Save the Tarpon Seafood Shindig!

2014 STT Shindig

SUN. MARCH 2, 2014



Celebrate the future of our tarpon fishery with live music, fresh local seafood, and a couple hundred like-minded friends.

Live music, seafood chowder & stew cook-off, fried grouper bites, complimentary Budweiser refreshments…what’s not to like?  C’mon out and enjoy a late Sunday afternoon with us, don’t be shy.

We want to listen to some music, partake in the eating of some tasty fish (fresh off the boat, we might add), refresh our palettes with a cold Budweiser, and delight in some cotton-candy…with you.

There will be lots of fun things to do.  Like, talking to your friends about tarpon fishing. And, the silent and live auctions will be the coolest.  Oh, and don’t forget the prize wheel; We will be bringing it back with even better prizes this year.

What it’s all about.

We can look back at 2013 as a watershed year that saw our combined efforts produce two landmark regulatory reforms that will, with aggressive enforcement and your
continued vigilance, give Florida’s most iconic tarpon fishery the kind of fighting chance that once seemed so beyond our reach.

With a new season of tarpon fishing on the horizon, let’s take a moment to celebrate these accomplishments and look forward to a new year of continued positive change for our beloved fishery.

Go to our Facebook Event Page.




Parents & Kids Beginning Fishing Seminar – February 1, 2014

Through this seminar, we hope to help educate families who may not have any prior fishing experience, or may not have any local fishing excperience, to have the confidence to explore many of our regions public fishing areas with the confidence and skills necessary to have fun and find success.

Enjoying a day of fishing with your child is a wonderful experience not to be missed by any family residing in Southwest Florida. Through this free seminar, we hope to provide basic angling skills to families with young children so they may begin to explore our regions public fishing areas with confidence and success.

Date: Saturday, February 1, 2014
Time: 10 am to 12 pm
Location:  Boca Grande Community Park (If there is rain, the event will be held indoors at the Boca Grande Community Center)
Cost: The cost to participate is free, but space is limited.
Extras: Every child attending will receive a rod, reel and tackle courtesy of Save the Tarpon.
How to sign up:  Please fill out the form at the bottom of the page to reserve your spot in this free fishing seminar.  There are 20 spots available for this first seminar.  Each spot is for one child and one accompanying adult.

Save the Tarpon is presenting a free fishing seminar for parents or grandparents to bring their children or grandchildren and learn basic angling skills from some of the areas most respected fishing guides. The guides will work both with the children, and their parents, to provide adequate knowledge for a successful family outing at one of the many public fishing areas found in our region.  We also hope to encourage participation in the local youth fishing tournaments sponsored by Lee County Parks & Rec, by providing the skills and education necessary to form confident young anglers. (For more information on the Youth Fishing Tournament, please contact Joe Wier at (941) 964-2564 or

The event is free and open to the public. No prior fishing experience is necessary (its actually preferred).

Leading the seminar is Capt. Frank Davis, Capt. Van Hubbard, Capt. Tom McLaughlin, and Capt. Rhett Morris. The Captains will be available to answer beginner fishing questions.

Topics covered during this fun and informative two hour session include: how to pick out the right gear and tackle, what kinds of bait to use, what licenses you need, where you can go fishing, what you should expect to catch, local laws and regulations, proper fish handling, how to safely revive and release a fish, and much more.

Lee County youth fishing tournament.

Lee County Parks & Recreation sponsors a youth fishing tournament four times a year at the Boca Grande Fishing Pier North.  Children attending our free seminar will have the basic skills needed to enjoy a successful day participating in an event such as this.

All children will leave with a rod, reel, and tackle box complete with the gear needed to fish a local public fishing pier.

You must fill out the form below to reserve your spot in this seminar.

Please fill out the form below to participate in the free fishing seminar on February 1, 2014. Remember, space is limited, so only sign up if you are committed to attending on this day.

