TheLouisiana state-record tarpon has stood at 230 pounds since 1993 — until yesterday when a 246.6-pound silver king was landed out of what one angler on the boat said was "the largest mass of tarpon I've ever seen."
The pending state-record tarpon was caught by Houma's David Prevost aboard White Cap, said Jeff DeBlieux, who gaffed the big fish that also looks to be the largest tarpon ever caught in the United States.
Don Keller with the International Game Fish Association said the current United States record tarpon weighed 243 pounds and was caught out of Key West. Prevost's fish will be in the Top 10 of the IGFA record books, Keller said.
"We caught eight tarpon," DeBlieux said of yesterday's trip. "We had three that went about 180 pounds and one that went 202 pounds. And then we caught that big one."
The action took place about 7 miles out of Grand Isle in an area tarpon hunters call "the Grand Bayou area," he said.
"We were in the largest mass of tarpon I've ever seen — and I've seen a lot of tarpon," DeBlieux said. "There were tarpon everywhere we could see."
He and Prevost were drifting through the huge wad of fish, casting and dragging Coon Pops behind the boat, DeBlieux said.
The pending state-record fish came at the end of the day, so the anglers didn't realize it was a really special fish at first.
"We knew this one was big, but we had no idea it was that big until we got it to the boat," DeBlieux said. "We had been catching those other big fish, and this one ran out 200 yards and was jumping, so we couldn't tell exactly how big it was."
When Prevost finally wrestled the tarpon to gaff, the anglers finally realized it was the biggest catch of the day — but at first they couldn't do much with it.
Joe Schouest and his brother Coon, the famed tarpon angler for whom the Coon Pop is named, were fishing nearby, and they watched as a massive silver head surfaced.
"They're big guys, and when they pulled the head out of the water it just stopped," Joe Schouest laughed.
DeBlieux confirmed it was work getting the fish into the boat.
"It took everything we had to get it over the edge (of the boat)," he said. "We just couldn't get it over at first. And then, when we got it coming into the boat, I was afraid it was going to land on David."
After the Schouest brothers motored over to admire the fish, the decision was quickly made to run back to the landing so the weight could be certified.
The scales settiled at 246.6 pounds. The tarpon's girth measured 46 inches, with a length of 95 inches.
"Those measurements came out to 250 pounds — pretty close to the actual weight," DeBlieux said.
The record catch rounded out a day none of the anglers are likely to forget anytime soon — the White Cap and the Schouest's boat accounted for an incredilbe 17 tarpon landed, with many more hookups.
"All that action happened after 3 p.m.," DeBlieux said. "We had four bites and caught one before 3 p.m., and after that we had 11 bites and caught four.
"We had 15 bites that the fish jumped."