Save the Tarpon calls for Boycott of Randy Wayne White's Beached Whale restaurant

Tom McLaughlin and his Save the Tarpon Movement sure get a lot of mileage out of declaring that novelist Randy Wayne White of Doc Ford's restaurant fame will not be a sponsor of the PTTS next year.
http://savethetarpon.com/novelist-randy-wayne-white-says-tarpon-tournament-unsporting-restaurants-pull-sponsorship/

He goes on to call for a boycott of PTTS team sponsors :

http://savethetarpon.com/...boycott/

Notice that the Beached Whale team appear on the list. With a call to boycott its namesake restaurant.

The Ft Myers Beach guide has this to say about Doc Ford’s :

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille is the namesake restaurant of author Randy Wayne White’s fictional character of Doc Ford, from a series of 18 novels.Doc Ford’s has 2 locations, one on Sanibel Island and this one in Fort Myers Beach which is located on San Carlos Island at the base of the Matanzas Pass Bridge which you cross to get to Estero Island (which is generally the part of town most people associate with Fort Myers Beach)

Doc Ford’s has plenty of outdoor and waterfront seating in a tropical type of atmosphere. They have live music often, and Randy Wayne White has also made appearances. It is under the same ownership as The Beached Whale.

That’s right! The sudden disappearance of the Doc Ford’s wrapped boat in the PTTS coincided with the appearance of the same boat now wrapped as Beached Whale and sponsored by who? Randy Wayne White.

Captain McLaughlin’s rigorous investigations of owners and team sponsors does not extend to those who support his movement, it seems.
"If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

"Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

"All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse

Replies

  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,922 AG
    Here's what Randy has to say, which is a novel in itself:

    http://www.randywaynewhite.com/Site2/Welcome%21.html

    RANDY’S REPLY TO QUESTIONS AND INQUIRIES REGARDING HIS STANCE ON "JIG FISHING" IN BOCA GRANDE PASS.


    Hi! Those who took the time to write asking why I withdrew my name, and the Doc Ford name, from support of the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series (PTTS) in Boca Grande Pass, Florida, deserve a thoughtful reply. I respond at length because of the seriousness of the issue, and because I have long been fascinated by the species Megalops atlanticus, and am as devoted to this animal's welfare as I am to the well being of our Florida fishery.

    First of all, the PTTS is not the issue here. In fact, prior to withdrawing the Doc Ford name from sponsorship, a PTTS spokesman and I had a civil and instructive 45-minute phone conversation. At first, this man was concerned I was unfamiliar with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission's three year study regarding what has always been a controversial subject. He was quickly convinced otherwise, which led to an interesting discussion. We agreed on some points, disagreed on others, and parted amicably.

    A point I took great pains to make to him, and in my letter of withdrawal, is that I in no way fault or criticize any anglers or fishing captains who participate in a PTTS tournament. To quote: "As a former Sanibel Island fishing guide, I do not hold participating captains in any way accountable for using whatever means allowable to bring a tarpon to the boat. Their job is to catch fish . . . a working professional is necessarily obligated to give his clients an equal chance (by using whatever fishing techniques allowed by tournament rules.)"

    Then why withdraw sponsorship? Here is my view of what is a multi-layered issue: In my opinion, there are three distinct dynamics at play in the Boca Grande Pass--PTTS controversy.

    1. "User Conflict". A natural animus results when fishermen perceived as outsiders dominate a waterspace historically dominated by local fishermen. I have close friends who are Boca Grande guides. To their credit, not one has ever urged me to withdraw the Doc Ford name from PTTS sponsorship. The issue of "user conflict" is beyond the boundaries of my expertise, and has little to do with why I took a public stand against "jig fishing" and the snag-and-drag practices of any and all tarpon tournaments. I agree that Boca Grande is among Florida's greatest treasures, both economically and environmentally, and I am aware that Boca Grande is the diamond eye of the Lee County schematic. It would benefit the entire state if Boca Grande and its namesake pass were buffered from this current assault, and the fact that the FWC and state lawmakers have failed to take mitigating steps, in my opinion, dodges the ethical and fiduciary responsibilities of both. On the territorial issue, however, I have feelings on the subject, but emotion cannot be argued factually. This is not my issue.

    2. Gaffing, dragging and weighing tarpon. I'm against this, and so are my Doc Ford's restaurants partners (much thanks to them for backing me on this issue!) However, I have also acknowledge publicly that as a fishing guide I have gaffed, dragged and hung many tarpon to be photographed and mounted. Do I wince at the admission? Yes. Do I apologize? No -- nor should any fishing guide who does it legally, and who is fighting to pay his bills by succeeding in an extraordinarily competitive business. It is also true, I must point out, that I voluntarily stopped killing and hanging tarpon for mounts in the 1980s, soon after taxidermists at Ike Shaw & Co., Fort Myers, informed me they no longer needed the whole fish, or the fins which we'd previously had to strip. This voluntary decision is true of most fishing guides I knew in the era. Most of us also stopped gaffing tarpon in the early or mid-'80s, in favor of bare-handing tarpon by the lower jaw. In fact, by the early 1990s it was considered amateurish and rather prissy to use even a lip gaff.

    "Times change, and most of us tried to take the lead in conservation practices," a fishing guide from that era wrote to me recently, "and any tournament that lags so far behind the times sure doesn't reflect the professionals I knew and still know. We stopped gaffing and killing tarpon more than twenty years ago. Same with the guides from Key West to Homosassa. Why are these TV people [PTTS television series] still doing it?"

    Good point. The problem here isn't the guides, nor their angler clients, in my opinion. The problem lies entirely with those who make tournament rules (investors in a television production company among them), and with lawmakers in Tallahassee who endorse gaffing and dragging tarpon by issuing "kill tags" for a fee.

    3. Is Jig Fishing Snag fishing? Is jig fishing, by definition, snag fishing? No -- not as jig-baits are used world wide.

    Is using a greatly modified "jig" while drifting Boca Grande Pass snag fishing? Often, in my opinion, although perhaps unknowingly by some anglers who employ the technique.

    There are myriad scenarios in which a fish could be snagged using a 'jig' as the rig is commonly configured in Boca Grande Pass. Here, though, is the most common and likely scenario as assessed from my own experience, and after discussing the subject, over a span of two decades, with other guides, many of whom were/are far more expert than I on the subject.

    Imagine a column of tarpon stacked forty feet high, mouths pointed into the tide. This mass of fish is then transected by many dozens of near-invisible fluorocarbon fishing lines, heavily leaded-hooks attached, a process repeated hundreds of times over a day. Leaded hooks attached to these lines may be oscillating violently up and down, but are actually more effective as snag hooks if they are held motionless, allowed to drift quietly near the bottom of the column of fish.

    These tarpon aren't feeding (in this scenario) nor are they unaware. Even so, the jaw structure of a tarpon is such that the bony side-flaps of the mouth (the maxilla or 'clipper plates') are exposed targets. These flaps are hinged (by soft tissue and sutures) and flair slightly outward, not unlike an overgrown thumbnail, or the backside of a human ear. When fluorocarbon line makes contact with this bony flap, the line is sometimes funneled toward the inside hinge of the maxilla (clipper plate.) The hinge, as it narrows, becomes an effective guide. Soon, as the boat moves, or the fish moves, the flow of line is halted by an abrupt collision: The hook (given additional mass by the heavy sinker) either loops and buries itself in soft tissue at the edge of a suture outside the tarpon's mouth, or its head . . . or it bounces free. Key elements to this technique:

    1. A heavy (3-6 oz.) sinker must be attached directly to a hook.

    2. Tarpon must be stacked in a contained area (which is why this technique works only in Boca Grande and a few other passes world wide.)

    3. The circle hook must be extremely sharp and is more effective if canted slightly, using pliers, (Gamakatsu brand "circle hooks," a favorite of "jiggers" are sold pre-canted.)

    4. Low visibility fishing line --fluorocarbon -- and an unpainted grey sinker are necessary because deception is imperative.

    5. A high speed reel (to rocket the hook upward through schooling tarpon at 5-feet per revolution) and an excellent boat handler all add to the likelihood of hooking a fish. This finesse is known as 'Floss fishing,' a term that is more accurate than the misnomer, "jig fishing."

    If a tarpon is hooked in this manner, does the angler realize it? Often not, judging from the sincere responses I've gotten to this question from some PTTS anglers and guides. But possibly yes, depending on the angler's experience, or if he is knowingly 'speed-flossing,' by using a high speed reel.

    Has the fish been fairly hooked? Or has it been foul hooked? According to the FWC it has been fairly hooked. According to sports fishing ethics, however, and literature that dates back to the 1590s (Sir Izaak Walton) the fish has been foul hooked -- indeed, worse: this tarpon has been "snatch-hooked," "flossed" or "snag-fished." These terms are synonymous with "poaching" in the literature.

