The day the man with nothing to say had nothing to say

Gary Colecchio - Southwest Regional Director of the Florida Guides Association

The Florida Sportsman Forum is usually friendly turf for Gary S. Colecchio, the man with 4,900 posts since June of last year. But it wasn’t so friendly on Sunday, Dec. 16.

It’s not often that PTTS apologist-in-chief Gary S. Colecchio, the fishing forum’s queen bee and the tallest midget in the wrap boat circus, is at a loss for words. But on Sunday, Dec. 16, history of sorts was made. Colecchio, who seldom has anything to say even when he says it, apparently realized he really doesn’t have anything to say.

Not in response to the spanking administered by a poster who goes by the screen name “White Bacon.” And certainly not in response to the interesting account of a fishing trip gone wrong written by RJ Kirker, who coincidentally goes by the screen name of “RJ Kirker.”

The posts have been formatted for our site. They appear here in their entirety. If and when Colecchio is told what to post in reply, we’ll update. If it’s anything worth updating, that is. 

Get out the popcorn and enjoy:

AUTHOR: White Bacon

After having read all the debate, once again there are only a few reasonable conclusions to make regarding the now infamous gutted tarpon, first captured by the PTTS.

The gutted tarpon in question was proven to have been caught and released by a PTTS participant during a PTTS tournament. It was observed dead the next day, apparently gutted to prevent it from floating. The PTTS vehemently denies the gutting, and Gary C doesn’t buy any reasonable explanation without “supreme court level proof.” Glad to see nothing has changed with Gary or the PTTS.

Assuming that the PTTS’ claims are true, one must conclude that the previously hooked, gaffed, dragged, and weighed tarpon survived the initial PTTS trauma. Then you must make a galactic leap and believe this battered tarpon was caught again within hours of release by thePTTS and correctly identified by the second angler to be one of the weighed fish from the PTTS held the previous day. Then…..the sinister second angler guts the tarpon in an effort to further impugn the PTTS record of “catch-and-release”success.

It’s beyond laughable to believe that such a scenario is even plausible. I can’t imagine anyone with at least a third grade education would consider such an outlandish tale. Mercurio strongly denies any PTTS involvement related to the tarpon gutting. Gary C demands proof!

Colecchio and Mercurio remind us of Johnny Cochran and OJ Simpson. At least the tale spun by Cochran and Simpson while laughable, was conceivable.

I think we can all agree Colecchio and Mercurio are intelligent people. For them to make such outlandish statements only solidifies the intentional intellectual dishonesty they continually spew in their defense of the shameless pursuit of profits, and the total disregard for fellow anglers and the tarpon fishery the PTTS routinely exploits.

Mercurio and Colecchio have cemented themselves in the ‘Zero Credibility’ Hall of Fame.

AUTHOR: RJ KIRKER
(RJ is writing in response to an earlier post where Gary S. Colecchio claimed Save The Tarpon was “picking” on him because Save The Tarpon feared him. In fact, RJ figured it out. Read on …)

Mr. Colecchio, I’m guessing Save The Tarpon isn’t showering you with all this attention because you’re feared by them. I think they’re doing it because they want to make you the public face of the PTTS. If so, every word you write plays into their strategy. As someone who supports the efforts of Save The Tarpon and the FWC to protect and grow our local fishery, I encourage you to keep right on posting.

Yes, Mr. Colecchio, this is my first post. I figured you would point this out based on your habit of attacking the messenger and ignoring the message. But my husband and I, both avid anglers who retired to the area a few years ago, have been following this issue very closely for reasons that are very personal. This is apparent by my “join” date. Like you, we commend the PTTS for its promise to stop gaffing and weighing these fish. It’s a good start. Promises can be broken, however. By creating a sport fish designation and ending possession, the FWC is doing the right thing by making the PTTS promise official.

