The origins of the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament date back to the early 1980s. It was started as the Boca Grande Club Invitational Tarpon Tournament by the Boca Grande Club. The purpose was to bring the world-class anglers to Boca Grande, a small residential community. It is located in southwest Florida on Gasparilla Island.
Boca Grande is also known as the ‘Tarpon Fishing Capital of the World’. The Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce took over the tournament in the early 1990s. It was re-branded as the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament and the winnings amounted to $100,000. In the beginning, this was a weight tournament. The first place went to the heaviest fish, followed by the second and third heaviest places.
This has changed in recent times. Today, the tournament focuses on conservation, education, and sportsmanship. The tournament also honours the history of Tarpon fishing in Boca Grande. Now, let’s take a look at how the past 3 years have been for the tournament.
During the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce had to cancel the tournament. A statement was issued by the Chamber Board of Directors stating the reason for the cancellation. It was done for maintaining the health and safety of Chamber members and the community of Boca Grande.
With new information and guidance coming out on a daily basis, the necessary adjustments had to be made. The Ladies Day Tarpon Tournament scheduled for the 9th of May was also cancelled. The Chamber directors promised that all those who had paid their entry fee would be refunded the full amount.
The captains, anglers, sponsors, volunteers, judges and other individuals came together for the 37th annual World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament. The event saw the release of 20 tarpons and the judges worked hard to determine the winners.
Quality Boats donated three of the boats to be used by judges. Marine Max donated and ran the sponsor boat. The tournament ran for two days and the total winnings amounted to $100,000. On Day1, Boca Blue won $42,500 for the first place and the first release.
Hey, Moma! won the last $12,500 with the last fish released on Day1. Searene won $45,000 with the second place and first and the last release on Day2. Carroll Swayze did an excellent job organizing the 8th annual Boca Grande Art Invitational for the street festival.
The two-day World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament was held on May 17 and 18. The first day of fishing was a bit stormy, but it had 60 releases. On the second day of the tournament, the number of releases stood at 53. The check for $34,800 was won by Captain Waylon Mills and his anglers.
The team that came second was Outta Line. Captain Blake Cheske and his anglers won a check of $23,200. The first tarpon of the first day was caught in the pouring rain by team Anejo. Captain Tater Spinks and his team of anglers won the check for their efforts.
The prize for the last fish of the day was won by team Casuarina headed by Captain Charlie Coleman. The first fish of the second day went to Captain Nelson of team Little Spook. Hey, Moma! with Captain Wayne Joiner won the last fish of the second day. Each of the first and last prizes was $14,500.