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Save The Tarpon, Help Stop the Professional Tarpon Tour Series

February 6, 2012
Author: Tucker Ladd

Please watch the following video, and read below to learn more about you scan help...

I rarely like to use our blog as a soap box, but occasionally there comes a cause where I just cannot help myself.  First let me start off by saying that I am an angler and avid sportsmen.  I fish, hunt and do anything and everything I can outdoors.  I am not an elitist fly fisherman.  I have been known to throw a spin and bait cast rod, and have had a great time doing so.  I also believe that all anglers have the same rights to fish, no matter if you're throwing a fly, a spoon, or a worm.  That said, I am adimantley against the Professional Tarpon Tour Series (PTTS).  Angling events such as these do nothing more than harm fisheries, all for the sake of the all mightly dollar.  While there are plenty angling competitions that I believe fall within the bounds of "ethical angling", the PTTS is not one of them.

The Save The Tarpon cause was started by Rick Hirsch, a resident of Florida and avid Tarpon Angler.  Rick's motivation behind this cause is nothing more than to preserve his home fishery.  Yet through the powers of social media and to good old World Wide Web, Rick has been able to get the word out on the potential threats the PTTS poses to Florida's world renowned fisheries.  Through his efforts, Rick has been able to soliciate the support of some big names in the fly fishing industry, proving that this issue goes well beyond th borders of Florida and it's fisherman.   So if you share in our concerns over this event, and would like to do something to help preserve Florida's Tarpon populations, please email your name and hometown to:


We have just received some updated contact info for Save The Tarpon:


Save the Tarpon of Boca Grande Pass

Join them on Facebook!

additionally, there is now an online petition located at

Posted in EducationEssays |   14 Comments


#1. Posted by Bill Chilton on February 7, 2012

This is soooo bogus! You are ELITEST! The “Save the Tarpon” cause is a joke, and, completely unfounded. Did you that the survival rate of tarpon in the PTTS is actually higher than your Local Bass tourney.
I have fished on the BASS tour, the IFA series and have been a professional guide for over 25yrs. I have never fished in the PTTS, but admire the lengths they go to for the benefit of the fish.
You would be wise not to listen to those who have gripe or complaint, that DO NOT PATICIPATE, and have BNO facts to support their cause….

Rick Hirsch, just a disgruntled, pitiful lil man. Just a pitiful lil blogger… no facts, just his personal thoughts, not worth much, not very honest either.

The tournament is great fun! Great fishing, great people….maybe not for him, but hey, it’s a big ocean, go find you own fish! I have a friend that has been involved for a couple of years with the tournament. He’s more of a fisherman(person for your pc elitests), TU board member nd all, and more of a conservationist than anyone you know. He has no problem with the tournament at all, even fished it with a flyrod last year.

You want a change, then get involved in the event and see for yourself how things work. Then keep your left coast bs where it belongs, back home on the left coast! Get your facts straight before barreling headlong into a subject you obviously know nothing about.

Bill Chilton

#2. Posted by Trouts Staff on February 7, 2012


Thank you for your spirited comment.  There is no doubt that this is a contentious issue, so I appreciate you offering a perspective from the other side of the fence.  If you were to read Mr. Hirsch’s commentary from the Boca Beacon (November 21, 2011) which was linked in the post above, you will see that he offers evidence and validity to his concerns.  You didn’t offer any facts to back up your statement that the BASS tournament has a higher mortality rate than the PTTS, so I am not sure how we are supposed to just “take your word” on this matter. 

Seeing as you know nothing about Mr. Hirsch, you calling him a “disgruntled, pitiful lil man. Just a pitiful lil blogger… no facts, just his personal thoughts, not worth much, not very honest either”, makes you look like nothing more than an Internet “tough guy”.  Offer some facts and you will add more validity to your argument.  Otherwise, let’s not go after anybody personally without offering something to back it up.