We joined Save The Tarpon for the very reason you’ve been advocating throughout this thread. Public access. You say you don’t fish the Pass, so you really don’t know what is happening there in May and June. We can no longer fish when the PTTS holds its tournaments. It’s a small sacrifice, but considering your view on this issue it’s one no angler should be forced to make. I read where the PTTS describes the situation during its tournaments as “chaos.” That’s an understatement.

We made the mistake of hooking up while leisurely drifting a hundred yards or so from where a pod of PTTS boats was circling and swarming. They obviously noticed. Within 30 seconds we were surrounded. Our line was run over and cut, and someone on a loud speaker was demanding we get out of “their” way. A boat with “law enforcement” on its side was standing off and witnessed what was happening to us. The officer on board looked the other way and did nothing.

We eventually escaped, but the lesson was learned. It was unlike anything we had ever experienced in all our years on the water. I honestly feared my husband was going to have a heart attack unless I beat him to it. This was supposed to be a leisurely morning of fishing.

I later went online and emailed the tournament to describe what had happened. I received a terse unsigned reply telling me the PTTS was “licensed” by the state to conduct these tournaments and that recreational anglers and their boats were obligated to yield or risk prosecution. Yet you have the gall to suggest Save The Tarpon is out to exclude others? Mr. Colecchio, you need a reality check.

Save The Tarpon got two new members as a result of what happened to us that day. We also learned we weren’t alone, that many others just like us were turning to the group for help. As it’s obvious the PTTS will only change its ways unless its back is to the wall, this appears to be the only solution. No group is perfect, but these people are the best hope we have at the moment.

So help them out and please keep posting.

NON-RESPONSE: Gary S. Colecchio

“Captain.”

AUTHOR: White Bacon

Captain Gary,

Man, so glad you couldn’t resist. Tell us again, based on the allegations cited in this thread, how the tarpon gutting can be logically explained? Option one: The PTTS did it. Option two: The STT sympathizers did it (although implausible).

Please, please give your superior explanation, so us dumb hicks can understand. Thanks.

NON-RESPONSE: Gary S. Colecchio

“Must be a boring day in Matlache.”

AUTHOR: White Bacon

Or Boca Grande. So I’m assuming you have no credible explanation? Didn’t Joe send you the talking points? I think you’re slipping. Say it ain’t so……..

NON-RESPONSE: Gary S. Colecchio

(There was no response.)

AUTHOR: White Bacon

Captain Gary,

I really have missed the forums, and the verbal combat with you. Some of us in the real world rely on anecdotal and circumstantial evidence, absent applicable physical evidence or scientific evidence, which you often cite and rely on.

I don’t need a study to confirm the government spends too much, that there are currently 150 snook under my dock, or that you continually promulgate irrelevant arguments, always relying on your superior intellect and writing skills to deflect from the real issues.

It’s not surprising at all that you cower when challenged. Make sure you and Joe get your stories straight, I’d hate to impeach your credibility further.

Sapp, PTTS crank up the noise machine – let the damage control follies begin!

Seems Capt. Troy Sapp just might have some explaining to do. And this time, it likely won’t be on some obscure Internet fishing forum.

As we all know, dead tarpon are commonly found floating, beached, bloated and sometimes gutted in or around Boca Grande Pass in the wake of Professional Tarpon Tournament Series weekend events in May and June.

The televised tarpon tournament’s viewers are “treated” to shots of the self-described “organized chaos” of the fight, the catch, the gaff and the drag across the Pass to the scales. What those basic cable subscribers aren’t seeing, however, is what takes place the following day – when the cameras have stopped rolling and the tournament’s touted “Tires Plus Release Team” is nowhere to be found.

After the  PTTS packs up and moves on, the rest of us are, of course, left to deal with the tournament’s morning-after, dead tarpon hangover.  With the creation of the Save the Tarpon this past May, the group joined with state researchers to  focus on DNA sampling what was left of these fish in an effort to learn how – and perhaps why – so many were turning up dead in the tournament’s aftermath. This week the answers began to emerge.

