'Bow to the king' — In a part of the country blessed with awe-inspiring sights, few in Southwest Florida compare to the jaw-dropping, sheer power of a hooked leaping tarpon. The exhilaration of battling what is arguably the most sought-after gamefish in area waters is almost as thrilling for those on the boat as it is for the lucky angler who has one on the hook. For Bonita Springs Realtor Jim Gilboy, a 30-year resident of Southwest Florida who hooked up this 100-plus pound silver king during a weekend fishing trip in Chokoloskee, the feeling never grows old. 'When you get the bite, you're not sure what you've got. But when that first jump comes, your heart starts pumping, and you get the adrenaline going,' says Gilboy. 'You hope the hook holds and all the knots are tied right. Then you hope for the best.' Tarpon are more accessible here during the spring season, when they can be found in shallow coastal areas as well as the deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Fly-fishermen and traditional spin-casters target the prehistoric fish, which have been known to grow to more than 8 feet long and as much as 280 pounds. The Florida all-tackle record: 243 pounds. The tarpon migration begins in early spring when the silver kings start showing up in the Florida Keys. By May and June, they've moved north to the Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands. When migratory fish are in the area, they can be found throughout the backwaters, in the Gulf, and in the passes that connect the Gulf to back bays. While the fish may be accessible, they're not easy to catch. About one in four stay on the line after the first jump. 'You're supposed to bow to the king, they say,' says Gilboy. When the fish jumps, the angler must bow, thrusting his rod forward to put a little slack in the line in case the fish falls on his leader. Gilboy, who has reeled in two other large tarpon over the years — one of about 150 pounds — battled this fish for about 20 minutes and three leaps before the tarpon did what tarpon do best: spit out the hook and swim away. 'I thought I had him whipped; I thought he was tired,' says Gilboy, certainly not the first angler who assumed wrongly he had the upper hand on a tarpon. But Gilboy takes it in stride. 'That's the breaks,' he says. 'That's what keeps you coming back.' Published May 22, 2006

Photo by ERIC STRACHAN, Daily News

'Bow to the king' — In a part of the country blessed with awe-inspiring sights, few in Southwest Florida compare to the jaw-dropping, sheer power of a hooked leaping tarpon. The exhilaration of battling what is arguably the most sought-after gamefish in area waters is almost as thrilling for those on the boat as it is for the lucky angler who has one on the hook. For Bonita Springs Realtor Jim Gilboy, a 30-year resident of Southwest Florida who hooked up this 100-plus pound silver king during a weekend fishing trip in Chokoloskee, the feeling never grows old. "When you get the bite, you're not sure what you've got. But when that first jump comes, your heart starts pumping, and you get the adrenaline going," says Gilboy. "You hope the hook holds and all the knots are tied right. Then you hope for the best." Tarpon are more accessible here during the spring season, when they can be found in shallow coastal areas as well as the deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Fly-fishermen and traditional spin-casters target the prehistoric fish, which have been known to grow to more than 8 feet long and as much as 280 pounds. The Florida all-tackle record: 243 pounds. The tarpon migration begins in early spring when the silver kings start showing up in the Florida Keys. By May and June, they've moved north to the Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands. When migratory fish are in the area, they can be found throughout the backwaters, in the Gulf, and in the passes that connect the Gulf to back bays. While the fish may be accessible, they're not easy to catch. About one in four stay on the line after the first jump. "You're supposed to bow to the king, they say," says Gilboy. When the fish jumps, the angler must bow, thrusting his rod forward to put a little slack in the line in case the fish falls on his leader. Gilboy, who has reeled in two other large tarpon over the years — one of about 150 pounds — battled this fish for about 20 minutes and three leaps before the tarpon did what tarpon do best: spit out the hook and swim away. "I thought I had him whipped; I thought he was tired," says Gilboy, certainly not the first angler who assumed wrongly he had the upper hand on a tarpon. But Gilboy takes it in stride. "That's the breaks," he says. "That's what keeps you coming back." Published May 22, 2006

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