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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jun. 9, 2021 6 days ago

Massive tarpon caught in Longboat Key

Four men caught the 150-pound tarpon on June 3 near the Positano condominiums.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

A group of four men caught a massive tarpon on June 3 in the Gulf of Mexico off the beach in Longboat Key near the Positano condominiums.

It took Clark Wright and his charter of three men about 45 minutes to reel in the fish, which weighed about 150 pounds.

“I’m 38 years old. I’ve been tarpon fishing since I was 7,” Clark Wright said. “I’ve caught a lot of them. That fish is well above average. That’s a full-grown one.”

Wright owns and operates Wrightstuff Fishing Charters. He said the largest fish he’s ever caught was between 210-220 pounds.

“Out of 100-150 [tarpon] I catch this season, that fish will be top 10 for sure,” Wright said.

Wright said the other men on the charter — Robert Cobb, Brad McCoy and Josh Maddox — caught their first tarpon that day.

Club Longboat resident Brad Bakle was walking along the beach and noticed the fishing boat right off the shore.

“One of the guys was reeling something in and looked pretty serious, and I decided to walk down to Zota,” Bakle said. “[I] sat down and had a beer, and I was coming back, and the guy still had the fish on the line. It was probably a good half an hour later.”

Bakle then began to take a video of the men’s efforts. Dozens of people began gathering to watch as the men reeled in the tarpon.

“The fish is just beautiful, 6-foot plus,” Bakle said. “You saw the picture, right?

“It’s just fantastic, and by the time they caught the fish, they held it for that photograph, there were [more than] 50 maybe 60 people there on the shore cheering them on, clapping and it was pretty cool to see because I’ve been coming down here for [more than] 30 years. I’ve never seen anything like that on the shore.”

Wright explained the process of how the men caught fish.

“We got lucky and hooked one, and sometimes those fish just…that fish took off, we hooked him about a quarter of a mile offshore and the fish burned 300 or 400 yards of line and got right up against the beach,” Wright said.

The tarpon kept trying to get away once the men hooked it, Wright said.

“Once he was tired out, I had my guys jump in the water there, and grab the fish and took the picture,” Wright said.

Wright said Bakle approached him afterward with pictures and the video.

“[Bakle] came up to me afterwards and told me had some documentation,” Wright said. “And I said, ‘Man, if you could text me those pictures, that’d be cool man.’

“And he said, ‘I’m going to send this into the Longboat Observer. Maybe they’ll post it. If they do, they’ll probably be contacting you.’ So here you are a couple days later contacting me. It’s pretty cool.”

After posing for the picture, the men released the tarpon back into the Gulf of Mexico.

“I can tell you the day I stop getting excited is, I’ll be dead when that happens because every one of them is like the first time for me,” Wright said.


Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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