Tierra Verde, FL- St. Petersburg fishermen Stephan Updegraff and Larry Weiner won the amateur division of the first annual Tampa Bay Tarpon Rodeo with the catch and release of an eighty-pound tarpon on Saturday, June 10. Updegraff caught the fish on a fly rod using a cockroach fly after a full day of casting crabs and fish to no avail. His efforts were rewarded with a $2000 first prize check.
Updegraff and Weiner were aboard the Magic Carpet II just off the south end of Egmont Key when the tarpon struck. After a "birdsnest" snarled his line and became stuck outside the first guide, Updegraff had to bring the line in by hand while Weiner delicately maneuvered the boat. The pair caught and released the fish unharmed.
The Tarpon Rodeo was hosted by Tampa Bay Watch, which enlists thousands of volunteers each year in the restoration of the Tampa Bay estuary. The all-release tournament was designed to increase survivability of the tarpon by utilizing the IGFA rule which recognizes an angler's touch of the leader within 15 feet of the fish as an official catch and release.
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