As a kid growing up along the perimeter of Tampa Bay, each summer I looked forward to the Tampa Bay Tarpon Tournament. The pictures of the huge tarpon caught and killed in the name of competition by anglers during the events spiked my curiosity in several fashions. I thought, “Could there be a more beautiful fish — and why would anyone want to kill such a fish they didn’t plan to eat?”
Like a sponge when it came to fishing knowledge, I was sucking up any available information about a sport that would one day become my full-time career. Over the years some things changed while others didn’t. Anglers quit uselessly killing tarpon.
Moving to Florida ‘s Indian River Lagoon (IRL) coast more than thirty years ago, my wife and I discovered a slice of nirvana-like barrier island wedged between the IRL and the Atlantic Ocean, about an hour east of Orlando. In those days fishing was incredible, the pace of life laid back — a perfect place to raise a family on a fishing guide’s wages. As we watched the years roll development grew along the Indian River Lagoon coast, and the fishing went from good to great, thanks to Florida’s Net Ban.
However, due to the increase in population, fishing moved in an opposite direction again-great to good. We discovered that our state and county governments failed to be first-class stewards of our natural resources often placing progress over common sense and restrain. Nevertheless the surf fishing along the Central Florida Coast reins supreme. This was supported by a unique combination of numerous gamefish to target, unlimited access, and the ability for anglers to fish year round.
Wanting to educate anglers on this wonderful resource and secure it for their future, the International Surf Fishing Tournament was started last year. This is one-of-a-kind event because of several reasons. Anglers will fish for literally dozens of species from shore or from a kayak, canoe, or paddle board as long as they are fishing the Atlantic Ocean’s inshore waters along the Brevard County coast.
Vying for thousands of dollars in cash and prizes, one angler will be crowned the 2013 International Surf Fishing Champion. For more information go to surffishingtournament.com.
Yes, we still have the world’s best surf fishing, and in my mind, tarpon still remain one of the universe’s most beautiful creatures!