Capt Troy Sapp, Team Yamaha

Capt. Troy Sapp, high-profile PTTS participant and VP of the Florida Guides Association, drags a tarpon to the weigh scale for Team Yamaha.

As most of us have already learned, on June 4  a gutted and dead tarpon was found floating in the Gulf of Mexico not far from Boca Grande Pass less than 24 hours after the PTTS, its cameras and NASCAR-clone wrap boats had left town. A DNA sample was taken and sent, along with several others that day, to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg.  Months later, this gutted  fish was positively identified by its DNA as a ‘recapture’ that had been caught, weighed and DNA sampled by Capt. TJ Stewart of Team Castaway Charters and Edgewater Boats during the previous day’s PTTS event.

When last seen, this fish was being hauled to the deepest waters of the Pass to be “revived” by the Tires Plus Release Team. When next seen, it was dead. Slit open from tip to tail in an apparent and botched attempt to send the fish – telltale DNA and all – to the bottom.

Enter Sapp. He’s a Tampa-area fishing guide. He’s a  high-profile participant in the PTTS where he and his Team Yamaha Skeeter boat enjoy plenty of cable TV face time. He’s also senior vice president of the Florida Guides Association.  And in recent days, as the FWRI’s initial DNA study results were being released,  Sapp has taken the point as the damage control guy for the PTTS, his sponsorship deal with Yamaha and, of course, himself.

Here’s what Sapp scrawled on the Maverick Boat Company’s Internet forum on December 4, 2012. Let’s call this one Exhibit A:

“The STT campaign who’s (sic) sole purpose is to run out of town guides off are the ones that gutted that fish after they found it floating to promote their cause. Yes it died after release, but no one needs to hide anything.”

It died after release. A perplexing admission from someone who, just days earlier, was still beating the PTTS drum, repeatedly insisting the tournament can’t possibly be blamed for those schools of dead fish routinely found floating in the Pass or washed up on Boca Grande’s beaches in the immediate aftermath of PTTS events. Seems Sapp forgot all about those FWRI scientists in St. Pete who are still sitting on a small mountain of tarpon DNA samples.

And what Sapp also didn’t know as he flogged away on the fish forums, is that among those imaginary dead PTTS tarpon was a very real dead PTTS tarpon. And it was easily and positively traced back to Sapp’s Team Yamaha Skeeter boat. Sapp’s Team Yamaha, the DNA revealed, had scored its own PTTS tarpon kill.

He likely didn’t know that researchers had scooped the now-dead fish from the Pass less than 45 minutes after Sapp’s Team Yamaha Skeeter boat had towed the tarpon to the scales during Week 2 of the Women’s PTTS competition. That’s where the initial DNA sample was taken and recorded. And DNA doesn’t lie.

Dead Tarpon on Beach of Boca Grande Pass

This tarpon was found the day following a PTTS tournament.

Chalk one up to science.

But let’s get back to Sapp’s tin foil helmet claim that “the STT campaign … are the ones that gutted that fish after they found it floating.” It doesn’t merit a response. And it’s not getting one. Not here, that is. But let’s take a moment to revisit the facts:

1) The fish in question was DNA sampled during week 4 of the PTTS as having been weighed in at 124 lbs by Capt. TJ Stewart on June 3.

2) The fish in question was found dead and sampled again the next day,  June 4.

Sapp, however, is recklessly alleging the fish was gutted by some unknown but disgruntled local tarpon fishing captain trying to stop out-of-town guides, like Sapp,  from running carpetbagger charters on a part-time seasonal basis. It’s a dangerous stretch.

3) The fish in question was found floating on June 4 by a boater who seasonally fishes the Pass and surrounding water.

