Outdoors | Angler lands rare piebald tarpon

June 22, 2014 

Capt. Wright's piebald tarpon. PHOTO PROVIDED

Capt. Clark Wright of Sarasota has caught his share of tarpon. The first was over 20 years ago when he was 10 years old. Now a full time fishing guide, Wright has been hooking and landing tarpon nearly every day since May. But none will be as special or memorable as the rare piebald tarpon he landed earlier this month.

A piebald tarpon is one that bares spots of unpigmented patterns. Similar to what would be albino, but spotty. Think of how a koi fish would look, oranges and whites mixed. Now add acrobatics, sharp gill plates, a hard bony mouth and about 100-pounds. All this combines to make catching one out of every four hooked tarpon a good ratio.

This one Wright knew was special after going airborne during the early stages of the fight. "I saw it's orange features when it jumped. I knew I had to catch that fish," Wright said. "We hooked it on a blue crab and then everything went right from there."

"Angler George Siebel did a great job on the rod. The fish stayed in the school but never broke off as boats jockeyed around like fireflies. A lot that could go wrong didn't. Without the help of my mate Matt Smithman, this fish and the pictures would not have been possible."

As a result of social media, Wright's fish has now been seen across sites like Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, Outdoors360, and Sport Fishing Magazine. "It started as one or two stories and grew from there," Wright said.

After a successful release, the tarpon is swimming once again in the ocean, possibly spawning with the full moon in June. Wright collected DNA that is still undergoing evaluation.

Another angler catching the celebrity tarpon once again is a possibility, and no doubt they will be as amazed as Clark.

Wright has continued fishing almost daily since then, targeting tarpon off the beaches of Anna Maria Island to Boca Grande. "The weather has been perfect for beach fishing this season. I've only canceled one trip because of weather. Last year was difficult because of the constant west wind. We've been jumping and landing fish everyday, and that should continue until mid July off the beach, and through August in the bay."

Capt. Clark Wright can be reached at 941-809-8160 or at www.captclarkwright.com.

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