An amateur photographer who happened to be in the right place at the right time captured amazing photos of a fisherman atop a paddleboard battling a giant tarpon inside Florida’s Sarasota Bay, lending credibility to a fish story that some might find hard to believe.
Nick Halloran, 20, a college student who aimed to catch a tarpon from his paddleboard before summer was out, hooked into a monster tarpon stretching 6 feet long and weighing an estimated 120 to 150 pounds.
The tarpon seemed just as big as Halloran, who is 5 feet, 8 inches tall and 150 pounds. Certainly it was big enough to pull Halloran a mile down the bay toward the ocean before tiring out. At that point, Halloran reeled the tarpon up to his paddleboard and released the fish.
Thanks to photographer Roger Ierardi, Halloran has incredible proof of the 1-hour, 20-minute battle.
"I was just in shock," Halloran told GrindTV Outdoor, referring to when he first saw the photos.
"It was one thing to just catch a tarpon on my paddleboard—and I've got a couple of good pictures from on the board with my GoPro—but to have a couple of third-person shots like that is unreal. It's something a lot of people don't have.
"One of my friends, he's actually caught tarpon on his paddleboard and he's like, 'Man, I'm so jealous of your pictures like that.' Like I said, it's something a lot of people don't have the luxury of having."
With his GoPro, Halloran took a selfie that shows only the head of the fish, which certainly gives an idea as to the size of the tarpon, but Ierardi's photos makes the story complete.
Ierardi lives across from the Sarasota Yacht Club and had seen Halloran fishing, so he started taking photos.
"Then I realized he was hooked into a big fish," Ierardi told GrindTV Outdoor. "As soon as I took another picture this tarpon came all the way out of the water. So I kept taking pictures.
"It took him into the yacht club dock area and then pulled him out to the middle of the channel. I can't believe how he stayed up on that board."
Ierardi attempted to follow Halloran but ran out of land, so he drove to where he thought Halloran would end up, at the south end of Lido Key, which is where he found him and showed him the photos.
This was only Halloran's second time fishing from his new paddleboard, from which the biggest previous fish he had caught was a 22-inch snook.
"I grew up fishing with my dad on our boat," he said. "I caught one tarpon that was bigger than this down in the Keys. I've caught fish like this … but not on a paddleboard. That's definitely a different challenge and a lot of fun."
For Halloran, the giant tarpon caught from a paddleboard was a fish of a lifetime.
"Definitely," he said. "I would say it is definitely a big check off my bucket list, and it's something I can show my kids some day, and they could show their kids."
More from GrindTV