"Ridiculous!" said Picariello when we told him. "It couldn't work.
The tarpon here are all in shallow water—20 or 30 feet for the most part.
Assuming a fish actually took one of those baits and hooked up, it would drag
the rest of the rig into the cover of the bridge pilings and foul the whole
Perhaps that is
why our man gave up long-lining and took to the airwaves in search of buyable
tarpon. At the time, our sources told us that he was renting a house on an old
estate on one of the neighboring Keys. When we contacted another resident of
the estate, he informed us that at one point there were perhaps half a dozen
tarpon, which weighed about 100 pounds each—nice-sized fish for those
waters—floating dead in the estate's boat basin, along with a number of lesser
fish. These the tarpon merchant would periodically "whack up" with a
chain saw—"scales and blood and hunks of meat flying every which
way"—to prepare his bait. "The Marathon Chain Saw Massacre," Rode
But Mr. X
apparently never completed his video. By the time we got on his trail he had
already left the area—in a "bit of a hurry," the other estate resident
Only the boat he
had been using—a white-hulled 25-footer—remained behind, its name a legacy to
the failed effort: Ship of Fools.
things are going," Rode mused as we drove away, "the name could apply
just as well to the Florida Keys—or the whole damned planet for that