To the editor:
In response to the Rhett Morris article regarding tarpon fishing in Boca Grande Pass and Savethetarpon.com:
My first question to Mr. Morris is if his true goal is to save the tarpon or to eliminate a technique that he either doesn't like or can't master. If his true goal is to save the tarpon, then he should be petitioning to end all tarpon fishing in Boca Grande Pass or to have a law passed to eliminate targeting tarpon as a sportfish altogether.
Next, he claims that people use weighted snatch hooks to fish for tarpon! Better Google a picture of a weighted snatch hook! I've been fishing for tarpon in Boca Grande Pass for about 10 years and I've never seen anyone use a weighted snatch hook to date. If he used weighted snatch hooks, I understand why he would snag his tarpon. Everyone I know uses a circle hook. I would challenge anyone to snag a tarpon by the tail or body using a circle hook.
Third, he claims this technique was adopted from salmon fishing. Again, if he uses treble hooks or snatch hooks, this could be the case, but the truth of the matter is this technique is simply vertical jigging that has been done since rods and reels were invented. I don't believe anyone ever used a circle hook to snag salmon.
He also claims the fish don't strike the lure. This is just absurd. If this were true, why would there by jig and tail colors in every color of the rainbow? I would challenge someone to put 100-pound main line on their reels and attempt to successfully jig for tarpon on a regular basis. If everyone is snagging tarpon, why can there be 25 feet of fish and no one hooked up? Because they aren't feeding! Where is the evidence that the tarpon aren't striking at the jig?
Let's assume that targeting tarpon as a sportfish stays legal. If this is the case, where does common sense tell you would be the best place for a hook set? No question! In the maxilla in the outer part of the jaw where a large percentage of the fish are hooked while jigging. Is it better to use live bait and have the tarpon swallow the bait and have to pull the hook from the tarpons stomach or gills?
Mr. Morris also claims the tarpon are in Boca Grande Pass to spawn. Where's the scientific proof to back up that claim? Google tarpon spawning and see for yourself that plenty of scientists believe tarpon spawn off shore. It just makes sense to me if there were 10,000 tarpon spawning in Boca Grande Pass, the water would look like a big white milkshake.
Who can support the claim that the flats boats drive the tarpon from the pass? These fish have been moving in and out of Boca Grande Pass since the beginning of time. Do the large diesel boats that are gunned to full throttle when a fish is hooked not drive the fish to move?
Mr. Morris claims that "all" of the guys that fish around here claim jig fishing is horrible for the industry. I don't think he has talked to "all" of the guys because "all" of the guys and "all" of the fishermen don't agree with his views. Anyone that has successfully vertical jigged for walleye who loves fighting large fish easily becomes addicted to vertical jigging for tarpon.
As far as the tarpon fishing tournaments go, I believe he has some valid points. I agree that it's not a good idea to drag the fish up to a 1/2 mile to be weighed. Why can't the tournaments be based on leader touches? I think this would definitely be less stressful to the fish.
To sum things up, the decision to eliminate jig fishing or bait fishing for tarpon in the future should be based on fact and science so people can continue to fight this great game fish for generations to come.