State attorney won’t prosecute local guides; Tampa area captain’s fate uncertain

Capt. Jim Huddleston

FWC officers pull aside Capt. James Huddleston’s boat on May 15 after observing the Tampa-area guide fishing two illegal “breakaway” bottom-weighted jigs.

While high-profile Professional Tarpon Tournament Series angler and charter captain James W. Huddleston continues to await his day in Lee County Circuit Court, prosecutors are moving ahead with plans to defer and ultimately dismiss all charges against two local fishing guides accused by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers of allegedly violating rules prohibiting the use of “breakaway” gear in Boca Grande Pass.

Ftafbphoto

The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight came through again. Great timing, guys. They chose yesterday to recycle an old Facebook post and plaster it across the top of their page. We saved it for you here because odds are it’s not going to last long over there.

The decision to halt prosecution came as Capt. Frank E. Davis, 53, of Placida and Capt. David C. Chatham, 35, of Port Charlotte entered not guilty pleas on Monday in connection with a May 28 FWC “boating safety and resource inspection” sweep that specifically targeted traditional live bait fishing guides operating charters in the Pass.

Assistant State Attorney Larry D. Justham, who spearheads the county court division, declined comment on the cases brought by the FWC against the two local guides. Justham referred all questions, including those concerning the as-yet unresolved Huddleston case, to the state attorney’s press office. Communications Director Samantha Syoen said she was unable to comment on an active prosecution, but noted the state attorney’s office is “working closely with the FWC” on the matter.

Huddleston’s next court date is June 27 when he is slated to appear before Judge H. Andrew Swett at 8 a.m. in Fort Myers. Charges against Huddleston stem from a May 15 incident when FWC officers say they spotted one of Huddleston’s clients fishing what they said was “an obvious illegal jig” in Boca Grande Pass. The bottom-weighted jig, popular among PTTS competitors, was outlawed by the FWC in September, 2013 when it was determined to be a foul-hooking or “snagging” device.

The FWC subsequently came under fire for opting to issue Huddleston a written warning rather than a formal second degree misdemeanor charge for violating the widely reported nine-month old jig prohibition.

FWC Capt. Guy Carpenter, who oversees the agency’s law enforcement efforts in Lee and Charlotte counties, has sought to defend the decisions his officers made in the Huddleston matter by noting the FWC’s “enforcement philosophy is to start out heavy on the education side” and that “we have to educate people.”

Critics have questioned the need for “education” in the Huddleston case, however, pointing to reports filed by both officers referencing Huddleston’s “knowledge and experience” and that the 44-year-old Palm Harbor man is and has been employed as a long-time professional fishing guide.

The same reports state Huddleston appeared to hurriedly instruct one of his clients to lower the illegal gear into the water when he saw the FWC officers approach to make their inspection.

The reports contain no indication Huddleston attempted to claim he was unaware of the regulation. Rather, the reports state, Huddleston sought to place blame for the presence of the banned devices being fished from his boat on his absent and unnamed “mate.” Huddleston did, however, receive a citation for using “breakaway” tackle in conjunction with the illegal jigs. Again, according to the reports, he offered no defense.

By contrast, reports show both Chatham and Davis vigorously defended the legality of their gear two weeks later when FWC officers selectively stopped and inspected more than a dozen traditional live-bait “Pass Boats.”

In Chatham’s case, an FWC officer was repeatedly unable to “break away” the gear the officer would later claim was designed to break away. Davis similarly objected, noting that the same gear that drew his break-away gear citation had, just moments earlier and in sight of the officers, successfully boated a tarpon without the weight breaking free. The reports state the officer who nevertheless issued the citation “took his objections into consideration.”

The FWC’s “boating safety and resource inspection” sweep of the local Pass Boat fleet came on the heels of an online uproar fueled by those in the Tampa area jig fishing community who contended Huddleston had been targeted by the FWC due to his notoriety as a PTTS jig angler.

