Florida Fishing Report: Florida Fishing Charters

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Lots of great stuff to report over the past few weeks as the peak of the giant tarpon season is in full swing. The weather has stabilized and though present in low concentrations somewhere in the neighborhood, red tide has all but disappeared. The last few days the winds have been up out of the west keeping the beach action at bay, but the big pass is stuffed with fish and plenty of opportunities to catch them by using an assortment of techniques.

Potential United States Record Shattered Again?

If a tying record fish of 243 lbs taken on my boat last year was not enough, all shadows of a doubt were dismissed earlier this week when we had Don and Angela Hinton on board. The press release to follow: 

Donny Hinton Unofficially shattered the United States 
record with this 250 lb monster.

The Tampa Tribune Wednesday May 28 2003, by Frank Sargeant

Captain Robert McCue and mate Brian Timmons, guiding Don and Angela Hinton of Gaffney, S.C., brought a monster tarpon to their boat at Boca Grande last week.

According to McCue, the fish taped 87 inches to the fork of the tail, and had a 48-inch girth. Using the standard formula, the fish should have weighed close to 250 pounds, which might have made it a U.S. and Florida record. The measuring was witnessed by Tampa captain Don Mason.

But McCue said that his mate hooked the fish before handing it over to Hinton, so the catch would have been disqualified under IGFA rules. Only one angler can touch the rod during a fight. After a quick photo, the fish swam away unharmed, McCue said.

World Tarpon Championship Series

For 3 consecutive weeks my team has held their own, taking most release in each event. In week one we scored 2 releases and took a stab at second place in overtime. The fish fell short and we settled for most releases prize money and awards. A tournament contender I guessed at about 160lbs was lost at the boat after an hour and 15 minute fight when the hook pulled from the beast. Keeping pace in last week’s ladies day my wife Cyndie McCue, Dawn Stone and Karen Longnecker opened up a can of whoop and took most releases. The ladies suffered an unfortunate event when a large and potential contender was hooked up in an awesome spectacle of fury. Within seconds the fish had jumped twice and as we pulled forward to gain control, Murphy’s Law came into play when a boat not paying attention while returning up tide cut it off. Again we settled for most release prize money and awards. Today, it was business as usual for myself, Brian Timmons and Willie Longnecker. While we leadered two fish in the three-hour event, we released a fish in the low 130s thinking it would not hold, based on the fish that came to my boat on my charters this week. A 142 won, and a 129 took second. Right decision to release or not, the team obliged to winning most release prize money and awards.

It’s rare for any team to win most releases in 3 consecutive tournaments. The team is focused, but waiting on some luck from the fish gods above. People asked me today if we are frustrated with our luck. I compare it to Pete Rose who in his day would stand at the plate on a full count and foul off a dozen and a half strikes waiting for a base hit ball. When it is our turn, we will be ready.

 As for prizes, the team is well in the black this year and virtually fishing the high stakes event for free each week based on our winnings thus far. It’s one thing to be good, but we are ready to be lucky anytime now.

John Audette and father, Bob Audette took a short time out from giant tarpon to tackle these nice permit

Hill Tide Goes Off

The natural phenomenon known as the “hill tide” went strong for a couple of afternoons this week. During the big spring tides of the new and full moon, tens of thousands of Calico crabs ride the strong outgoing tide to spawn. Their route is helpless as they pass thru Boca Grande Pass with 10,000 giant tarpon waiting on them. No matter how good it is today compared to yesteryear. No matter how many times I have experienced it, there is no sight comparable to the frenzy of giant tarpon cracking crabs off the surface. The event is the grand finale on the Forth of July as the horizon lights up with boats double and triple hooked up, tarpon popping the surface and flashing just inches below your feet.

Greg Crouch Makes a $5000 Donation to the Boca Grande Enhancement Fund

Long time friend Greg Crouch gave me a check payable to the Enhancement Fund for $5000 last week. The fund is a non profit organization who each year dives Boca Grande Pass to recover the remnants of every user group within a 75 mile radius of the Pass. Greg wanted to make the contribution as his part to help preserve for the future what he has enjoyed so much over the past decade. You are a special man and thank you!
Greg Crouch bows to the king and pays homage to the Pass.

Bounty Hunter 200 lb Giant Tarpon Club----New Members

Ross Hebert took this 220lb. fish as his ticket into the 200lb club

In addtion to Donny Hintons 250 lb. Fish, Ross Hebert took a fish calculated at 220lbs 2 weeks ago. Ross has been coming for several years with pal Greg Crouch. Just 20 minutes prior to hooking the "big mamoo”, he had just was catching his breath after landing a fish that went 180. Way to go Ross!

Otherwise it’s business as usual. While the numbers are off from the past, hands down this is the Giant Tarpon Capitol of the World, even in an off year.

Screaming Drags and Tired Arms!

Robert McCue


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Last Update 31MAY03
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