Save the Tarpon Seafood Shindig!

2014 STT Shindig

SUN. MARCH 2, 2014



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

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

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

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

What it’s all about.

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

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

Go to our Facebook Event Page.




Chamber director: Time to respect, preserve and defend our fishery

Boca Grande Chamber of CommerceLew Hastings is executive director of the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce and host of Gulf Coast Business Spotlight. Take a moment to read the message he shared with us on March 3.

There is a responsibility we all have to fulfill. The responsibility we all bear. To protect, preserve and defend our natural resources.

Boca Grande has a very unique and storied history when it comes to tarpon fishing. Indeed, this is the Tarpon Fishing Capital of the World. There is nothing we won’t do to ensure that we retain that distinction. Most importantly, the way in which we can do that is to educate residents, visitors and vacationers alike as to how we can work together to create and maintain a sustainable fishery.

We first have to acknowledge and respect our blessings that we have been placed in this unique environment. That we have the specific ingredients in this region that the tarpon can to migrate to, pre-spawn, create a nursery and grow to maturity. I have been lucky enough to get involved in current scientific studies that are the only type of their kind anywhere in the world to ultimately try to understand why tarpon are attracted to this place, our backyard, to grow and perpetuate their species. We would be irresponsible and naive to minimize the importance of our place in their life cycle and the importance of our actions on their behavior in their habitat and in their home.

Mr. Lew Hastings & Capt. Tom McLaughlin

Lew Hastings, executive director of the Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce (left), and Capt. Tom McLaughlin, chairman of Save the Tarpon (right) at the 2013 Save the Tarpon Shindig on March 3.

So make no mistake. This is not about a fish. There are millions of fish and species that deserve their day in the sun. That deserve attention. That deserve respect. This is about an ecosystem. Our ecosystem. Their ecosystem. And what is unique to our area. And the role we play in the entirety of the tarpon life cycle and it’s effect around the world. This is not about any one man, woman or group.

There are plenty of people who think they know what is best for the environment. But some are really only concerned for themselves … they like to hear themselves talk. They talk a big game. But when it comes to actually doing something, they really don’t deliver. This is not about an organization or a club. Because both or either can become myopic and focus on the things that benefit only their concerns and goals and promote only their views and beliefs. When that happens, people see through it as false concern, background noise … self serving tactics. And no one is taken seriously. And nothing , in the end, gets done.

Community. Community is what matters. Community working together. Grassroots up is powerful. Impactful. When the community says, like ours has, enough is enough. We will no longer tolerate the abuse of our natural resources and the misrepresentation of our community. Someone … everyone has to listen. And that is what is happening today.

The citizens and friends of the Boca Grande community have come together to say unequivocally everyone is invited to come and enjoy the beautiful God given natural resource we have to offer to the world. But you will respect it and you will help preserve it – not just for us but for generations to come.

The Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce has been dedicated to that end as long as I have been executive director for the last two years and I hope it will be long after I am gone.

We didn’t have to revive the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament. As far as the Boca Grande Chamber and everyone else was concerned it was on an extended hiatus for 7 years. But on it’s 30th Anniversary there was a reason to bring it back more than just for the historical significance of the heritage of Boca Grande … but for the new mission.

World's Richest Tarpon Tournament

The 2013 “World’s Richest” Tarpon Tournament scheduled for May 23rd & 24th 2013.

Conservation. Education. Sportsmanship.

These three words define what the residents of Boca Grande and surrounding communities have been promoting and encouraging for years upon years. Generations in fact. Employing conservation tactics and recommendations to ensure a healthy fishery.

Education of the public both residential and visitors on the importance of our role and location in the life cycle of tarpon and other marine species. And the adherence and maintenance to the tenets of sportsmanship.

Somewhere along the way, some of us have forgotten the meaning of the word sportsman and the responsibilities and expectations that go along with being a sportsman. We need to make sure we not only bring this teaching back, but make sure that it is not forgotten. Not now or in the future generations.

So what is next? What do we expect from our visitors, our residents and ourselves? Put simply – respect. Respect the fish, Respect the Pass.

The 2013 “World’s Richest” Tarpon Tournament scheduled for May 23rd & 24th 2013 is combined with the 3nd Annual Gasparilla Island Kid’s Classic will be held on May 25th hosted by Gasparilla Outfitters. The weekend long events will be combined with a downtown festival that will include music, food and games for the kids.

