Tarpon tournament: The all-release Suncoast Tarpon Roundup concluded Saturday with its regular-division Finale Day.
It's a one-day fish-off for all the anglers who released at least one tarpon during the 10-weekend tournament. Finale Day isn't about catching the heaviest silver king. It's about catching the most tarpon and being able to get a DNA swipe from each fish.
Pinellas Park's David Rhea, the Week 5 winner and the guide who put last week's Junior Finale Day winner Kenny Balseca on his fish, was confident he would win the Finale Day title and had said so.
Rhea was as good as his word.
"Hey, Rick, I won it," he said when he called in. "I caught three."
Fishing with Joe Lowery in his boat off Longboat Key, Rhea pulled in his first tarpon, estimated at about 90 pounds, soon after the event started, at 6:56 a.m.
Around noon, he hooked another, estimated at 125 pounds. Just 41 minutes later, Rhea took his biggest fish of the day, estimated at 160 to 170 pounds. He had one more bite before the 3 p.m. cutoff, but the tarpon came off. All his tarpon were caught with fresh dead shad fished on the bottom.
John McLay of St. Petersburg took second with two releases, and Mike Clark was third with one.
Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 510-4376.