Save the Tarpon Supporters Show Up in Top Form to Protest the PTTS

Early reports of today’s Professional Tarpon Tournament Series (PTTS) protest are coming in. Starting with the first “release” floating up on the beach. There will be videos, photos and stories coming. For all those who attended the event, good work!

If you attended the protest and captured any of today’s events, please forward us your story, photos and videos as we work to compile all of the evidence.


  1. Jill Chatham says

    I’ve never been more proud of our community! We all showed up and took a stand against these terrible fishing practices. Looking out on the water from the beach and seeing all of our supporters out there in boats was awesome! Message delivered!! Lets keep it up everyone!

  2. says

    I was at this historic event. It was great to see so many supporters there. In two days of PTTS on saturday and sunday Joe Mercurio and his minions killed thirty more Tarpon. When is the FWC going to get it?

  3. Ed says

    I was there on the beach sunday morning trying to enjoy fathers day with my family and I must say that my 6 year old little boy kept asking questions about the protest group and the fishermen. He asked why did that boat (with protesters on it ) run into the fishing guys boat . What is a father to say to a kid that enjoys fishing. I think you guys were a disgrace and embarrasment. Yet your web site here says ethical. Do you call running into boats ethical. I Dont. you should be ashamed of yourselfs. You now have upset a innocent little boy who was just trying to enjoy a day with his family, and now that is all he is talking about to his friends and their familys is how you protesters were running into the boats. What a way to make a impression.

    • Mark Paquin says

      Ya, we all had boats out there, to run into fishing boats! How about teaching your son correctly? Did you teach him about the amount of unnecessary tarpons killed during this “Father’s Day?” Did you teach him that they were pregnant females and that each contain 10-12 million eggs that will never come to be?

      By the way, do you have pictures or videos showing the collision? I would like to see it. I saw jig boats purposely driving their boats as “wedges,” trying to block the camera boats that were there to expose the “ethical” angling practices of the PTTS.

      Selective “teaching” is no good.

  4. Save the TarponSave the Tarpon says

    First off, you are misrepresenting the facts. There were two boat on boat collisions, one by Team Sea Hunt (caught on tape) as they deliberately ran into a protester because the filming of their segment was interupted. The other took place between a protester and Capt. Tom Van Horn. FWC was notified, and the protester requested that citations be issued to both parties, because Mr. Van Horn (who is on the side of the PTTS) was clearly at fault, and the entire incident was caught on tape. During the incident Capt. Van Horn also stood up, as he deliberately caused the collision, and replied “lick my nuts” as he threw his vessel into reverse directly in front of a vessel attempting to video tape the release, or discarding as we like to call it, of the Tarpon.

    Secondly, I am sorry that your feel your fathers day was ruined by the protest. But it is very selfish of you to claim that we should be ashamed because your little boy witnessed a protest of an event that we have to witness every Saturday and Sunday during May and June.

    Do you know how many little boys have walked the beach the with their fathers, only to have to literally step over a dead, rotting Tarpon? How do you think it feels for the father of a fishing family, who makes his living from the water, explaining to his children that these fish are dead on the beach because of greed and money? What do you say to a son who loves fishing when he asked why those men are killing these Tarpon? How do you think the two boys on the beach felt that were standing and watching on Sunday as one of the Tarpon “released” from the release boat floated to the surface and was deliberately run over by the release boat…only to float back to the surface again? How do you think the children that were on the beach felt when one of the fish “released” swam, belly up, to the beach at the light house and fell to the bottom, motionless, less than two feet from the beach?

    It is the grim reality of the PTTS, but if all your son witnessed on Sunday was a “boating accident” that resulted in no damage, and was not reported by FWC (even though this request was made by one of the parties involved) then consider yourself, and your son, lucky.

    At the end of the day, you get to go back home (wherever it may be) and forget about the whole thing. Those of us that live here, and spend our lives on the water, have to explain this situation to our children, families, and friends all too often.

      • says

        Double Amen! Sorry I wasn’t there. Rode the pass yesterday on the water for the first time with our Little Gasparilla contractor. This jig rule won’t stand. RWW and I won’t let it. MY FWC comments are in. I’m a fishery biologist, albeit not for tarpon.

  5. Save the TarponSave the Tarpon says

    one last thought. Did you explain to your son that the incident you are referring to took place because the organizers of the PTTS felt it necessary to use several boats to aggressively block the protesters from taking pictures and video of the release boats because the first five Tarpon released on Sunday were dead? Two of which immediately floated up to the surface? If the PTTS had nothing to hide, they would not have been so aggressive in their attempts to hide what went on…albeit unsuccessfully.

      • Save the TarponSave the Tarpon says

        Please take the time to read our letter to the PTTS Sponsors and other contributions that can be found in our blog. Thank you for your interest and we are thankful for any constructive feedback you might have when you are done reading.

  6. Bryan says

    The protest was to bring awareness to the unethical killing of tarpon that takes place in this tournament. The PTTS tournaments try to hide the dead fish from the public and from the TV, so outsiders don’t get a true grasp on what happens behind the scene. This for-profit tournament, the only for-profit tarpon tournament in the world, essentially kills tarpon for good TV ratings and to boost the egos of the competitors. It’s pathetic and needs to be stopped.

  7. MD says

    “Promoting stewardship through ethical angling” should obviously include the clear, forceful call for immediate end to J hook usage in this fishery.
    The science regarding fish mortality and the benefits of circle.hooks are not in dispute, yet I don’t find any such assertion in any of the material on this site.

    Please use the momentum you have gained to push for this very clear, impactful, and attainable step in the right direction to promote the future health of this fishery.

