Have you been to Boca Grande Pass on a Saturday or Sunday during a Professional Tarpon Tournament Series event or, better yet, have you watched it on TV?
You would be appalled.
In addition to snagging and fighting tarpon to exhaustion, our tarpon are literally being beaten out of Boca Grande Pass. This aggressive style of Jig fishing is ruining what used to be the World's Greatest Tarpon Fishing.
Here's what's happening.
As many as 100 boats with underwater exhaust engines run around the Pass looking for tarpon. Every time a tarpon rolls on the surface, all the boats run to the school of fish, slam their engines in reverse, boil up the water and bomb the tarpon with a heavy weighted Jig.
The tarpon are so scared by all the commotion and noise that they move to another spot in the Pass. This practice goes on and on till the tarpon leave the Pass.
You can literally watch the boats move farther offshore as they harass the tarpon out of the Pass. Sure some tarpon return to the Pass later but many move on.
Since this practice of Jig fishing turned aggressive, Tampa Bay has had the best tarpon fishing it has had in 50 years. Why? That's where our tarpon after being harassed relentlessly here.
When I was a young tarpon guide in the 1980s and '90s, an estimated 10,000 tarpon ran the Pass at any one time at the height of the season, which lasted nearly two months every year. It's a safe bet that there are no more than 5,000 at most today and less many times.
Even jig anglers will admit tarpon fishing takes several days to recover after a weekend of their tournaments.
Watching PTTS shows on TV really heightens how aggressive and disorderly jig fishing is. You can see why we call it" Bumper Boats."
Traditional guides who grew up learning how to fish by mating for their fathers and grandfathers were taught respect and courtesy for the tarpon and for other fisherman. They were taught how to drift in an orderly fashion taking their turn in the drift, how to go around schools of fish rolling on the surface, to start drifting above the tarpon and drift back through them with their lines already in the water.
They were taught to reel up their lines and move when a fellow fisherman hooked a fish near them. They were taught upmost safety and to be cautious when another boat came too close.
To this day they still practice a tradition that has been going on in Boca Grande Pass for 100 years. A tradition and style of fishing that never harassed, hounded or beat a tarpon out of Boca Grande Pass in a century of fishing.
Something needs to be done before we lose this valuable resource. You cannot chase a deer down with a vehicle so why should it be allowed to chase a tarpon down, to run over him and to harass him till he leaves Boca Grande Pass?
It needs to be stopped.
The state, Lee County, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission - someone - besides local knowledgeable fishing guides whose families have fished here for a century, needs to step up and stop it before it's too late.
Please help us save our tarpon. Go to "saveourtarpon.com" and sign the petition to stop the PTTS Tournaments.
For more info on this cause, go to and join "Let's save the Tarpon (Boca Grande, FL)" on Facebook.
one-time tarpon fishing guide