It's A Silver King Thing

Not content to watch the near shore action from his beachfront property, a hotel executive joins Capt. Justin Leake to chase tarpon along Panama City Beach.

Ethan Register of Holiday Inn Resort is an experienced angler but has never landed a silver king. That’s all the motivation Justin needs to help his friend experience the unparalleled thrill of fighting the highly-prized gamefish. “This is a huge bucket list fish for many anglers and Panama City Beach is one of the best destinations to catch one,” says Justin.

Each year, beginning in late May, tarpon migrate westward along Panama City Beach, headed to their Mississippi River delta spawning grounds. It’s a one way, non-stop trip – tarpon schools don’t cruise back and forth – and Justin knows boat positioning is key.

“You have to get the bait in front of the school so the tarpon swim into it,” says Justin. “The angles that we use to cast to these fish have to ensure that the bait is moving away from them.”

The tactic pays off when Ethan sets the hook on a silver king but excitement turns to heartbreak when the beast leaps into the air and throws the hook. “That’s just tarpon fishing and that’s how it goes,” says Capt. Leake, who knows firsthand the disappointment of losing the battle to such a powerful fighter.

Justin and Ethan eventually save the day by pulling red snapper off an artificial reef. Later, they’re joined by their families for a special “hook and cook” treat – whole red snapper prepared by renowned Chef Paul Albrecht.