BOCA GRANDE, Fla. — The Miller High Life Professional Tarpon Tournament Series presented by Century Boats held week one of its five week regular series events this past weekend in Boca Grande Pass, Fla.
A field of 50 four-person teams competed in the three-hour event for a first-prize Century 2102 Inshore saltwater boat with a Yamaha F150 four-stroke motor and Continental Trailer.
Full moon tides combined with a stiff west wind made fishing conditions less than ideal and scattered the large schools of tarpon that call Boca Grande Pass home during May and June. During a normal PTTS event, it is not uncommon for nearly 100 hookups to occur, but this event saw less than half that amount with 15 fish being leader released and only six making it to the Tires Plus scale.
The tough conditions had little effect on the Salt Rock Grille/Pro Marine team led by 19-year-old college student, Cody Chivas. The team hooked a small fish within two minutes of dropping their lines in the water, leadering it seven minutes later and recording the first release of the 2008 PTTS season.
"It was a small fish, around 100 pounds," Chivas said. "We knew it would take a 150 or better so we let it go to try and get a bigger one."
The decision to wait paid off quickly as 30 minutes later angler Grant Johnston set the team's second hook.
"It didn't come up right away," Johnston said. "That usually means it's a better fish."
After nearly an hour of fighting, which saw two team members fall into the water while attempting to leader the fish, Chivas ended the bout by gaffing the large tarpon.
When the team reached the Winghouse Weighboat, they had no doubt their behemoth would be a contender for the win.
"I knew it was a good one," Chivas said. "We've weighed a number of fish the past five years fishing the PTTS and this was one of the biggest we had landed."
The team's hunch proved true as the fish tipped the scale at 168 pounds, knocking Capt. Ozzie Fischer and Team Yamaha F350/Century's 148-pound fish out of first and into second place.
With the victory, Chivas and Team Salt Rock Grille/Pro Marine took a commanding lead in the Yamaha Team of the Year Race with 618 points.
Rounding out the rest of the Top Five, were: Team Century/Odyssey Batteries led by Capt. Jeff Hagaman, 130 pounds; Team Winghouse led by Steve Kocsis, 119 pounds; and Team Sign Zoo/GiantTarpon.com led by Capt. Robert McCue.
The 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 both 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