BOCA GRANDE, Fla. — Capt. Artie Price knew the tarpon caught early in Week 3 wouldn't win, so back it went.
"We knew it was going to take 200 pounds to win," Price said. "We let a 140-pound fish go early, and that decision paid off."
Boy, was Price right.
Over the last six years, Week 3 of the Miller High Life PTTS presented by Century Boats has seen a fish over 200 pounds reach the Tires Plus scale at the Miller's Ale House weighboat. Last year it was Team Fast Lane weighing a 210-pound fish.
Price and Team Miller's Ale House continued the trend with a record breaking 217-pound tarpon, the largest fish weighed in a live release tarpon fishing tournament, and took first place during Week 3.
Team Ale House, consisting of Price, Capt. Greg Devault, Capt. Jon Turner, and Frank Massaro, all of New Port Richey, Fla., won a Century 2102 Inshore powered by a Yamaha F150 four stroke motor and Continental aluminum trailer.
The team also extended its lead in the Yamaha Team of the Year Race with a single-day points total of 617, shattering the previous record of 555 points set by Capt. Doug Creek last week. Heading in to Week 4, Team Ale House has 1,397 points, 427 points ahead of the second-place Culo Majado.
Ten fish were weighed during Week 3 totaling 1,647 pounds, an average of 165 pounds, which is almost unheard of.
Team Reel Time Productions, led by Capt. Eric Mannino, attempted to surpass the 217-pound monster when they weighed in a fish with only a half hour to go. Overcoming bull sharks, and a fight that saw the fish nearly break their line as it traveled in and around rocks, docks, and the anchored weighboat, Team Reel Time landed a 198-pounder to take second place.
"We're thrilled." Mannino said. "We've struggled the past two years, but we've been pre fishing hard and put our time in, and it finally paid off."
Rounding out the Top 5 were: Team Sun Toyota/Tundra, Capt. Steve Bowler, 178 pounds; Famous Craft Boats, Derrick Jacobson, 175 pounds; and Gaff Magazine/Explorer, Capt. Ron Gauthier, 172 pounds.
In total, 75 tarpon were leader released by the 50 boats in the three hours of tournament fishing, which meant a fish came boatside every two minutes, yet another PTTS and tarpon tournament record.
Capt. TJ Stewart and his team MyELS.com/Castaway Charters took the Most Releases honors, successfully leadering five fish, along with Yamaha F350, the most in a single day during the 2009 season.
To date the PTTS has weighed and released 38 tarpon for a combined weight of 5,554 pounds, or an average of 146 pounds. In addition, 158 fish have been leader released, or a fish being caught per every minute of fishing during PTTS events.
"Boca Grande is living up to its name as the World's Greatest Tarpon fishery," PTTS TV host Joe Mercurio said. "Boca Grande is the best place in the world to catch tarpon and the fishing this year in the PTTS has accentuated that point, week in, and week out."
The exciting action from the Miller High Life PTTS 2009 season continues next Sunday, June 7, for a doubleheader event, Week 4 and 5. The action begins at 6:30 a.m.
NOTE: Fans are encouraged to watch the PTTS Tarpon fishing action and weigh-in live at the beach in Gasparilla Island State Park in Boca Grande, Fla.
Top Five Week 3
1ST PLACE: Miller's Ale House, Capt. Artie Price, New Port Richey, Fla., 217 pounds
2ND PLACE: Reel Time Productions, Capt. Eric Mannino, Mims, Fla., 198 pounds
3RD PLACE Sun Toyota/Tundra, Capt. Steve Bowler, Hudson, Fla., 178 pounds
4TH PLACE: Famous Craft Boats, Capt. Derrick Jacobson, Port Charlotte, Fla., 175 pounds
5TH PLACE: GAFF Magazine/Explorer, Capt. Ron Gauthier, Sarasota, Fla., 172 pounds
Yamaha Team of the Year Top 5 standings (After Week 3)
Captain Name Team Name PTS
Price, Artie Miller's Ale House 1397
Kocsis, Stephen Culo Majado 970
Mannino, Eric Reel Time Productions 948
Creek, Doug Century/Miller Chill 905
Stewart, TJ MyELS.com/Castaway Charters 900
For more information and pictures please visit, www.TarponAnglersClub.com