Meeting Royalty of a different kind…The Majestic Silver King

July 20th, 2011  |  Published in Fishing Reports, Fishing Stories

Having not taken a vacation in two years, the destination choice for our upcoming spring getaway involved some serious consideration. When I say I♥fishing, I should clarify and say I ♥ Big Game Fishing. Call it a size complex or just the thrill of catching something that no one believes I caught, but I can’t imagine myself targeting and dreaming of anything less than some of the largest, fastest and most challenging saltwater fish in the ocean. One fish that I have been intrigued by is the Sailfish. Swimming at speeds of up to 70mph, its magnificent sail, and its water acrobatics put it right at the top of my “To Catch” list. Another species I have wanted to see up close and personal is the Permit. The first time I saw a picture of an angler holding one of these, I fell in love with its cute face and frying pan body. We knew we wanted to go somewhere sweltering hot to help us thaw out from the wintery New England weather, so we chose Key West, Florida. We did a lot of research to find our Charter Captain, R.T. Trosset, who has caught all of the species on our vacation checklist. The most difficult part of the planning was the waiting.

We booked a full and half day of fishing with R.T. Our first day was the full day offshore to look for Sails. However, when we arrived in Key West, R.T. informed us that the Sails had pushed out due to a change in the wind, but assured us that he would still be working hard to find any that may have remained. I was so impressed with this Captain and his first mate. We know how difficult it is to find exactly what you are looking for on the exact day you want to find it. Fishing is by no means a guarantee. Needless to say, we didn’t find any sailfish. However, we had hours of reeling in Mahi Mahi, Amberjacks and my beloved Permit. And the Permit is even cuter in person.

The second day of fishing, we met R.T. at his house. He had his Hell’s Bay Flats boat geared up and ready to go out Tarpon fishing. R.T. has 183 IGFA records under his belt, and Tarpon fishing is one of his and his wife’s favorite types of fishing. The way he described Tarpon fishing, you could see the passion and spark that all of us addicts have. I knew we were in for a special experience. If he had so much love for this, I had a good feeling we were soon to fall in love too. I had never read about Tarpon or even had it on my radar, so I was entering this evening of fishing blindly. I was also unaware that Tarpon can get up to sizes of 200-300lbs. R.T. definitely listened to why I wanted to catch a Sailfish and found an alternate that made me almost forget the Sail entirely. (At least for now)

The wind had picked up and we could see the worry in RT’s face. The wind was going to make it difficult for the Tarpon to see our bait. We moved a few times after no hits. I was so enamored with the sunset that I wasn’t stressing out just yet. As it got darker, time seemed to be ticking away faster and faster. Was this going to be one of those dreaded charters where you don’t catch? Were we going to get skunked? These thoughts started going through my mind. As soon as I started reliving the previous day and reassuring myself that if we didn’t catch, it was ok, my line went off. I grabbed the rod, stood up and began cranking on the reel. Now RT had said something earlier about “Bowing to the Silver King”. He instructed “Now Allison, when the Tarpon jumps, bow down to him. Point your rod down to give him slack and then start reeling and lift up once he re-enters the water”. I guess I should have been more prepared. I didn’t have my glasses and it was dark. So it was virtually impossible for me to see it when it happened. It all took place in a flash. Therefore, I never bowed and the hook pulled. RT rigged another line and sent it out flying. Sometimes fishing is like a big scary roller coaster. Until you go on it once, you don’t know what to expect. Now that I had been through the Tarpon jumping and got the “feel” for it, I was confident I could do it. I always have those moments after losing a fish, of looking up to the sky and pleading for a chance to redeem myself. I couldn’t go out like this. Was this going to be our only Tarpon? Did I screw it up for everyone? Poor RT, I could tell this was not going to be an easy guarantee for him. And now I think he knew it too with this first missed landing.  Thankfully, the line went screeching again. I jumped up, said a silent prayer, and began the process with more caution. This fish ran and ran and ran. I can distinctively remember asking RT “when is it going to jump, you said they always jump”. Poor guy, to him it must have sounded like a little kid on a long car ride asking “are we there yet” a million times. And then it came….the Big Jump. I bowed down to the Silver King in time and when the jump that seemed like minutes was over, I felt the line and he was still there. THANK GOD! By now I was losing breath and strength in my arms. My husband grabbed RT’s rod belt and put it around me. Well just like always, it didn’t fit. My husband cinched this belt around my waist and held it. Being married as long as we have and fishing together as long as we have, he knew that I NEEDED to land this fish. If anything went wrong…he would never hear the end of it. There was one point where I screamed “The belt is too tight, I can’t breathe”.    

After about a 30 minute fight, I got the Tarpon to the boat. It was an incredible sight. The feeling I had when this silver beauty was up close was the same feeling I had the day I landed the Bluefin Tuna; a feeling of personal accomplishment and triumph. You can’t take these fish out of the water, so it was a challenge to capture the size and magnitude of the experience. RT has been catching these fish for years and said this fish was around 180 pounds. Again, he was determined to give me the experience I had talked about. He held that beast while my husband fumbled with the camera trying to get the flash to work and successfully take a picture with all 3 of us in it. The splash and tidal waves this fish put out while we were having our “Photo-op” was incredible. RT looked like he had all but jumped in the ocean and taken a swim. We landed 5 of these fish that night. The passion and excitement that RT had at the beginning of the night had now been transferred to me. It was no Sail, but it was massive, provided jumps of a true acrobat, weighed in at at almost 200lbs., was beautiful and gave me the fight and experience of a lifetime. I met a true Royal King of the ocean; the tarpon…and he was truly majestic!

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