tarponclub logo.gif (11793 bytes) Team Publix/Coca-Cola/WDAE-620-AM
$162,500~1st Place Champions

2001The Tarpon Club's Inaugural Mega Money Tournament

 

florida fishing report

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Left to Right: Team Publix/Coca-Cola/WDAE crew
members Jake Misner, (winning) Capt. Richard
Knox & Capt. Robert McCue display the 1st place
trophies and a check for $162,500 they won in the
Mega Money held in Boca Grande on
July 8th & 9th, 2001.

 

Tampa Tribune Article    The News-Press Article   Sun Herald Article 

 

The following exerts are from the "Fish'n Report" that appeared on our site 15JUL01. To view the page in it's entirety click here.

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<snip>The fishing highlight of the year actually came after I returned home July 2. I intended to return home on the 9th of July after the year end big money tournaments. During the last week of June many tarpon had left the area due to high water temperatures and the lack of rain. A full moon was approaching and the prospects were not looking good for numbers of fish as the moon matured. About that time, long-time friend and client Greg Crouch of Austin called to survey the situation prior to making plans to enter the high-stake events. After some debate, team CIC, elected to wait until 2002. I decided to return and fish where the majority of the fish are, Tampa Bay. That is, after a few days shacking up in an undisclosed penthouse suite for a few days with my family.

The following Friday night, I passed by my cell phone with the voice mail indicator flashing. It was long-time colleague Capt. Richard Knox calling from Boca Grande asking if I would fish with him aboard the Team Publix/Coca-Cola/WDAE-620AM boat.

"I was wondering if you would mind coming back down to help me out as the ringer on my boat in the Mega Money tournament?" Richard asked, when I returned the call. "You are the first and only person I am calling," he added.

While it is not likely you will find Richard and me enjoying an ice cream together in the park on a Sunday afternoon, he has been a very good friend over many years and has always been there to help me out. I hold equal respect for his talents, skills, and experience. Though there were not many fish, I knew without question that Richard would be a tough competitor and a "ringer" himself in this event. I felt our chances were good, particularly with the assistance of second-year mate Jake Misemer on board. I accepted.

The following is a summary of what happened over the next two days:

Three unsuspecting people won an entry into the inaugural Mega Money tournament valued at $35,000. Their trip was aboard the sponsored Publix/WDAE/Coca-Cola, skippered by Capt. Richard Knox and team crew of Jake Misemer and Capt.Robert McCue.

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Left to right: Team Publix/Coca-Cola/WDAE
Jake Mismer, Ed Freeman, Capt. Richard Knox,
Robert McCue, Mike Hebert and Renee Freeman

Ed and Renee Freeman of Deltona were in Englewood on vacation and shopping at Publix when their 14-year-old daughter, Ashley, entered a raffle she thought was a drawing for a boat. A week prior to the event they received a Fed Ex mailing stating they had won the entry that included a stay in a all expense paid condo, meals on Gasparilla Island, and the $35,000 entry into the two-day tournament.


Mike Hebert, 24, of Tampa, was the sixth caller into WDAE 620-AM, which had a spot on the boat to give away. His call put him in the radio station drawing for the tournament entry and Hebert was the winner.

On the first day of fishing Capt. Marty Scott, skipper of Team Fast Lane set the pace for nearly the length of the tournament by entering a 130lb tarpon. The team, consisting of Gary Evans, Dave Harper, Scott and Richie Edwards, was sponsored by Irvin, Texas-based Magnum Hunter Resources, Inc. Harper, who lives in Tampa, landed the fish. If the fish held, Team Magnum Hunter stood to win more than $190,000, by virtue of being entered in both the Mega Money and the smaller Catch The King tournaments that were held simultaneously.

There were 75 fish hooked during 10 hours of fishing over the two days and only 13 of them weighed. Many fish were lost to the bottom and to large bull and hammerhead sharks that plagued the pass during the event. We lost a total of seven fish to one or another of these factors and midway in day two, the team decided to "lock down" drags on any last-chance hookups and hand the rod to myself so I could handle the fighting chores.

At 11:43 a.m., with just 47 minutes remaining in the tournament, Misemer and myself hooked up fish within a few seconds - the second double we had in the event. A split-second decision was made. Mismer's fish already was running hard. Rather than risk crossed lines, I backed off my fish to let it pull off and took the rod from Misemer. We fought the fish with all the drag and thumb pressure I dared apply. The risky tactic paid off. I had the tarpon at the boat in just 12 minutes, where Knox lip-gaffed it and Misemer roped it. The battle was highlighted by 3 jumps from the mighty silver king and a close encounter with an 11-foot. bull shark that eyed the tarpon near the end, but did not attack.