The jig anglers’ complaints against the FWC ended abruptly when a Tampa-area newspaper reported the Davis and Chatham citations just hours after they were issued and days before the FWC was able to provide other media outlets with information concerning the two cases.

FWC votes 7-0 to ban controversial ‘tarpon jig’ in Boca Grande Pass

Yes, there was a little celebrating to do Thursday in Pensacola after the FWC's historic vote to ban the bottom weighted jig in Boca Grande Pass. And yes, we were there. In numbers.

Yes, there was a little celebrating to do Thursday in Pensacola after the FWC’s historic vote to ban the bottom weighted jig in Boca Grande Pass. And yes, we were there. In numbers.

This time it wasn’t even close.

After narrowly surviving a preliminary vote in June, a regulation banning the use of bottom weighted “tarpon jigs” in Boca Grande Pass was adopted by a unanimous vote Thursday, Sept. 5 by the seven-member Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in Pensacola.

The new rule will take effect on November 1. Despite some initial confusion over which way Panama City lawyer Adrien “Bo” Rivard had actually voted, the final tally was eventually set at 7-0. Bottom line, it passed.

Before adopting the Boca Grande “jig” ban on Thursday, the commissioners shot down an 11th hour bid by Florida Tarpon Anglers Association lobbyist Lane Stephens who sought to delay action on the proposed rule by demanding the FWC first hold a series of public workshops and conduct an economic impact study prior to voting on the measure.

By land, by sea and by air. Save the Tarpon board members traveled to Pensacola to attend the FWC Commission meeting. From Left to Right: Capt. Mark Futch, Capt. Frank Davis, Capt. Tom McLaughlin, and Capt. Chris Frohlich

By land, by sea and by air. Save the Tarpon board members traveled to Pensacola to attend the FWC Commission meeting. From Left to Right: Capt. Mark Futch, Capt. Frank Davis, Capt. Tom McLaughlin, and Capt. Chris Frohlich

Stephens, speaking for FTAA vice president and Professional Tarpon Tournament Series angler Craig Abbott, unsuccessfully repeated his “economic impact” argument later in the meeting. “The assumption that jiggers can easily switch to another lure isn’t true,” Stephens said, adding that adoption of the rule would put many of his fishing guide clients out of work.

Responding to Stephens and his claim that “a ban on this tried and true method used by 65 fishing guides” could cost the state an estimated $8 million annually, Save The Tarpon Inc. Chairman Tom McLaughlin noted that the potential impact on a few dozen guides pales in comparison to the big picture.

“We don’t regulate on the effectiveness of a method of fishing. There is substantial evidence saying that by not acting, this could result in the loss of the fishery.”

“In my lifetime I’ve seen several regulations that decreased the effectiveness of certain fishing techniques,” he said. “We don’t regulate on the effectiveness of a method of fishing. There is substantial evidence saying that by not acting, this could result in the loss of the fishery.”

Commissioner Ken Wright agreed. “When you consider the effectiveness of a device or method, if it’s indeed snagging then it shouldn’t be a consideration at all,” Wright said. “This rule is not intended to change human behavior, it’s designed to protect a fish that lives to be as old as 80-years-old.”

But the jig lobbyist hinted that his clients might not be done despite losing Thursday’s vote. Stephens noted that state law “allows small businesses impacted by a rule to challenge (the FWC’s) findings.” In June, a lobbyist representing the same group and the PTTS threatened the commissioners with a lawsuit and budget cuts if the jig ban was adopted. That lobbyist, Tallahassee attorney Timothy P. Atkinson, did not appear at Thursday’s meeting.

The majority of those who spoke at Thursday’s meeting were individual anglers or representatives of a number of groups who urged the commissioners to adopt the anti-snagging regulations. Representatives of the Coastal Conservation Association and the Florida Guides Association voiced their opposition to the measure.

Following the meeting, McLaughlin said a lot of hard work went into the effort to ban the jig. “Our more than 21,000 supporters and their combined voices clearly made a difference. This has been a long time coming, and our members and supporters, our core group of volunteers, the Boca Grande Community, the people of Florida and the people around the world who embraced this cause finally made it happen,” he said.