Never did anybody say that the tournament wasn’t great fun, or that anybody participating in it weren’t good people.  The basis of this argument is that the tactics and ethics of this tournament do not coincide with the best interest of the Tarpon.  Period.  We are not trying to assassinate anybody’s character, we are offering an argument that for-profit fishing tournaments don’t have the best interest of the long term survival and viability of a fishery in mind.  For this reason, we are calling for the end of this tournament.

#3. Posted by Rick Hirsch on February 11, 2012

Wow! I don’t know who you are and have never spoken with you yet…but whoever put up the video on (I presume) your Trout’s Fly Fishing site in Denver is now my hero…ranked up there with Mickey Mantle, Mark Messier & Stu Apte. Go bro!  Yeah and thanks for standing up for the “disgruntaled lil man” comment. We get a lot of that stuff. Weak personal attacks combined with the talking points that we “have no facts” “no science” and “don’t know what we are talking about.” Happily, those are their best talking points, without (ops) any facts of their own. I thank you for keeping a level head and keeping the discussion civilized. We have plenty of facts and evidence ranging from high cortizol, blood levels, high lactic acid levels etc after the jigged up, gaffed, roped & dragged to wiegh in followed by photo session time fish are released. These fish are proven to be stressed and have a notably higher mortality rate (granted not a huge sample) than even the tournament landed tarpon in Tampa Bay.
Anyway, please write to me at if you haven’t already so that I can attach a name to my new hero.

#4. Posted by Jason Sherwood on April 13, 2012

Eliminate the commercial guide fishing in Boca Grande Pass, this cures all the problems, the guides have done this to themselves both jigg and live baiters. The fishing for one species of fish in one small space 24 hours a day, 7 days a week has pushed these fish to have alternate patterns.  Give the fish a break.

#5. Posted by Save the Tarpon on June 5, 2012

For all those who care about preserving the tarpon fishery of Boca Grande Pass, please visit and sign the petition to end the PTTS.

Thank you!

#6. Posted by Fishin Frank on June 6, 2012

I find myself a lone voice, while live baiters & jiggers continue to fight, about what seems like you catch more fish than I do so you must be bad?

The truth to me is very different as I see it, and maybe only as I see it.
To me watching the evolution of fishing, and studying the movements, spawning, habits, of Tarpon
How the currants affect where the eggs flow to, where the very young fish grow up.
There is a much larger problem than jiggers or sharks or bait.
When confronted with a problem in the present or a problem for the future you need to look first to the past, See what was, what is this will help determine what will be.
So let’s start at the turn of the last century, commerce came to South west Florida.
Phosphate the mines at Liver pool were really getting going, The Cattle industry was taking off,
plenty of good needed to go to market. Money to be made, all good. It is what humans need to have civilization. Jobs!
So with the need Boca Grande Pass was just deep enough to get smaller deep water vessels into,
but by 1912, the need for larger ships prompted the first dredging of Boca Grande Pass.
As I understand from the writings the two sand bars at the north end of Bokeelia used to be islands? I cannot verify this However the story goes That after dredging the pass the increase in water flow, I do not know how else to say it sucked the islands away.
That first dredging changed the currant & flow of the pass, & for almost 100 years it was kept constant, as every 3 or 4 years routine maintenance dredging was done until 2001.

It was in 2001 that the power plant in Fort Myers, switch to Natural gas, instead of fuel oil, This alone does not seem like much, But The delivery of fuel oil to the tanks located at the south end of Gasprilla Island by tankers made Boca pass a commercial shipping lane, once the shipments stopped, it is no longer a commercial shipping channel as not eligible for routine maintenance dredging.

Jump from 2001 to 2012 Tarpon season, The Tarpon last year & the year before have been behaving differently than previous years, not following normal patterns, what is the problem?