    A three year study done by the FWC is consistently offered as proof that an insignificant percentage of tarpon are foul hooked when landed by this "jigging" technique. Considering the funding and time constraints that hampered these biologists (not to mention their uninspiring, bargain-basement salaries) the data is remarkably pertinent, in this layman's opinion, but how the FWC reached a conclusion that is often at odds with its own data is mystifying. The study also suffers at least two key flaws: one flaw is an inarticulate definition; the other is a glaring oversight.

    1. The FWC's definition of what constitutes a fairly hooked fish is too broad to address this issue.

    Picture yourself holding a spoonful of cereal. You swing it toward your mouth but, instead, hit yourself in the forehead, the throat, the cheek, or the nose. By the definition of this study, you have successfully hit your target, and are now chewing your cereal compliments of your head, your cheek, your outside maxillary, your isthmus (in terms of tarpon physiology) but NOT your mouth as it is used by primates and fish alike. It is for this reason, and this reason only, that the FWC was able to conclude in its study:

    "While more tarpon were foul-hooked using artificial bait than live bait, percentages were not unusually high and did not contribute negatively to the survival of tarpon."

    What a convenient but unconvincing way to dodge a controversial issue! An obvious question is: 'unusually high' compared to what? I've read the FWC study many times. An answer to that question is not provided.

    My observation: the tarpon is an ancient species; a marvel of evolution that has outlasted dinosaurs, survived global cataclysms, all largely due to its ability to hunt, forage, ambush and feed successfully. With its giant Megalops eyes, its sensitive lateral line, this is an apex predator and survivor -- an animal that has NOT survived the eons by whacking its head, throat and cheeks against prey it intended to eat. I know dozens of guides who share my experience that when a tarpon strikes a bait, that bait ends-up inside the tarpon's mouth, not on the outside, in the vast majority of strikes. The FWC study, however, dismisses this aberration as "not unusual." Again, compared to what?

    Despite the FWC's own broad and misleading definition, the snag numbers are revealing to anyone who has more than a cursory knowledge of fish and fishing: About 10% of tarpon landed using "jigs" were foul hooked. Using live bait? Zero percent (0%) of tarpon landed were foul hooked. Ten percent is a small number, but still markedly disproportionate. These figures disprove a naive but common assertion that it's "impossible" to snag a tarpon with a circle hook. This disparity (10% versus 0%) does more than that, though: it proves that using the heavy-lead-on-a-hook technique ("jigging") is markedly more likely to snag a tarpon than a hook drifting live bait.

    2. A glaring oversight: the FWC study failed to acknowledge that only tarpon foul-hooked near the head have any likelihood of being landed.

    As most who have caught a tarpon will agree, it's difficult enough to land a fish that's hooked in the mouth, but it would be nearly impossible to land a tarpon that has been hooked in the belly, the ****, or chest -- particularly in Boca Grande Pass where tidal velocity on spring tides, especially, is epic.

    The FWC study includes data regarding tarpon that were hooked but not landed, but the implications of that data were pointedly ignored. In the study, 138 tarpon were hooked using modified "jigs" -- 41 of which were landed (a success rate of 30%). Using live bait, 92 tarpon were hooked -- 44 were landed (a success rate of %48).

    To me, these numbers are compelling if not conclusive. Consider these oddities:

    1. Startling statistics. In this study, among anglers who fished Boca Grande Pass during the same period, and on a similar number of outings, "jigs" hooked 20% more tarpon than live baits (swimming crabs; live fish) which tarpon have depended upon for eons for survival. (138 versus 92 = a 20% increase.)

    My observation: Aside from Boca Grande Pass, I don't know of another place in the world where tarpon demonstrate this preference for eating plastic when natural prey is also offered. A simple question: if this "jigging technique" hooks twenty percent more tarpon, why don't anglers use the same leaded "jigging" technique off shore where tarpon school, literally, by the acre in water of similar depth? Or in backcountry hotspots like Captiva Rocks, Burnt Store Bar, Hendry Creek Rocks? Or on the flats?

    But they do not. No knowledgeable angler would bother to waste his or her time, and here's why: this "jigging" technique works ONLY when tarpon are stacked in columns, and constrained by limestone walls that form Boca's Grande's deepest holes. World wide, this same scenario -- schooling fish, constrained by structure or current -- is key to successful floss or snag fishing. An aphorism comes to mind that references fish in barrels.

