Welcome to the Fort Myers Beach Tarpon Hunters Club
The World’s Oldest Tarpon Hunting Club
September of 1961 a group of dedicated Tarpon fisherman on Fort Myers Beach got together and formed “The Tarpon Hunters Club” with the basic aims of: Good Sportsmanship, conservation, courtesy and boating safety. The club was “chartered” in January of 1962 and the name, by then was changed to “The Tarpon Hunters Club of Fort Myers Beach”.
The first president was Frank Dellabella and even before the end of 1961 the club had over 100 members. One criteria for becoming a member at $ 1.50 per year, was that you had to have participated in a club “hunt” of which there were seven, one per month, March through September, these hunts were held at night on the nearest Saturday to the full moon. The hunts finished at midnight and a “weigh-in” was held at the “Tarpon Tackle Shop” on the beach (another landmark long since gone). The heaviest Tarpon were taken to the “weigh-in” and weighed on a certified scale and then hung on a rack for photographs. How times have changed for the better! But this did give the club some interesting scrap books, filled with newspaper articles and photos of members standing by the racks with their catch.
Legend has it that the night hunts ceased after a club member was lost overboard returning from a trip through Pine Island Sound and never found. Yes you did read earlier that one of the basic aims of the club was boating safety!
By 1963 the club had 256 members and in that year caught a total of 168 Tarpon releasing 101 and bringing in 67 to be weighed and displayed on the racks.
So to the present day, due to our Tarpon predecessors, our club is understood to be the World’s Oldest Tarpon Fishing Club. Located on the west coast of Florida in the place where hook and line fishing for Tarpon began we have this superb gamefish, right in our bays, estuaries, creeks and rivers and of course the Gulf of Mexico.
No expensive offshore boats or equipment is needed; a small but seaworthy craft is all you really need. It is even becoming popular to fish for the “Silver Kings” from a kayak.
In the summer and fall months Tarpon are off the beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel to over 150 Lbs in weight, in very shallow water. No matter what time of the year, to “jump” or catch such a spectacular, feisty gamefish will give the angler such a fight that the memory shall never be forgotten. We are an IGFA club and do not register a Tarpon under 50 Lbs in weight, the Florida conventional tackle record is set at 243 Lbs.
The Fort Myers Beach Tarpon Hunters Club is a family orientated, fun club with about 100 memberships every year; we do not
take ourselves or the pursuit of the “Silver Kings” very seriously, but we are dedicated anglers who believe in conservation; no Tarpon are never killed and all large fished are never removed from the water. Our members use spinning, conventional and fly tackle and we fish the waters of Lee County. Meetings are held at Bonita Bills Restaurant on San Carlos Island, Fort Myers Beach on the first Wednesday of each month during Tarpon season. Newsletters are sent out 8 or 9 times a year to keep members informed as to what is going on. We have a Tackle Clinic in the Spring, a Picnic in the Summer, about 30 hunts during the season and our Awards Banquet in November. See our club schedule for more details.
We invite you to join our club and catch Tarpon Fever – but beware, this ailment has no known cure!