We put our heads together and decided that having just one winner wasn’t enough — so we’ve got some incredible gear for our 1st through 3rd place winners! Three lucky winners will be going home with tons of great prizes from our friends at Fish Hippie, Williams Knife Company, Z-Man Baits and Hells Bay Boatworks.
The winner of the grand prize will spend a day out on the water with Florida fishing legend Capt. C.A. Richardson, aboard his world-class Hells Bay Boatworks Estero in Tampa in search of Florida’s most popular inshore game fish — the tarpon! Spending a day on the water with Capt. C.A. Richardson is enough to make even the most seasoned of anglers jump at the opportunity. After an incredible day of fishing, our first-place winner will enjoy beach-resort accommodations at the Guy Harvey Outpost on St. Pete Beach. For fishing enthusiasts any and all skill levels, this trip would be a great experience! Even for those who wouldn’t consider themselves advanced fishermen, spending time with C.A. is a great learning experience and a true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There are few better places to catch a tarpon than Tampa in May, and we are setting one winner up to do just that!
On the water with Hells Bay.
Capt. C.A. Richardson is not only a fishing guide, he is also the host of the highly popular TV show Flats Class TV. He wasn’t always a popular fishing-show host, however. In fact, C.A. cut his teeth in the fishing-tournament world in the ’80s and ’90s, when he traveled from the Texas coast all the way up through the Carolinas mastering his craft of inshore fishing for tarpon, redfish and trout. After his tournament days had for the most part ended, he came back to his Tampa residence and primarily focused on running inshore fishing charters. His tournament-fishing days had helped honed C.A.’s skills, and he excelled at putting his clients on fish consistently with light-tackle techniques.
Through the years, he began to realize how much he enjoyed not only the ability to take people out to catch fish, but to also provide them with an educational experience while they were on a charter with him. His personality and style of guiding provided more than just a fish-catching experience — he began to notice that all skill levels of anglers who fished with him were learning so much from their time with him on the water. After noticing that there was a demand for education amongst fishermen, he realized his passion for instructing others. His plan to travel and conduct seminars with a more hands-on approach to providing fishing tips was the start of his idea for Flats Class in 2001. Flats Class began as an educational seminar in which Capt. C.A. would travel and teach anglers some of the finer points of fishing and various light-tackle techniques in their regions. The classes were highly successful, and at times they were co-led by different regional experts in each area. For years, the classes went on successfully, until one day a network approached C.A. about bringing his class to life on television. His on- and off-the-water teaching methods made for the perfect television series, and Flats Class TV was born. Since its 2007 inception, Flats Class TV has won two industry awards and is nominated for awards each year. His show also won the Sportsman Channel’s “Saltwater Show of the Year” in 2008 and is regarded by many as the #1 shallow-water instructional television show in America!
C.A.’s competitive fishing days are now for the most part behind him, and his primary focus continues to be developing his TV series. An expert at targeting tarpon, he is also active in many conservation efforts and is a spokesman for Captains for Clean Water — a movement to encourage better management of the flow of freshwater from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades. Having C.A. Richardson as the guide for our grand-prize giveaway was an easy decision for us to make. Anyone lucky enough to fish with him will not only have a great day catching fish, but will also learn from one of the most knowledgeable light-tackle fisherman of our time.
C.A. will use his hometown advantage to guide you.
Aside from Tampa being considered the “home waters” of our guide, there are a few other reasons we wanted to send our lucky winner there to fish this May. This trip is all about tarpon, and there is no better place and time for a chance to catch the “silver king” than Tampa in May. Tampa Bay is one of the most prolific tarpon fisheries in the country and is a MUST SEE for avid tarpon anglers. May 1st historically has marked the first day of the tarpon migration in these parts. During this time of year, thousands upon thousands of tarpon will infiltrate the bay and beachfront areas of Florida’s southwest coastline. In fact, St. Petersburg is home of the second-largest annual tarpon migration in the world, and it is also the location of the Guy Harvey Outpost, where the grand-prize winner will be staying!
The tarpon itself is a fascinating fish, and the pursuit of these aquatic creatures has captivated anglers for hundreds upon hundreds of years. Scientists estimate that they have been swimming in our oceans since prehistoric times, and it has been determined that an adult female tarpon can live in excess of 50 years! The adult tarpon can also get quite large in size — the world-record tarpon was nearly 8 feet long and weighed almost 300 pounds! During certain times of the year, their geographic range can stretch as far west as Mexico and all the way up the eastern seaboard. There are countless ways to fish for them, as they range in size and location. Tarpon can be found thriving in stained backcountry waters or miles offshore. Anglers can target them with live bait and artificials. Further, you can sight fish for them, anchor up on a deep hole, or drop off and wait for them to pass by with your baits set out on the bottom.
Getting them to bite.
Even though getting a tarpon bite isn’t necessarily “easy,” sometimes getting them to eat isn’t the hard part. Once hooked up, tarpon are known for their rodeo-like antics and chaotic leaps. A hooked-up tarpon will make drag-peeling runs and acrobatic jumps in an effort to dislodge the hook from its bony, armor-plated jaws. Landing a tarpon is a true test of angling skill, and even the most proficient fishermen will still find themselves challenged by this fish. They will break your tackle, break your spirit and spit your hook within a matter of seconds — but that’s what makes fishing for the “silver king” and landing one so rewarding. A tarpon angler may expect to “jump” (when the tarpon throws the hook) multiple fish in a day while only landing a few. Many anglers fish their whole lives and never get the opportunity to catch a tarpon. For many, winning this contest would be the true trip of a lifetime!
So you’ve learned a little bit more about Captain C.A. Richardson, the Tampa tarpon fishery and the tarpon in general. Now all that’s left to do is sign up! The contest will be open for entries until April 14th, 2017, so be sure to enter while you can! Best of luck to everyone, and we look forward to seeing you in Tampa!
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Catching the "Silver King."
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South Texas, to the outdoorsman, is a landscape that is distinctly, well, “South Texas.” The mystique and history about that part of the country and the sporting pursuits therein cannot be found elsewhere.