BY MARCY SHORTUSE - When the lights dim in the Boca Grande Community Center Auditorium at 2 p.m. on March 21, another step in an ongoing battle will be made that could change the face of Boca Grande tarpon fishing forever.
It is tentatively titled, “Let’s Save the Boca Grande Tarpon Habitat.” The documentary by filmmaker Rich Volpe of Estero was created in conjunction with the Boca Grande Fishing Guides’ Association.
“This movie was created to show destruction of the tarpon habitat in Boca Grande Pass,” said Cappy Joiner, president of the BGFGA. “We want people to understand what’s going on here. Those who identify with us know what’s going on, but we’re trying to get through to people who may not necessarily fish, but still care about our local environment.”
Joiner, as well as many other local fishing guides whose families have fished local waters for generations, worries that Boca Grande Pass could become another Port Aransas, Texas. The pass there used to have prolific amounts of tarpon, but after years of overfishing the tarpon population slowly depleted. By the 1950s, they had all but disappeared.
Currently, scientists that have researched tarpon numbers in Boca Grande Pass have come up with anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 fish in the Pass during peak season.
According to Volpe, the film was created during the 2009 and 2011 tarpon fishing season in the Pass.
“In 2009 we went out and got some tournament and fishing footage,” he said. “Then, in 2011 we went out again for one event on the water, and spent some more time filming from the beach. I wanted to help the Guides’ Association with that, because I believe it’s a true calling.”
Some of the methods of fishing that the film looks into are the use of the breakaway jig and large groups of boats running over schools of tarpon, hounding them and running them off.
Capt. Tommy Locke, Capt. Frank Davis and Capt. Mark Futch narrate the film which is approximately 15 minutes long.
“There is a great erosion of our fishery,” Joiner said. “And we need to let the world know it.”
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