43lb Kingfish Caught Under the Tierra Verde, Fl bridge

Discussion in 'Kingfish Stories' started by CaptTylerKapela, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. CaptTylerKapela

    CaptTylerKapela New Member

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    One of the best things about fishing in the Tampa Bay area is that you never know what you might run into. On this particular outing, the plan was to leave Tierra Verde resort marina located in southern St. Petersburg, FL to shoot part of an episode for North American Fisherman in pursuit of whatever inshore action we could find. Despite my high hopes, the weather was hardly favorable that cool december day consisting of a steady north wind, high barometric pressure, and the general post cold front conditions that most fisherman despise.

    After failing to get bait after a few cast net throws near a local marina, I decided to dock the boat there and get some jumbo shrimp at the near by tackle shop just in case bait continued to be tough and the fish decided snub there noses at artificial lures during these sub-par conditions. After I asked my buddy at the bait shop for a couple dozen jumbo shrimp I learned that the shrimpers hadn't gone out the previous night due to the foul conditions and all that they had for bait was a few dozen pinfish that looked as equally haggard as they were small. I nearly passed up purchasing these pathetic little baits to try my luck with lures but I knew the bite was going to be tough. I figured what the heck, grabbed the remaining baits, and headed back to the boat with wishful but realistically low expectations for the day just hoping that I could squeak out a nice redfish, or a big trout for the show.

    On board with me was a production assistant helping out with still photos and whatever random tasks we needed. I should mention that before this trip she had only caught one fish in her life! It was a small flounder she had caught with her grandfather years ago. Little did she know she was about to hook into something totally of the wall crazy.

    Located on the intercostal waterway adjacent to a little draw-bridge, the first spot I chose to fish was actually just outside of the marina mainly so the camera man could set up on the near by dock and get some get some generic "out of boat" footage.. The marina gets a lot of current flow, is riddled with pilings, sunken boats, and other structures, usually always hold bait. There is nearly always something to catch there and figured I could find the school of medium sized bluefish that had been frequenting the docks. I also wanted to let the production assistant Anna have some fun and catch a few fish before we got started with the actual shoot.

    Armed with 4000 sized Penn "Battle" reels spooled with 15lb braid, a 20lb fluorocarbon leader, a 2/0 circle hook and an 8" wire trace to protect against the bluefishes sharp teeth, the production assistant and I drifted the half-dead, silver dollar sized pinfish along the dock. After catching only one small bluefish in about 5 minutes of fishing( Anna was so excited to catch her 2nd ever fish that she accidentally reeled the handle backwards completely off of the reel during the fight), I was getting anxious to go chase around reds and trout on the flats with artificials.

    Literally immediately after I asked if the crew was ready to pack up and rock to another spot, Anna got another bite. With the cameras on the dock continuing to roll, the rod tip danced around as the spunky fish clicked off small portions of drag, typical of a "chopper" sized bluefish (1-3lbs). Out of no where, the line started absolutely screaming off of the reel as if she had all of a suddenly hooked onto one the cars passing by on the bridge! All i could think was that maybe we had gotten extremely lucky and it was actually a starving cobia that had gobbled up the scrawny little pinfish. I had caught them in that spot before but it still seemed very odd. All I knew for certain is that we had something out of the ordinary.

    Surprised and perplexed, I ran to crank up the big motor and chase this mystery fish as it peeled off towards the bridge pilings. As soon as the fish got near the bridge it took a left, blistering off another hundred yards of line in mere seconds paralleling the span. As I excitedly coached the production assistant through the fight (which during that run basically consisted of me screaming REEL! REEL! REEL! REEL!) the fish quickly turned and began to head through the bridge. It actually managed to get around the razor sharp, oyster encrusted main bridge fender but somehow the 15lb braid held! Through those treacherous seconds, I managed to maneuver the boat around the fender with the fish still miraculously attached as my beginner angler struggled to pick up the slack. With a huge stroke of luck, the fish turned back towards open water and with one more smoking hundred yard run before it began to tire. Needless to say, I was in shock and after all of this I was desperate just see what we had on the end of the line!

    The fish began to slow as I showed the p.a how to properly gain some line back and beat down the fish on light tackle by pumping and reeling. Eventually it began to circle underneath the boat. That's when I caught my first shocking glimpse of the nearly five foot long, silver, torpedo shaped freak that my angler had been connected to this entire time. Miles from the open gulf in a mere side channel of the intercostal, on super light tackle, during seemingly terrible conditions, we had connected with a trophy sized "smoker" kingfish!!! I was in absolutely stunned as I scrambled for the gaff.

    With gaff in hand and knees shaking, I nervously awaited for the fish to tire and make another pass. The first swipe of the gaff missed its mark much to my dismay as the fish was just out of range. The second attempt however found its mark with incredible timing. No later was the gaff in the fish, than an unseen kink in the wire caused it to give way right at that very instant (not to mention that the relatively tiny 2/0 circle hook was nearly completely straightened out). As I yelled with excitement and hauled the monster king into the boat, I couldn't believe my eyes. It was huge!!!

    I haven't seen the video footage yet but Im pretty sure that I was just wildly screaming by the time we headed into the marina for a photo op. The fact that a kingfish was even in that spot in the first place is mind boggling. The fact that a beginner angler was able to reel that fish to the boat on the tackle we were using, in the spot we were fishing, during the terrible conditions we faced, after it got around the sharp bridge pilings and nearly pulled the hook straight, all while being filmed for national television is nothing short of a miracle!!! I don't know what the astronomical odds of this happening are but I do know that it was the most unlikely, most insane event that I have ever come across in fishing or maybe even otherwise! We later weighed that crazy kingfish at 43+lbs. Proof that when fishing anywhere in Tampa bay, you just never know what you might come across.

    Captain Tyler Kapela
    Host of North American Fisherman on NBC Sports Network
    President of "Hit and Run" Fishing Charters (also on FB)

    www.inshorefishtampabay.com
    727-421-1051
    Kapelatd@gmail.com
     

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  2. KC.com ADMIN

    KC.com ADMIN Administrator

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    Thanks for sharing this great story Tyler - I cant wait to see it in HD - Thanks again
     
  3. dogeatdog

    dogeatdog New Member

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    Can't wait to see video!!
     
  4. charles neal

    charles neal New Member

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    X2 Looking foward to the vid.
     
  5. CNUMB

    CNUMB New Member

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    Thanks for sharing, will be looking forward to the video.
     
  6. Jennifer A. Cook

    Jennifer A. Cook New Member

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    This sounds really great
    Thanks for sharing
     

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