“The FWC’s action today is more than just a message, it’s a historic step forward in protecting this iconic fishery for generations to come.”

UPDATED: The Professional Tarpon Tournament Series, via its Facebook Page, has issued a response to the FWC’s vote to ban the bottom weighted hook favored by its competitors.

In an apparent contradiction to the “economic impact” argument put forward by lobbyist Lane Stephens on behalf of the Florida Tarpon Anglers Association and its vice president Craig Abbott, the PTTS statement predicted no economic problems for the tournament or its anglers.

“This ruling will have no impact on the future of the PTTS. As demonstrated during this past season, our world class competitors have already developed new artificial lure designs that have proven to be very productive, and we’re confident additional designs will continue to be developed that meet the new definitions. In addition, anglers will still be able to utilize live bait,” according to the PTTS.

Stephens, however, told the seven commissioners that “the assumption that jiggers can easily switch to another lure isn’t true.” Stephens also predicted adoption of the rule would put many of his fishing guide clients out of work.

Meeting Notes

What’s the score? 6-1? 7-0?

Florida has a long history when it comes to counting votes. Thursday’s FWC meeting was no exception – minus the “hanging chads,” that is.

So, was the vote 6-1 or 7-0? While the math wouldn’t have changed the outcome, the actual tally remained a mystery for about five hours on Thursday. It took FWC Marine Fisheries Management spokesman Amanda Nalley, who initially said 6-1 based on what she saw on the record, to solve the numbers puzzle by going directly to the source.

Why the confusion? When the vote was called, there was some question whether commissioner Adrien “Bo” Rivard had been a yea or a nay. Sensing this, Rivard apparently replied “no, I’m with you guys.” Unfortunately, the clerk only heard the “no” part, and Rivard became the “one” in a vote that was officially recorded as 6-1. Meanwhile, new FWC Chairman Richard A. “Dick” Corbett was thanking the commissioners for their “unanimous” vote.

With her cell phone overheating from media calls all asking the same question, Nally said FWC staff eventually decided to take the bull by the horns. They asked Rivard. And the vote went from an official 6-1 to an unofficial unanimous. But even though the Boca Grande rule is a done deal, it appears Rivard will have  to wait until November 20 when the FWC meets in Ft. Lauderdale to correct his vote and officially close the book on this one.

So, if you read somewhere that the vote was 6-1, it was. Even though it was actually 7-0. It’s a Florida thing.

Are we still in Florida?

Many local supporters of the FWC’s rule banning the bottom weighted hook had no choice to make the 520 mile trek across the state to Pensacola for Thursday’s meeting. But for Ryan Hawks, the Crowne Plaza Pensacola Grand Hotel was little more than a commute. Hawks, an avid angler and supporter of Save The Tarpon’s efforts, lives in nearby Fort Walton Beach. Needless to say, his 41 mile drive was the envy of everyone with a Southwest Florida Zip Code.

Ryan made an effective local case – local for those in the Central Time Zone, that is – for the new anti-snagging rules. “On behalf of all the tarpon anglers in the area, we strongly endorse the proposed gear restrictions,” he told the commissioners. “We share the same fishery. As the Pass goes, so goes the entire fishery.”

On the other hand, when tarpon season rolls around next year, Ryan gets to make the 520 mile drive to Boca Grande Pass. But no matter. Pensacola, and those 520 miles, turned out to be well worth the trip.

A talk with Capt. Tom McLaughlin

This article was originally published in the May 23, 2013 issue of WaterLine Magazine.

By Josh Olive
Waterline Publisher

The Miller Lite Professional Tarpon Tournament Series season opener this past Sunday was protested by a locally based group called Save the Tarpon. I recently talked with Capt. Tom McLaughlin, the chairman of Save the Tarpon, about the protest itself and what the group has planned for the future.

WaterLine: Now that you’ve seen the PTTS’s new measurement system in action, what are your thoughts on what’s being done right and what’s being done wrong?

