As I was talking with Keys guide Dustin Huff the other day, we both agreed that without tarpon fishing, we’d be scratching our heads about what the future might bring. As with permit, bonefish, redfish and snook, tarpon seasons trend up and down, but the migratory nature of the fish means that they aren’t as completely dependent on local food sources and weather conditions to thrive. That may be one reason their populations seem to be holding up, even if they are more difficult to feed–a phenomenon easily explained by the numbers of boats and fishermen. And of course tarpon are very long lived–as is the tradition of fishing for them.
“Silver King,” made about the long history of tarpon fishing on southwest Florida coast, contains a ton of great imagery and is worth all of the 20 minutes it takes to watch it. It marks the “beginning” of giant tarpon fishing with light rods as March 19, 1885, when William Halsey Wood caught a 93-pound tarpon in Sanibel Island’s Tarpon Bay on a bamboo rod.