Dinosaur Tarpon with David Mangum


written by staff writer

S4:E5 - “The Scientist”

They’re dinosaurs with fins and tails.
— Captain David Mangum

Anglers fish for Tarpon all over the world using different methods for catching them, but the most effective way to ensure success is true dedication to studying this dinosaur of a fish.  The front of the boat delivers the fly, and the back of the boat puts the caster in a position of success.  It a symbiotic relationship that the guide and angler share. Independent motions that are completely dependent on each other. 

No one knows this better than the Silver Kings’ guest, Captain David Mangum, Shallow Water Expeditions, from Santa Rosa, Florida.  David grew up in the panhandle and has held a fishing rod in his hand since he was a young boy. His passion turned into profession, and his endless pursuits for fish take him and his clients all over the southeast.  Giant Redfish lure him to Louisiana in the winter months, but when springtime arrives, he has one thing on his mind: tarpon.  They consume his thoughts and influence his emotions.  He is completely obsessed with them.

I don’t know if it is healthy.  It is just who I am.  Throughout my life, anytime I have gotten interested in something, I was all in.  Everything about it, I charge at it 100%.  Tarpon has greyed out everything else more so than anything else in my life I have pointed myself at.  It is worse than anything else.  I am more enchanted with it more than anything else.
— Captain David Mangum

Dedication to the sport of tarpon fishing requires time on the water, which David commits to.  Yeti released a highly acclaimed film in 2017 entitled “120 Days.”  It is a direct reference to the number of days David spends pursuing tarpons with clients during their migration through the Gulf of Mexico.

We think it would be honest to say David thinks about tarpon every day of the year. He lives for the 120 days he fishes for tarpon.His whole year is structured around those days. For David as a guide, learning something is different. It doesn’t happen every day, and it gets his blood pumping.

It is bizzare, these huge, giant-eyed fish are slowly coming at you, and you can make eye contact – reach out and touch them. There is history to each and every one, because they live so long. . .Each fish is an individual.
— Captain David Mangum

We have met a lot of people that enjoy tarpon fishing, but David is a scientist. He is not just thinking about the fish and what they are going to eat and how he is going to strip and where he is going to stand. He has himself in a position where he is so submerged in the science of the fish – the water temperature, the migration to the point where he thinks like a tarpon.