Two Tarpon Tournaments, One Big Controversy

By all accounts, the return this past weekend of the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament was a huge success, and the tournament is being lauded for emphasizing education and conservation as much as fishing. Thanks to all who supported the WRTT and many thanks to all the fans who visited the Guy Harvey Mobile Express over the weekend.

At the same time, another tarpon tournament that was held in the same location over the weekend is drawing the ire of many conservation-oriented fishermen, including well-known author and nearby resident Randy Wayne White. The Professional Tarpon Tournament Series allows the practice of “snag fishing” or “jig fishing”, a practice that many anglers and conservationists consider unsportsmanlike and unethical (by comparsion, the WRTT required participants to fish with live bait, and the tournament’s format was “catch and release” only).

White says the PTTS “encourages” snag fishing and as a show of his disapproval his restaurant, Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, will no longer sponsor the tournament. PTTS Vice President Joe Mercurio, however, defended the tournament, saying anglers in the PTTS use circle hooks to catch tarpon, a method that does not allow for snag fishing. He also noted that the PTTS works closely with Florida Fish and Wildlife and Mote Marine as part of the tournaments efforts toward conservation.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK: Is snag fishing acceptable, or does this practice violate the spirit and ethics of tournament fishing?

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9 Responses to Two Tarpon Tournaments, One Big Controversy

  1. Capt. Geoff says:

    Snag fishing, in a tournament?This is totally unacceptable in my opinion. I just never imagined that this could/would be allowed. I was under the impression that all fishing tournaments, in the state, had to follow FFW regulations.

    A snagged fish is more difficult to land, in turn making it that much tougher on the fish. I have to wonder how this affects mortality rates, when these fish are released.

  2. Lee Baker says:

    There is no room for this type of fishing in a tournament or otherwise. It is not ethical, nor does it keep with the tradition of sport fishing. The PTTS should seriously reconsider snag fishing. This is disconserting both as an angler and a conservationist.

  3. fefefkank snsknd says:

    this is misleading and an attempt to advertise their own tourny. using the break away jigs that the article is talking about is more humane than using live bait. the baits have a circle hook and no live bait is removed from the estuary. the only thing that could be considered snagging is the using a lip gaff to bring the fish to the weigh station, but it is debatable if that even affects the fish. I am someone who fishes in the pass frequently and snagging fish [with hook and line] is definitely not common.

  4. Will says:

    if we are “snagging fish ” which is very rare to begin with why isn’t everyboat fishing jigs Hooking fish on every single drop or drift so many misunderstand what jig fishing is all about and the PTTS doen’t let the fish count unless it is hooked in the mouth.QUESTION.Do fish get snagged sure they do not just Tarpon but all fish have been snagged even with circle hooks I haved caught fish on lures,jigs,cut bait,and live bait circle hooks deffinatly cut down on mortality rates so why the jig in the pass is always ruled as a snagging device by some has always been a topic.I for one would rather use the jig then a live bait in the pass.Anyone who has watched a live baiter out their use a J-Hook and wonder why the Tarpon doesn’t jump as much or when it does all of the blood that pours out of its gills.Wonder why after the bite the throttles are hammered to hook the fish so when a fish eats a live bait he swallows it so in turn lets rip the insides out.The only contraversy is Jiggers are more manuverable and we catch more fish then the live baiters and they hate us for it I would like to see a live bait verus jig tourney to end this bad blood.

  5. Capt. John says:

    Fishing-Jigging for tarpon with the heavy jigs does snag plenty of tarpon, there is no debate among real fisherman.

    The PTTS refuses to adhere to the Best Handling Practices” recommended by the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust.

    The PTTS is just in it to enrich the tournament promoters and they don’t care about the fishery. They are all about getting a shark attacking a tarpon on TV.

    To the contrary the “World’s Richest” does use the Best Handling Practices of the BTT and is a good tournament.

    One is a BAD tournament, one is a GOOD one. Good move on the part of Randy Wayne White and the Doc Ford Rum Bar!

    • Former Snagmaster says:

      There is no truth in anything Mercurio says. I have a video of a dead tarpon on the beach last Sunday with a circle hook in it’s gills. He’s in it for the money’money,money!

      • Did you know the dead tarpon are picked up and burried by the Gasparilla island park crew without ever being recorded?
        And look up who own the PTTS, it’s not Mecurio… more money money money

  6. I’m not on either side, but if jig fishing snags fish then jiggers should never have a day they don’t catch fish and we know that’s not the case. The bite would not matter if snaging really worked. …
    just saying,

  7. When Gary Ingman (owner of this very profitable tournament) was asked by a local Captain when he would discontinue the unethical and unsportsmanlike practices used in the PTTS, his response was, ‘when someone makes us.’. SaveTheTarpon.com was established to show the PTTS and its sponsors we will not tolerate this blatant disregard for this precious resource. Join us and sign the petition.

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