At the scales and with just 30 minutes remaining in the tournament, the extent of our good fortune was realized. Coming in at 139 lbs, our fish held for the duration of the event - winning the first-place prize of $162,500 thanks to perseverance and an exemplary team effort. The fish, which had been hooked on a 4-ounce lead head jig, was tagged and released alive and well.

Under the team's pre-tournament agreement, the Freemans received $81,250 (50 percent), Hebert $40,625 (25 percent) and the three-man crew of Misemer, McCue and Knox $40,625 (25 percent).

Team Magnum Hunter collected $117,250 for second in the Mega and first place in the Catch the King event. Team Ranger leader Ray Van Horn caught a 121-pound tarpon that took third-place money in the Mega and second in the Catch the King, for a total of $66,630.

Between the 2000 Catch The King and the 2001 Mega Money, Team Publix and raffle winners have earned more than $220,000 in cash prizes.

The win was sweetened by the fact that our fish was hooked hundreds of yards from any other entrant. Take it from me as a fishing guide, there is nothing more satisfying or rewarding than that. My hat is off to you Capt. Richard, who made a point of not fishing in another boat's drift and hung tough under difficult conditions.
< /snip >

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The Tampa Tribune

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Published: Jul 12, 2001
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Big-money events end tarpon season

Boca Grande Pass will be a quiet place this weekend compared to the past two months.

The silver fish that attract the platinum crowd mostly have swum away, leaving the dark green channel to the sea gulls and the few natives who don't vacation away the rest of the summer in Vermont.

It wasn't that way in the past week, however, as the tarpon season peaked with two big-money tournaments awarding a total of more than $500,000.

Fishing was definitely tough in the World's Richest Tarpon Tournament; at the end of the first day, not one fish had been landed. The 60-boat fleet did slightly better Thursday, however, and captain Wayne Joiner and a team lead by Dave Smith won with a 111-pounder worth $174,000. Second was Lamar Joiner Sr. with a 71.8-pounder, and third went to Cappy Joiner with the only release of the event.

Action was considerably better in the Millers Marine MegaMoney Tournament that ended Sunday. Top guns turned out to be Bay area guides, with captain Rich Knox at the helm, captain Rob McCue on the rod for the 139-pound winner. Both anglers are from Tarpon Springs.

Their winning crew included mate Jake Misemer and some very lucky Publix customers, Ed and Rene Freeman of Deltona, who won the $35,000 tournament entry in a drawing from among store shoppers. Also fishing aboard Knox's boat via drawing was Mike Hebert of Tampa, who won his spot through a WDAE radio contest.

It appeared their luck had worn thin in the tournament, however. The crew had hooked six fish but landed none going into the final 30 minutes, according to Knox.

``We had fish cut off by sharks and by other boats, and on that last one we just decided to go for broke and put all the pressure on it we possibly could and get it to the boat fast,'' Knox said.

The strategy worked, with the burly McCue bringing the fish within leader-length in an amazing 12 1/2 minutes.

The team split first-place winnings of about $163,000, well less than the advertised $400,000 first prize because the field did not fill up. A total of just 13 boats fished the MegaMoney.

``We're not disappointed with the money,'' Knox said. ``We'll be back next year.''

Second place went to captain Marty Scott and a team headed by Gary Evans of Dallas, with a 130-pound fish. Third went to Team Ranger headed by captain Ray Van Horn of Tarpon Springs with a 121-pounder.

All the winning fish came on the ``breakaway'' jig that has come to dominate fishing in the big pass during the last five years.

Knox said while tarpon fishing in the pass now will decline quickly as the last fish head offshore to spawn, it should pick up again inside Charlotte Harbor as well as in Tampa Bay on the next full moon, as the fish return into brackish water to feed.

``Some of the fish go all the way up to the Peace River, 20 miles inland from the pass,'' Knox said.

He said most fish caught in these black- water areas are taken on shad fished on bottom.

Jack Harper, organizer of the MegaMoney event, said the low turnout was not a disappointment.

``Most teams said they would be back next year and would bring other teams with them, so we're confident this is going to grow each year,'' Harper said.

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The News-Press

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Team Publix takes top prize for tarpon

Sharks grab share of many catches

By BYRON STOUT, bstout@news-press.com

After two days of wild fishing in Boca Grande’s Mega Money Tarpon Tournament, who won depends on the point of view.

