This fall, land-based anglers have dialed in catching large snook, grouper, sharks and more near passes, bridges and other shoreline accessible areas. It seems those fishing at night are able to target larger fish that may not feed during the day.
One of those targeting big fish at night is 26-year-old, St. Petersburg native Eric Whitted, who is a self-proclaimed, land-based, artificial-only angler. When free, he’s fishing a substantial amount, and early last week he landed his biggest catch ever.
“If I’m not working, you can almost guarantee I’m on the water somewhere,” the angler said. “I’m strictly a land-based, artificial fisherman and have been for the last 10 years or so.”
As he usually does, Whitted ventured out in the evening, wading along a channel edge in the darkness. Fishing heavy spinning gear, an 8-foot, 30- to 50-pound Bull Bay Rod with a Van Staal VR1500, Whitted’s Savage Gear plug was eaten by something massive.
“My first and immediate thought was that I hooked into the snook of a lifetime,” he described. “That was until she came completely out of the water and I realized I had hooked into a tarpon that was well over 100 pounds!”
A rarity to be hooked from the shoreline and a rarer sight to be hooked in November, Whitted fought the tarpon with a locked down drag to avoid nearby structure, resulting in a stalemate.
The acrobatic silverking danced on the water in the night as Whitted did his best to quickly land the big fish.
“I would pull a little, and she would pull a little. In the end, I managed to beach her along the flats and get a couple pictures.”
With the fight lasting less than 10 minutes, Whitted’s mammoth catch was quickly released to fight another day.
“It felt absolutely amazing to land such a giant fish. My adrenaline was going crazy. It was definitely the best fight and battle I’ve ever had in my life. The best part was I caught and landed her while wading.”
A trophy story to go along with a trophy catch. For more pictures, check out Eric Whitted on Instagram, @snook_slayer_727.