A Tarpon Story
We set the first bait of the morning just north of Beach Access No. 6 in one of my favorite spots. Moments later, the line began stripping off the reel. We had the clicker set and it protested in a highp-pitched scream as the fish ran and then, fell silent. We brought the bait in with no sign of what had hit it, no teeth marks on the chunk of jackfish that was our bait or kinks in the leader to give us a clue as to the identity of the quarry. I reset the baits hoping for a quick repeat but nothing.
I got out some small spinning rods and proceeded to console my fisherman that we would get another chance, we just needed to wait.
We continued passing the time that morning catching small jacks, whiting and ladyfish for bait. The big gear remained silent. In times like this, I let old thoughts and sayings fill my mind. “There is one thing I know for sure,” I reminded myself, “you won’t catch anything without keeping the line wet.” It is little comfort but helps motivate me when things grind too slow. I reset the lines with fresh bait, making some minor adjustments. Around 11 a.m., our luck changed.
Again, the line began peeling off the reel. My wife and deckhand, Kasie, was the closest. She jumped up excitedly, indicating a strike and I raced over. I picked up the rod and knew immediately we had something big. I tightened down the drag and made sure the hook was firmly set. The line continued to strip, faster than seemed possible. Indeed, we had a good fish. We strapped fighting belts on to our fisherman, Robert and Karen, and handed over the rod. I initially thought we had a large bull shark ot possibly something else -- maybe a hammer or tiger I thought.
The fish ran nearly 200 yards on the first run, and for the next hour and a half we fought a seesaw battle, gaining line only to have it stripped back off. Twice during the fight, Karen’s eyes grew big as she said she saw the huge fish become airborne. I finally saw the fish jump myself about 175 yards out and realized what we had. It was a surreal moment when we finally leadered the 6’8” fish into shore. They are quite beautiful, a luminescent green back flowing into a mirrored side, a sleek dorsal fin with a unique and massive head, majestic even. That’s why they are called the silver king.