by some dealer which will hold the reel in the centre and on the sides the lines and mounted hooks. There should be room in this box for a revolver, several pincers, a set of miniature tools,— the kind which stow in the handle, — a flat file, a patent oiler, a piece of chamois skin for the reel, some sandpaper, a knife of bowie type, a few pipe sinkers, a brass line drier, some fine copper wire, a spool of silk for repairing, sticking plaster, and some simple remedy for abrasions, etc. These can be so stowed that the convenient " grip " holds all the necessary articles except the rod. If the angler is going away from well-known grounds I would suggest a gaff, spear, shark-line, and several hooks. On the reef my boat was equipped with all these appliances and I frequently found them convenient.
In making up such a box the novice can obtain the advice of the dealer, who should be familiar from personal experience with all the fishing-grounds. A leather rod-rest or socket is a convenience. They come for the boat seat or waist and cost from two to three dollars. One for the seat is not only a luxury but a necessity. Such an equipment, and it may be varied, will be a pleasure aside from its actual use, and if the fishing is in out-of-the-way parts of Florida, it is almost essential, though at some points good tackle can be purchased. At Aransas Pass the best tarpon tackle is for sale, but if the angler is starting from New York, he will have better " luck " to equip there, thus taking no chances, as small dealers are liable to be out of certain rods or reels.
Arriving at the. grounds, the angler selects his boatman, a man of experience, in a short time learning the peculiarities of the grounds. On the morning appointed he finds himself in the Pass. The rod-rest is screwed on to the seat between his legs. The line which has been stretched, if new, the night before, is wet; and the boatman lashes the reel to the rod whether it has a patent fastener or not, reeves the line, fastens the snell to it, and baits the hook, while the angler, seated in a comfortable chair, reels off the line with his left hand the number of feet suggested by the well-posted boatman, -- it may be forty and it may be fifteen. I hooked several tarpons with the latter length, and saw the magnificent leaps close aboard, too close for actual comfort if the truth were told. The angler now holds the rod across his lap, pointing over the quarter to port and slightly up, never astern, and at its best nearly at right angles to the boat. His right thumb rests upon the thumb-brake, the left grasps the cork-grip above the reel. The boatman is rowing at a speed of about two and a half miles an hour, and if he is the man I take him to be, he is rich in expedients in warding off ennui. At the exact moment the novice begins to be discouraged he invariably sees a tarpon, or hears one grunt or puff, and thus deftly carries the angler along, keeping him on the alert until the strike really comes. This is an epoch in the angler's life, a bright moment in what Byron terms that " solitary vice " of angling. What to do and how to do it well is the question. If the angler follows my suggestion, he will sway the point forward, then strike at once ; but if he accepts the dictum of many others with possibly far more experience, he will give some line, on the ground that as the interior of the mouth of the tarpon is hard and bony, it must swallow the hook, which will become impaled in the throat. I may be hypercritical, but I would rather lose a fish than play it with my hook embedded deep in its throat. If the hook strikes an impenetrable portion of the jaw, it will, especially if two or three strikes are made, slide along and find a soft place in the angle of the jaw ; at least I have rarely failed to hook my fish when trolling, by striking at once; and with apologies to other and better anglers, I commend the quick strike, and by strike I mean the retort courteous to the " bite" of the tarpon. It must not be a jerk but a powerful backward sway, the thumb pressing hard upon the leather brake. The fish will at once jerk away ; but the angler can repeat the strike from one to three times, thus "setting" the hook in its jaw. The fish struggles violently, and the angler holds the rod up as firmly as possible, "giving the butt," then slipping it into the leather socket. At this precise moment the well-regulated tarpon should go into the air from three to twelve, or more, feet - a bewildering, dazzling vision, the silver king of vaulters, and fight and struggle
" Till floating broad upon his breathless side, And to his fate abandon'd, to the shore You gayly drag your unresisting prize."
