One of the largest tarpon ever caught on rod-and-reel, and possibly the largest, was released off Nicaragua’s Rio Indio last month.
Sport Fishing has learned that “a party of three old men” — as one of the anglers, Bill Brannan, tells SF — “hooked a very large tarpon.”
How large became evident only after a fight lasting more than two hours when the group (Brannan, Jere Bruning and Fred Roguske, along with Rio Indio Lodge guide Rito Espinosa) was able to maneuver the fish alongside the boat.
“Luckily, Fred had a 10-foot tape,” Brannan says. “The tarpon was 9 feet, 2 inches long, with a girth of 48 inches. I told Fred that nobody’s going to believe this!
“Fred admitted that he’s not a good judge of weight, but as owner of Lake Country Replicas (which makes fish replica mounts), he darn well knows how to measure a fish.”
So how heavy is a 110-inch (total length) tarpon? There is no precise answer but it’s certainly substantially heavier than the all-tackle world record, a massive 286 pounds, 9 ounces caught in 2003 off Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. That fish measured just over 90 inches to the fork. A 110-inch total length probably suggests a 102-inch fork length, Roguske surmises. The current record did have a 50-inch girth, so it was a bit fatter fish. But still, it measured a foot less, and thoughts of a tarpon well over 300 pounds seem possible.
Had the trio realized the significance of this catch, they might have worked harder to get photos, but, “We were anxious to release the very tired fish while it could still swim away,” Roguske tells SF.
Roguske adds that, as far as he knows, no scale at or near Rio Indio Lodge would have been sufficient to weigh such a fish. Perhaps that’s just as well, since multiple anglers fought the fish, making it ineligible for world-record consideration, whether by weight or length.