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Bull-leave-it not! Bisbee’s “If it’s published... it must be true!” When I joined the military in 1965, my first duty station was Homestead Air Force Base Florida. I met a bunch of great people where I worked and we all became great friends. Dave Crippen and his wife Nancy asked us to go fishing. I asked my wife and she agreed. We went camping and fishing off Shark Creek on Key Largo. We fished most of the day and caught a few small snapper and then decided that it was time to get some sleep. I was raised in Utah and the only fishing I had ever done was for trout. At that time the biggest trout I had caught was about 16 inches and weighed about 2.5 lbs. I knew nothing about saltwater fishing and the only thing I had to fish with was my trout setup which consisted of a small pole, six pound test line, and a #12 salmon hook. About 2am our dogs needed to get out of the car and do “their thing.” I woke up and let them out and decided to give my fishing a little time and maybe catch something. So – I put on a small piece of shrimp, chucked it as far as it would go into the water, and set my pole in some bushes and opened up the drag. As I was playing with the dogs I heard some commotion over by my fishing pole. When I checked it, it was bouncing around in the bushes, so I grabbed it, set the hook and off went the line like a bullet. All of a sudden, out in the middle of the cut, I saw this fish jump out of the water. It was the biggest fish I had ever hooked into. I got so excited I started to yell for help and woke everyone in fishing camp. For 45 minutes I fought with the beast and finally managed to bring it to shore. My friend Dave started to grab it by the gills and a Navy guy pushed him aside and told him that if he grabbed it in that manner and the fish jumped – it could cut his fingers. The Navy guy reached down and pulled the fish out by putting his fingers in the fish’s eye sockets. He got the fish in, opened its mouth and said “what the hell is this?” I just smiled and said it’s a #12 Salmon hook. “Man – I can’t believe you landed a tarpon like this on a little trout rig.” The tarpon was over 5 feet in length. I had no idea that catching this fish on what I was using could have been a world record. Like I said – I was a hick raised in Utah and I knew nothing about the record book or what it took to be in it! I was going to take a picture of the fish but when we got back to our apartment someone had stolen our camera and most everything else that we had in our car. Being a private in the Army – I didn’t have enough money to afford another camera. I got no picture of it, but I do have a wonderful memory of that fantastic fishing experience and my first monster fish! Some people may think this is just a “fish tale”, but the people in camp know it to be true. Fish By J.F. Jones BISBEE’S CONSERVATION JOURNAL Q1/Q2 • 2016 79


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