The 30th anniversary of the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament takes place this week in Boca Grande, FL. The celebration kicks off Wednesday evening with a Captain’s Party at Boca Bay Pass Club and concludes with Friday evening’s awards ceremony in downtown Boca Grande.
On Saturday and Sunday, the festivities continue with the Downtown Tarpon Festival, which features a Saturday night performance by Nashville recording artist Colton James. Click here for a full schedule of events.
History of the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament
In 1983 the “World’s Richest” Tarpon Tournament was originally called the Boca Grande Club Invitational, sponsored and run by the private Boca Grande Club located on the north end of Gasparilla Island, and traditionally run during the summer.
In 1991, the Boca Grande Club decided to discontinue their sponsorship of the tournament and the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce took it over renaming it the “World’s Richest” Tarpon Tournament and opening entries to the general public.
At its height, the total purse of the “World’s Richest” exceeded $175,000 and anglers from all over the world traveled to Boca Grande to enter for a chance to win it.
The impressive “World’s Richest” perpetual trophy is on display at the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce office and features the names of the winning team leaders for each year the tournament has been in existence.
In 2005, the Chamber of Commerce decided to take a hiatus from sponsoring the tournament to focus more on economic development for its growing membership base.
The Boca Grande Fishing Guides Association took over the tournament and renamed it the Boca Grande Fishing Guides Association Tarpon Tournament which ran until 2011.
Now in 2012, on the 30th Anniversary of it’s inception, the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce will once again sponsor and direct the storied “World’s Richest” Tarpon Tournament in its triumphant return.
This time however, education and conservation of the fishery combined with sport fishing will be the primary focus. Safe boating, sportsmanship and responsible angling will be promoted in order to encourage a safe, successful family friendly event that will ensure the protection and proper stewardship of our natural resources so that they may be enjoyed for generations to come.
The urgency towards conservation has become increasingly apparent over the last few years and the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce is committed to taking the lead in creating opportunities to help rehabilitate a habitat that has flourished in South West Florida for thousands of years.
Our all-release, no-weigh, no-kill tournaments are an alternative whose time has come. Bringing families together in sport and education enriches not only our estuaries and fisheries, but our community as a whole.
Our “World’s Richest” Tarpon Tournament scheduled for May 17th & 18th 2012 is combined with the 2nd Annual Gasparilla Island Kid’s Classic will be held on May 19th hosted by Gasparilla Outfitters and the 22nd Annual Ladies Day Tournament held on May 20th. The weekend long events will be combined with a downtown festival that will include music, food and games for the kids.
WRTT history prepared by Lew Hastings, Exec. Director of the Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce