The Boca Grande Pass, which sits at the entrance of Charlotte Harbor, is approximately 2,200-foot of waterway separating the islands of Gasparilla and Cayo Costa. In the channel of the pass, there are several ledges that are deep, with the 'Lighthouse Hole,' plummeting nearly 80 feet, and being the deepest of them all.
By the late 1800's, several small fishing camps popped up to take advantage of the area's natural abundance of fishing. Massive schools of mullet were plentiful in this area. By 1885, the discovery of large pockets of phosphate rock in the Peace River basin turned the pass into one of the deepest natural inlets in the entire state of Florida. This resulted in one of the busiest ports in Florida.
Local fishermen realized that the geography in the Boca Grande pass made it the ideal for tarpon before they head offshore to spawn. In 1908, Barron Collier founded the 'Tarpon Inn' which is why he is credited with coining the Pass as the 'Tarpon Capital of the World.'
The fish, with their massive size and incredible leaping acrobatics, became prized catches which attracted big-game fisherman from around the globe such as Babe Ruth and Teddy Roosevelt.
By the mid 1950s, Boca Grande was a hub spot of shipping. Huge ships traveling in the Boca Grande pass helped create a groove that acted as a funnel during changing 'hill tides.' The tough currents pulled entire schools of bait fish into the pass and into the deep ledges where lots of tarpon were waiting for a meal.
Hill Tides are one of the best times to catch Tarpon. A Hill Tide is a high tide that rapidly falls backward and pushes lots of blue crab out. When this happens, the many Tarpon in the Boca Grande Pass wait with appetites and open mouths ready to feed. This is, without a doubt, the most intense time to fish for Tarpon. Double and triple hookups are common during the Tarpon Tournaments. Below are the highlights from the 2023 World's Richest Tarpon Tournament.