The tarpon is found on the western Atlantic coast from Virginia to Brazil, throughout the Caribbean and the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. They are pound for pound one the hardest fighting fish there are often referred to as “The Silver King.” I’ve seen grown men have to hand the rod over because they cannot will the fish in. They truly are a magnificent fish.
While you can target tarpon year round in Miami, the spring and the fall are the best time to find them. My favorite time is during the spring.
Tarpon are a strictly “catch and release” fish and are protected by the state as a game fish. I obtained a ‘tag’ to be able to harvest this fish. One of the things that really drew me to printing a tarpon was the size of their scales. Scaly fish are great to print because their scales give the piece great texture and tarpon have some of the biggest scales there are.
Because of the significance of harvesting such a fish I wanted to make sure it was a challenge to capture. I limited myself to catching the fish from my kayak. Also, because I knew I was not going to harvest a tarpon again in the future, I was determined to get one over 100lbs.
It took 5 attempts to get the right fish and I had some friends help me in my quest. One day we hooked one of the biggest tarpon I’ve ever seen. I would estimate fish was between 175-200lbs. A buddy of mine hooked it and fought it for almost 2 hours only to have the hook pull and fish swim off.
I caught this fish with my friend Kristjan early one morning before work. The fight was ideal for harvesting. After about a half hour getting towed the fish ran towards the beach and we were able to land it on the sand rather than have to try to subdue it next to the kayak.
The only “not-so ideal” thing was that there was a small swell that morning maybe about a foot. I had to time the swell as I made my approach to the beach, loosen the drag on the spool, and surf a wave straight so I wouldn’t capsize. Lucky for me, I was successful and my friend helped me land the tarpon.
I took 6 prints off that fish though this is the only one completed. I do not plan on taking a tarpon again. It was a once in a lifetime experience I’m happy and grateful to have had.