If you need to cancel your reservation, please send us an email at asap so we may open your spot to another eager young angler. Thank you!

* indicates required field


Join us for happy hour

Happy Hour InviteWe hope you’ll be joining us this Thursday, September 26 at 5:30 pm as we enjoy a a few cocktails together at Zydeco Grille in Placida.  Nothing fancy and you’ll have to buy your own food (you can thank the ongoing and still ridiculous PTTS lawsuit for that).  But the drinks are buy-one-get one until 6pm and Save the Tarpon will be providing a champagne toast to help celebrate.

Its hard to believe how much has been accomplished since May of 2012.  Don’t you think its time we get together and have a little fun? We do.  Hope to see you there.

Zydeco Grille is a Cajun & Creole restaurant and is located at 8501 Placida Road in the Cape Haze Plaza in Placida FL.

Protest in the Pass

Protest In The Pass

Join Save the Tarpon and its supporters on May 19th at 6:45 am for “Protest in the Pass.”  We are showing up by water to protest the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series (PTTS) as it begins its 2013 season events.

Last year we were on the beach. But, this year we will be on the WATER! If you don’t have a boat, but would like to attend, please contact us and we will connect you with a captain.

All participating boats will meet up on what is known as the Hill. It is the area just East of the old phosphate dock. We will meet at 0645 on May 19th. Please bring your bullhorns and banners. The PTTS opening event is from 0700 to 10am.

WHY: We strongly oppose, and call for the immediate termination of, the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series (PTTS) in Boca Grande, Florida. Our opposition stems from the destructive, unethical fishing practices and unsportsmanlike conduct promoted by this six week long, for-profit fishing tournament television show. We believe the disruptive fishing methods endorsed by the PTTS and employed by its participants are likely causing the Tarpon to change their movement, feeding, and spawning behaviors and is threatening the survival of the fishery. The hyper-aggressive culture of disrespect created by the PTTS has, and continues to severely hinder fair and equal access to the fishery by all other user groups for the sole purpose of generating increased revenue for shareholders of the tournament and its associated production.

If you’d like to RSVP, please do so by visiting the Save the Tarpon Facebook page.  Your name will not be visible to the public.

Tell the FWC to stop running and hiding: Hold a ‘workshop’ in Boca Grande – where it matters!

NOTE: At the end of this post you’ll find a link that will put you in touch with the nice folks at the FWC. Take a moment – and that’s all it takes – to reach out to the commissioners and ask them to hold a workshop on their proposed tarpon rule changes where those rule changes will mean the most – in Boca Grande, the “Tarpon Fishing Capital of the World.” They love hearing from you – their “customers.” So, let’s make them a bunch of really happy people.

When you think bonefish, you naturally think the Florida Keys. That’s why it makes perfect sense for the Florida Fish and Wildlife and Conservation Commission to hold a “workshop” on proposed changes to bonefish rules in the “Bonefish Capital of the World.” The Keys.

That’s why it also makes perfect sense for the FWC to hold a “workshop” on proposed changes to tarpon rules in the “Tarpon Fishing Capital of the World.” You know – St. Petersburg. Or maybe it’s Dania Beach. Wait. What?

Tarpon Fishing Postcard

For the past century, word on the street has been, go to Boca Grande for tarpon fishing.

In April, the FWC will take its little “public input” show on the road for three one-night stands to get up close and personal with the common folk who will be most affected by the rule changes it’s proposing. On April 2, the FWC will be headlining at the International Game Fishing Association Hall of Fame and Museum in that Broward County tarpon hot spot Dania Beach.

The FWC tour then moves south to Key Colony Beach at Mile Marker 53.5 the following day. But the kickoff comes on April 1 when the FWC rolls into St. Petersburg – we think it’s the one in Florida, not the city in Russia – to spend two hours talking tarpon at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute on Eighth Avenue.

Dania Beach and St. Petersburg. Because when people think tarpon fishing, they naturally think Broward County and St. Petersburg. And if you’re the FWC and you want to talk tarpon with the locals, you need to go straight to the source.

