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Tarpon may be fly-rod record

By MIKE SCARANTINO

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 18, 2001


BAYPORT -- A veil of secrecy has shrouded the Suncoast since the capture of a potential International Gamefish Association world-record tarpon off the Hernando County coastline Friday.

Information has been limited by tight-lipped guides not wanting inexperienced anglers chasing this season's lackluster number of fish.

Jim Holland Jr. is the anxious angler awaiting certification of his 202.5-pound fish by theIGFA. The 25-year-old law student from Vancouver, Wash., was fishing with his father before going off to a summer law internship.

"I feel very grateful and fortunate," Holland said. "With the lower-than-normal number of fish sighted this season, all I wanted was a few days' relaxation and a shot at a fish. Catching a potential record never entered my mind."

Capt. Steve Kilpatrick of Cedar Key was the guide who led Holland to his fish. Numerous attempts to contact Kilpatrick have gone unanswered.

If the record is certified, Holland's fish will be the largest tarpon caught on a fly rod. Noted fly angler Billy Pate is the holder of the record with a 188-pound fish caught using a 16-pound tippet on May 13, 1982. Holland's fish was caught using a 20-pound hard-nylon tippet.

"A 200-plus-pound tarpon on fly is the Holy Grail," IGFA's Doug Blodgett said.

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