My buddy Idaho Joe has fished all over the world. In fact he built a bonefish lodge on Christmas Island in the late 1990s and ran it until his Islander partner screwed him out of it. But somehow he’d never focused his attention on the Silver King, but his past month that all changed.
We spent a week fishing with Captain Carl Ball, who is undeniably one of the best tarpon guides on the planet. It wasn’t long before Joe was tossing 80-footers and twitching his fly back in rhythm of Captain Carl’s cadence: “Strip, short strip, long strip, dink it, dink it… he ate it!”
For a fly angler there isn’t much that compares to hooking a tarpon in four feet of water. Watching 300 yards of backing melt away in the mater of a few seconds and witnessing the King make jumps that would shame the greatest of NBA players is about as good as it gets in my world. The ensuing battle tests every from your hook to your toes, and I often wonder how anybody ever successfully lands a tarpon on fly.
The euphoria that accompanies landing your first tarpon is bitter sweet, as you’re physically exhausted, amazed you did it, and also worried about quickly reviving and safely reviving your fish. It’s one of fly fishing’s greatest thrills, and I’m glad I was able to witness Idaho Joe’s first of many battles with the King.