According to islander Nat Italiano, it’s time to take our support of the tarpon fishery to the next level. That’s why he’s a big advocate of a local organization called Save the Tarpon, and he will be on the grounds of the Boca Grande Community Center this Sunday for their big “shindig.”
Founded in part by a local fishing couple, Capt. Tom McLaughlin and his wife, Jennifer, Save the Tarpon is a group that focuses on one thing – making sure that our local waters are just as full of tarpon 50 years from now as they are now.
“Our tarpon fishery has been overrun by an aggressive style of fishing,” Italiano said. “In a very short time this style of fishing has changed tarpon fishing in our area that generations have enjoyed.”
The event will take place on the grounds of the Community Center this Sunday, March 3, from 2 to 6 p.m. Everyone is welcome. Complimentary food and refreshments will be served, and a fish stew and chowder cook-off will be held, with local captains providing the fish.
There will also be a live auction to raise funds for Save the Tarpon, as well as games and prizes.
Live Auction items will include:• A seaplane ride for two to go oystering – you, your guest, and New York Times best-selling author, Randy Wayne White. Travel by seaplane (captained by Mark Futch) to Turtle Bay for an afternoon of oystering. Upon returning, Randy will personalize a copy if his new novel, “Night Moves,” to serve as a keepsake of your adventure.• Red Snapper Fishing Charter with Capt. Tom McLaughlin of Another Keeper Charters.• Tarpon fishing charter with backcountry, harbor and beach specialist, Capt. Rhett Morris. Includes a two-bedroom/two-bath cottage at Useppa Island Club for four.• Tarpon fishing charter with fly fishing specialist Capt. Tommy Locke. Includes a two-night stay for two people at the Gasparilla Inn & Club in Boca Grande.• Traditional Pass tarpon fishing charter with Capt. Willie Mills. Includes two spots on the VIP boat for the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament.
Silent auction items are too numerous to mention, but include:• One year preferred membership at Useppa Island Club. Includes $1,600 initiation fee and 12 months of dues.• Three-hour sunset cruise for eight aboard a sport cruiser from Marine Max. Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be provided. • Full day historic tour of Boca Grande by kayak or stand-up paddle board for four people. Includes a gourmet lunch. • Four-hour stand-up paddle board rental and a four-hour kayak rental — both from Pirate Coast Paddle Sports.• Photographs by Rick DePavia.• Print by marine artist Pasta Pantaleo.• Charter with Capt. Chris Frohlich.• Full-day boat rental from Allure Boat Rentals on Manasota Key.• Artwork from Kelly Reark, Coco Hibbitts and Jennifer McLaughlin.• Complete golf cart service. Pick up and delivery included. From Thoroughbred Golf Carts.• Four tickets to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game at the 50 yard line. Includes a parking pass. Courtesy of Italiano Insurance.• Hand-made jewelry created by Angie Mills of Salt Tales.• 3 night/4 day stay on Siesta Key in a private residence.• A variety of jewelry pieces from Barbara Anne’s Jewelry. • Jewelry from Holly’s Gift Shop.• Children’s gift basket from Smart Studio.
McLaughlin from Another Keeper Charters & Seafood is the chairman, and his wife, Jennifer, is the creative director. Capt. Frank Davis is the vice-chairman. Directors include Attorney Norman S. Cannella Sr., Capt. Chris Frohlich, Capt. Mark Futch, Capt. Pete Greenan, Mary Anne Hastings, Capt. Van Hubbard, Kevin Hyde, Capt. Tommy Locke, Paul Mann and Capt. Rhett Morris.
The Save the Tarpon is a non-for-proﬁt corporation created to advocate for ethical angling and promote the stewardship of the Boca Grande Pass Fishing Industry. Their goal is to promote responsible, conservation-oriented ﬁshing and handling techniques by anglers, as well as preserving fair and equal access for all users of the fishery.
“Save the Tarpon is a group of local fisherman who have banded together and have started to make a difference,” Italiano said. “Please come out and join the fight. Everyone on Boca Grande needs to be a part of this or we are going to lose a part of our heritage, and the title of the ‘Tarpon Capital of the World.’ This fun event is a time for us to come together and celebrate the rich history and culture of tarpon fishing in our region. It will also be a time to look forward as we continue to advocate for ethical angling, equal public access, and the stewardship of this precious public resource.”
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