Capt Tom McLaughlin

Save the Tarpon Chairman, Capt. Tom McLaughlin

Capt. McLaughlin: Fish-handling related issues with the PTTS are not confined solely to the measurement system. There are welldocumented issues with the increased fight times required to bring a tarpon to complete exhaustion (a point at which it can be subdued on a 3-foot leader). Considering that the PTTS takes place in a pre-spawn aggregate area, during the peak time of pre-spawn activity for North America’s only mass migration of spawning tarpon. It’s about time they go to a catch-and-release format. While the idea of their measuring tools may be great under certain circumstances, they are simply not appropriate for Boca Grande Pass in May and June.

Little if any of the handling-related issues have been addressed by the new format. These changes seem to be more superficial and for political reasons rather than out of real concern for the well-being of the sometimes 50- to 60-year-old fish that bring the PTTS its revenue stream. Fish still had to be restrained using a gaff-like device, fish were still towed for extended periods of time, and handling was still excessive. At one point, a single fish was held for 29 minutes from the time the LipLock was attached until the time the fish was released. This included no more than 3 or 4 minutes of revival. The fish was immediately seen floating back to the surface, where an official PTTS camera boat accelerated hard in reverse while pointing at the fish in an obvious attempt to run the fish over. There was no attempt to retrieve the fish for further revival; rather, efforts were directed at concealing the fish using the vessel’s prop wash.

There were numerous fish that were sighted and photographed struggling, sinking or floating at the surface after being handled. Enough is enough — it’s time to start catch-and-release.

“…the PTTS, its owners, employees and its participants have publicly attacked, bullied and attempted to humiliate those who choose to speak out against the PTTS for nearly the last decade. This includes not only rival guides but also recreational anglers, community members and concerned citizens. There are many who, while passionate about the cause we are fighting for, simply chose not to subject themselves to the threats and intimidation. We don’t blame them, but it will not deter all of us.”

WL: With so many Save the Tarpon supporters in the local area, why were there not more boats in attendance at the protest? Are there plans to bring in more boats for future protests?

McL: We tallied right around 25 boats for the protest. There were guides from various user groups, local community members, as well as recreational anglers who traveled for more than an hour and a half by boat to attend. We felt this was a sufficient number without being excessive. Our intentions were to disrupt the filming of the TV show and make those we feel are attacking our community as uncomfortable during their tournament as non-PTTS passgoers are. We did not, however, want to interfere with the actual fishing taking place. Based on feedback from FWC and independent onlookers, this goal was accomplished.

Though we have no ultimate control over the actions of those who attend a public protest, we do feel somewhat responsible for their actions. With that in mind, this was what we consider to be a manageable number.

Further, the PTTS, its owners, employees and its participants have publicly attacked, bullied and attempted to humiliate those who choose to speak out against the PTTS for nearly the last decade. This includes not only rival guides but also recreational anglers, community members and concerned citizens. There are many who, while passionate about the cause we are fighting for, simply chose not to subject themselves to the threats and intimidation. We don’t blame them, but it will not deter all of us.

WL: Were the goals of the protest met?

McL: Absolutely. The filming of the PTTS was interrupted. The tournament was uncomfortable at times for participants and employees alike. Our boats operated safely, did not interfere with the fish or actual running of the tournament itself, and we captured a veritable mountain of footage showing many of the fish “weighed” in the tournament showing signs of extensive distress, likely resulting in death. Photos and videos were obtained of numerous fish hooked outside the mouth, not only in the clipper, but also in the septum of the throat (the area between the gills), the gill rakers and near the eye socket. According to official results, all of these fish were counted in the tournament.

Save the Tarpon Protest Boats

Protesters gather prior to the start of the 2013 PTTS opening event.

WL: Ethical objections aside, did STT observe PTTS participants doing anything that appeared to be illegal?

