A shark-fishing trip turned into an adventure with a huge tarpon that almost dwarfed their 14-foot john boat.
Vacationing in the Hilton Head/Beaufort area, Mack and Hutton launched Mack's 14-foot john boat from the Eddings Point Boat Ramp in Beaufort County and made a short run down Morgan Creek to Morgan Island. The father and son-in-law were hoping to repeat previous successes finding sharks around the marker poles near the entrance to Morgan Island.
"We'd caught a few small sharks, nothing special, when we saw this huge fish roll out in front of us," said Mack. "A few seconds later, one of the rods bent over, and we realized we had him on."
The monster fish could not resist the piece of cut mullet that Mack and Hutto were offering as bait. Fortunately, the rod it hit was spooled with 60-pound line and a wire leader
The fish turned out to be a 127-pound tarpon, a seasonal inhabitant of St. Helena Sound during the summer months when large adult tarpon migrate north from Florida.
"He almost immediately took all the line from the reel, and we had to crank up the motor and go chase the fish down to get some line back," said Mack, who managed the rod while his father-in-law guided the boat. "I fought the fish for nearly two hours before we finally got him to the boat. He made one huge leap, and that's when we realized what we had."
Both anglers were familiar with tarpon, but neither had seen one up close until this chance encounter. The monster was truly a once in a lifetime fish but was only the start of the frenzy that later ensued.
"My wife took some pictures of us with the fish and put them on Facebook, and then WISTV contacted us about doing a news story. After that, WLTX called and wanted to know about it and then CNN called," Mack said.
After doing several interviews, Mack has settled down and is now deciding what to do with his trophy.
"I'd really like to get him mounted," he said. "It's not everyday you catch something this big fishing out of a johnboat."