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By Capt. Dave Sutton

Could a Tarpon possibly be worth a million dollars? Yes it can, at Boca Grande Pass it can and it’s called the inaugural Mega Money Tarpon Tournament being held on July 7, 8, & 9, 2001. Imagine a fishing tournament that has the same excitement as a NASCAR race. The teams are slowly moving over the depths of the Pass, their finely honed fishing machines stand at the ready for the start of the contest. Just several hundred yards separate the combatants from the gallery of fans, and some even closer in their own boats as the countdown begins. There is only one pole position here, and that’s setting over tens of thousands of Megalops Atlanticus, or as we know them better, the giant Tarpon 

The countdown ends with “Captains, lower your lines!” The battle begins with the VHF radio crackling out from one of the warriors, “Fish-on,” as the great silver king rises from the depths and leaps skyward to throw the anglers hook. Then again & again “Fish-on” is heard as the bite is a good one this day. The captains maneuver their boats as skillfully as a driver at Indy, weaving in and out fighting these huge fish up to and sometimes over two hundred pounds. The cooperation with each other is astounding as they all try for the first and biggest fish of the day. This excitement continues for the next five hours on the first day of this contest. Will another tournament team move into first place, or will this day’s leaders prevail to reap the spoils of victory.

Since 1977, Millers Marina has been host to some of the world’s greatest tarpon fishing in Boca Grande Florida. A 12-week series of Tarpon Tide Tournaments has grown from simple, weekend outings, to an opportunity to win a contest totaling over One Million Dollars. 

I have just had a chance to fish the Pass with the guides of Millers Marina during the Sportswriters Invitational, and see for myself the rush of being in a feeding frenzy of one to two hundred pound Tarpon, as multiple fish were on and leaping out of the water right in front of you, and the boats running around weaving a path through, it was amazing and exhilarating all at the same time. 

I admit, being a flats guide and loving the solitude of fishing my own little piece of heaven, I didn’t think I was going to like this type of fishing, but was I ever wrong. I love to fly fish for Bones, but this is a roller coaster ride that you should try at least once. Then you will have the taste of “The Pass” in your blood for a lifetime. The guides are very professional and their gear is tailored for the type of fight you will encounter. I fished with Capt Dan Haley (941-793-FISH) the first day and with Capt. Tim Garland (941-626-2892) the second day and I saw and caught some of the largest tarpon I have ever seen. 

For more information on this kind of fishing, or to get into their weekly tournaments, or sign up for the Mega Money Tarpon Tournament, call Jack Harper of the Tarpon Club at 941-964-8080. They have a great website at

Call Jack and he will send you a tournament package that has a CD included showing the fantastic fishing at Boca Grande Pass as well as all of the information about becoming a Team Owner in the first ever Million Dollar Tarpon Tournament. Is a Tarpon worth a million dollars? The ones I saw were! Fish-on!


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