Dear FWC,  Please click here for directions to Boca Grande. Thank you, Save the Tarpon

Dear FWC,
Please click here for directions to Boca Grande.
Thank you,
Save the Tarpon

You want to go where tarpon fishing is a tradition that’s been carried on for more than a century. You want to go to a place where tarpon fishing pumps more than $300 million annually into the regional economy. You want to go where generations of tarpon anglers have gone before you to fish for the mighty Silver King. You want to go where the whole notion of sport fishing for tarpon on rod and reel was born.

Which means, if you’re the FWC, you naturally want to go to Dania Beach. That’s right. Dania Beach. Can somebody please buy these people a map?

Boca Grande – 89 miles south of St. Petersburg (the one in Florida) and 194 miles to the west of Dania Beach – is known throughout the planet as “The Tarpon Fishing Capital of the World.” Tarpon migrate by the tens of thousands to historic Boca Grande Pass every spring. Nobody is entirely sure how this prehistoric species finds the place. Which is, apparently, a whole helluva lot more than the equally prehistoric FWC can do. Or, more likely, wants to do.

There’s a problem with asking people what they think. They might just tell you. And the odds are, if you’re the FWC, it won’t be what you want to hear. Not if you come to Boca Grande. What’s potentially worse, if you’re the FWC, is that the people doing the telling might actually know what they’re talking about. And when those people doing the telling can draw on generations of knowledge focused on the state’s largest and most important tarpon fishery, you can pretty much eliminate the “might.” They will know what they’re talking about. Scary stuff.

So you go to Dania Beach instead. Home to the nation’s largest Jai-Alai fronton. And then you go to the tarpon trophy hunters Hall of Fame. To rub shoulders and other body parts with your BFFs, your pals, your chums, the folks who asked for – and, of course, got – an exception to the rules. A nice little loophole in the catch-and-release regulations that will allow the record chasers to kill the very species the FWC wants us to believe it’s trying to protect. And don’t forget to stick around afterwards for the refreshments, the 50-50 drawing and the thank you gifts.

Perception is everything. By giving Boca Grande a wide berth, by taking a convenient detour over to Florida’s east coast where a friendly, grateful and potentially rewarding reception awaits, the FWC is sending a pretty clear message to those who have invested their time, their energies, their resources and their hearts into the serious work of preserving, protecting and growing the state’s most important tarpon fishery.

By ducking Boca Grande, the FWC is telling us – and, in this case, more than 17,000 of us here in Florida and throughout the world – that it really doesn’t care. Or maybe, just maybe, the FWC simply forgot to put Boca Grande on its 2013 tarpon “public input” tour. Maybe, just maybe, the FWC would be grateful for a little reminder.

So maybe it’s up to us – all 17,000 of us – to do the reminding. Fortunately, the public input-conscious folks at the FWC have made it easy. All you have to do is COPY, CLICK and PASTE.

Here’s the COPY part:

I’m writing to ask the FWC to hold a public workshop in Boca Grande on proposed changes to the state’s tarpon rules. Tens of thousands of tarpon find their way to Boca Grande each year. The FWC can and should do the same. To learn more, please visit

Here’s the CLICK part:

You will eventually click here. That was easy. But first, take a second to read the rest.  After clicking, you will find yourself on the FWC website. You will be asked to provide your name and email address. Under “Subject” you might wish to consider “Boca Grande Tarpon Workshop.”

For the PASTE part, click on the box provided for “Comments.” Then PASTE. Then click SUBMIT. You’re done. And the FWC will thank you for your interest.

OK. Now you can go ahead and CLICK! You can always drop a copy of the same message on the FWC’s Facebook page.

You did it again! Nearly $30,000 raised to take your fight to the next level


A rainbow over Boca Grande on Sunday. A harbinger? We think so.

