The last thing you want to do is humanize them because they’re not looking at the world in the same way. But they are looking at you.
Others may think we treat them like toys with the hollering and fist bumps that ensue from hooking them but that’s not what we do.
The eyes are alive and maybe their brains don’t process us like facial recognition software but their photoreceptors still collect the light. I’m no scientist but I know these fish remember.
Possibly (hopefully), some day 15 years from now this baby tarpon will be far removed from the swamps and moving along the coast, and it will notice the potential food twitching in its face that looks a little bit like craft fur.
There’s the chance it will catch sight of your refracted profile rising from above the waterline, which will trigger an historical recollection of trauma, and it will pass.
And if you’d like, you can blame me for that.