Despite all efforts to hold it, it breaks away, and to the merry jangle of the reel goes bound, ing along half across the channel, tearing the line from the reel, until the novice is amazed at the strength and power of the fish. Up into the air it goes, again and again, and with two hundred feet gone the angler stops it and begins to reel, and here often meets his Waterloo. The angler should be perfectly cool, prepared to transfer hand from brake to reel handle and back with great rapidity ; he must not hold the fish by the reel handle —often a great temptation ; the rushes must be stopped by the thumb and upper hand pressure, and the moment this is accomplished seize the reel handle and turn, then drop the tip to the water's edge, or very low ; and with both hands, the right on the brake, lift steadily back until the rod is vertical, then lower the tip suddenly, reeling rapidly. This is "pumping," already referred to, and by it the angler gains several feet with ease ; in fact, deliberately to reel in a hard-fighting tarpon out of hand, with-out resorting to this expedient, is at times almost impossible. By a series of short "pumps" the fish comes in rapidly, but the angler should be watchful, as the fish, if it is thoroughly game, will make many desperate rushes and leaps which seriously interfere with the best-laid plans of the most astute angler ; but if all goes well, in from fifteen to thirty minutes the fish should be alongside. The angler holds it firmly, then passes the tip of his rod forward, on the port side if he is right-handed, and the game swims into the field of the gaffer, the angler's right thumb on the pad ; the left hand may now steal to the reel to overrun a foot or two as the gaffer does his work, but he should hold himself well in hand, as the work is not complete until the fish is in the boat ; at any moment it is liable to make a rush and escape. I have seen a large fish leap out of a barrel ten minutes after it had been gaffed and its capture supposed to be a closed incident.
If the fish is not desired as a trophy, the gaffer seizes the doubled portion of the line and holds it at the gunwale, inserts a short gaff just beneath the lower jaw and holds the fish while it is unhooked and cast off, perhaps to be caught again. If the fish is to be kept, the gaffer does not touch the line, nor does he attempt to gaff until the fish is in position ; then the gaff is placed under the head and jerked heavily upward between the gills and the tip of the jaw, and the fish's head held partly out of water against the boat, while it struggles. Some anglers kill the game with a revolver, or stun it with a club. It is a dangerous experiment to take a living tarpon into a light boat, as a lusty fish will wreck a skiff, and has been known to throw all hands over-board. Assuming that it is in condition to take aboard, the boatman steps on the rail, forcing it to the water's edge, and slides the fish in upon the canvas which should cover the bottom of his part of the boat and which, if the tarpon still struggles, can be thrown over it. If the fish is firmly hooked, the boatman now cuts the line, or unfastens it, and baits a new hook ; hence no time is lost if fish are biting.
I have seen tarpon fishing described as requiring no skill, but no more laughable picture can be seen upon the high seas, no more helpless individual, than the man utterly unfamiliar with rod and reel trying to land a big game fish ; he does not realize it, but the fish is having all the sport. I once came upon a Frenchman, off the bay of Avalon, who hailed me ; and when we went alongside he was clinging desperately to a very pliable impossible bamboo rod, his back bent into a bow, and on his knees, holding on to a tuna which was somewhere down in the deep channel. The fisherman's face was red, the veins stood out upon it like cords, and perspiration rained down. " Ze man who invented zis tunare fishing, he ought to be in zee jail," he cried. "Come and take me off heem, will you? For hours I have heem ; he take my fingare nail, he take my skin; he take me next. Zis is not fishing, zis is Hades."
The Frenchman would not allow his boatman to interfere, as he thought he had a record fish, and he had been trying for hours to reel it in; when it did come up, through the efforts of my boat-man and myself, and was found to weigh but eighty pounds, the woe and rage of that French-man passed all understanding.
The angler at Aransas Pass will find the custom holds of towing the fish to the beach — a most laborious habit and unnecessary if the boat-man has a large wide-beamed boat, when the largest tarpon can be held at the rail, the hook dislodged, or the game killed and taken aboard with ease by a boatman who understands his business. A green hand, or a nervous man, should be avoided, as such an one will lose his head at a difficult gaffing and strike at or down upon a fish, and so cut the line — a crime of sinister character, for which the code provides no adequate punishment, especially after a fish has been played for several hours.
One of the charms of tarpon, as well as tuna, angling is that it is preeminently a social pas-time. Often fifteen or twenty boats are grouped within hailing or signalling distance, and the man who has no strikes is regaled with the vaulting fish of more fortunate anglers, and the sight of four or five tarpons in the air at once is a most exhilarating scene ; yet Byron in " Don Juan ". refers to angling as a solitary vice.
" ... angling, too, that solitary vice. Whatever Izaak Walton sings or says ; The quaint, old, cruel coxcomb, in his gullet Should-have a hook, and a small trout to pull it."