No, it wasn’t discovered, photographed and DNA sampled by some disgruntled “disenfranchised” local Save the Tarpon stooge, as Sapp wants you to believe. Kathy Guindon, PhD, who heads up the FWRI’s Tarpon Genetic Recapture Study, said the boater who found the fish – someone with no strong local ties or any affiliation with Save the Tarpon – decided to document the recapture with a photograph and DNA sample. Guindon said the boater – an experienced tarpon angler – knew immediately that the fish had been intentionally gutted.  And why.

But over in Sapp World, here’s what supposedly happened. A card-carrying member of Save the Tarpon found the bloated tarpon and gutted it. He’s not real clear how this Save the Tarpon type would know the fish had been caught the previous day by the PTTS. But we can let this one slide for the moment. Back to Sapp World, where Troy’s Save the Tarpon evil genius had cleverly calculated that, despite the hundreds of boats and boaters that were on the water that day, the one to stumble across the sabotaged tarpon would, miraculously, be armed with a DNA sample kit.

Makes sense to us. But strap on the tin foil hats. There’s more.

4) Chances of finding a dead intact tarpon floating near Boca Grande Pass in May and June are exceptionally remote.  The strong tides, high levels of shark activity, and many other variables mean an overwhelming majority of dead tarpon will, in fact, go unnoticed.  The odds of finding the same dead tarpon two times in less than 24 hours rival your chances of carting home the Powerball jackpot.

So once again, how did Sapp’s imaginary left-wing Save The Tarpon environmental extremist know this fish, among tens of thousands of other fish, came from the PTTS? Was it wearing a Team Yamaha tee shirt?  Unless, of course, the boater who discovered the fish already suspected  a majority of the dead fish found floating in or near the Pass are part of the collateral PTTS damage  Sapp and the PTTS noise machine say the tournament’s critics have invented.

Sapp repeatedly claims fish weighed in the PTTS are subject to the same mortality rate as all other catch and release fishing.  Unfortunately for Sapp, there’s the FWRI’s Dr. Guindon, the same Dr. Guindon whose seven-year-old study on tarpon mortality rates has, in the past, been repeatedly referenced by Sapp and friends. But that was then. Along came 2010, when the same Dr. Guindon did some additional research. Her newest findings?

“Preliminary results from research conducted in 2010 shows that the tournament weigh in procedures of the PTTS physiologically stress the Tarpon more so than catch-and-release recreational fishery that does not have a weigh in procedure that involves towing the fish.” Also, from the same source, “one can presume that mortality rates are higher in these weighed-in, longer handled fish.” For the record, Dr. Guindon was talking about the PTTS.

Two years later, after her newest study was published, Sapp and the gaff and drag gang at the PTTS  had suddenly put the now-inconvenient Guindon on Ignore. They continued to boast that they were, incredibly, doing what was “best for the fish.”  In fact, Joe Mercurio, general manager and host of the PTTS, looked into the camera on June 17 and told his audience that gaff and drag had “absolutely zero impact on the survival of the fish.” Kathy? Kathy who?

The PTTS noise machine, of course, doesn’t stop here. June 4, 2012 is a date Mercurio, Sapp and the PTTS would like to pretend never happened. And for good reason. In Part II, we’ll explain why. Stay tuned.

(NOTE: The moderators over at the Maverick Boat Company’s Internet forum apparently agree. Sapp’s post has been removed.)

NOTE: One week after publication of the original story, the PTTS broke its official silence and issued a statement denying any involvement or responsibility. The statement is contained within the comments that follow, or it can be found here

 

 

 

Colecchio learns he is not the master of his own domain when he makes it personal

Gary S. Colecchio has spent more than a decade injecting himself and his wisdom into the very public Boca Grande Pass tarpon debate. With the emergence of Save The Tarpon Inc., the Bonita Springs resident has gone into overdrive.

Colecchio is the Southwest Regional Director of the Florida Guides Association. From August 9, 2011 to May 11, 2012 he was Director of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Southwest District Office. He was among five Floridians nominated to serve on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. His bid was opposed by the Boca Grande Fishing Guides Association Inc., among others. He failed to win appointment. He is a member of the Coastal Conservation Association and the National Association of Charterboat Operators. He clearly gets around.

