“We think this may be the largest tarpon ever molded.”
That comment, at the top of an e-mail from Ray Douglas, president of King Sailfish Mounts (kingsailfishmounts.com) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, caught my attention right off.
On Friday night, October 14, Douglas fielded a call from a reliable source. “They said they had a big tarpon waiting for me in Venice, Louisiana. So I headed over Saturday morning. Douglas arrived Sunday and, sure enough: “There was a perfect specimen of a 224-pound tarpon, well iced and not a scale missing!” (That makes it only a few pounds shy of the state record.)
Amazingly, it was the angler’s first tarpon; he hooked it in 50 feet of water on a what’s known in those waters as a Coon Pop jig. “After some photos, we loaded the fish into my trailer for the drive back to Fort Lauderdale,” Douglas says. “That’s 1,900 miles round trip” during a 48-hour period.
But time to rest wasn’t in the cards for Douglas. Once back, he unloaded the monster fish (with help) into the King Sailfish studio and began the process of making a mold of it (a 12-hour process that exceptionally rainy weather turned into 36 hours).
The fish is positioned for the molding process.
The whole effort was certainly worthwhile, from Douglas’ standpoint. “In the end, the mold turned out to be perfect,” he says, “with all of the details reproduced on both sides of the mold.
Of course my knee-jerk reaction is that while this is all very cool, it’s also a shame that a huge tarpon had to die. But then, it’s for a very good cause. That’s the beauty of fiberglass release mounts. From this single fish, dozens of release mounts will be made to bring life and drama to walls near and far. Within a few years, that number is likely to be 100-plus. All from one fish.
And besides facilitating hundreds of fiberglass mounts to be made, the tarpon served to help scientists further our understanding of the species. The day after the mold was finished, Douglas says, Bruce Unger of Tarpon and Bonefish Unlimited arrived at the scene to remove the otoliths.
By examining these tiny “ear bones” located in the head, he adds, scientific data such as the age of the fish can be determined and recorded. Length and girth measurements were also taken.
All photos Raymond Douglas, President, King Sailfish Mounts, Inc.