The pass is now narrower than it was 10 years ago or the year before or the year before that. The water flow is changing each year! Add to that the beach rebuilding “Dredging sand from the gulf and putting up on the beaches.
From what I can see from old Satellite photos, Boca is now at least 25% different than it was, & will continue to change. I have spoken to many fishermen about this. NO the pass is as deep as it ever was
so there is no problem, I have been told this many times, My case my response is that Captiva, Gasprilla & Stump Passes are still deep but are blocked by sand bars on the gulf sides, Is this not considered filling in? Change is change

the islands which are forming are changing redirecting the currants restricting the water flow. Our Tarpon fishery depends on water flow and the currants.  Tarpon have been using Boca Pass for feeding & spawning, man has maintained that constant even flow not changed for almost 100 years, until now.

It only makes sense the Tarpon would change with it.
This is not as sexy as Look, there is the guys who are doing this, blame them! They are the ones.
Now is the time for jiggers & drifters to get together, As one voice shout at the top of our lungs Save the passes we and the Tarpon knew it. To even think that humans could dredge for 90 some years and it would have no effect is well complete lack of thinking!
What is wrong is not about whom, but about what.
For decades Tarpon were killed and hung on nails as proof of a good day
Now Sharks get some.  People buy Tarpon tags, and the money is spent on research,
Some Tarpon die. No it is not good, but it does take money to do learn things.
Please quit fighting over who is doing what. Just look you will see what I am talking about.
Hate, and finger pointing, is not productive. Yes the Tarpon habits are changing, yes it could all end.
Now ask yourself, Jigging has been going on for quite a while, what really changed in the last few years? What is the most significant change?
The water flow of Boca Pass itself.

#7. Posted by Bill Gorton on June 6, 2012

This event must be stopped.  What is actually being done to stop it other than this email petition?

#8. Posted by Malcolm Royse on June 6, 2012

This is a crime, and they know it.  Stop them.

#9. Posted by Dillon Wells on June 7, 2012

Okay boys play nice. While some of the concerns that the disgruntled lil man has are minor, most of them are false. You said that when the tarpon are caught, they have higher levels of cortizol, blood levels, and lactic acid. The same can be said for any fish is that is fought over a period of time. You could take a red fish caught on light tackle up in Crystal River, run all the same tests and receive the same results. You also said that gaffing these fish is harming them. Gaffing the fish the way that these professional sportsmen do, does no more harm then your simple fly hook that imbeds intelf into the jaw of the tarpon. If you could enlighten me on how properly gaffing the fish is harming them, please do because I would love for you to prove me wrong. Your claim that these fish are changing there patterns because of the PTTS is absurd. For as long as these fish have held the name of Tarpon, they have migrated up and down the coasts going in and out of passes following the crabs that are flushed through them. A recent study showed that every year, 40,000 tarpon move through Boca Grande pass a day. I hardly think that this tournent which is only 18 hours total over a period of 6 weeks is having even the slightest effect on these massive fish. On top of the fact that the tournament only consists of 18 hours of fishing, the PTTS tags the tarpon through DNA. They tag these fish to study their migration movements and to ensure that the mortality rate of these fish remains low. The Florida Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also did a study of their own with genuine marine biologist who confirmed that 100% of the catch and release fish that were observe we’re caused by shark attacks. The food chain, a natural occurring event, does more damage to these fish in Boca Grande Pass then any type of fishing.

#10. Posted by mike tindal on June 9, 2012

I would like to see a study that was conducted by The Florida DNR or any other reconized experts on this subject. Opinions and personal attacks are not facts.  Please post all these studies that were done by experts on your website so everyone can see these factual studies and the outcome of their research.  I do not live in Florida and do not fish for Tarpon but I am an avid outdoorsman.  If this is a spat between two competing groups why don’t you find something else worthwhile to write about.  Before you call for boycotts and personal attacks on these fishermen you better have your facts straight.  I have never seen a personal opinion hold up in court!