On June 20 of this year at 3:47 p.m., “senior member” Colecchio got around to logging in on the familiar ground of the Florida Sportsman Southwest General Fishing & The Outdoors Forum where he asked “Who’s really behind the Save the Tarpon campaign?” The topic he started ultimately drew 6,277 views. Quite an accomplishment. He even said so himself.

“Is it the son of a Boca Grande insurance agency owner?” he wrote. “Is it the husband of a New York artist recently moved to the area from Colorado who suddenly recanted his evil fishhandling ways and started an Occupy Boca Grande Facebook movement as his salvation?”

Colecchio had taken a legitimate public policy debate and decided to make it personal at the expense of two young parents who, along with nearly 2,000 others, decided what the PTTS was doing in Boca Grande Pass was very, very wrong. It’s an old political trick. When you realize you’re circling the drain, go negative. Get nasty. Make it personal. Colecchio had no idea how creatively personal it was about to get.

Gary Colecchio - Southwest Regional Director of the Florida Guides Association

Above: Gary Colecchio, Southwest Regional Director of the Florida Guides Association

Rather than engage in a flame war with a total stranger on some obscure Internet fish forum, the “New York artist” did something Colecchio never saw coming. She bought him. Or, more precisely, she bought “garycolecchio.com.” Mr. Colecchio wasn’t amused when he discovered he had been “owned.” That he was no longer the master of his own domain. Literally. But he pretty much kept it to himself. Didn’t say a word to his forum buddies. And honestly, who can blame the guy?

Although the “New York artist” (Colecchio would later go on to describe her as a “hippy”) now owned a Colecchio dot com, she didn’t do much with it. Not much you can really do with a “garycolecchio.com.” A page eventually appeared in place of an empty URL. It was a tribute of sorts. A collection of Mr. C.’s forum posts. One of those “in his own words” compilations. Just his words. Nothing else needed. Res Ipsa Loquitur.

The page was never promoted. No “Search Engine Optimization” or any of that stuff. Yet, back on the Florida Sportsman forum, the one where Colecchio is a “senior member,” somebody managed to find it. And they talked about it. Again, Mr. Colecchio was not amused. “Cyber-terrorism!” came the charge. Not a very nice way to describe Colecchio’s own words, words that had already been broadcast by Colecchio himself to tens of thousands of Internet eyeballs.

Ultimately, the page became boring. There were no photos of cute kittens and puppies. No viral YouTube videos of people doing stupid stuff. Just Colecchio. It was getting hits thanks to all the buzz it was receiving from Colecchio and his pals over at the fish forum. But it was still just Colecchio. It was ultimately replaced by a blank page. It received even more hits. Still, there was little hope “garycolecchio.com” was in any danger of becoming the next Facebook. And that was never the idea. The idea was to do absolutely nothing with the name, the URL and the the fish forum legend.

Then came The Letter. Otherwise known as the “Nasty Lawyer Letter.” Not that the lawyer is nasty. Probably a nice guy. Most lawyers are. That’s why so many of them are friends of Save The Tarpon. And most of our lawyer friends are nice. Most of them.

The “nasty” refers to the letter. And, as nasty lawyer letters go, this one was almost downright pleasant. A little loosie goosie with the law and the facts, but that’s how these things tend to go. No big deal.

The bottom line was that Colecchio, according to James L. O’Leary III, Esq. (the “Esq.” is even in his email address) really, really wants to be master of his own domain. He’s apparently grown tired of checking it every 15 minutes waiting for some public sort of record thing to be published directly under his URL. The “New York artist” married to the guy who “suddenly recanted his evil fishhandling ways and started an Occupy Boca Grande Facebook movement as his salvation” never gave it a thought.