Contact the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce by phone, email, or visit their website for more information.

Pinocchio Tarpon Tournament Series

The following article was pulled from Beel den Stormer Presents the Only Fishery Blog You Need.  It was written by Beel den Stormer.  Check out his “Fish, Fisheries and Queryomics” blog at

Pinocchio Tarpon Tournament Series, According to Save the Tarpon

Picture of Pinocchio with a long nose

Beel loves big fish, fish festivals, and good times- like shindigs.  But Beel also loves a dog fight.

The Professional Tarpon Tournament Series (PTTS) has been caught up in a web of deceit of its own making, according to a report by Save the Tarpon.  Like Congress, Save the Tarpon made an impactful statement just before adjourning.  In this case, for a fundraising shindig on Sunday (3 March 2013).

Please friends, allow Beel to summarize several claims made by Save the Tarpon.

Save the Tarpon reports that in  September 2012 PTTS television show host Joe Mercurio told Florida Fish and Wildlife Commissioners that PTTS would “voluntarily” replace its gaff, drag, and release tournament format with an alternative format that would be less stressful to the fish.

Reportedly, Mercurio then requested that the commission disregard this this promise.

Save the Tarpon also reports that Mercurio later stated, “I ask that you accept these changes as part of all of our responsibility to ensure the conservation and preservation efforts we have made in the past continue to have a positive impact on the fish and fishery.”

Okay, like a hungry tarpon, Beel will bite.  Which “changes?”  The initial change of format, or the subsequent reversion to the status quo?

Finally, Save the Tarpon reports that Mercurio promised the commission that, “This year, we pledge to provide $15,000 to further support the FWRI’s [Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute] Tarpon Genetic Recapture Study.”

Evidently, the check was lost in the mail as FWRI has not received it as of this date, according to FWRI’s lead tarpon researcher Dr. Kathy Guindon.

Given the nature of the controversy, it is not at all in PTTS’s  favor to be so inconsistent on the record.

Last week Beel commented on this controversy and noted that the PTTS represented, “A Case History of Catastrophically Poor Public Relations.”

Since that report, Beel has learned that Mercurio has a degree in public relations.  Oh well, Beel guesses its all about grade inflation.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive.”
Sir Walter Scott (1808)

Disclaimer:  Beel actually looked into attending the shindig to speak with Save the Tarpon principles to learn more about this controversy.  However, the 18-hour flight + layover (each way) precluded such a trip.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A preview of what’s up for bid on March 3 … some seriously cool stuff!

Want to go fishing? Maybe take in a Bucs game? Perhaps a year of pest control? Or a long weekend away from it all on Siesta Key? Dinner at PJ’s Seagrille? Two nights at the Gasparilla Inn and Club? Did we mention fishing? We’re still adding everything up, but here’s a preview of some of the cool stuff to be auctioned at our Save The Tarpon “Shindig” on Sunday, March 3 from 2 to 6 p.m.

Save the Tarpon Shindig - March 3, 2013The event will be held on the grounds of the Louise duPont Crowninshield Community House adjoining the Boca Grande Community Center. It’s located at 131 Banyan Street along Park Avenue in Boca Grande. You can’t miss it. Just listen for the sound of people having fun – for a good cause. And, of course, thanks to everyone who contributed to the auction. Keep checking back. We’ll likely be adding to the list.

Want to bid on an item, but you won’t be able to join us on March 3? No problem. Send an email to Include your name, phone number, a description of the item(s) and your proposed bid.

Live Auction:

  • Seaplane ride for two to go oystering: You, your guest, and New York Times best selling author, Randy Wayne White, travel by seaplane (captained by Mark Futch) to Turtle Bay for an afternoon of oystering. Upon returning, Randy personalizes a copy if his new novel, Night Moves, to serve as a keepsake of your adventure.
  • Red Snapper Fishing Charter with Capt. Tom McLaughlin of Another Keeper Charters.
  • Tarpon fishing charter with backcountry, harbor and beach specialist, Capt Rhett Morris. Includes a 2 bedroom/2 bath cottage at Useppa Island Club for four.
  • Tarpon fishing charter with fly fishing specialist, Capt. Tommy Locke. Includes a two-night stay for two persons at the Gasparilla Inn and Club in Boca Grande.
  • Traditional Pass tarpon fishing charter with Capt. Willie Mills. Includes two spots on the VIP boat for the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament.

