Tarpon are probably the most sought after game fish on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Colloquially known as the ‘Silver King’, these massive fish swim up and down Southwest Florida every year attracting anglers as famous as Thomas Edison and Ernest Hemingway. The ‘golden tarpon’ is an extremely rare pigmentation defect that results in the typically all silver (or green) tarpon having a golden hue on the top of its body.
This past weekend Captain Patrick Dineen of Flyliner Fishing Charters (headquartered out of Shalimar, Florida in the panhandle, the fish itself was caught in Sandestin) put his clients on what is being called ‘the fish of a lifetime’. In addition to the genetic defect making this pigmentation ridiculously rare what makes this fish even more rare is that it’s an adult. Typically a tarpon with this genetic defect would never make it to adulthood, it’d get picked off by sharks or other predators very early on as the fish lacked any natural camouflage in the water.
Let’s check it out (via Capt. Patrick Dineen’s Facebook), this is easily the biggest goldfish swimming around in the Gulf of Mexico these days:
The initial reports have us theorizing it’s a piebald tarpon similar to Capt. Clark Wright’s. A piebald tarpon is one that bares spots of unpigmented patterns. Similar to what would be albino, but spotty. Think of how a koi fish would look, oranges and whites mixed. Now add acrobatics, sharp gill plates, a hard bony mouth and about 100-pounds. All this combines to make catching one out of every four hooked tarpon a good ratio. His video his posted below.
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The aforementioned Capt. Clark Wright is a fishing guide who is local to where I live here in Sarasota, and he fishes out to CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, my go to tackle shop in the area that’s owned and operated by a childhood friend of mine. I actually hit up Clark Wright via text message about two weeks ago to see if I could book a tarpon trip if there was any free time on his schedule but I unfortunately never heard back, and it bums me out now that I’m seeing how many massive tarpon he’s landing on a daily basis right now:
Capt. Clark Wright was also the last local captain to land a piebald tarpon before this past weekend’s ‘fish of a lifetime’ caught by Flyliner Fishing Charters, and here’s some footage of that one caught back in 2014: