Re: Tarpon and Bonefish Florida Legislation changes

[Bulletin Board]

Posted by Bill Bishop on 2013-03-24 05:34:24 in reply to Tarpon and Bonefish Florida Legislation changes posted by Tom Karrow on 2013-03-23 13:45:34


Thank you for your thoughts and input on this subject. This process of bringing this proposal to the table has been the result of many anglers who share your desire to see something done to protect our tarpon fisheries. Chairman Ken Wright of the FWC has been a strong advocate for this proposal and I believe our state is fortunate to have his leadership and wise council involving this matter.

I certainly understand your position on harvesting a tarpon for IGFA records and expect many will agree with you. I for one support this portion of the proposal. I also should tell you that I have purchased a harvest tag each season for record purposes since the program began. I have not harvested a fish even though on one occasion there is good reason to believe the fish would have exceeded the existing record.

First, you should know that Florida holds more IGFA records than any other state. This is important due to the fact that this attracts more anglers to our waters and proves to be an economic boast to many business, guides, hotels, restaurants and so on.

Over the years I have come to know and fish beside some of the best tarpon anglers on the planet. When considering the number of fly fishing anglers who elect to fish for tarpon each year those who have dedicated themselves to honing the skills necessary to harvest a fish that will exceed current IGFA thresholds are few in numbers. Adhering to IGFA restrictions is a commitment to level the playing field between the tarpon and the angler. Those anglers who elect to take this route must learn to overcome a record fish without the advantage of increasing the line strength or increasing the dimensions of the various leaders materials involved. There is a great deal involved in developing the fish fighting skills to a level where an angler is a viable participant in this effort without altering the tackle restrictions.

As I said earlier, I have come to know these players in this sport on a personal level. While some chase records for different reasons all of these anglers share a common respect, admiration and concern for the protection and future of our tarpon fisheries. For me, the idea of going to a place that few anglers have gone involving going through all of the steps and guidelines to achieve a personal goal has proven to be a life long endeavor that has challenged me to be the best I can possibly be in the sport of fly fishing for a single species of fish.Please don't misunderstand my point. I relish the pure enjoyment of chasing tarpon on fly. I still fish for fun. Part of this enjoyment is attempting to capture tarpon within a set of standards that demands my upmost ability and skill level. Will I kill one?Time will tell but my efforts won't be driven or altered by merely having my name posted in a record book.

I recognize that is not everyones cup of tea but it has suited me well over the past quarter of a century and I hope will continue to do so down the road.

I would take an educated guess that there a fewer than fifty anglers in the country that are actively involved in this endeavor. As a result I support the idea that the tarpon tag to harvest a tarpon should be costly. In the past the harvest tag has been $50.00. This is far to cheap. I will support a fee in the neighborhood of $1,500.00 per year just to have the opportunity to harvest a record fish and further suggest that the tag must be purchased by the angler and the tag is not to be transferable. Additionally, discussions include all proceeds from tags should go directly to support future tarpon research.

I know the feelings of many involving tournaments and record fishing. I understand how and why many anglers take exception to this. I must suggest that all tournaments and all anglers who elect to pursue records should not be put in one single category. For example, over the past five years I have been proud to be invited to participate in the oldest and most respected fly fishing tournament in Florida. The Gold Cup consist of 25 seasoned anglers teamed up with 25 professional guides. This is a total catch and release event with strict standards enforced on all participants. The first and primary concern is for the preservation and well being of the tarpon caught during five days of competition. Anyone who has fished this tournament knows the tremendous effort put forth by those involved to foster the highest standards of sportsmanship and conservation. The fellowship and lifelong friendships that are a result can't be measured. All tournaments aren't equal.

I hope this proposal is passed by the FWC in it's present language or close to it. I am aware of the thought, consideration and dedication it has taken to get to this intersection. I also appreciate your taking the time to post your views and the complete proposal on Dans message board and taking the time to write your thoughts to the FWC. I have had the opportunity to attend numerous FWC meetings over the years and to come to know some of the commissioners personally. The time and effort these folks put forth on behalf of anglers and hunters alike is tremendous and I have the upmost respect and admiration for their leadership. They honestly wrestle with all of the data prior to making a final decision on the various issues. They know in advance that each decision will not make everyone happy but they are committed to doing the right thing in every situation.

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