Saturday, April 21, 2018
Outdoors

Boca Grande guides cited for banned gear

Two prominent Boca Grande fishing guides were cited by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on Wednesday for using "breakaway gear," a type of fishing tackle that is banned in the world-famous tarpon fishing hotspot.

Frank Davis, 53, a charter boat captain from Placida, received the misdemeanor citation at 6:45 p.m., according to FWC records. Davis made news this month when his team aboard the 24-foot Morgan won "The World's Richest Tarpon Tournament" organized by the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce.

Davis, a director of the Boca Grande Guides Association, is also vice chairman of Save the Tarpon, a not-for-profit corporation "created to advocate for ethical angling and promote the stewardship of the Boca Grande Pass Tarpon fishery," according to its website.

The tarpon group has been a vocal opponent of the style of gear fishing favored by out-of-town guides that was recently banned in the pass. According to the group's website: "We believe in the use of responsible, conservation-oriented fishing and handling techniques by anglers as well as preserving fair and equal access for all users in order to protect this historically and culturally significant fishery."

Shortly before Davis was cited, another prominent local charter boat captain, David Chatham, 35, of Port Charlotte, was ticketed for the same offense at 4:46 p.m. According to a profile posted by Gasparilla Outfitters, Chatham was born and raised in the surrounding waters and he now "live-bait Tarpon fishes the Pass in season." Chatham is also listed as a director of the Boca Grande Guides Association.

Neither Davis nor Chatham returned calls or emails. Both men are required to appear in court on June 17 in Fort Myers to face misdemeanor charges.

Tom McLaughlin, spokesman for Save the Tarpon, said the group will consider action after Davis' court appearance.

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