Silver King Quest


The silver king or either Tarpon is one among the meanest, hardest, fighting fish who roams our planet oceans, seas, rivers and lakes.
It is definitely not hard to explain why Tarpon is highly ranked on the list of toughest highly sought after sport fish.
Silver Kings can grow to about 4-8 ft long and weigh 60-280 lbs and once connected to big one he will show his true silver colour!
He will leave you behind with line peeling off your screaming reel giving you nasty head shakes while you get ready for the acrobatic jumps! It´s one of those fish who doesn´t give you much room for mistakes. Sometimes angles talk about how many tarpon they have jumped and how much they actually landed!

The Silver King Quest

As a world travelling angler I had heard all about the stories of the large silver kings roaming the Lake Nicaragua.
Here I was standing in the port of Granada, waiting for the colourful cargo boat to leave on his way to Ometepe, the island in the lake that is formed by 2 large volcanoes.

It was going to be a few hours boat ride so I pitched up my hammock across the railing of the boat and fell into sleep. Halfway it got pretty rough and I was forced to mingle with the crowd in the cabin.
I met this older Canadian cigar smoking hunter who had travelled the area before and told me about river villages on the San Juan.
My original plan was to go to Island Ometepe and fish of the island. Plans changed quickly as he told me there was a village halfway the river famous for its big tarpon catches.

When reaching the Island Ometepe we had a stop to unload all the passengers and load up more crops (Platanos).
I had to pay the Captain a few dollars more and our trip continued under a dark sky to San Carlos, a small village all the way south-east across the lake where the Rio San Juan flows out.

San Carlos

We arrived in San Carlos the next morning where we were going to unwind the day before continuing the next day travelling down the river. My Canadian friend checked into a nice hotel but I was more looking for a travel-friendly budget place so we decided to meet up in the next morning at the jetty.

While strolling around in San Carlos I saw a lot of kids excited jumping around a carbon box.
Western kids getting excited playing the Playstation 3 but those kids were watching a snake chasing a mouse in a carbon box.
It was entertaining to watch the kids jump around but especially when the snake finally got the mouse they went crazy!
After witnessing the cheerful show I bought some meat at a very interesting butcher shop and found myself a very nice cheap accommodation. I think I paid 5 dollars for food an accommodation that night. The toilet even had a working flush button!

Cruizy boat ride

The next morning I met my Canadian friend at sunrise on the small jetty where we bought tickets for the fast boat down the river. The Day couldn’t start any more beautiful; cruising down the river while the sun rose through the mist. Howler monkeys woke up the jungle with their loud roars while the many different birds started to wade and fly the river. Just an incredible boat ride to start the day!

Mouth of the Tarpon

We finally entered El Castillo. El Castillo is the village of Boca de Sabalos which translates from Spanish “mouth of the tarpon”.
We jumped off the boat and my Canadian friend said: Common, let us check out some fish! When we got to a small restaurant located right in front of the rapids, I ordered a brew and watched the rapids. It didn’t take long before I noticed the fish rolling on the surface.
And there more pointed my Canadian friend. Tarpon rolling all over the place! Big fish and so much of them! I knew I was in the right place to catch a silver king!

Pesca de Sabalo?

I think I sat at the restaurant for a couple hours consuming cold brews and enjoying the sight of the fish rolling.
I had ordered some food and when the owner’s son brought me the food he saw I was so focused on the tarpon rolling.
Te gusta pesca de Sabalo?
Yes, Yes I love fishing but what is Sabalo?
Sabalo is that fish you see rolling Gringo!!
Oh, I see.. Yes I love to catch one! It’s my quest this fishing trip but I’m not a gringo, I’m from Holland..
OOh Hollanda! He started to name up all the Dutch football players!
You know more of them than me my friend!
We got along pretty good and then he asked me; Do you want to go fishing for Sabalo/Tarpon?!?
Yes ofcourse! I mean; Si si, Claro!

