Episode 77: Capt. Russell Kleppinger – The Tarponator
At 49 years of age, Russell Kleppinger has found himself as one of the all time greats in the tarpon fishing world. He was consistently catching around a thousand tarpon a year before he stopped counting. Last year in 2022, he caught three fish over 200 pounds. (based on measurements)
Fishing was all he can remember thinking about. When he was five days old, his Dad ran the family to the Bahamas. His Dad was a terrible fisherman who ran aground all the time on the inside flats of Biscayne Bay. Running in the dark with no GPS, he’d find himself high and dry with his 52 foot vessel, and it was during these occasions Russell would catch his first bonefish.
At eighteen, he got his captain’s license. For five and a half years he was a mate on the boat, “Big Time” before becoming a captain. He was good in the blue water, but his fishing savvy was refined closer to shore. He became a tarpon wizard no doubt, but is being too good at something bad?
On today’s Podcast we talk about how Russell thinks on the water. We examine how he finds and catches the poon like no one else, but as important, we talk about the pressure he’s putting on this valuable resource, shark predation, and the future of our sport.