As the bucket opens and water rushes in, the silver king vacuums up not only the 3-inch fly, but also the water surrounding; the adrenaline of an angler shoots through the roof. There are few things more epic than the explosion of a 100+ pound tarpon. After a slow stalk of the fly bouncing through the water, this aggressive creature gulps in a fly that is a fraction of its size. With this intense strike, the dance begins! As the king sprints, flies, and shakes, what seemed like a great idea often turns into a brutal battle; even more, a workout. However, it is worth every bead of sweet and bruised knuckle. "Bowing to the silver king" and hearing the screech of one’s reel is an unmatchable experience. Holding the jaws of a beautiful tarpon and looking into its enormous eye is a testament to the beauty of God and truly one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences an angler can have.
A few years ago, I got the opportunity to look into that incredible eye for the first time. A fishing buddy of mine met me at the dock just as the sun started to rise. The water was glass as the sun ascended and cast its illumination into green, Florida waters. We started the day out polling for laid up fish. I had a few shots, and even one hook-up during the morning, but the fish was able to shake my fly. Around noon, we decided to take a snack break, so I whipped out my box of Oreos (a necessity for fishing) and a tub of watermelon, staying on the casting platform. While eating some of my watermelon, and in the middle of a fishing tale, something caught the corner of my eye. I quickly spun around, handed off my snack, made one false cast, and threw to a previously unseen dark line swimming 10 yards from me in the water. My fly landed right beside his face, he made one kick, and my fly vanished in a spray of water. One strip and it was on! He bursted out of the water 5 times before making a run that set my novice knuckles on fire as I tried to slow his speed (and quickly learned that he was stronger than me). I tightened the drag and cranked and reeled. After a long battle, I managed to get the fish to the boat for the first time. It was an incredible experience! Tarpon are one of the most exciting fish I've been able to purse and I look forward to every chance I get to spend on the water in the presence of such awe inspiring creatures.