    I don't care what you're studying, twenty percent is a significant portion. How could FWC biologists have ignored this startling disparity? If I still guided for a living, I would break down doors to find a method that produced twenty-percent more tarpon hook-ups, yet freed me of the pre-dawn chore of catching live bait. Had I invested money to produce a fishing show, I would fiercely protect any technique that guaranteed twenty-percent more action footage to my viewers and sponsors. Why not? By whatever name -- jigging, flossing, or snag-fishing -- the technique is not only allowed by the state of Florida, it is tacitly endorsed by the FWC's own limited and determinedly myopic study.

    Hyperbole? Nope. Between 1974 when my Ocean Operators License was issued, and 1991, I did more than 3,000 full or half day charters, and I know how tough it is to make a living (let alone a reputation) as a fishing guide. I also once hosted a fishing show, and know the pressure to produce action on a limited budget (two camera hours per episode, in my case.) Would I have used modified jigs as a guide or as a host? IF (and only if) supporting my family required it, you bet! Indeed, to be shed of that pressure, I would've used .22 hollow points (on myself, or the fish, not my anglers -- although tempting in a few instances.)




    He goes on to conclude with :


    Doc Ford will not participate in a PTTS tournament as it is currently administrated, Nor will I
    .


    True enough, but is it enough truth?

    Again, you be the judge.
    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 11,367 AG
    One point...in response to the "1. Startling Statistics" section... On jig boats, wasn't it common to use 3 (or more) lines per boat, versus the 2 lines per boat in use by live bait guides, and wouldn't that, in and of itself, explain the difference in numbers of fish hooked?

    As for your question, it does seem odd that RWW removed the name of his literary hero and changed it to the bar he partially owns. Seems disingenuous to me, on the surface.
  • BinderBinder Posts: 3,857 Captain
    So he withdraws his Doc Ford's sponsorship and writes about how he is against the PTTS because of their fishing methods, but now another restaurant that he is a owner in has taken up the sponsorship? Sounds like he doesn't want bad press for Doc Ford's but doesn't care about bad press for The Beached Whale. This is funny
  • IdlewildeIdlewilde Posts: 1,357 Officer
    binder077 wrote: »
    So he withdraws his Doc Ford's sponsorship and writes about how he is against the PTTS because of their fishing methods, but now another restaurant that he is a owner in has taken up the sponsorship? Sounds like he doesn't want bad press for Doc Ford's but doesn't care about bad press for The Beached Whale. This is funny

    You/anyone can suppose, think about, theorize, etc., etc., whatever you want, but no one except Randy knows the answer to why he switched wraps. He may have used up his advertising budget for Doc Ford this year, and decided to switch his advertising dollars to The Beached Whale, hence the change in wrap. Who know, you don't, and I certainly don't.

    Bad press from a stupid tarpon fishing dispute will not hurt his book sales "or" sales in either of his restaurants.
  • Capt. Ozzie FCapt. Ozzie F Posts: 57 Deckhand
    He doesn't own either of the restraunts. He owns the name Doc Fords. He gets a small residual from it. That's it. My brother ran the Beached Whale boat. The owners of beached whale and doc fords have been very happy the way my brother has represented them. Randy had absolutely no money involed at any time.
  • Joey ButtonsJoey Buttons Posts: 11,849 AG
    Gary must be a very bored and lonley individual to spend all this time trying to discredit the Save The Tarpon movement.
    FSU is the best football team of all time!
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 11,367 AG
    And what does that say about people who spend all their time trying to discredit Gary?

    You set yourself up for that one, Joey.

    Please stop with the character assassination attempts. Please stick to the issues at hand. Thanks...MIke
  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,922 AG
    I only know what in read in the paper and on the Save the Tarpon web site:

    White, who owns the trademark for the Doc Ford Rum Bar & Grille in which he is a partner, has told tournament organizers that the restaurants on Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach are pulling their sponsorship of the tournament because it allows a style of fishing White considers unethical.

    Doc Ford’s has plenty of outdoor and waterfront seating in a tropical type of atmosphere. They have live music often, and Randy Wayne White has also made appearances. It is under the same ownership as The Beached Whale.

    As I said, you can judge for yourself.
    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 11,367 AG
    So, it appears that RWW only got royalties from the Doc Ford bar, and he does not, in fact, own any part (royalties or otherwise) of the Beached Whale.

    Is that correct?
  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,922 AG
    You can read as well as I can, Mike. A reasonable person would assume that both the Naples News and Captain McLaughlin fact checked the story. As would this:http://www.fmbguide.com/doc-fords-rum-bar-grille
    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
  • Joey ButtonsJoey Buttons Posts: 11,849 AG
    Tarponator wrote: »
    And what does that say about people who spend all their time trying to discredit Gary?

    You set yourself up for that one, Joey.

    Please stop with the character assassination attempts. Please stick to the issues at hand. Thanks...MIke

    My remarks as you will see Mike are shot and to the point. Gary post a 5000 word easy trying to discredit others. I just think Gary is a knucklehead and let him know it every now and then. Out of my 4762 post I think 46 of them are towards Gary.
    FSU is the best football team of all time!
  • Capt. Ozzie FCapt. Ozzie F Posts: 57 Deckhand
    All the owners did was switch Restraunt names for sponsorship. He only gets royalties from the use of Doc Ford name. he does not own either Doc Fords Restraunt or Beached Whale. When I spoke to him on phone a few weeks aga he told me he did not want a name brand he spent all these years building to be associated with all the contraversy. Which I respect. The way it was handled.........?
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 11,367 AG
    Gary, Yes, that would be a reasonable assumption -- that was apparently incorrect. ;)

    Joey, While I recognize your right to say what you want when you want to, my comments still stand to you. Please either contribute or don't post -- this is a serious issue that many care deeply about and your continued diversions do not help. Furthermore, he has you on ignore, so you're not letting him know anything. Bottom line: I know you have it in you to contribute here, and I challenge you to do so. Thanks for your consideration.

    Ozzie, Thanks for the clarification. It sounds to me like my post above was accurate, and the STT mischaracterized RWW's involvement.
  • DoodidleDoodidle Posts: 141 Officer
    The Doc Fords boat was for sale on craigslist a couple of weeks ago. He didnt re-wrap the boat, he got a different boat entirely. I was trying to find the link on craigslist to show you guys but I cant find it anymore
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,922 AG
    Doodidle wrote: »
    The Doc Fords boat was for sale on craigslist a couple of weeks ago. He didn't re-wrap the boat, he got a different boat entirely. I was trying to find the link on craigslist to show you guys but I cant find it anymore


    That's because the Doc Ford boat is the Beached Whale boat and manned by the same crew. What ever it is wrapped as now, it will be unwrapped upon the sale, because of potential liability, I would think, should the new owners run someone over with it, or campaign it in the 2013 PTTS. Which would be really funny.

    Regardless, this illustrates the pandering to it's supporters that Save the Tarpon campaign employs to selectively boycott the Beached Whale management when that same management owns Doc Ford's. The question is if STT really were sincere about inflicting economic damage to the owners to force them to withdraw from PTTS, why are they letting Doc Ford's off the hook,( :wink ) when it is their real money maker?

    Because they switched wraps? Or because White is now advocating for them? :shrug

    Just another mystery, wrapped in mystery.
    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
  • Capt. Ozzie FCapt. Ozzie F Posts: 57 Deckhand
    Wrap was never switched. A sticker was put over doc fords logo. My brother pulled sticker off as soon as tournament was over and left doc fords on to say FU to Sst
  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,922 AG
    Wrap was never switched. A sticker was put over doc fords logo. My brother pulled sticker off as soon as tournament was over and left doc fords on to say FU to Sst

    So you are saying that it is the same boat owned by the same guys who own Doc Ford's?


    And that this boat

    beachedwhale-1.jpg


    is really this boat?

    docfords.jpg

    And that Doc Ford's de-rebadged the same boat in a gesture of defiance in response to Save the Tarpon's boycott?
    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
  • Capt. Ozzie FCapt. Ozzie F Posts: 57 Deckhand
    Gary let it go. Your making a mountain out of a mole hill. I said my brother not doc fords. I didn't realize what I said was all that complicated
  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,922 AG
    Thanks for the clarification.

    Here is what Mr. White said:

    white.jpg

    Yet Doc Ford's sponsored boat continued to compete through the rest of the season re-badged as the Beached Whale.

    doc-fords-fb-1.jpg

    Having simply updated their cover photo...

    doc-fords-update.jpg

    ...and diverting Save the Tarpon's attention (and boycott ?) away from Doc Ford's sponsorship, which was still in place, to the less consequential and seemingly disconnected Beached Whale, as a substitute.

    What am I missing?
    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
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