Vol 6 No. 36 - May 31, 2006

Tarpon tournament runs through July 2
By Rusty Chinnis
sun staff writer

It’s no secret that tarpon are my favorite species of fish. In my experience, there is no greater thrill than watching a 100-plus-pound fish inhale bait, plug or fly, and burst from the water in a scale rattling explosion.

The beauty and power of these fish have caused the top guides in the world to declare tarpon fishing "the apex of angling." While anglers often travel the world in search of quality fishing experiences, tarpon oblige us by swimming right along our beaches from May through July.

From May 20 through July 2, local anglers can compete to be part of a tradition that stretches back to June 10, 1930. That was the date of the first International Tarpon Fishing Tournament, which was sponsored by the Sarasota County Anglers Club, its first official year as an organized club.

Powel Crosley, Jr., famed industrialist, inventor and radio magnate, had been named president of the SCAC for 1930. Crosley had become a Sarasota winter resident a year before, after his first tarpon fishing experience. On May 18, 1929, as the guest of Robert Ringling, he hooked his first silver king. Infected with tarpon fever, Mr. Crosley and his wife, Gwen, decided to buy property in Sarasota. They called their winter home Seagate.

Captain Rick Grassett holds a tarpon landed off Sarasota. The fish took a tarpon fly know as a "toad."

The Sarasota Sportfishing Anglers Club (a merger of the original club with the Sarasota Sportfishing Club) still runs the tournament today. In 1984, the tarpon tournament was one of the first in the country to become an all-release event.

In an effort to protect the health of the fish, all tarpon entered in the tournament are determined by measuring the girth of the fish. This practice allows the angler to keep the tarpon in the water while the measurement is made.

The tarpon tournament began Saturday, May 20, at 6 a.m. and runs through Sunday July 2, at midnight. Fish must be officially reported within 12 hours of the catch and release with a fish entry form completed at one of the designated weigh stations.

Fish catch reporting stations include CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, Hart’s Landing and Cannons Marina. In addition to reporting the fish, anglers must mail a copy of the entry form to the Sarasota Sportfishing Anglers Club, the form must be postmarked no more than 48 hours from completion.

The entry fee is $85 per person and $40 for juniors 15 and under and includes a tournament T-shirt and the awards dinner. Entry forms are available at local tackle and bait stores including Cannons Marina, CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, Economy Tackle, Harts Landing and New Pass Bait House.

There will be weekly and overall prizes as well as special division prizes for ladies and youth and a fly category. A prize ladder will be awarded to any angler who enters a fish and attends the banquet. The awards dinner will be held at Marina Jacks on Saturday, July 15, beginning at 6:30 pm.

This is your chance to be apart of a great historical tradition and test your angling skills against some of the best tarpon fishermen in Florida. For more information call Chairman Doug Forde or Co-Chairman Mason Tush @ 342-0284 or 346-8910.

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