The three lucky anglers who won the right to fish for Team Publix/WDAE/Coke in promotional drawings — and then went on to win $162,500 — no doubt feel among the biggest winners on earth.

Then again, a lot of fishermen say the sharks won.

Time after time, anglers hooked big tarpon, only to have their prizes claimed by huge bull and hammerhead sharks before the fish could be towed to the weigh station.

Capt. Jeff Totten’s Poon Crazy team got on a tarpon they felt sure would have surpassed the 139-pound winner’s weight, when a hammerhead they estimated at 18 feet decided it looked like a snack.

“The shark was swimming under the tarpon, flipping him in the air like a porpoise does a snook,” Totten said.

For Capt. Dave Markett’s ProFishional team, it was more of a draw. They hooked a tarpon that was eaten by a bull shark, and then reeled in the shark.

“We definitely caught the biggest fish of the tournament,” said Markett. “The trouble was, it was the wrong species.”

That shark was released.

The winning team’s strategy must have taken the sharks by surprise. Sharks typically catch hooked tarpon late in the fight — typically 20 to 30 minutes long — taking advantage of the big fish after they tire.

The Publix/WDAE/Coke team lost four tarpon in the tournament after its fish ran to an area where dozens of other fish also were lost. Tarpon consistently escaped after tangling lines in debris thought to be lost crab traps and ropes.

“We decided if we were going to lose another one, we were going to lose it to the reel, not the bottom,” said Capt. Robert McCue, who fought the fish after it was hooked by Jake Misemer.

With the reel’s drag as tight as they dared, McCue landed the winning fish in 12 minutes flat.

Teammates McCue, mate Jake Misemer, Capt. Richard Knox, and anglers Ed and Renee Freeman and Mike Hebert all will share in the prize money.

“I’m very happy — going to Disney World!” McCue said after the fish’s winning weight was announced.

Ashley Freeman, 14, would be even happier, predicted her mother, Renee.

“She’ll scream.”

The Deltona teen-ager filled out the registration form at Publix with her parents’ names as entrants. They won a drawing that put them in the tournament, which had a $35,000 entry fee.

“I promised if we won I was going to buy her a Mo-Ped,” said her dad, Ed, an air conditioning worker at the University of Central Florida.

Hebert, a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, was just as excited as the Freemans. His ticket was paid for by Tampa sports talk radio station WDAE after a similar promotion. “Unbelievable. That’s all I can say to describe it,” Hebert said of his experience.

Donna Yetsho, of N.J. and Sanibel, was taking in the action from the beach with binoculars.

“My husband and I both love fishing, so this is exciting. We wanted to see the way these guys do it,” Yetsho said.

Although sharks plagued the tournament, they didn’t ruin it.

Anglers on 20 teams hooked 75 tarpon in the course of two mornings of fishing, releasing many and weighing in 13.

Until a half-hour before the final bell, team Magnum Hunter out of Texas had a 130-pound tarpon that stood to win more than $190,000, by virtue of being entered in two tournaments simultaneously.

Both the new Mega Money Tarpon Tournament and traditional season-ending Catch the King Tournament — with a $6,700 entry fee — were conducted at the same time out of Miller’s Marina in Boca Grande by owner Jack Harper.

Of 20 boats fishing, 13 were entered in the Mega and 12 in Catch the King, with five entered in both.

Magnum Hunter Resources team owner Gary Evans said he was a little disappointed in not winning both tournaments, but not enough to quit smiling.

“Anytime you can go fishing and walk away with about six figures, you’re doing pretty good,” Evans said.

He and teammates Doug Cronk of Dallas, Chett Morrison of Houma, La., David Harper of Tampa and Capt. Marty Scott and Richard Edwards of Boca Grande won $117,250 for second in the Mega and first in Catch the King.

Team Ranger leader Ray Van Horn caught a 121-pound tarpon that took third-place money in the Mega and second in the Catch the King, for a total of $66,630. Like most teams in the tournament, they hooked their fish on leadhead jigs.

After awarding checks to the winners, Harper was back in his office making preparations for next summer’s Mega Tournament. He said after the first day of the tournament most of the teams already had committed for next year, and they all had promised to recruit several friends.


Copyright 2001, The News-Press.

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Sun-Herald

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07/10/01

Luck of the draw

Three amateur anglers split top prize after entering via raffle

 

BOCA GRANDE -- Some anglers would say tournament fishing is 90 percent luck and 10 percent skill.

