Mark Cooper spent his playing career on the offensive line of one of the NFL’s greatest teams. In retirement, the only line he really cares about is the one with a tarpon on the other end. In this week’s episode, Cooper joins local guide Steve Bachman to pursue silver kings in the clear Gulf of Mexico water off Panama City Beach.
After a stellar career at the University of Miami, Cooper was selected in the second round of the 1983 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos. A few years later, he was the starting right guard in Super Bowl XXI and helped protect future Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway on football’s biggest stage.
As his playing career was winding down in Tampa Bay, Cooper found a new passion: fly fishing for tarpon.
Capt. Bachman explains why the area’s clear water provides one of the most beautiful tarpon migration lanes in the world. In peak season, it’s not uncommon to spot up to a hundred of the prized gamefish making their way along Panama City Beach. And they’re big: migrating tarpon are typically five-to-six feet in length and average 70-120 pounds. That’s enough to challenge even a veteran of the NFL’s trenches.
Also in this episode, we visit an award-winning local restaurant to hear how the executive chef’s creativity ensures that no two culinary experiences are alike. The day ends with more tarpon action as host Justin Leake and veteran angler Mark Fisher enjoy the saltwater acrobatics of one of America’s premier gamefish.