Illustration by Will Johnson

It’s easy to see why zoologist Achille Valenciennes in 1847 named the tarpon Megalops atlanticus — “Atlantic big eye.” Indeed, at close range, a 100-pound tarpon’s golf-ball-sized eye, with its massive, gold-rimmed pupil, is mesmerizing. Imagining what that eye has taken in through decades of pan-oceanic migration plunges you into the subterranean, a realm only slightly more familiar to us than space.

But to dwell on the eye alone is a disservice to a creation of exceptional design and beauty. In comparison with the smallish, delicate head of, say, a rainbow trout, the tarpon’s head is oversized, industrial and blocky. All heavy machinery and nearly devoid of soft flesh, it is entirely plated bone, emblazoned with an iridescent veneer of silver, gold and bronze. This is the stuff only millions of years of evolution could have wrought. It is a head befitting a king — the silver king. 

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The Shining Tides

An excerpt from a fictional story of a record striped bass and the Cape Cod community turned upside down by its appearance.

As two of his brothers watch, Mick Chivers lifts a bass caught the night before from the ice to a cleaning table.

Fishing For The Table

The evening began like a fishing daydream. The sun was dropping. The flooding tide and a cool wind were roughly aligned.


The Fall Run

My mind was unconsciously running through the 20 other places I would no doubt have been better off standing.


The Bait Lady

A former sculptor, local legend Bonnie Van Allen sells bait and ice cream on the Homosassa River

Stealth and sweat are part of the game when you’re looking for untrammeled water.

The Right Madness

Our wives told us: If you catch a king, kill it, and we’ll turn it into ceviche tonight. They said: We’ve got all the fixings at the house, then went downstream to fish for trout. Two beautiful women, late in the long Chilean afternoon, about to work up ample appetites.

Snook sharpie Mike Thiels makes a 2 a.m. toss for bait from the Lantana Ocean Avenue Bridge in Florida

The Thump

Who answers the phone at 3:30 a.m., chats amiably, swaps helpful information, wishes the caller good luck but doesn’t go back to sleep humming a lullaby of curses?