Silent Auction:

  • One year preferred membership at Useppa Island Club.  Includes $1600 initiation fee and 12 months of dues.
  • Three hour sunset cruise for eight aboard a sport cruiser. Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be provided. From Marine Max.
  • Signed, uncorrected proof of Randy Wayne White’s new book, Night Moves.
  • Signed, first edition hardcover of Night Vision by Randy Wayne White.
  • Full day historic tour of Boca Grande by kayak or stand-up paddle board for four people. Includes a gourmet lunch. 
  • Four hour stand up paddle board rental and a four hour kayak rental — both from Pirate Coast Paddle Sports.
  • Photographs by Rick DePavia.
  • Print by marine artist Pasta Pantaleo.
  • Pearl necklace donated by Julie Salvetti (Designs by Julie).
  • Original tarpon painting by Kim McKoy donated by Special Effects on Boca Grande.
  • Limited edition tarpon print by Dana Krzewina.
  • Sterling silver hook pendant donated by Gasparilla Outfitters.
  • Basket of Reef Safe products.
  • Charter with Capt. Chris Frohlich.
  • Full day boat rental and jet skis rental from Allure Boat Rentals on Manasota Key.
  • Artwork from Kelly Reark, Coco Hibbitts, Jennifer McLaughlin, and Carol Swayze.
  • Complete golf cart service. Pick up and delivery included. From Thoroughbred Golf Carts.
  • Four tickets to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game at the 50 yard line. Includes a parking pass. Courtesy of Italiano Insurance.
  • Hand-made jewelry created by Angie Mills of Salt Tales.
  • Dinner at PJ’s Seagrille.
  • A private fly casting lesson with Dusty Sprague.
  • Gift set from Hooked on SUP in Cape Haze.
  • Gift bag from Newlin’s on Boca Grande.
  • 3 Night/4 Day stay on Siesta Key in a private residence.
  • One foursome of golf at St. Andrews South Golf Club in Punta Gorda & one free half-hour golf lesson with Assistant Golf Professional Nathan Wilson.
  • Flyfishing charter with Capt. Al White of Boca on the Fly.
  • Pompano fishing tackle set designed by Capt. Van Hubbard. Includes one hour private pompano fishing lesson & $25 certificate for Stump Pass Grille.
  • Yeti cooler and gift set from Barnichol Hardware on Boca Grande.
  • A variety of jewelry pieces from Barbara Anne’s Jewelry on Boca Grande.
  • Fishing tackle gift basket from Laishley Marine.
  • Coffee Gift Set from Hapa Hale Coffee Co. Unlimited.
  • Guided flats fishing on Cape Cod Bay with shore lunch with Capt Jake Grzyb of Seafield Guide Service.
  • $100 Gift Certificate for Native Gardens Florist on Boca Grande.
  • Gift set from The Grapevine in Boca Grande.
  • 1/2 day fly fishing charter for two with Capt Gregg McKee in Pine Island and Matlacha.
  • Under Armor fishing and hunting clothing.
  • Jewelry from Holly’s Gift Shop.
  • One year of pest control from Paul Mann Custom Pest Control.
  • Children’s gift basket from Smart Studio.


Budweiser’s long standing connection to the Boca Grande Pass tarpon fishery

Anheuser Busch AdSave the Tarpon, Inc is pleased to announce we will be serving complimentary Budweiser and other fine Anheuser Busch products to legal-aged guests at our March 3rd Shindig & Fundraiser!  Thank you to August and Steven Busch for this incredible contribution and for your support!

The Busch family of St. Louis has been a fixture in Boca Grande, Florida for decades.  Gussie Busch, who was the father of August and the Grandfather of Steven, fished the Pass aboard the Miss Budweiser and prior to that, the Buschweiser, dating as far back as the 1930s.

Miss Budweiser

Miss Budweiser

The Miss Budweiser, purchased by Anheuser Busch in 1962 and captained by legendary Boca Grande fishing guide, Johnny Downing, was a custom sportfish designed and built by Rybovich & Sons Boat Works. The Miss Budwesier was enjoyed by many including Gussie Busch’s  friends, wholesalers and family.  She was host to many celebrities and business giants in her days of catching “the big one” off the Florida coast and throughout the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1956, Budwesier produced a short film showcasing the Tampa Tarpon Tournament and tarpon fishing in Boca Grande Pass.  It’s a fun piece of history and pays tribute to the long standing connection between the Busch family and their love of tarpon fishing.