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Capt. Derrick Jacobsen
Waterline Magazine - May, 2003
Capt. Allan Beraquit &
Jun 25, 2004
Record Tarpon At Boca Grande?
By FRANK SARGEANT
Capt. Brian Hart:
What might have been the largest tarpon ever caught anywhere in the
world was released by captain Brian Hart and angler Scott Kenney about
two weeks ago at Boca Grande Pass.
The massive fish, which Kenney photographed at boatside, taped 92 inches
long and had a girth of 49 inches. Based on the standard formula for
estimating tarpon weights - length times girth squared divided by 800 -
the least the fish could have weighed is 276.1 pounds. But tarpon
experts agree that the formula underestimates for fish more than 180
pounds by a factor of about 10 percent.
Giving Kenney's fish that extra 10 percent, it might have exceeded 300
pounds. Unfortunately, no one will ever know because the anglers quickly
decided to release the tarpon, rather than kill it for the weigh- in
that an official record requires.
The catch and measuring were witnessed by a biologist from the Florida
Marine Research Institute, who was aboard to observe tarpon jigging
Kenney hooked the fish at about 7 a.m. on a breakaway jig fished just
off bottom in the 72-foot-deep Lighthouse Hole. He said the fight was
unusually short, especially considering the size of the fish. The
biologist timed it at 22 minutes.
``We had a bull shark about 9 feet long come up under the fish at the
boat,'' Hart said, ``and I think the tarpon was just too big for the
shark to try to eat. It just faded away.''
Kenney, of Aurora, Ohio, said the fish swam off seemingly none the worse
for wear. He said after the release he wished they had taken a scale for
the biologist to use in determining the fish's age, but the important
thing seemed to be to release the fish alive.
The all-tackle world record for tarpon is 286 pounds, 9 ounces, caught
off the coast of Africa in March 2003. The largest tarpon weighed in
from Florida waters was a 243- pounder caught at Key West in 1975.
Florida tarpon seem to be increasing steadily in maximum size since the
1989 introduction of the $50 tarpon ``kill tag,'' which virtually put an
end to harvesting. Before the tag, anglers along the west coast, mostly
at Boca Grande and Tampa Bay, killed more than 4,000 fish a year. Since
the tag, that number has hovered around 100 annually.
Because tarpon are able to survive at least 50 years in the wild, the
continuing growth of released fish might be having a major impact on the
The typical fish boated at Boca Grande used to be around 80 pounds, but
these days it is closer to 100.
Tournament-winning weights have risen about 40 pounds in the past
decade, from a historic average around 110 to a present weight of close
to 150 in many events.
Two years ago, captain Rob McCue and his angler taped another Boca
Grande monster that was 90 inches long and had a girth of 46.5 inches.
Its weight was estimated at somewhere more than 250 pounds, and it also
Several fish in the 230- to 250-pound class have been landed in Tampa
Bay in the past two years, including a 223-pounder that was weighed in
at the Suncoast Tarpon Roundup in 2002.
Though Hart and Kenney won't be able to claim the record, odds appear to
be very good that someone along Florida's southwest coast is going to
set a world mark within the next year or two.
This story can be found at: http://outdoors.tbo.com/outdoors/MGBMHFUJVVD.htm
12/18/03, This page
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