#11. Posted by frank davis on June 17, 2012

Let me begin by saying that I have been fishin Boca Grande Pass most of my life of 51 yrs. 1)The pass is not filling in with sand(fishing frank) by the way, they never dredged the pass, they dredged the ship channel.
2) Dillon, I go out on Monday after every tournament and find dead tarpon. And guess what! They all have a gaff hole in the lower jaw. We get DNA samples and do you think they will match the fish that were weighed in by the PTTS. Yes they will. No one else gaffs a fish in Boca Grande Pass!
From a guide that fishes the pass every day, we observe the changes that are occurring over the years. The Ptts and the aggressive style of fishing is changing the normal patterns of the Tarpon. It now happens every day out there.
Two things that can be done: Get ride of the kill tag and put the hook back in the tail of the jig where it belongs!

#12. Posted by Perry. Becker on June 17, 2012


#13. Posted by Gary Colecchio on June 20, 2012

Rick Hirsh lives in New York and vacations in Florida.

He fishes exclusively and is connected with the Boca Grande
Fishing Guides Association members. This group of “traditional live bait ” guides has been fighting for 15 years for exclusive use of the pass using a listed set of rules published in the local press and Chamber of Commerce.

Their goal is to rid the pass of “off island ” guides. Their strategy has been if they can ban the use of artificial baits (jigs), the outsiders would leave. Of course this tournament is now a target because it shows that recreational fishermen need not employ local guides and successfully catch fish themselves.

BGFGA has demanded Florida Fish and Wildlife study the snagging issue , at taxpayers expense and rejected the finding when it did not substantiate their claims. They have since sued the state, as well as make other outrageous claims such as outboard motors ( employed by jig guides and recreational fisherman, vs their traditional inboards) scare the fish and change their migratory habits. 

This issue is not one of concern for the health of the tarpon fishery, all science points to a healthy fishery, but an economic one and a turf war engaged in and accelerated in the last decade.

This new Save the Tarpon campaign is the latest weapon employed by the BGFGA, who populate it in their campaign for exclusive economic access to the fishery , although not all that well masked:

As a light tackle tarpon fisherman and guide, I have no interest in either method of fishing the pass , preferring shallow water sight fishing , so I have interest in either side. But to those who have been following this travesty of allegations, accusations, innuendo,  bad science and bad blood,  this is simply another chapter and another tactic of BGFGA to ultimately regain ownership of a fishery they believe they have the right of sole ownership of.

- Captain Gary Colecchio

#14. Posted by Fishn Frank on July 10, 2012

This seems more like someone who is losing business to other types of charters, Most or all of the guys who fish jigs, also fish, fly or bait, Working to catch your customers fish is what this is about, THe real story is that the Pass is changing for the first time in recroded history, Trapon are moving, any fly fisherman worth his rods knows that after a flood rocks move shoreline change and so do where the Trout lay because of this, well here is a group that wants everything to be the way it was when the state did maintenance dredging of the shipping channel/pass, I know most of these guy & thought they were better/smarter than this, this is a goofy attempt to make other fishereman look bad, I would not have belived this from most of them, Sad are they just losing thier touch? From years of dealing with most of them I know they are good guys. BUt this is just plain bad behavoir on thier part with no foot on the soild ground on reality, The world richest Tarpon tournament as well as the PTTS should be banned as both of these tournament are horrible, the STT guys glady go out and break off 60 pound test while hooked to the mouth/jaw of a fish WHAT!!! this is bad no quetion why not talk about your bad habits, No points in either tournament for removing the hook, just let it rot in the fish, I guess it is ok to break thier jaw & slow poison kill as long I do it what you do is bad, but I am a good guy. Stop this lets all get together and make the habitate where the fish grow up to be adults useable to the baby Tarpon, each year we have a freeze all of the young die, there is no deep water creek habitat, WHat are we saveing them for if not to catch them? A tarpon is very poor food, and thier best quialty is their sheer beauty as they leap out of the water on your line. Lets do real good fix where they grow up So more make it to adluts, then you do not have to worry about who or how they are caught.

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