McL: Yes. There was at least one, and possibly two fish that appeared to be in severe distress, dead or dying that were transferred from the possession of participants who caught the fish to a non-participating boat, piloted by a participant of the tournament who was not fishing this day, for the purposes of being dragged away from the prying eyes of onlookers and our cameras. These fish were dragged away from the tournament area at a very high rate of speed. The vessel was approached, at which time they attempted to appear to be reviving the fish. However, this soon escalated to more high-speed circles in order to keep the fish on the side of the vessel where it would be obscured. The fish was eventually shoved under the boat into its prop wash. FWC officers on site agreed that the transfer of this fish was indeed illegal, but because they were not there to witness the actual transfer, they were unable to pursue any enforcement.

WL: To your knowledge, were any STT protesters subjected to harassment by PTTS anglers? By PTTS supporters?

McL: There was little harassment, if any, on the part of the PTTS participants or anglers. While there was some harassment by PTTS employees and contractors, it would be considered fairly minor. There were, however, numerous clear and direct threats of violence by PTTS anglers towards protesters, as well as encouragement by PTTS supporters, anglers, and employees to carry out these threats after the tournament.

WL: The FWC appears poised to rule that the tarpon jig is a snagging device. If that happens and the PTTS is forced to stop using it, will STT’s opposition to the tournament persist? If so, why?

McL: First off, the FWC is not poised to rule a tarpon jig is a snagging device. The best available science indicates that the rigging of any hook with a weight attached directly the beneath the bend or belly of the hook is likely being used to snag fish without a feeding or striking action on the part of the fish. Simply moving the hook to a location that is concurrent not only with laws of numerous other states and countries, but also a position that is found on all other jigs in the industry, is not the same as banning the Boca Grande jig. It is simply modifying the gear restrictions to eliminate the intentional snagging of tarpon through the use of the device the way it is being fished in PTTS events as well as outside the events.

Again, the best available science shows that these fish are not attempting to bite or strike the lure, but are being intentionally snagged. This avenue is the least intrusive to other anglers and has proven to have little, if any, unintended side effects on other fisheries.

The issues with the PTTS and the pack that was created by the tournament run well beyond the snag-hook (jig is in fact a misnomer) that is being used. The domination of the resource, encouragement of chaos for the sake of TV ratings, excessive fish handling, exclusion of other user groups, and the extensive damage done to the public perception of the community and the fishery all will likely take more time to work out.

The PTTS has shown a clear disregard for the destruction they cause, it is likely that elimination of the snag-hook will only serve as a single step in a very long walk to a peaceful and cooperative Pass that can be enjoyed and shared by all.

WL: If the jig is outlawed, do you think that will eventually bring peace back to the Pass?

McL: It will not be a silver bullet. The changes that will need to take place in terms of public perception, instilling respect for other users of the Pass, other anglers and the fish will not be an easy task to take on. It will likely take much more in terms of effort, education, and advocacy — but little in terms of regulation — to return some form of peace to the Pass.

WL: Besides the push to end the PTTS, is STT doing anything else aimed at improving the Boca Grande Pass tarpon fishery?

McL: We recently agreed to provide both logistical assistance as well as funding for the Rosenstiel School of Marine Biology satellite tagging program at Boca Grande for 2013. This will be the most extensive single satellite tagging effort in the history of tarpon research. Despite mounting legal fees, we feel confident that we will still meet our goal of raising an additional $15,000 to $20,000 for this program.

We are also working on creating a video archive of interviews with some of the area’s longest residents, fishermen, guides and community members. We are working to make these interviews, photos and documents easily accessible via the internet. This will serve as an important educational and outreach tool as well as an avenue to disseminate accurate and historically significant information.

WL: If someone wants to learn more about STT or become a supporter, what should they do?

McL: Please take the time to visit SavetheTarpon.com. You can read our mission statement and access articles, videos and photos.

To continue reading, please visit: http://wlf.eed.sunnewspapers.net/olive/ode/waterline_swflorida/

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.

SavetheTarpon.com 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!

It’s not just a “local” thing – End the PTTS

Moderator’s Note: This post was written by our newest savethetarpon.com contributor, Panhandle Fly Guide.  Please welcome him aboard the Save the Tarpon campaign.