Colecchio’s new-found desire to be master of his own domain is based on the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. Known as the ACPA, it targets “nefarious cybersquatters” defined by the courts as those who:

(1) “register well-known brand names as Internet domain names in order to extract payment from the rightful owners of the marks;” This hasn’t happened.

(2) “register well-known marks as domain names and warehouse those marks with the hope of selling them to the highest bidder;” This hasn’t happened.

(3) “register well-known marks to prey on consumer confusion by misusing the domain name to divert customers from the mark owner’s site to the cybersquatter’s own site;” This can’t happen.

(4) “target distinctive marks to defraud consumers, including to engage in counterfeiting activities.” This hasn’t happened.

Further, the courts have ruled that “the ACPA’s congressional record consistently signals the drafters’ intention to target a narrow class of cyber-squatters consisting of those who have the bad faith intent to profit, and not to tread on the rights of those with any other motives.”

In this instance, “other motives” can be found in those words Colecchio wrote on June 20 of this year at 3:47 p.m. for the entertainment of 6,277 sets of eyeballs.

Case dismissed. But let’s look at this for a moment. Kicks and giggles and all that. “The domain,” Colecchio’s Personal Injury Lawyer Esq. states, “appears as if Mr. Colecchio has some involvement in its ownership and construction.” Ownership of a domain, of course, is easily determined. Colecchio’s involvement was limited to providing content: His own words, as posted and posted and posted across the World Wide Web.

It’s interesting that Colecchio’s personal injury lawyer would characterize a compilation of Colecchio’s writings as “an attempt to create a condition of intimidation and fear.” He is being unfair to his client. Nothing about Colecchio’s writings are intimidating. Fear? Really?

“Mr. Colecchio is not a celebrity, public figure or entitity and has no official authority.” Most people would agree. But Colecchio isn’t most people. Just ask him. He has notoriously and repeatedly injected himself into the arena of public debate on all things Boca Grande, aggressively seeking the limelight for himself and his inflamatory rhetoric.

Consider, Colecchio has, since June, 2011, amassed an incredible 2,008 posts on just one Internet fishing forum. This works out to an average of 154.46 posts per month, 35.86 per week and an astonishing 5.12 per day. Including weekends. For most of this time he was actually holding down a full-time job. And Colecchio doesn’t, of course, limit himself to just one Internet forum in his efforts to avoid the public limelight. Or just one state. He’s all over the map. Where there’s a “submit” button, there’s likely to be a Colecchio.

Since June, Colecchio has started or starred in 11 separate threads on just one Internet forum concerning the current Boca Grande tarpon controversy. These threads have been viewed a total of 19,546 times over a period of just five weeks. Further, the shy Mr. Colecchio has twice gone online to boast of the number of readers he has attracted in what can only be reasonably interpreted as an attempt to promote himself.

The definition of public figure is “one who has voluntarily thrust himself into the limelight.” Next to that definition it’s likely you’ll find a photo of the personal injury lawyer’s client.

Regardless, Colecchio’s Personal Injury Attorney Esq. wants the site taken down. Already happened. It was boring, remember? Colecchio’s Personal Injury Attorney Esq. doesn’t want anyone to purchase another garycolecchio.com. There’s more than one? Good grief! And he seems to suggest Colecchio would, indeed, like to become the sole master of his own domain.

Fine. Here’s what Personal Injury Attorney Esq. needs to tell his client to do:

1. Remit a personal check, signed by Gary S. Colecchio and made payable to Save The Tarpon Inc. in the amount of $5.13. This amount is the original purchase price of the domain, plus tax. There is no profit of any sort realized. Mr. Colecchio’s check shall be recorded as a donation to Save The Tarpon Inc. and reported as such.

2. Issue a written apology to the young mother Mr. Colecchio offended as well as the nearly 2,000 members of Save The Tarpon Inc. This apology will be posted on SaveTheTarpon.com. Mr. Colecchio shall also post his apology as a new thread on the Florida Sportsman Southwest General Fishing & The Outdoors Forum.

