Caller are you there? ‘If they’re biting the jig, it shouldn’t matter’

When you’re finished reading, make sure to watch the video following the post. 

Capt. Chris O’Neill, host of The Reel Saltwater Fishing Show on WENG-AM, spent 47 minutes of airtime Friday shilling for the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series and the virtues of the bottom weighted “tarpon jig” in an interview with PTTS team leader Capt. Dave Markett and Florida Tarpon Anglers Association vice president and PTTS booster Craig Abbott.VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Along with FTAA president, PTTS captain and FWC auxiliary police officer Mark Maus, they spent their 47 minutes of local radio fame deriding the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s proposed rule designed to curb the foul-hooking epidemic in Boca Grande Pass.

FWC staff supports doing this by requiring the jig’s weight be attached above rather than below the hook. At various times during those 47 minutes, O’Neill’s “new friends” even attempted to equate their “association’s” opposition to the FWC plan with the same principles that drove the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Seriously.

Tarpon snatch hook

Often referred to as a “Boca Grande Tarpon Jig,” this weighted hook is nothing more than a snagging device used during the peak time of pre-spawn activity for North America’s only mass migration of tarpon.

As his show neared its end, O’Neill opened the phone lines and uttered four words he would instantly come to regret.

“Caller, are you there?” In less than 30 seconds the voice on the phone wiped out those previous 47 minutes of hype with one simple, unprompted, direct and apparently innocent question.

“If they’re biting the jig, it shouldn’t matter how the hook was placed. Would it?”

Oops. Maus and Abbott, who obviously weren’t expecting the obvious and who likely figured listener questions were being screened as carefully as the show was scripted, were caught off guard.

Agree,” said one. “You’re absolutely correct,” said the other.

Their mouths had momentarily gone rogue, ‘fessed up and allowed the truth to slip out. Taken by surprise, you can hear what happens when Maus and Abbott weren’t able to duck the question with yet another pre-fabricated civil rights reference. Yes, they both admitted, it doesn’t matter where the weight is located. Not if the tarpon are really biting the jig.

“Well that was my point,” the voice on the phone managed to say before O’Neill could kill the call. “We’re going to have to step out and go to break,” the quick-thinking and clearly rattled host jumped in, cutting off the caller and rescuing Maus and Abbott from themselves as he watched 47 minutes of infomercial airtime circle the drain.

O’Neill’s show was taped, complete with background chatter soundtrack, at the Waterside Grill at the Gasparilla Marina, conveniently located next to PTTS operator Gary Ingman’s Ingman Marine boat dealership in Placida, Florida.

Because those 30 seconds of “Caller, are you there?” near the tail end of the broadcast likely aren’t going to find their way into the next PTTS highlight reel or onto the Florida Tarpon Anglers’ website, here’s what happens when the best and the brightest are confronted with “if they’re biting the jig, it shouldn’t matter …”

Considering O’Neill’s panicked reaction – and Maus and Abbott’s unrehearsed and candid response – it apparently does.


  1. Kylie says

    In regards to this article and show clip.
    1) Chris O’Neill does not have a say in when commercial breaks happen. They are the only thing scripted about the show. The radio station gives him segment times and break schedules.
    2) I am not sure that editing a clip of the radio show shows what really happened at the show.
    3) Reel Saltwater Outdoors Radio Show broadcasts once a month from the Waterside Grill.
    4) The show is aired live on Friday evenings and replayed on Sundays. Therefore making it a Fridays show not Sundays show. (Just a minor correction for you).

    • Save the TarponSave the Tarpon says

      Radio stations typically give hosts leeway in situations like this so that callers aren’t cut off. Unless the host wants to cut them off. Also, wouldn’t you have been interested in hearing a more complete reply to a question that so clearly cut to the heart of the matter?

      The initial exchange is in context. A reference by the caller to Alaska salmon fishing that wasn’t entirely relevant to the discussion was edited for brevity and clarity. It preceded his “why does it matter?” question that was entirely relevant.

      We mistakenly identified the program on our Facebook post as airing on Sunday. The Reel Saltwater Outdoors show airs on Fridays and replayed on Sunday. Thank you for the correction, Kyle. And Kyle, it’s “copyright,” not “copywrite.”

    • Kylie says

      Please either remove your commentary from my response or remove my response completely as I did not respond to have your commentary on it . I responded to make everyone aware how the airtime works.
      Thank you

  2. Heath Daughtry says

    Say the rule change goes into place. There is no more “Boca Grande Tarpon Jig” any longer. The adaptation of a “new” style of fishing with artificial jigs of whatever guidelines set is foreseeable. Will the STT organization then support the PTTS if they accept the rule change and conform to the new standards?

  3. says

    So you know NOTHING about radio. RSO was live at Gasparilla. It is live and there are no scripts. And why in the hell would I put a caller on air in the last minute for a conversation that would last longer than the time remaining?!?! It is called time management. Here’s another term for you. Copywrite. WENG/Viper Comm owns the copywriteded audio you have here. Take it down immediately as you have proven yourself an unreliable source, a thief and a sensationalist living in your own little bubble where you take the unknown and add your own little story to it.

    • Save the TarponSave the Tarpon says

      Note: Mr. Kyle from WENG Radio just called and threatened legal action against Save the Tarpon if the audio wasn’t immediately removed from We referred him to our attorney and reminded him of this:

      § 107 . Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use40

      Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

      (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

      (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

      (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

      (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

      The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

  4. Bill Bishop says

    Heath….. I don’t know if the word is “accept”. I think it comes down to respect…. which is normally earned and it works both ways.

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