Sometimes, getting out of one’s comfort zone pays huge dividends. That’s the case when Capt. Justin Leake invites a world-class fly fishing angler to Panama City Beach for the annual tarpon run.
Meredith McCord knows how to make magic with a fly rod, having set more than 230 species and line class world records. But the former International Game Fish Association “Top Female Anger of the Year” has never caught a tarpon on conventional tackle. During a chance meeting with Capt. Leake at the funeral of mutual friend Travis Holeman, she became convinced that Panama City Beach was the perfect place to make the first attempt and that Justin was the guide who could make it happen. “I just knew in my gut that he was going to be kind and humble, with a little bit of a competitive spirit,” says McCord. “We share the same passion for fishing and attention to detail.”
Justin’s knowledge of local waters quickly pays off when he finds a school of silver kings cruising along the beach. Within minutes, Meredith gets hooked up and uses skills and technique honed through years of experience to land her first tarpon on spinning gear. For Justin, it’s more confirmation that Meredith is the real deal.
“Now that I realize she can do this, I also realize I’m going to have to step up my game or this might be a whole show about Meredith catching tarpon and me just sitting around watching,” says Justin.
Later, we get a taste of UNwineD, the award-winning food and beverage event that brings thousands of foodies to Panama City Beach each year.