The crew

I got introduced to his friends who just came back from fishing. It was nice meeting and we straight got along very well and proudly they showed me their catch.

Tu qieres pescar amigo??
O hell yeah!  I want to catch one of those massive Tarpon that are rolling right in front the rapids!
I thought so but we are not allowed to go fishing here because it’s a protected area. Bummer! I really wanted to fish here. It looked like a hotspot!
Bummer! I really wanted to fish here. It looked like a hotspot!
Haha, you are right they replied! But, we can go tonight?!
Yes tonight, it is full moon!
Hold on, you just told me it was not possible to go fishing here..
$50, a bottle of Flor de Cana and a pack of smokes for the police officer and we can go fishing tonight!
Police officer?
Yes, he has to keep you tourist safe and he knows the military or other police guys if we get checked fishing. So Vamos!

The night pick up

That night me and my Canadian and German friend were waiting in the hotel room for one of the guys who would help us rig up the rods with the right lures and leaders. While rigging up he showed some old smashed lures and told a few good stories.
It was obvious; hese guys had fished for them before and knew what they were doing.
It wasn’t 100% legit that the police officer was going to join us fishing but with a bottle of Flor de Cana I was sure it would turn out into a good fishing night!

Nervous we waited with our rods, rum and smokes ready at the jetty for our pick up.
Out of the dark, I heard a small engine throttling.
Me and my friends e got introduced to the captain, police officer, deck hand and deck hand nr 2.
We entered the boat and they told us to be quite while slowly driving away from the village.

Let the fishing be good!

Suddenly the police officer asked loud: Where is the Rum & Smokes?!
We all started laughing and poured a few drinks and cracked jokes.

It got serious as we put 3 rods out with big rapala lures. We trolled for a few minutes and the first strikes were coming.
The crew shouting common ladies hook that fish hard!
You have to strike really hard because their mouth is like concrete, very hard to pierce!

We started striking hard and straight away my Canadian friend got hooked up with a decent one! The fish took off like a rocket and line peeled quickly of the screaming reel and the guys were shouting: Sabalo grande!
With a deeply bended rod and the reel bearings doing massive turn overs it took a while before the first fish got close to the boat.

One of the guys gaffed the fish and brought the fish in the boat. The fish went crazy in the boat.
He flopped spastic around and I think we were lucky it was a long boat so we had enough space to stay away from the fish as it could do some really damage.

I asked the guys why we had bring the fish in the boat, why don’t we leave him in the water and release him?
We eat them they replied.
Do you eat them? Aren’t they too old and boney?
We make fish balls from them, very nice!
Hmm okay, I didn’t expect to have those mighty old fish killed but who am I saying it’s wrong eating this fish?
Honestly, I would love to have seen this fish released again but it was going to provide family and friends food so I got quick my peace with it.

We caught that night 5 fish. All big ones and not far from the 200pounds!
I Never going to forget the last Tarpon we fought..
It was a big one who gave us a long nasty sweaty fight!
He came to the boat multiples time but when we tried to gaff him he just shot off again.
It was late in the night. We had been fishing for a long time and I think the officer saw enough fish that night.
This time the fish came close to the boat but there was no gaff attempt!
The officer just pulled his gun and start shooting the fish like 5 times in his side!
Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!
Did he just shoot the fish?! Noooo wayyyy!

It took me a few seconds to sink in and I start laughing! Man, you’re a hell of a crazy police officer!
He laughed and while he tried to drag the fish on the boat he fell of the other side of the boat!
I laughed, this was an amazing night of fishing with good company!

We drove back to the town. After a couple of photos taken with the fish it was now work time for fisherman wives who came out with the machetes and started filleting those monsters!

I picked up a massive scale and kept it in my hands while me and my 2 other friends walked back to our hotel and we discussed about what happened that night.
What a night, what a story and what a catch was the last things what was going trough my mind as I fell asleep in my hammock.