A Deltona couple and Tampa man entered in the inaugural Mega Money Tarpon Tournament took luck to a whole new level Monday in the waters off of Gasparilla Island. It was like winning the lottery, only more fun.

This improbable trio proved to be the "luck of the draw" and "in the right place at the right time" all at once. The three amateurs got their spots on the Publix/WDAE/Coca-Cola team by winning a pair of random drawings.

Now, Ed and Renee Freeman and Mike Hebert can shout, "Show me the money!"

With captain Richard Knox at the helm, crew member Robert McCue landed a 139-pound tarpon with less than 30 minutes left in the tournament, and the Publix/WDAE/Coca-Cola team took home the $162,500 grand prize in the two-day event. The team was owned by Millers Marina in Boca Grande, headquarters for the tournament.

Each team in the Mega Money tournament had to pay a $35,000 entry fee, but the sponsors took care of the front money on the winning boat.

"This is unbelievable," said Ed Freeman, who maintains air-conditioning systems at the University of Central Florida. "It's been some week, really."

The Freemans were in Englewood on vacation last week doing some pontoon boat fishing of their own with daughter, Ashley, 14. Publix supermarket had drawing cards to complete for the chance to win a raffle and participate in the Mega Money tournament. The family ran across the drawing while picking up some groceries.

"My daughter wanted to fill it out, so we did," Renee Freeman said. "Last Monday, we got the FedEx letter saying we won. If it wasn't for (Ashley), we wouldn't have been here. This is the first thing we've ever won."

The Freemans, still unsure what they'll do with the money, made a deal to buy their daughter a moped and take her fishing again if they won. That should not be a problem.

Under the team's pre-tournament agreement, the Freemans received $81,250 (50 percent), Hebert $40,625 (25 percent) and the three-man crew of Jake Misemer, Robert McCue and Knox $40,625 (25 percent).

Not bad, considering the three amateurs did not even land a tarpon.

Hebert's story is similar but no less lucky. The 24-year-old Tampa resident was a sixth caller into WDAE 620-AM, putting him into a similar raffle drawing. Like Publix, WDAE raffled off their spot on the co-sponsored boat, and Hebert was the winner.

"I can't believe it," said Hebert, who said he'll use the money to pay down his house and college. "I've been fishing plenty of times, but not like this. I didn't even know what a tarpon was. All I knew was that it was a big fish."

Misemer hooked the trophy fish on a gold tiger tail with a four-once jig head, then handed the rod to McCue, who fought the fish out of a hole and got it in the boat about 12 minutes later. The silver king jumped out of the water moments after it was hooked, so the team knew they had a potential winner.

At one point, McCue said he had to let the fish run about 200 feet from the boat because it was being pursued by an 11-foot bull shark.

The team lost four fish Sunday and another four Monday morning before hooking the winner.

"We had lost some confidence, no doubt about it, but we had a good captain," McCue said. "We decided if we got another fish, we weren't going to let it break off on the bottom, but on the reel instead. I basically horsed this one to the boat."

Besides the Mega Money, the Tarpon Club also conducted its smaller Catch the King tournament concurrently. The Catch the King entry fee was $6,700.

Rotonda resident Marty Scott, one of five captains in both tournaments, was edged out of the grand prize, but his Fast Lane team's 130-pounder from Sunday was good enough to grab the top prize in Catch the King and runner-up in the Mega Money. That was good enough for a combined $117,250. The team, consisting of Gary Evans, Dave Harper, Scott and Richie Edwards, was sponsored by Irvin, Texas-based Magnum Hunter Resources Inc. Harper, who lives in Tampa, landed the fish.

"It was a good fish, but I had my doubts it would hold up," said Scott. "It was good for about nine and a half hours."

Tournament director Jack Harper was pleased with the Tarpon Club's first Mega Money event, though he hoped to have enough boats to get the purse closer to $1 million. Thirteen teams entered the Mega Money, while seven were exclusively in Catch the King.

"I was a little disappointed in the number of boats, but the captains gave us a great vote of confidence in the tournament," Harper said. "We hope to have between 30 and 40 boats next year."

All in all, the two tournaments had 75 hookups and 13 weighed fish. Any type of bait -- live or artificial -- was allowed.

Tarpon fishing is just getting started this week in the Boca Grande Pass. The Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce will conduct its annual "World's Richest" Tarpon Tournament Wednesday and Thursday, with the winning team receiving $174,000.

You can e-mail Grant Boxleitner at grantb@sun-herald.com

By GRANT BOXLEITNER

Sports Writer

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