Don’t you just love how if you oppose the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series (PTTS) or support Save The Tarpon you automatically get character-assassinated by Mr. Collecchio, Mr. Mercurio or some other PTTS crony?  Okay, I’ll bite—I’m guilty on both accounts so fire away.

End the PTTSHere, I’ll help you out: I think the PTTS is the ultimate example of fishing gone wrong and perpetually abuses the fishery, scoffs at conservation and stewardship and mishandles one of the noblest game fish on earth just for corporate profit.

I must therefore be one of those “left-wing environmental extremists” Mr. Mercurio loves to talk about on his Facebook page:

http://savethetarpon.com/ptts-attacks-supporters-of-tarpon-conservation-efforts/

Except that I’m not, I’m a sportsman.  I just don’t support all fishing practices.  You call me elitist because I don’t consider snagging fish to be sporting?  Do you consider dynamite fishing sporting?  If the goal of tournaments is just to “catch” the biggest fish with method being no object why don’t you just net them or better yet electroshock them then race to see who can get the biggest one that floats to the surface?  Sound absurd?—you extremist, you!  If you really don’t believe that pass-jigging snags fish then how about instituting a rule that each “catch” be evaluated by the FDW for hook placement?  To make it even more fun you could have the rule stipulate that any fish hooked outside the mouth automatically disqualifies the team (no biggie, remember that you don’t believe that jigging snags fish).

Well, obviously I must just have a thing against jig-fishermen.  I must be one of those local live-bait guides who’s just trying to start a turf war and only motivated by money.  Except that I don’t live in the area, I don’t fish with live bait nor do I guide in Boca Grande.  I just don’t want this donkey-show going in ANYONE’S backyard.  Furthermore, those same fish that get hounded by the PTTS around the pass at Boca Grande in May are the same ones I fish for up here in July.  So you’ll pardon me if I’m perturbed by the sight of dead tarpon in the water or washing up on shore in the wake of the PTTS and I roll my eyes at your insistence that the PTTS has nothing to do with it.

So clearly I must be an uneducated, unscientific, weak-minded person who’s been swayed into believing that the PTTS is harmful by an organization with an agenda.  Except that I’m not—as a physician I am actually quite adept at critically evaluating scientific evidence.  Remember that it took decades to scientifically prove that smoking causes lung cancer, meanwhile it became the number-one cause of cancer-related death.  During the interim life insurance companies charged higher premiums for smokers despite the lack of scientific proof not because of discrimination but because they realized that smoking was harmful and resulted in increased cost.  By the time the scientific proof was there the damage was already done, just ask the families of those who died from lung cancer while amassing the evidence—they are irreplaceably gone.  Just as by the time tarpon fishery and mortality statistics are amassed the damage is already done.

The bottom line is that Mr. Colecchio, Mr. Mercurio and the PTTS resort to the tactics they use because they feel threatened and rightfully so.  They’ve seen the rising tide of people like you and me who want to end the PTTS and they’re having a harder and harder time passing us off as extremists, elitists, exclusivists, ignorami or any other title that will marginalize us.  They’ve received a first-hand lesson in what happens when you abuse the system and a group of dedicated individuals decides to hold you accountable.  Six months ago they mocked Save The Tarpon and anyone that got in their way of doing things.  Now the times have changed: they’ve caved on their gaff, drag, hoist and weigh format, they’ve lost sponsorship and it’s harder and harder to portray the event positively on TV when there are so many people voicing their displeasure.  Keep up the hard work and make it your goal to make this the last year of the PTTS.  Don’t worry Mr. Collecchio, I’m sure there’s always work for you at big-tobacco—you clearly already have the rhetoric down.

Captain Frank Davis

Captain Frank Davis

Capt. Frank Davis is a Florida Native born in Arcadia Florida and raised between the waters of Boca Grande and Lake Okeechobee FL. Captain Frank has been fishing the local waters most of his life and professionally since the early 1980`s. He is also a founding member and Vice Chairman of Save the Tarpon, Inc.