    There’s simply ne excuse to be using J hooks anymore. It is irresponsible…and should be recognized as a direct affront to “ethical angling.”.

  8. Save the TarponSave the Tarpon says

    We have been very clear in our position regarding this:

    “This is not an argument about whether or not jigs snag fish. What happens under the water in this regard is a heated topic and we each hold to our own convictions as to whether or not the fish are snagged. This however is not where most of the contention lies for the members of the Save The Tarpon movement. We have made no accusations or claims about what happens on the business end of the fishing line, but rather about what happens in plain view of each and every one of us who frequent Boca Grande Pass….What type of hook you use or the breaking strength of your fishing line is of no consequence to us.”

    For more, or to read the except directly, please go to

  9. says

    While we may lose a few fish while in the pass, both live bait, and jig. There are other concerns. I will start off by saying, I do fish the pass, with both live bait and jig, but my heart really is in the technical side, fly, and plug! Here are my concerns with a movement like “save the tarpon” You all are so bent on ridding the pass, of the PTTS, and Jig. You are missing a much larger picture. I have fished the upper harbor, yes for tarpon, from a very young age.. I caught my first Charlotte Harbor Tarpon, in 1976. We can all get together and say saving the “big girls”is the answer, but it’s not! during hurricane Charlie we lost vital habbitat for juvenile fry. During the freeze that most knew to kill snook, also wiped out years worth of fry, and juvenile tarpon, in the upper harbor. Add the pollution, and run off from the upper rivers, the hatcheries, are the one that need saving. In years past I have got involved in the jigging war, but now realize it is much, much bigger then that! In all catch and release there is a mortality rate, you can not disagree with that. My fight has always been about the anglers rights, and still is, but wont mean a damn thing, when there are no juveniles to make the “big girls” A migratory species such as tarpon will be fine, they will just find other, more suitable places to hatch out! All the fighting is just going to get the pass, closed completely.. Hey, but maybe thats the best thing, everyone loses the right to fish, economic gain, clients, tournaments… Then maybe the concerns will be turned, towards the more, and most important issues! I want my kids to be able to grow up and catch tarpon here in Charlotte Harbor, just as my dad wanted for me! There is no reason why you would not post this, it’s not argumentive, and is written with the utmost respect for your cause!

    • Save the TarponSave the Tarpon says

      Capt. Medina,
      Thank you for your reply. Yes, you are right, there are many problems that face Tarpon not only in the Boca Grande and Charlotte Harbor areas, but world wide. The first response we have to you is this: Where do you think the fry you are so concerned about come from? Well, the answer is that they come from the large females that congregate at Boca Grande Pass before they go to spawn offshore. The actions of the tournament are not just those of standard catch and release mortality, but rather of culling. When you participate in catch and release fishing (which the PTTS is not, by definition of the State of Florida) you do have a mortality rate. That rate varies based on many factors, some outside the anglers control and some that are completely controllable by the angler. There are two important points as to why we are against the fish handling practices of the PTTS. First off, the major factors that are affecting the survival of the fish in the PTTS are one hundred percent within the control of the anglers and the tournament. Dragging the fish to and from the weigh scale on the beach is extremely detrimental to the survival of the fish, it is done for no reason other than to create TV drama. This is often touted as the “worlds most rich Tarpon tournament,” we would like to point out it is also one of the last in the country that allows Tarpon to be excessively handled and is not a true “catch and release” tournament. The second is the fish being killed in the PTTS are not just a representative sample of those fish in the Pass, but rather are the largest fish caught, which are one hundred percent, entirely spawning females. This is not catch and release mortality, it is culling of the largest fish in the Pass, right before they spawn. Would this action be acceptable in the Snook fishery? Would it be acceptable in the Trout or Redfish fishery? I think we all know the answer to that.

      In response to the other factors that are endangering the Tarpon fishery. Please take the time to read our mission. Although the name “Save the Tarpon” may seem broad, our mission is to protect a historic and culturally significant fishery. There are many organizations working to preserve our estuaries, decrease damage done to water quality and critical spawning habitat, etc. There are no other organizations working to preserve the birthplace of not on Tarpon fishing as we know it, but also the birthplace of modern rod and reel sport fishing as we know it.

      If you participate in both live bait and jig fisheries in Boca Grande Pass then you should know very clearly about the second part of our mission. The culture of disrespect that has been fostered by the PTTS, the disrespect for the fishery itself, for its participants, its history, and the community itself, is unacceptable. Science is NOT on the side of the PTTS (please see the FWC and Mote clarifications we have received), but rather on the side of stopping this poor excuse for a “catch and release” event. Even if the fish handling practices are changed and the PTTS went to an all release format tomorrow, it would take years to right the wrongs they have committed against the local community, the fishery, and public perception of what is acceptable Tarpon handling in the state of Florida.

  10. George says

    I first fished tarpon in Boca Grande Pass in 1974. My then 13 year old son had the time of his life. In 3 days of fishing we jumped over 40 tarpon. Our guide was a fellow by the name of Bylaska…a real gentleman and great fisherman. We have lived on the island for the last 24 years. I don’t consider myself qualified to fish tarpon on my own, but I do love to take my boat to the Pass, stay on the outside of the throng and watch the guys who know how do their thing. When I get the chance to go out with one of the old timers it’s still a thrill and conjures up great memories. It also reminds me of the great sportmanship ans mutual respect that once ruled the Pass. It’s a sad state of affairs the “wrapped boats” and big time pushers have brought on us. Thanks for shedding light on these awful practices.

  11. says

    I’ll bet my mortality rate fishing with flies will be nil, but then, that takes skill, which these so-called fishermen do not have. Get the skill or get out. The law’s coming.

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