3. Once Mr. Colecchio’s apology thread on the Florida Sportsman Southwest General Fishing & The Outdoors Forum reaches 6,277 views, the domain name will be promptly transferred to Mr. Colecchio who shall assume any and all transfer fees. Until said time, it shall remain dormant. And finally,

4. Be nice.

 

Letter from Gary Colecchio's attorneyPage 2 of the Letter from Gary Colecchio's attorney.

Senior Vice President of Florida Guides Association makes position clear

Captain Troy Sapp, Fishing GuideThe following is an email we received from Capt. Troy Sapp, senior vice-president of the Florida Guides Association, PTTS participant, and a seasonal Tarpon Guide in the Boca Grande Area in response to our posting of a letter by Scott Alford of ProjectTarpon.com:

Mr. Alford,

Seeing you have tagged a lot of Tarpon and you know which ones lived or died could you please post the Data and the post release mortality rates. I too have DNA, sonic tag sampled and PAT sampled a fairly large amount for BTT and FWRI. 

With the known post release Mortality rates it seems that the PTTS would have a very small impact on the fishery as a whole when you consider the total directed effort on the Tarpon fishery. The other thing that troubles me about the fishery we only know the mortality rates of the fish we tag.

What happens to a tarpon that has been hooked and escapes capture? Could we presume that this escaped fish may have been hooked in a soft tissue area "Throat, Stomach" and the hook tore free. Tarpon are suction feeders and they don't chew their food. What goes in their mouth is headed straight to their stomach and many times attached to a very sharp J hook. Just because a hook is in the bony area of the mouth on the fish we land doesn't mean that is the first place that the hook came in contact with the fish.

I also question what happens to a hooked fish when it jumps violently multiple times. Is this tarpon not subjecting itself to the same stresses as being hoisted out of the water? Have you not observed Tarpon shaking their head so violently that blood comes from their gills or that they excrete spawning fluids?  How many times have you seen the heavy leader pulled back through the gill plates during the fight?

I am asking these questions as there are many individuals that claim to hook several hundred fish a year. If they land 50% of them some are going to perish. If this is about saving tarpon we better come up with some answers and a different plan.  

Yes I participate in the PTTS. But the number of fish I handle and weigh is insignificant in comparison to fish I bring boat side either on my charters or recreationally fishing with my family and friends. I Tarpon fish in many regions and with a variety of methods. It is interesting how many juvenile "under 20 pounds" gut hooked fish I have landed in comparison to adult fish. Could it be that the smaller fish don't pull hard enough to tear loose? Maybe that's another factor we should consider when fishing natural bait.

If Tarpon are truly in trouble there are many factors to be considered.  Picking 1 event and  1 method of fishing  and attacking it like it's the cure all doesn't represent well for trying to save Tarpon. I wish it were that simple but it's not.

It would be nice to advocate mandatory use of circle hooks.
Know the dynamics and water quality effects now that the shipping channel in and out of BGP are no longer being dredged and are filling in.
A stock assessment.
Conditions of the estuaries where juvenile spend their youth.

You know, the things that may make a real impact on a fishery where no intentional harvest takes place.

Respectfully,

Capt. Troy P. Sapp

The Following is our response, sent directly to Capt. Troy Sapp:

Dear Mr. Sapp,
Thank you for your comment submission on SaveTheTarpon.com.  As I am sure you are aware, it was not approved for inclusion in the discussion. We felt the subject of your questions and concerns were better suited for Scott Alford’s site, ProjectTarpon.com.  Your questions have been forwarded to Scott Alford so he may address them directly. Again, thank you for your participation on our site.  We welcome any future comments you may have.  Please keep in mind we try to keep the discussion focused around the mission of our website–the preservation and protection of the Boca Grande tarpon fishery.

