If you’ve ever spent any time catching tarpon on light tackle or fly, you no doubt have respect for this animal. You simply can’t find a better foe to pick a fight with on the flats. They own the back country. That’s why so many people call them the Silver King.
Tarpon are the quintessential game fish. They’re crafty, strangely beautiful and their brute strength will break you down like a bully. These animals are revered and respected by anglers for many reasons, but mostly because they are always a challenge to catch, no matter how you plan on landing one. They jump around like a kid on a trampoline after he drank a two-liter bottle of Coke, they destroy tackle and they live in some of the most beautiful natural settings you’ll find in the marine world.
I confess — I’m a tarpon hugger.
So you will have to understand why the video of a guy shoving his hand down a tarpon’s throat, yanking it up on a dock and wrestling the fish like a drunken brawler really pissed me off. First off, tarpon are protected in the Florida Keys where this video took place and what this numbnuts did is illegal. But the real reason I’m pissed is that these sort of videos project the wrong image to the mainstream public.
The video already got this idiot on CNN and several morning shows.
People who don’t know anything about tarpon will see this video and think it’s hilarious, cool or praise the guy for his big balls. What they don’t realize is this guy is a complete imbecile. By shoving his fist into the animal’s gills and yanking it out of its watery world, he undoubtedly caused the animal permanent damage. He may have even killed it. But worse than that, the crowd — especially a high-pitched whining woman — are cheering him on. Now, some more idiots will probably give this a go and make it into some ridiculous new sport for reality TV.
I’m fairly certain this incident took place at Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada. It’s a famous spot that I love to stop at every time I’m in the Keys. It’s laid back, has a decent lunch counter, and for a few bucks you can buy a bucket of bait and feed the tarpon. I’ve taken my family here countless times because it’s a great way to show people who don’t fish a tarpon up close and personal.
Once the fish leaps out to grab the bait you’re dangling over the water, coming just inches from your fingers, you’ll get a thrill that will stay with you for a long time. And hopefully, that thrill will light a little fire inside you to go out and someday catch a tarpon.
Robbie’s has publically said they don’t want anything to do with this moron or this video. If I were there, I am sure I would have fought to put that fish back in the water, and kicked this bum in as well.
Respect our resources and please don’t do something stupid that will incite a media storm and give people the wrong idea. Tarpon deserve respect. This guy deserves a kick in the balls.