BY LEW HASTINGS - Making its historic return in 2012, on its 30th anniversary, the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament and festival was back in a big way with a renewed mission of conservation, education and sportsmanship. By combining the high-stakes allure of competitive, big-game sport fishing with practical conservation principles and informative entertainment, this trend-setting event is pioneering its way as a model for tarpon tournaments around the world.
This year, anglers will enter a two-day tournament on May 23 and 24 with up to four anglers per team and will be competing for thousands in cash and prizes. Competitors will follow catch and release procedures designed for quick releases and the post-release welfare of all tarpon. Winners will be determined by the highest total number of tarpon successfully released, each of which are officially recorded when the Captain or mate touches the leader and immediately releases the tarpon. An observer, professionally trained in tarpon identification, proper release procedures and tournament rules, will accompany each team throughout the competition.
While tournament action heats up in Boca Grande Pass and the Gulf of Mexico, there will be plenty of family-friendly fun and excitement back on shore at the festival in beautiful downtown Boca Grande May 24 and 25. Event sponsors will be on hand to exhibit their products and conduct demonstrations and promotions, along with a wide variety of spectacular art vendors, live music performances, unique attractions like the Mote Mobile Aquarium, entertaining and educational marine-centric lectures by some of today’s leading fishery experts and scientists, and of course, lots of delicious food and cold beverages.
World-renowned marine artist, biologist, angler and event sponsor, Dr. Guy Harvey, of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation said, “This tournament and festival will increase global awareness of the important role that tarpon play in the world’s oceans and our ecosystem. We applaud the event’s founders and directors for their increased commitment to promote the proper catch and release of tarpon. Our goal with them is to help minimize the mortality rates of this species and maximize educational outreach about the important and growing need for their conservation.”
The flood of unprecedented support and involvement from the sport, science, conservation and business communities has caused the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament and Festival to receive local, regional and international mainstream media attention through TV news, radio talk shows and featured articles by respected journalists in several major publications.
As a result, this event has effectively reached millions of people, not only in our own back yard, but around the world. That reach is about to be extended as the result of an alliance between the Chamber and Sean and Brooks Paxton at Think Out Loud Productions who are producing an hour-long special feature entitled, “Rich History … Priceless Future – the Tarpon of Boca Grande Pass.”
The Paxton Brothers have made distribution arrangements with Fox Sports Florida to air the special to millions of households in the weeks leading up to this year’s event.
Everyone from our anglers, teams and observers to our sponsors and volunteers is excited about being involved in this because of the mission. We’re really looking forward to this year’s event and encourage anyone interested in participating or attending to contact me about getting involved. To our participating anglers, team registration is officially open and I look forward to hearing from you.
For more information including team entry forms and sponsor opportunities, go to WorldsRichestTarpon.com, and BocaGrandeChamber.com.
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