With the Native, his custom 24` Morgan, he specializes in late afternoon and evening Tarpon fishing in Boca Grande Pass. With the Native II, a 20′ Lake & Bay flats boat, he can take you to the back country waters of Charlotte harbor and Pine Island Sound in search of Snook, Trout and Redfish on fly and light tackle. Always fun to be with and never yells!

 

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Charter Details

Business Name
Native Charters

Pick-up Location(s) and/or Boat Dock Location
Pink Elephant Guide Docks, Boca Grande, Florida

Maximum Passengers/Anglers
6 on Native
3 on Native II

Trip Lengths
4 Hours
6 Hours
Trip Time Offerings
Day
Night
Hill Tide

Other Fishing Charters
Inshore Fishing
Backcountry Fishing[/ba-column][ba-column size=”one-half” last=”1″]

Contact the Captain

Please contact the Captain directly for more information or to schedule your tarpon fishing charter.

Phone Number
(941) 270-1364

Email
captfdavis@yahoo.com

About the Boat

Boat Name
Native
Native II

Boat Type & Size
24′ Morgan Inboard (Native)
20′ Lake & Bay Flats (Native II)

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If you have enjoyed fishing with this Captain, please feel free to share your experience in the comments section below. Or, send your photos and/or comments to contact@savethetarpon.com.  We would love to hear from you!

Captain Tyler Gulau

Capt Tyler GulauCaptain Tyler Gulau specializes in pass, beach and harbor fishing for Boca Grande tarpon.

Born and raised in Punta Gorda, Captain Tyler Gulau has been fishing the waters of Charlotte Harbor his entire life. He specializes in tarpon between the months of April to September along with redfish, snook, trout, flounder, and more. He is a full time guide.

 

 

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Charter Details

Business Name
Fish Charlotte Harbor

Pick-up Location(s) and/or Boat Dock Location
Burnt Store Marina
Pineland Marina
Tarpon Lodge
Pink Elephant Guide Docks

Maximum Passengers/Anglers
4 Passengers

Trip Lengths
4 Hours
6 Hours
8 Hours
10 Hours
12 Hours

Trip Time Offerings
Day
Night
Hill Tide

Other Fishing Charters
Inshore Fishing
Backcountry Fishing
Near to Shore Fishing
Dolphin Tours & Sightseeing[/ba-column][ba-column size=”one-half” last=”1″]

Contact the Captain

Please contact the Captain directly for more information or to schedule your tarpon fishing charter.

Phone Number
(941) 456-0261

Email
captaintyler@fishcharlotteharbor.com

About the Boat

Boat Type & Size
22′ Pathfinder Tournament Edition[/ba-column]

If you have enjoyed fishing with this Captain, please feel free to share your experience in the comments section below. Or, send your photos and/or comments to contact@savethetarpon.com.  We would love to hear from you!

Captain Van Hubbard

Capt Van HubbardCaptain Van Hubbard specializes in beach and harbor fishing for Boca Grande tarpon.

Captain Van Hubbard started guiding full time in 1977 and relocated to Boca Grande in 1981, and began guiding the area year round. He fishes tarpon off the beaches or into Charlotte Harbor; anywhere but the Boca Pass in season. He enjoyed Boca Grande Pass but it’s a last resort until we regain respect there for tarpon and other fisherman. Captain Van has guided for beach and Charlotte Harbor tarpon full time every year since 1981; no one still fishing has more experience beach tarpon or snook fishing! He introduced live bait to Charlotte Harbor; none of the other guides were whitebait fishing when he came down from Tampa Bay! He also excels at Spanish and king mackerel, pompano, permit, redfish, trout, etc… everything inside and near shore.

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Charter Details

Pick-up Location(s) and/or Boat Dock Location
Stump Pass Marina is primary pick up site
Don Pedro/ Little Gasparilla/ Palm Islands
Boca Grande
other custom picks can be arranged.