There were many delights which did not enter the soul of the great poet, almost the only man of distinction to denounce angling. Yet we may pardon him, as he appears to except the tuna and would probably commend the tarpon had he known this noble fish. His honest dislike for angling is well worth quoting, and in a note to the condemning lines in " Don Juan" he writes: " It would have taught him humanity at least. This sentimental savage, whom it is a mode to quote (amongst the novelists) to show their sympathy for innocent sports and old songs, teaches us how to sew up frogs and break their legs, by way of experiment, in addition to the art of angling — the cruelest, the coldest, and stupidest of pretended sports. They may talk about the beauties of nature, but the angler merely thinks of the dish of fish ; he has no leisure to take his eyes off from the streams, and a single bite is worth, to him, more than all the scenery around. Besides, some fish bite on a rainy day. The whale, the shark, and the tunny fishing have some-what of noble and perilous in them ; even net fishing, trawling, etc., are more humane and useful — but angling,! No angler can be a good man."
After writing this Byron appears to have re-called the fact that he had a friend addicted to angling, and we find the following : " One of the best men I ever knew—as humane, delicate-minded, generous, and excellent a creature as any in the world, was an angler. True, he angled with painted flies, and would have been incapable of the extravagance of I. Walton." In a third note he explains that " The above addition was made by a friend in reading over the Ms. Audi alteram partem - I leave it to counterbalance my own observation."
In tarpon angling when there are many boats in a small area there holds an unwritten code of courtesies which, indeed, applies to all fishing, and which may be mentioned. Thus it is the rule not to anchor near another boat unless re-quested. When a fish is hooked, other anglers should give the player the field. When two men are fishing in the same boat the other should reel in at once. To cross the line or foul that of a fellow-angler is a gross discourtesy, and it is equally criminal to talk to a man playing a fish, either to gibe or congratulate. Social amenities find no place at this strenuous moment. It is well not to borrow bait or tackle on the ground, as the average angler will gladly respond, and it has happened that the fishing days of two, instead of one, have been spoiled by the negligence of one boatman to secure bait; a boat should not put out without an abundance of bait and a perfect equipment. It need not be said that these suggestions are advanced to a would-be angler or novice. Nowhere in the world of sport is found a warmer fellow-feeling, greater hospitality, and more courteous camaraderie than among the gentlemen of the rod on the great fishing-grounds of America.
To Dr. H. W. Howe of the city of Mexico and Mr. J. A. L. Waddell of Kansas City, anglers are indebted for information regarding the midwinter tarpon fishing at Tampico, Mexico, an unsigned and interesting paper on the subject appearing in Modern Mexico in May, 1901, to which I am indebted for the data, herewith given. Dr. Howe wrote me that he has hooked several tarpons here which he could not handle; hence, the tarpons of Tampico are of large size. The season is from November i to April, the time when the tarpon practically disappears from Florida and Texas. The tarpons are not only very large but are found in vast numbers. Some mornings during his visits there could be seen hundreds of fishes within fifteen minutes by boat from the hotel. Mr. Waddell in eleven days in December at Tampico landed twenty-four tarpons, fifty-nine jack-fish, and two jewfish, weighing in all thirty-five hundred pounds ; the largest tarpon measured six feet ten inches. In March he landed six tarpons here in one day. Mr. A. B. Ross in six hours caught four tarpons. In the Forest and Stream of July 26, 1902, Mr. Waddell gives in detail much interesting data relating to the fishing here, and states that the Tampico tarpons " strike more voraciously than do those at Aransas, and I believe they fight harder and jump higher. One that I had on this last trip jumped fully twelve feet."
From this it appears that Tampico is a profitable field for the wandering angler during the winter season in the United States, and as thirteen of Mr. Waddell's fish averaged six feet in length, they do not lack in this important particular. Aside from good sport at Tampico the angler will find attractive surroundings. Tampico is a typical Mexican city of twenty-five thousand inhabitants. It stands on a bluff, overlooking the Panuco River, at which point this fine stream is fifteen hundred yards wide. The river enters the Gulf at Point La Barra, about five miles from Tampico, where there are fine jetties. The fish are found at their best from the mouth of the river to the city and where the Tamesi flows into the Panuco. The fishing-grounds are protected from the ocean here, and ideal conditions found. The winter climate of Tampico is described as being "all that could be desired, being neither warm nor cold." The tarpon season is not the rainy season, hence the visitor will find healthful conditions and, to quote the language of Modern Mexico, the climate during the season described is "delightful." Anglers proposing to visit Tampico should take their own tackle, and doubtless more definite information may be obtained by addressing the officials or consuls stationed there.