Despite the unseasonally cold and damp un-Florida weather, you turned out in big numbers Sunday, March 3 in Boca Grande to make Save The Tarpon’s “Shindig” party a success.

You also made history. The energy you generated Sunday has provided the support, the resources and the tools that will clearly be needed in the weeks and months to come as we move forward together to put a permanent end to tarpon gaff and drag, to give Boca Grande Pass back to Florida’s fishing public and to protect and grow our storied fishery.

Although the bean counters continue to add up the numbers, a preliminary tally shows Sunday’s event in Boca Grande raised nearly $30,000 that will be used to make our (now) 15,000-plus voices heard in Boca Grande Pass, in Tallahassee, in the nation’s corporate board rooms and the world beyond.

The progress we’ve made together in just eight short months has astonished those who stand with us as well as those who once stood against us. Our focus is, and will continue to be, on those who continue to block the way forward. These accomplishments have been hard won. And despite our successes – your successes – we all know it’s a fight that’s just begun. But it’s one we’re now, thanks to you, better positioned to win.

Your boycott of the handful of brands that continue to support the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series, an effort that has already claimed Skeeter Boats, Costa del Mar Sunglasses, Tires Plus Total Car Care and others, is now poised to move forward in earnest. We will be taking your fight to the very doorsteps of companies like Miller/Coors, Yamaha Marine Group, Sea Hunt Boats, Reactor Watches, Continental Trailers, Miller’s Ale House and Johnson Outdoors. Make no mistake, your voice will now be heard.

The message you will be carrying to the regulators in Tallahassee will be uncompromising and clear. Gaff, drag and weigh – whether for the entertainment of a television audience or a record book thrill kill – is a relic that must and will be ended in Boca Grande Pass. True sportsmen, and those entrusted with protecting this resource, know you don’t grow a fishery by slaughtering the fish. Your voice will now be heard.

You have said there must be no misunderstanding. Florida’s laws demand vessels be operated on our waters in a safe manner. Law enforcement will be tasked with bringing under control the “controlled chaos” the PTTS has brought to Boca Grande Pass. And you will do the tasking. Your voice will now be heard.

You have told us you are no longer willing to allow the hijacking of our fishery to continue. It ends today. Your voice will now be heard.

Thanks to your support – on March 3 and the days, weeks and months to come – we look forward to taking this fight to the next level. You did it. You’re doing it. You’re making it happen. Your voice will now be heard.


WaterLine’s Josh Olive: ‘I was wrong’


“I was wrong to take at face value what I was told by tournament supporters. There are two sides to every story, and I’ve done an unacceptably poor job of reaching out to those who want the PTTS to end.”

The following appears in the Feb. 28 edition of WaterLine, the outdoors magazine produced by the Suncoast Media Group and distributed in the Charlotte, North Port and Englewood Sun newspapers. It was written by WaterLine Publisher Josh Olive and is reproduced here with permission. See related story.

Mending the bridge to Boca Grande
By Josh Olive
WaterLine Publisher

“The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.” — Albert Einstein

Somewhere along the line, I rubbed a bunch of people wrong. I think it started back in July 2011, when I interviewed Gary Ingman about the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series, an event of which he is part-owner.

At the time, I was aware of the controversy regarding the tournament, but it seemed — based on the conversations I had with WaterLine writers, charter captains and bait shop staff — people in opposition were few and had axes to grind. Basically, the consensus I gathered was that was no big deal.

So I wrote as much. Since then, we’ve covered each PTTS tournament with brief stories, photo essays or both. Fast forward to today: Save the Tarpon, a nonprofit that formed last year, has organized a campaign aimed at ending the PTTS.

Their methods include boycotting the tournament’s sponsors and writing letters to same, encouraging them to drop their support of the tournament — and it looks like they’re having quite a bit of success.

What happened? Well, first off, I was wrong about the scope of the PTTS’s opposition. Turns out it’s not just a handful of people on Boca Grande. Second, I was wrong to take at face value what I was told by tournament supporters. There are two sides to every story, and I’ve done an unacceptably poor job of reaching out to those who want the PTTS to end.

