BOCA GRANDE, FL—An avid Florida saltwater fly angler experienced a near miss with tragedy when he tumbled overboard while fighting a 90-pound tarpon, accidentally slicing an arm vein on his boat’s spinning trolling motor propeller. Before the injured fisherman gave up the fight with the silver king and motored to shore for help, doctors says he lost nearly a pint of blood.
The Lakeland Ledger detailed the amazing story of 54-year-old Rick Cannon, who went tarpon fishing alone on what he thought might be his lucky day—Saturday, July 7 (7-7-07). In fact, it was around 7:07 in the morning when a tarpon nailed Cannon’s offering as he fished in upper Pine Island Sound.
When he turned on the trolling motor, the backward momentum pushed the upright angler overboard, in to about 8 feet of water. Cannon says he felt the trolling motor bump his right arm as he treaded water, but didn’t realize he was injured until he climbed back into boat and saw his arm covered with blood.
“I put my finger on it, and thought, ‘How am I going to fight this fish and not bleed to death?’ I pumped on the fish twice, but I couldn’t let go to reel,” he says.
Cannon remained calm, broke off the line, and headed to shore as quickly as his 175-HP outboard would take him. In less than 10 minutes--before 7:30--he was at a Boca Grande marina, where EMTs applied tourniquets to his wound and sped him to a nearby hospital.
So what thought made him head to shore instead of landing the tarpon?
“My wife’s (would) be really mad if I died out here fighting this fish,” he says.