Get Rooted In The Florida Everglades

By Rosemary J. White

The Everglades is the largest sub-tropical wilderness in the United States. This jungle-like paradise provides crucial habitat for numerous rare and endangered species like manatees, American crocodiles and Florida panthers.

It is a truly amazing land and seascape, and it’s home to an awesome angling experience like no other: an encounter with the “Silver King,” one of Nature’s most acrobatic and striking underwater wonders.

Tarpon (Megalops), in brief, are like an enormous silver bullet. They are powerful, explosive and acrobatic fighters, with the stamina of an Energizer bunny. Due to their tolerance of a wide range of water salinity, tarpon swim the canals and ponds of south Florida. I’ve caught juveniles in freshwater ponds, so I’ve sampled the pure power of the species. But catching a true behemoth has long been on my bucket list.

To achieve this, I traveled to Flamingo, the southernmost headquarters of Everglades National Park, in Monroe County, Fla. There I met Sam Root, an exceptionally knowledgeable Miami-based fisherman and media personality who has traveled the world to test his fishing skills. I’ve admired Root’s media work, and have been fortunate to collaborate with him through companies like Mustad, Savage Gear and many TV platforms.

On this trip, we set out to test the Savage Gear Pulse Tail Mullet and Pulse Tail Ballyhoo. These swimbaits are engineered to look and move like the baitfish they resemble, and are molded with Savage Gear’s pulse tail. The tail has a patent-pending split rear kicker that allows realistic swimming action fast or slow. The bait also features “line-through” rigging that allows the soft-plastic bait to slide up the line during the fight, giving the fish less leverage to throw the hook. With the aerial tendencies of tarpon, this is a pretty good feature to have.

We launched out of Everglades National Park quickly to avoid being air lifted from the ramp by mosquitoes. The scenery was breathtaking. Winding through the narrow canals was like trekking through the Amazon. We arrived at our spot with the moon to the west and the sunrise to the east, both simultaneously visible. That was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

The action began immediately! We hooked multiple tarpon and got a first-hand perspective of why the line-through technology is helpful. An unobstructed fight, both from the lack of structure and the lack of a lure in the fish’s mouth makes for a pure battle of strength and endurance, on both sides of the rod. The acrobatics and sheer power of these fish as they launched into the air was mind blowing. At one point, it was all I could do to hold on as Root engaged the motor in pursuit of a monster tarpon with the reel screaming in my hands.

After we exhausted ourselves—and several fish—we headed into the preserve canals to sightsee. We were ecstatic to get a glimpse of the American crocodile. The Everglades is the only place on Earth where both alligators and crocodiles coexist.

When Root said it was time to “call it,” I cringed. I could have gotten lost for days fishing in the unparalleled landscape. The Everglades is a mix of different habitats including freshwater, brackish and salt, an angler’s paradise. I longed for more time to explore.

For more information on Savage Gear and their products, Sam does instructional “how to” videos on his Instagram @scssam. Follow Rosemary White @roasty194 for her fishing adventures that feature destinations throughout Florida and  for photography.



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