Because of that — the positive coverage WaterLine has given to the PTTS without a balancing amount of coverage given to the other side — WaterLine is now a dirty word to many Save the Tarpon supporters.

WaterLine is a magazine, not a newspaper, and is not bound to the strict standards of a newspaper — after all, it’s supposed to be about having fun. But I still have a journalistic obligation to publish the truth and to be fair — and to admit when I get something wrong.

My normal way of figuring out something new is to read up on it, then talk to people and get a variety of viewpoints, then preferably try it for myself. Then, and only then, do I believe I know enough about the subject to say something. That method hasn’t worked for this issue. The history of tarpon in Boca Grande Pass runs deep, and passions are high.

So, after thinking it over for the past few months, I’ve got a new policy with regard to tarpon and Boca Grande Pass: I don’t know enough to say anything. I haven’t been part of the history. I’ve never caught or hooked a tarpon, though I’ve observed at very close range as others have caught them on both live bait and jigs.

I had never even watched one jump until two years ago. I’ve read a lot of things, but that’s not the same as actual experience. Therefore, I’ve concluded WaterLine’s readership will be better served if I allow others to do the talking. That doesn’t mean I won’t be asking questions, and making sure their voices aren’t too loud from either side, but I think it’s best to leave my opinion out of it — on this issue, anyway.

You may be wondering why I’m telling you all this. Well, a few weeks back, I heard that Save the Tarpon was going to be having a party — a shindig, to be specific. I said to myself, “This is going to be perfect. I can put my new policy into action — I’ll go out there and talk to people, take some pictures, and get a good story out of it.”

Then I happened to run into Jennifer McLaughlin, one of the organization’s founders, and I told her I was planning to attend. The next day, I got a phone call from her husband, Tom. He explained that although I would be welcome to come out, it would be a problem if I came representing WaterLine. He said the group doesn’t trust me to be unbiased and he assumed any WaterLine story would be intentionally skewed to make them look bad.

So that’s why I’m explaining this to you: I want to say here, as publicly as I can, that I’m not opposed to Save the Tarpon. I don’t wish them any ill will, and I have no master plan to paint them as evil, stupid or misguided people. In fact, I really need their help — among their supporters are many of the local tarpon experts that I’m hoping to be able to talk to and quote when silver kings are the topic du jour.

I also want to make clear that WaterLine is not “The Official Magazine of the PTTS,” and we have never been a sponsor of or had any “side deal” with the tournament. Although we have published editorial coverage of their events in the past and will in the future, we also intend to cover the live-bait tournaments in more depth this year.

It’s true we have printed much more about the PTTS than other tarpon tournaments over the last two years, but that’s not because we favor their events: It’s because they invited me and offered a boat and captain, freeing me up to shoot photos. Nor does the tournament buy our support through Ingman Marine’s advertisements — Ingman advertises with us because WaterLine is the most widely read outdoor publication in the area. Ingman was an advertiser long before we covered the PTTS at all.

I have my criticisms of the PTTS, and expressing them doesn’t violate my new policy because these are things that I have seen for myself. The tournament needs a limit on how long a tarpon can be fought. The FWC recommends no more than 20 minutes. Perhaps a points loss starting at 20 minutes followed by a disqualification at 30 minutes would work.

Under PTTS rules, fish that are foul-hooked aren’t eligible for points, but there’s no observer or photo to document hook placement — just a judge’s say-so. The way at least some tournament participants operate their vessels is dangerous — perhaps not to others in the tournament, but definitely to the boating public. Boca Grande Pass belongs to the people of Florida, not to any one group, and anyone who wants to utilize it should be able to do so in safety. And as a for-profit business, the PTTS ought to be giving more back to the resource that makes them their money.

