2018 World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament Rules

World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament 2018 

Entry Fee: $5,000

40 Team/Boat Maximum (4 Angler/team)

Most Release Event

Payout (based on a 20-boat field):

1st Place – Most Total Releases: $24,000

2nd Place – 2nd Most Total Releases: $16,000

Day 1 First Fish Released: $10,000

Day 1 Last Fish Hooked and Released: $10,000

Day 2 First Fish Released: $10,000

Day 2 Last Fish Hooked and Released: $10,000

Head Judge: Dixie Hollins

Judges: Sandy Bylaska, Rich Caccavale, Dave “Smitty” Smith, Austin Kopp, Ed Kopp

Tournament Director: Wesley Locke

WRTT Committee: Nat Italiano, Amy Prestia, Kacy Cheske, Gary Cross, Wesley Locke

Grande Tradition Event: Monday, May 14, 6 to 8 p.m. at The Crowninshield Community House

Sponsor Reception: Tuesday, May 15, 6 to 8 p.m. at Eagle Grille.

Captains’ Party: Wednesday, May 16, 5 to 8 p.m. at The Gasparilla Inn Beach Club. Rules will be read, team leaders will check in and receive their team bags.


Thursday, May 17th, 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Friday, May 18th 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Friday, May 18th at 9:30 p.m. in Downtown Boca Grande.


East Boundary- A straight line from the lodge dock east between the last buoy in the inland waterway off Boca Grande and the red buoy off Cayo Costa.
West Boundary- A straight line from the northern most end of the old fishing pier on the SW end of Gasparilla Island to the first red buoy (R 12) to the west corner of Cayo Costa Island (Marked by an orange flag).


1) No more than two rods can be actively fishing at any one time.
2) Once a fish is hooked, any remaining lines/rods in the water must be reeled in. This will insure that a hooked fish in under control, prevent tangles, and warrant a quick release.
3) Fishing Line: Line must be a minimum of 50-lb test rating per the manufacturer.
4) Leader: Leader line must be a minimum of 60-lb test rating per the manufacturer, minimum length of 10-ft, and no longer than 15-ft in total length.
5) Live bait only.
6) Hooks: Only one hook per line may be used. Use of more than one hook, hooks in tandem or treble hooks are not permitted.
7) Weights: There will be no weights, leads, split shots or sinkers placed closer than 10-ft from the hook.
8) Chumming: Chumming is not allowed
9) Anchoring: No anchoring by any tournament boats unless the boat is disabled and dead in the water.
10) Tarpon must remain in the water at all times. Any tarpon that is removed from the water is disqualified for a release. 11) No gaffing of tarpon for any reason.
12) Any tarpon that jumps into a boat while hooked is disqualified for a potential release unless the captain or mate has the leader in hand.

13) The captain or mate can ONLY help an angler at the time of hookup of a fish (placement of rod butt in gimbal) and at any time to make slight equipment adjustments during the fight.
14) During a battle with a fish, if an angler gets tired or overwhelmed, another teammate can substitute or aid that person for the remainder of the fight.
15) Boats must be operated in a safe sportsman like manner. All judge boats will have the authority to warn or disqualify a team from the tournament for conducting unsafe boating conduct.
16) Any violation of state or federal laws may be grounds for disqualification.
17) All contestants and captains agree to be respectful to their official boats and that any ruling/decision by the head tournament judge and World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament Committee is final.
18) Shark Rule: In the event of a shark encounter, If it’s a confirmed tarpon, a release is counted ONLY if the tarpon is in one piece and alive. If the tarpon has been hit by a shark, but is still whole and not missing part of its body, the release is valid. If the tarpon has been mutilated and a portion of the body is missing or if the tarpon is no longer able to swim, the tarpon will not be validated as a release.
19) If the 1st day of fishing is cancelled, an additional hour will be granted the 2nd day of fishing.
20) Bad Weather: 80% of the entry fee will be reimbursed to the team captain in the event of tournament cancellation for poor weather conditions prior to a line being dropped in the water. The Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce, on behalf of the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament, retains 20% of the entry fee to cover tournament expenses.
21) No one team can win both First and Second Place.  In the event that only one fish is caught over both days of the tournament, the winning team will win First Place and First and Last Release of Day 1 and Day 2.  The Second Place Prize will be rolled over to the following year’s World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament Total Purse.

Sportsmanship and radio traffic: All participants are expected to maintain the highest level of sportsmanship at all times. Any action considered detrimental to the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce and the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament, including but not limited to, foul or abusive language, poor boat operation, or violation of state or federal laws may be grounds for disqualification.

Due to the congested nature of anglers fishing in the Boca Grande Pass, captains are encouraged and expected to make every possible effort to maneuver in a safe respectful manner, move out of the way for a vessel with a hooked tarpon, and to try and maneuver a hooked tarpon outside the fleet of boats.

Anyone using channel 71, the official tournament channel, for anything other than official tournament business will be warned, then possibly disqualified. In order for all judges to clearly hear captains call in the times of hook-up and release, the channel must be clear as much as possible.

If a captain’s radio malfunctions during the tournament, someone from his boat can call in the times of hook-up and release to the tournament director, Candy Brooks, at (941) 759-0087.

Releases: An official release will occur when a judge boat verifies the hooked fish is a tarpon, the angler retrieves the line to the point where the tarpon is released with leader or swivel in hand.

After unhooking/releasing the tarpon it must swim away under its own control. Once a tarpon is hooked the captain of the boat must call an official boat on VHF channel 71 right away, and verify a response from officials.

Official Boats: Several Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce certified judge boats will be in the water to insure that all competing boats adhere to all rules and to verify tarpon releases. A judge boat’s release/non-release decision is final. Any attempt at intimidation or bribery from captain or anglers toward an official boat or judge may be grounds for disqualification.

Any final decision that needs to be made will be made by the tournament director or a representative of the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce.

Tournament Flags and numbers: The authorized tournament flag presented to each team must be displayed on the boat at all times during the tournament. The boat’s tournament flag must be placed prominently on the boat, to make sure all judge boats can see the number. When a fish is called in as hooked or released by the captain he will give the boat name and the boat number for identification.

Tiebreakers: Tiebreakers will be decided by time of tarpon release. Official time shall be kept by all official boats. For first fish of the day prize, the angler with the first tarpon released will win. For the last fish of the day on both days, it is the angler who hooks the last fish during regulation time, and is the first to successfully release it.

Who can Fish: Only registered anglers can fish. A captain engaged in boat operation is NOT allowed to actively fish. Substitutes are al- lowed but must be approved by the head tournament judge. A captain and mate are allowable substitutes if approved by head tournament judge.

Change of Captain: A change of captain is allowed if and only when the current operating captain communicates and gets authorization from the head judge via cell phone or VHF radio.

Boat Requirements: All boats participating in tournament fishing must be 18-feet or longer in length, seaworthy, have a working VHF radio (Channel 71), and be safe for captain and anglers.

Disabled Boat: In case of a breakdown of a tournament entry boat, the team and Captain will be allowed to use a substitute boat that complies with the rules of this tournament and the same Captain will be required to operate the second boat. In the event of such action, the team or Captain must notify the Head Judge via cell phone or VHF radio before rejoining participation in tournament fishing.

Protest: A protest must be made by the boat captain within five minutes of the witnessed infraction and called in to the head judge via cellphone. No one other than the designated “captain” will be allowed to make a protest. All tournament judge decisions will be FINAL. The tournament director or a representative of the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce will have the final say if any further decision needs to be made.

Overtime ruling: There will be no overtime on either day of fishing.