If you’re an avid angler and haven’t caught a tarpon off the waters of Corpus Christi, it’s probably not for lack of trying. For the first half of the 20th century, tarpon, a migratory fish, were said to be so plentiful off the coast of Port Aransas that their mid-air acrobatics would land them in your boat without need for a rod and reel.
In May of 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived in Port Aransas and set out to fish without the help of a local guide. The president and his party brought their own boat on the trip, but without the knowledge of local guides, Roosevelt’s fishing trip was at first uneventful. Once he was aboard a Farley boat with guide Barney Farley, his luck changed. Paparazzi were able to catch the president pull in huge tarpon, and the footage was shown on newsreels around the country.
Farley boats were specifically designed and built for tarpon fishing off of Port Aransas, and locals and tourists all sought out these boats for their fishing trips. Generations of the Farley family-built boats in Port Aransas began in 1915. They were built specifically to handle the rough Gulf waters and had low sides for easy access to fishing from any part of the boat. Historians and scientists have many ideas about where the tarpon went—from drought to the dredging of ship channels—but through history, finding yourself aboard a Farley boat was always a great way to land a tarpon.
Photo Credit: From the John Fred’k ‘Doc’ McGregor Collection at the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History
Photo Caption: Fishing guide Barney Farley displays President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s catch as boat captain Ted Mathews and Elliott Roosevelt look on.