On June 6, 1952, LeMaster hooked one of those "larger" fish on one of his plugs. After 17-1/2 hours, unable to turn the monster with 220 yards of 18-pound, hollow-braided nylon, he could only hang on as the fish dragged him for more than 25 miles. The fight lingered into the night, and a crowd of more than 1,000 people lined a nearby causeway to watch, guided by huge spotlights from the fire department, as he battled both the tarpon (estimated at 170 pounds) and fatigue. Finally, the MirrOlure sprang out of the tarpon's mouth, landing on LeMaster's shirt, its hooks badly corroded from the saltwater and acid in the fish's mouth.
LeMaster relished what the rest of us anticipate when reeling in a plug: the strike. Bachnik agrees that's the most exciting moment. "We're using methods and plugs that you'd normally use to catch bass or trout, but instead of fishing for 5- to 10-pounders, we're targeting a species that gets well over 100 pounds," he says.