Regards, Jennifer McLaughlin

The following is the next contact we have with Capt. Troy Sapp, senior vice president of the Florida Guides Association:

How does a realtor/ artist become the moderator for a organization that claims they are about saving Tarpon? What are your qualifications or first hand experience concerning Tarpon? My comments did nothing more than raise some valid questions about the fishery you say you are trying to protect. Why would you not want your followers to engage in conversation where valid questions concerning tarpon are presented?

I already know the answer.
Your mission is very clear.

I have a feeling you are going to get what your asking for and then some. Myself and many other guides will be in the pass next year if anyone is fishing in there. We will also frequent the beach and harbor more. I have spoken to over 20 guides who will not be run off if their preferred methods of fishing are changed. Certainly the PTTS being there or not won't make a difference. There are many that have established a good bit of business in BGP. I really don't think any of my clients care how when or where they catch fish.

Good luck trying to save the tarpon of Boca grande pass, the same fish that swim around all over the state. No matter the outcome your mission will do nothing to Save the Tarpon. This issue isn't like commercial fishing.

You can't buy your way into it while locking out others.
Capt. Troy P. Sapp Fins and Tails Guide Servicehttp://finsandtailsguideservice.com/#welcome Florida Guides Assoc. Senior Vice Pres. Tsapp22334@aol.com WWW.Florida-guides.com

Well Capt. Sapp, no one at Save the Tarpon is looking to “lock others out.”  No one is asking any person who has come here to fish to  in the past not come here and fish in the future.  What we are asking is for an end to a made for TV series, turned charter booking service, that looks to exclude all others from fishing the pass by employing hyper-aggressive fishing techniques in order to protect “a good bit of business they have established in BGP.”  We are also asking that those that fish for Tarpon in the Boca Grande area use handling techniques that, to the best of their ability, ensure the highest chances of survival of the fish they are targeting unless they plan to harvest the fish. We also want those who are deliberately mishandling those fish in order to increase revenue for their TV show to stop both the mishandling, and the exclusion of all other anglers in order to further the success of their charter booking service, namely the PTTS.

If we are successful in that mission, then we will re-evaluate our situation and come up with a direction to take our organization that we feel best supports our stated mission and that is within our area of expertise and the scope of our organization at that time.

The constant threat from PTTS participants that “the pass will be closed to all fishing if you don’t stop this” will not stop us from supporting what we believe is right.  Should we stop calling attention to what you are doing if  we feel it is wrong simply out of fear of the repercussions? If the situation is so dire, shouldn’t the PTTS be doing more to help curb the user group conflicts and fish handling problems?  Why does the PTTS go to such great lengths to hide what they are doing from the public if there really is nothing to hide?

The mission of Save the Tarpon is very clearly established and can be found on the About Us page, along with a current list of our board of directors. There are no ulterior motives.  Any motivations you may assume we have are just that, assumptions.  We are not looking to exclude anyone from use of the pass, as a matter of fact we are fighting to STOP the exclusion of fishermen from the pass.  You can cling to your assertion that Save the Tarpon is simply a front for BTT or the BGFGA all you want, but I believe our board of directors makes up a representative sample of two members from virtually all of the user groups who have an interest in Tarpon fishing in Boca Grande Pass or the surrounding area.  The universal support by all other user groups who have rallied on behalf of Save the Tarpon to stop the for-profit exploitation of the public resource in Boca Grande pass at the hands of the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series and the Florida Guides Association certainly speaks volumes to the validity of our mission. The same cannot be said for those coming to the defense of the PTTS.

We have left the door open to your involvement in this discussion, as long as it pertains to subject matter that falls within the scope of our mission and our area of expertise.  We also invite you personally to involve yourself in our forum which is specifically designed to answer questions people may have, whether in support of our movement or not, in an open, public, and controlled environment.  you can read more at:

http://savethetarpon.com/save-the-tarpon-opens-forum-for-questions/

Capt. Tom McLaughlin

Save The Tarpon