Tarpon Fishing Florida and Boca Grande

15 мая 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »
Doral 295 Prestancia boat

Tarpon Fishing Florida And Boca Grande

W ith a typical 80-day season (Boca Grande) producing an average 5,000 tarpon landed, it’s no secret that the world’s best tarpon fishing hole yields more tarpon than any one location in the world.


Where is this unsurpassed tarpon domain? Boca Grande Pass is the only conceivable answer. Located on the Florida Suncoast at the mouth of Charlotte Harbor, Boca Grande and its surrounding saltwater reaches boast some of the best fishing and charter fishing in Florida, not to mention the continental United States. Charlotte Harbor itself has the distinction of being one of the nation’s largest undeveloped estuaries. Its nonchalant atmosphere is surrounded by an unspoiled serenity and world renowned fishing, particularly tarpon.

Tarpon congregate and spawn out of passes along most of the entire rim of the Gulf of Mexico. The massive attraction to Boca Grande Pass is unknown and subject to many theories. I prefer to refer to it as a natural phenomenon or the Bermuda Triangle of Tarpon. In the spring, it appears that many of the fish’s habits all along the coast are in orientation to Boca Grande Pass.With depths reaching near 80 feet, it is the deepest natural pass in the state. It is the only major outlet of Charlotte Harbor which is feed by two major rivers, the Peace and the Myakka. As the bottleneck of the harbor, the currents are strong and serve as the Autobahn to many species of fish and bait.

This Florida location also has deep roots in history. From the time of about 1,000 A.D. the terrain was inhabited by the only real native of Florida, the Calusa Indians. Though the Calusa had no written language, the history we know of them comes orally from Seminole Indians, and from written accounts of Spanish explorers. From these accounts we know the Calusa were a great fishing tribe. Their entire life and religion revolved around the harvesting of the Gulf of Mexico and its interior Florida bays. Upon the arrival of the white man in the 1500s, the Calusa Indians fended off Spanish attempts to barter and colonize their land (a Calusa arrow wounded Ponce de Leon on Pine Island and he subsequently died from that wound in Havana, Cuba 1521). By the early 1700s the Calusa all but disappeared — the victims of slavery, warfare and European disease.

The place of the Calusa Indians was taken by Spanish and Cuban pilgrims. They too harvested the adjacent Florida waters and exported much of their catch to their homelands. During the 1870s descendants of the Spanish and Cuban settlers established several fish ranches, and the area became a mecca to a then fast growing seafood industry. It is likely the Calusa and Spanish pilgrims harvested tarpon for food. Harpooning tarpon is documented back to the late 1700’s by British settlers.

There is some debate among historians on who caught the first tarpon on rod and reel in Florida. This, simply because those who had caught them did not know what to call them until the fish gained fame from an 1885 story published in the magazine Forrest and Stream. The article detailed an event that took place on March 12, 1885. On that date, a New Yorker by the name of W.H. Wood landed a 93 lb. tarpon at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River. While it may have not been the first tarpon caught on rod and reel, the fish’s capture generated much publicity and is at least credited as exposing tarpon fishing to the world. Soon after, tarpon were given a gamefish status to protect them from harpoons (known as striking or graining) and nets that were common methods of taking tarpon.

. Wood often shared accommodations at the Tarpon House in Punta Rassa with another wealthy outdoorsman, Chicago streetcar magnate John M. Roach. Roach was very familiar with the cachet of fishing that the area had to offer, especially the tens of thousands of tarpon that visited Boca Grande Pass annually. In 1894, the Yankee Roach bought Useppa Island. From 1894 to 1898 he built the first fish camp, The Tarpon Inn. Roach would invite his wealthy friends from the North to visit the island and fish the virgin Florida waters. Southwest Florida gained more fame by the publications of several other tarpon pioneers who too laid claim of landing the first tarpon on rod and reel- before Wood- from Homosassa and the 10,000 Islands. A then modern railway system had been completed that gave the area access to the outside world. Soon sportsman from the north as well as from Britain stormed the area in quest for giant tarpon. Southwest Florida and the Florida Keys soon became the new headquarters of the sport fishing world. The area took earnest when in 1908, Barren Collier bought Useppa Island from Roach and built another Tarpon Inn on Gasparilla Island and made the island’s town of Boca Grande world famous as the Tarpon Fishing Capitol of the World. Build it and they will come. Collier did, and do they ever!