With regard to the Pass jig and whether it snags fish, I don’t know enough to take a side. There appears to be a consensus building that the jig is a snagging device, and it’s a fact that the men who say they developed the Pass jig now decry its use. Similar devices with the hook above the weight are used to snag fish elsewhere.

To me, that’s not strong enough evidence to make a conviction, and at this point, I believe people should be able to fish how they want. But I’ll say this: I sincerely hope someone is able to prove whether or not tarpon eat the thing. If it can be shown definitively that most of those fish are hooked without trying to eat the jig, then the jig needs to go. In fact, if and when that happens, I’ll be one of the loudest voices shouting about it.

To anyone who is still not quite sure where WaterLine or I myself stand, I’ll summarize as clearly as possible. We didn’t give Save the Tarpon the opportunity to explain themselves and have their say in the magazine. I apologize for that. We endorse neither Save the Tarpon nor the PTTS, but we believe both have the right to exist, to conduct themselves as they see fit within the law, and to their respective viewpoints.

We also believe both are important enough to include in WaterLine, and going forward I’ll make sure the magazine’s portrayal of those viewpoints is balanced and unbiased.

(Josh, you’re welcome to join us March 3 at the Boca Grande Community House-Community Center from 2 to 6 p.m. Kick back and enjoy a nice cold Miller Budweiser – on us.)


March 3, 2013: Save the Tarpon Shindig!

Save the Tarpon ShindigEvent: Save the Tarpon SHINDIG!

It’s a PARTY, it’s a RALLY, it’s a FUNDRAISER…it’s a time for us to come together and celebrate tarpon fishing in Boca Grande. Don’t miss it!

Date: Sunday, March 3, 2013

Time: 2 to 6 pm

Location: The outdoor grounds of the Louise duPont Crowninshield Community House

Address: 131 Banyan St., Boca Grande, FL 33921 (adjacent to the Boca Grande Community Park Grounds)

Directions click here.


Event Details:

Free entry and door prizes!
Complimentary food and refreshments.
Fish chowder/stew cook-off by local captains.
Raffles, games and projects for kids.
Special guests, including a captain meet & greet.
Live & silent auction. was launched only eight months ago as a platform for anglers and community members to speak out and demand accountability from those whose actions are threatening the sustainability of the tarpon fishery of Boca Grande Pass and Charlotte Harbor.  Since then, we have evolved into a Florida not-for-profit organization representing the combined voices of more than 12,000 people world-wide who have joined the effort to protect and preserve this historically and culturally significant public resource.

The Save the Tarpon Shindig,  on Sunday, March 3, 2013, from 2 to 6 pm,  is an event for us all to come together as we celebrate our solidarity and dedication to protecting the future of tarpon fishing at Boca Grande.  We will review our achievements thus far, and look to the future as we plan our 2013 successes.  It will be a time for supporters to rally, meet the Save the Tarpon Directors, bump elbows with most of the local captains and community members as well as enjoy the company of a few special guests.

It’s completely free to attend and open to the public, so bring the kids to this family-friendly event.

Complimentary food and beverages will be served, including Budweiser products!

And, of course, we will be raising some funds for our 2013 projects (and we have some GREAT ones in the works).  So make sure you are there for the live auction featuring tarpon fishing charters from highly respected captains including Capt. Tommy Locke, Capt. Rhett Morris and Capt. Willie Mills, a seaplane oyster trip with Capt. Mark Futch, and a red snapper offshore fishing charter with Capt. Tom McLaughlin.

There will also be an incredible silent auction full of fine dining, exclusive lodging packages for a quick getaway, fine art, jewelry, and much much more. As the lists is finalized we will be posting more info here.  But trust us when we say, you won’t want to miss it!

Click here to see the list of auction items!

If you are on Facebook, visit our Save the Tarpon SHINDIG event page.  Click the “Join” button at the top to let us know you’ll be attending.  Click the “Invite Friends” button to help us spread the word about this important event.

As always, thank you for your support, and we can’t wait to see all of you there!