Outdoors notebook: Tarpon tournament awaits ruling



The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, scheduled to meet Thursday and Friday in Pensacola, could take final action that would effectively put the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series, held in Southwest Florida’s Boca Grande Pass in spring and summer, out of business.

Nearly all anglers in the televised catch-and-release tournament use circle hooks with weighted jigs attached at the bottom to hook tarpon. But commissioners concluded at a June meeting in Lakeland that the gear snags the fish rather than enticing them to bite.

The commission Thursday will discuss a final rule that would enhance the definition of snagging and prohibit the kinds of jigs now used in the Pass to catch tarpon.

Also, a new rule designating tarpon and bonefish as catch-and-release only species takes effect Sunday statewide.

The new measures: eliminate all harvest of tarpon in state waters unless it’s in pursuit of a world record and in conjunction with a tag; limit tags to one per person per year except for licensed fishing guides; allow temporary possession of small tarpon for photography and measurement while tarpon greater than 40 inches must be kept in the water; and eliminate an exemption allowing tournament anglers to transport bonefish to weigh scales.

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