Maximum Passengers/Anglers
4 Anglers

Trip Lengths
4 Hours
6 Hours
8 Hours

Trip Time Offerings
Day
Hill Tide

Other Fishing Charters
Inshore Fishing
Backcountry Fishing
Near to Shore Fishing
Dolphin Tours & Sightseeing[/ba-column][ba-column size=”one-half” last=”1″]

Contact the Captain

Please contact the Captain directly for more information or to schedule your tarpon fishing charter.

[ba-button link=”http://www.captvan.com/” color=”silver” target=”self”]Visit the Captain’s Website[/ba-button]

Phone Number
941-740-4665

Email
charternow@captvan.com

About the Boat

Boat Type & Size
Dorado 23 with T-Top

Tarpon Fishing Capt Van

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If you have enjoyed fishing with this Captain, please feel free to share your experience in the comments section below. Or, send your photos and/or comments to contact@savethetarpon.com.  We would love to hear from you!

Captain Scott Hughes

Captain Scott Hughes

Captain Scott Hughes is a full time fishing guide that specializes in tarpon fishing from April though early October. During the winter months he prefers to target Redfish, Speckled Trout and flounder on the flats of Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor.  Born in Fort Myers, Captain Scott is a true native Floridian who has been fishing the warm waters of Southwest Florida his entire life.

 

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Charter Details

Business Name
Blackwater Charters

Pick-up Location(s) and/or Boat Dock Location
Burnt Store Marina
Pineland Marina
Pink Elephant Guide Docks in Boca Grande

Maximum Passengers/Anglers
4 Passengers

Trip Lengths
6 Hours
12 Hours

Trip Time Offerings
Day
Hill Tide

Other Fishing Charters
Backcountry Fishing[/ba-column][ba-column size=”one-half” last=”1″]

Contact the Captain

Please contact the Captain directly for more information or to schedule your tarpon fishing charter.

[ba-button link=”http://www.blackwatercharters.com/” color=”silver” target=”self”]Visit the Captain’s Website[/ba-button]

Phone Number
(941) 628-4247

Email
blackwatercharters21@gmail.com

About the Boat

Boat Type & Size
Thread Fin Tower 24ft[/ba-column]

Captain Scott Hughes 24' Boat

If you have enjoyed fishing with this Captain, please feel free to share your experience in the comments section below. Or, send your photos and/or comments to contact@savethetarpon.com.  We would love to hear from you!

Captain Erick Joseph

Capt Erick JosephCaptain Erick Joseph specializes in pass, beach and harbor fishing for Boca Grande tarpon.

Captain Erick Joseph is a full time Charlotte Harbor fishing guide offering fishing charters on the back waters of Charlotte Harbor Estuary, Boca Grande, Gasparilla Sound, Placida and Lemon Bay.  He fishes for Tarpon, Snook, Redfish & Trout on live and artificial bait using light tackle.

 

 

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Charter Details

Business Name
Tails and Scales Charters

Pick-up Location(s) and/or Boat Dock Location
Eldred’s Marina, Placida FL & El Jobean Park Boat Ramp in Port Charlotte, FL

Maximum Passengers/Anglers
4

Trip Lengths
4 Hours
6 Hours
8 Hours
10 Hours
12 Hours

Trip Time Offerings
Day
Night
Hill Tide

Other Fishing Charters
Inshore Fishing
Backcountry Fishing
Dolphin Tours & Sightseeing[/ba-column][ba-column size=”one-half” last=”1″]

Contact the Captain

Please contact the Captain directly for more information or to schedule your tarpon fishing charter.

[ba-button link=”http://www.tailsandscalescharters.com” color=”silver” target=”self”]Visit the Captain’s Website[/ba-button]

Phone Number
941-223-4826

Email
captainerickjoseph@yahoo.com

About the Boat

Boat Type & Size
Hewes Redfisher 21′

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Please note: The above information was provided by the Captain.

If you have enjoyed fishing with this Captain, please feel free to share your experience in the comments section below. Or, send your photos and/or comments to contact@savethetarpon.com.  We would love to hear from you!