Bow to the Silver King

Megalops atlanticus, poon, “silver kings”; whatever name you call them, tarpon are the undisputed kings of the flats. I have two favorite tarpon stories that will stay with me forever; the first one I ever caught and catching tarpon in ponds as described in “The Scum Pond Chronicles”.

My First Keys Trip

Three years ago I took a trip to Islamorada, the Sportfishing Capital of the World, located in the Florida Keys. I targeted offshore pelagics such as dolphin and wahoo, but the fish I wanted to catch the most was a tarpon. I booked one of the very knowledgeable guides from the famous Bud N’ Mary’s Marina.

For more information about Bud N’ Mary’s, click here. 

Established in  1944 Bud N’ Mary’s is a Florida Keys icon.

Photo By William Korte

Upon arrival I was greeted by the resident marina Tarpon.

Photo By William Korte

My Tarpon Charter

I booked a charter before I made the trip and so upon arrival I met with my guide, Captain Perry Scuderi. We discussed tactics and headed out to the Seven Mile Bridge in pursuit of the silver king. I fished for about two hours before our first bite, unfortunately the Tarpon jumped us off.

Tarpon almost always put on an eye grabbing aerial display in which they try to shake free of the hook. To combat this anglers “bow to the silver king”in which they drop their rod tip down so that it is parallel to the water. This motion releases tension on the line and gives the fish less of a chance of shaking the hook free.

My second bite came about 30 minutes later but was a disappointment as it turned out to be a nurse shark. Sharks are a common bycatch when tarpon fishing.

If there was anything positive about it catching that shark, to this day it remains my largest fish as the shark was estimated to be close to seven feet in length.

Nurse sharks fight hard but eventually become fatigued and hug the bottom much like a stingray. They are not highly sought after by anglers.

Photo by William Korte

Meeting the Silver King

It was nearing the end of our trip and I had yet to boat a tarpon when I finally got bit! Just as we were going to move to another spot! The reel sang out its sweet song as the fish ripped off drag, I grabbed the rod and kept repeating to myself in my head, “please be a tarpon”. I was overjoyed when finally the fish made its first series of jumps and my hopes were confirmed.

It was indeed a tarpon.

Doing battle with a silver king
Letting the tarpon run and become tired helps one land such giant fish.

Photo Credit to Captain Perry Charters

The silver king makes powerful runs

Photo Credit to Captain Perry Charters

I fought the tarpon for about 30 minutes, it took the boat through the bridge and drug us several miles with multiple jumps included. When it was brought boat side we estimated it to be in the 70 or 80 pound class, not huge, but by no means small.

I look forward to the day when I catch a true trophy tarpon, one in the 150 pound class.

The silver king, brought to kneel

Tarpon: In Conclusion 

The thrill and fight of a tarpon is unmatched by any other inshore fish, this is true of almost any sized tarpon. The baby and adolescent tarpon that I refer to in “The Scum Pond Chronicles” pound for pound fight proportionately as hard as their grown up counter parts.

The silver king in his infancy

The Silver King in his youth.

Photo by Nathan Hitt

If you have never caught a tarpon I suggest putting it on your bucket list, even if you don’t fish. It is a unique experience that will leave you in awe of the creature’s raw power and beauty which is unforgettable.

For charter information visit

Until next time, Tight Lines

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