Prisoner of War Lands Tarpon

Sep - 07 2012 | By

"barry bridger"

"nautical mile"

"Barry Bridger"

Former USAF Fighter Pilot and Vietnam P.O.W. 6 ½ years, Ret. Lt. Col. Barry Bridger, recently traded in his backwoods Missoura long poling for crappie to play tug-o-war with giant tarpon and elusive snook in our Southwest Florida fishery. He journeyed down with his wife of 32 years, Sheila, to fish with Capt. Bo Johnson and their daughter, First Mate Deidra, of Tenacity Guide Service.

Raised on the North Carolina coast, Ret. Lt. Col. Bridger is no stranger to saltwater fishing, but never had the opportunity to tangle with the species that promenade our pristine estuaries along the gulf coast of Southwest Florida. Their 3-day adventure spanned the waters of Charlotte Harbor, Pine Island Sound, Boca Grande, and the passes between the Barrier Islands.

The excursion encompassed a wide variety of activities, beginning with a mix of sight-seeing activities (dolphins playing in the boat wake, an assortment of native birds, manatees); stalking rays on the flats; investigating the ocean critter by-catch in the cast net (pufferfish, sea urchins, cow fish); taking shelter from the summer thunderstorms at N. Captiva tiki bar; way-laying the snook on the outgoing tide around Captiva pass with multiple triples. Then as if Barry & Sheila Bridger weren’t already amused, the grand finale would be their trophy conquest for a bigger Silver fish in shark infested waters!

Starting off Boca Grande beach, everyone scoured the horizon for any type of a flash or splash. Dad saw somethin’ shine like someone flashing a mirror. “We got em.”  Capt. Bo proclaimed as he idled the boat in that direction. Their presumption was verified at the sight of fresh mud produced from chaining tarpon low in the water column. Taking a few minutes to establish the intent of the tarpon, the 22 ft. Lake and Bay set up ahead of the moving school and they began pitching 2 threads free-lined and 1 crab.

Suddenly the sound of screaming drag filled the air with subsequent hoops n hollers following. It was a mad dash for the fighting belt and camera, with Capt. Bo shouting instructing … “Face your fish”, “BOW!!!”, and “Come to the Front quick!”. The latter resulting in the funniest moment Tenacity Guide Service has had on their boat (other than when Capt. Bo cast netted himself overboard!). In a frantic attempt to catch up with the tarpon’s momentum Mr. Bridger came bolting towards the front of the boat, telling his wife Sheila to MOVE, she didn’t, she got taken out! First Mate D could barely contain her laughter and hold the camera steady. But that moment was indeed captured on film and now plays on the Tenacity Guide Service YouTube channel, along with the following astonishing moment during the battle for the tarpon.

30 minutes into the fight, giant brown shadows caught the corner of their eyes…. BULL SHARKS! “NOOOOO!!!”, First Mate D could hear herself scream. She wanted so badly for her daddy to boat his first tarpon and get that photo of a lifetime. As the testosterone ridden toothy predator honed in on his big silvery-scaled meal, Capt. Bo pitched a chunk of mullet at his mouth. The detour tactic worked! Well… for a few minutes. Then came the big ambush. Circling down deep below the tarpon, the 9 foot bull took a few swipes of his tail and “WHAM!!!” the 170 lb tarpon went skyrocketing not 30 feet from the boat. It was an impressive display of power and the circle of life. Not knowing the fate of his tarpon, Mr. Bridger kept pressure on the rod and Capt. Bo stayed strong on the trolling motor. A few minutes later, the mighty silver fish surfaced very much alive and well. Victorious shouts and photos of a lifetime followed.

As the 170 lb tarpon swam away, a big smile of contentment spread across the face of Ret. Lt. Col. Bridger and he turned to his wife and said, “Sweetheart, Crappie fishing in Missouri will never be the same!”

"right this minute show"

Capt. Bo Johnson & First Mate Deidra team up in bringing you the ultimate saltwater fishing experience in Southwest Florida & Key West. They offer adrenaline packed tarpon and shark action as well as family friendly backcountry redfish, seatrout, snook, developing a great reputation for quality trips. In addition to the fishing charter community, this duo is active with TV Shows, Magazine Publications, Pro-Staff Duties, Philanthropic Events, and the Tournament World..Visit them online- and follow them daily on Facebook- Tenacity Guide Service.

CONTACT =  239.633.4662


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