The Miller High Life Professional Tarpon Tournament Series presented by Century Boats held the final event of its' five week regular series this past weekend in Boca Grande Pass, FL. The Top 25 teams in the Yamaha Team of the Year Race, competed in the five hour event, with the winner being determined by the aggregate weight of a two fish bag limit.
Fishing proved to be a challenge for the field of the Top 25 Tarpon fishing teams in the world. At the start of the event few fish were in World Famous Boca Grande Pass. During the first two hours only three fish had been landed, two by Team Miller's Ale House, and one by Team MyELS.com, all were leader released.
Just after 11:00 AM Capt Nick Winger, and his Team Angler Boats, Tampa Bay, FL, hooked up. After a thirty minute fight the fish was boatside and the Team decided to take it in.
"We knew we had to weigh two, and thought the fish was around 160 LBS" said Capt. Nick Winger, leader of Team Angler Boats. The Tires Plus scale proved Winger and crew wrong with the fish only weighing in at 119 LBS. "We were discouraged, but determined to go out, hook a bigger one, and bring it in."
After losing two fish, one estimated at above 170 LBS, Capt. Troy Sapp, and Team Yamaha radio's that they had a fish on. After almost losing the fish to a large hammerhead shark, Team Yamaha jumped on the Florida Fishing Weekly leaderboard with a 140 LB Tarpon, overtaking Angler Boats for first place.
The drama continued as Team Howard Leasing reached the Miller's Ale House weighboat with a 129 LB Tarpon, that was immediately surpassed by Team Culo Majada's 130 LB fish. Shortly after the bite began to taper off.
With official Reactor time at 1:28 Team Angler Boats reported another hook up.
"The fish never jumped so we weren't sure what we had" said Capt. Nick Winger. As the fight neared completion the team was unsure of what they would do. "After misjudging the first fish, I was nervous about making another guess, so we put it to a team vote, and the decision was made to take it to the scale."
A decision that would ultimately pay off for Winger, and his crew of Capt. Lori Deaton, Rodney Taucher, and Mike Kopel, but not without some last minute drama.
With less than ten minutes to go in the event, Team Yamaha radioed in a hook up. After a short battle, they were headed to the Miller's Ale House weighboat to weigh in their second fish to challenge Team Angler Boats for the lead. In addition to Yamaha, Team Hendrick Roofing who had previously weighed in 65 lb Tarpon was headed to the scales with a fish.
"When I heard these fish were coming in, I almost threw up." said Rodney Taucher, of Team Angler.
Ultimately neither fish was large enough for either Team to take the lead from Angler Boats, but it moved Team Yamaha in to second place, sliding Team Howard Leasing, who weighed in a second fish a mere 52 lbs to third. Hendrick Roofings' fish propelled them into the 4th Place slot sliding Team Culo Mojada to fifth place.
With the victory Team Angler won a new Century 2102 Inshore powered by a Yamaha F150 four stroke motor and Continental aluminum trailer, along with four, custom Tarpon Cup Championship Gold Rings. The total prize package valued at $45,000.
The Tarpon Cup Championship marks the end of the 6th season of the Miller High Life PTTS presented by Century Boats. During the seven events, 78 Tarpon were weighed in for a total of 10,188 LBS, with the average fish weighing 131 lbs. Additionaly, 258 Tarpon were leader released, which translates to a fish being released every 49 seconds of competition. Other highlights include a record setting 217 lb Tarpon which won Week #3, and is the largest Tarpon ever to be weighed during a live release Tarpon fishing event.
"This year was by far the best fishing we have ever had." said Joe Mercurio, PTTS TV host. "The competition level is the highest it's ever been and it shows by the number and size of the fish landed. Next year should be even better."
All of the action from the 2009 Miller High Life PTTS can be seen beginning on July 3rd. The PTTS televsion show airs 4 times weekly, Fridays 4:00 PM, Saturdays 12:00 PM, Sundays 10:00 PM, and Thursdays 11:00 PM. The season airs for thirteen weeks.
The 2010 PTTS schedule will be released in early August and registration will begin later in the fall of 2009.
The Miller High Life PTTS presented by Century Boats is the largest and richest live-release tarpon tournament in the world, featuring five regular season events and one championship event all held in Boca Grande Pass, Fla. Teams may weigh one fish daily and obtain points towards the Yamaha Team of the Year Race by releasing placing, weighing and releasing fish. Camera crews are on hand during the PTTS to capture the action for a 13-week television series that airs on Sun Sports Network and World Fishing Network. This year the show will be available in over 37 million households nationwide and in Canada.
For more information and pictures please visit, www.TarponAnglersClub.com
NOTE: Fans are encouraged to watch the PTTS Tarpon fishing action and weigh in live. The weigh in is held on the beach at Gasparilla Island State Park, Boca Grande, FL. In addition downtown Boca Grande offers numerous family friendly restaurants and shops, as well as other historical sites.