I felt that I had some unfinished business with the big Silver Kings of the Keys and my aching body had just about recovered so I booked another morning charter, this time from Captain Cook's yard.
|Only in America|
I met Captain Bucko at 8am along with his first mate Ely, to fish on their boat Slack Off(only in America).
First impressions can be deceptive. I thought I had been paired up with a couple of right Hillbillies but in fact it transpired that they were seasoned professionals who tournament fish with the best of the best. Two weeks ago they had finished second in a Sailfish competition in Key West bagging one hundred thousand dollars! Their favourite method is live baiting. It felt a little wrong to be using 2 lb Mullet as bait but that's what we did. The theory behind mullet as a bait is that they stay on the surface unlike Pinfish which dive. The Tarpon attack the bait in a flurry of spray and silver which is all visible and it certainly gets your adrenaline flowing and your heart racing. The first two bites resulted in lost fish. Tarpon have incredibly boney mouths and there are very few spots for a hook to penetrate so missed fish is part and parcel of angling for them. Third time lucky we scored and it was game on again. After some skilful manoeuvring by the skipper around the bridge supports we were out in open water and the battle could really commence.
The tackle we used was 50lb mono, a 7 foot 30-50g rod and a tournament reel with a quality clutch. This time I had a lot more powerful tackle enabling me to excerpt proper pressure on the fish, odds a bit more in my favour. However this was another big powerful fish, it jumped, it went on 50 yard runs and it still dictated the fight.
|Like a Dolphin|
Forty minutes in I was sweating, arms aching and dehydrated but managed to touch the leader. Again the skipper said 'caught' fish. I wanted more though so battled on for a further forty minutes and eventually it started to tire. I have never played another fish like it, they are pure muscle, a slight movement of their tail screams the clutch and they have attitude-lots of it.
Finally we got it close but it still took a dozen attempts before Ely could get a hold of it and lift it from the water for unhooking and photos.
|Ely lifts her up|
It is illegal to bring them on a boat, in fact you are not allowed to lift them from the water such is the protection they have but in my book that makes it a proper caught fish. An amazing specimen weighing 125lb and the job was done.
We had 15 minutes more trying to hook another but I was quite glad we didn't and home we went.