The tens of thousands of tarpon that visited Boca Grande Pass during those times still come today. For those sportsman who have never witnessed this phenomenon, it is something you must experience yourself to believe. It is tarpon fishing second to none!

Back in the days of Roach and Collier, the pioneer fishing guides employed a spoon drifting in the tide behind their primitive wooden row boats while the guide oared against the tide. The technique proved effective until the evolvement of combustion engines, large keeled pass boats and the paragon live bait. For decades live bait was considered the only productive way to fish the pass. Today there is a forest fire ablaze of yesteryear. The synthetic baits are in vogue again, the jig is taking the pass by storm. In fact, jigs were responsible for a 10-to- 1 ratio in tournament wins in recent registry. Jigs and the pros who employ them have been so deadly, they actually have been banned in many high dollar tarpon tournament events. It was written in the late 1800s, “Verily, the lover’s jealousy may be a green eyed-monster, but compared with the jealousy of the tarpon fisherman towards his brother sportsman it counteth as nothing.”

Actually jigs are nothing new to the pass. In fact, they are fished at the same stages of tides and in a similar fashion as the early pathfinder guides did fishing from wooden row boats. Jig use in Boca has been documented virtually throughout pass fishing history. Fishing legends Herb Allen, Vick Dunaway, Charlie Cleveland, and Left Kreh had much success with them in the 60’s into the 70’s.Legendary Harold LeMaster too had success with a heavy weight version of his MirrOlure around the same time period. The drawback to jigs and tarpon was that the tarpon have an uncanny ability to throw them out of their mouths during awesome aerial displays. The heavy amount of lead needed to reach the deep depths of feeding tarpon acts as a dislodging device to the angler’s hook .

Tarpon fishing Florida and Boca Grande

Team Sidewinder led by Mark Futch (right and aft of fish) set a pass tourney record with a jig in 1997.

I n 1996, jig guru Steve Marusak, president of Cotee Industries redesigned the jigs that were already in use. Steve worked in close conjunction with one of the winningest tarpon tournament teams in Boca Grande Pass Team Sidewinder. Cotee was not looking to make a monetary profit in sales of the limited use rig (in fact they knowingly lost money due the lure’s exclusive use to short period of time and location), but to hold its name as one of the world’s leaders in jig manufacturing. Team Sidewinder was looking for a major sponsor and a relationship was formed on the principal of mutual desire for exposure in both jig market presence in return for tarpon fishing fame and fortune. Murusak designed the lure, with input from the team lead by long time traditional pass guide Mark Futch, and the breakaway jig was dubbed The Reel Tarpon Jig. The 4- ounce jig features a pair of soft molded ears that are wrapped around a 13/0 circle hook. A soft body shad tail is attached to a peg situated at the rear of the head. During the fury of a wild tarpon fight, the ears release the jig head. The circle hook is notorious for escape- proof hookups on tarpon and is effective in hooking tarpon in the sweet spot at the corner of their mouths. The Reel Tarpon Jig boasted Cotee’s Liv’ Eye and the shad tail peg is adjustable to keep the lure drifting at a 90-degree angle to the bottom. Among other highly profitable accomplishments in tournament fishing, the Reel Tarpon Jig and Team Sidewinder led by Futch, gained a wealth of notoriety, fame and fortune when in 1997 they shattered the Pass tournament record with a 200lb tarpon. The catch was the largest tarpon ever caught in competition (since toppled in 2001 by a 208lb fish and then again in 2005 by a 216 lber ).However, tarpon exceeding 250 lbs have been taken on my boat and in 2004 there was a fish caught that was estimated at 276 lbs in Boca Grande Pass.

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