Ed Walker is a Florida fishing legend as a premier inshore and offshore fishing guide in the Tampa Bay area for past 24 years. He’s a skipper to over $500K in tournament prize money and 18 IGFA world records. But, do you know where the legend began?
With the odds stacked against him, he and his crew onboard a small 23 footer (nearly all the other 59 teams had large inboards) entered the “Worlds Richest” Tarpon Tournament in Boca Grande Pass during the summer of 1998. Despite their less than ideal chances, they managed to make an insane two-day run, catching two huge tarpon, weighing in at 155lbs and 154lbs.
For the full story, we’ll let Ed tell you:
What’s the best fishing trip you ever had? Mine is easy:
18 years ago today, my great friends Scott Tomlinson, Tiki Serralles, Steve Kocsis, and I made the decision to cross some boundaries and enter the old and prestigious “Worlds Richest Tarpon Tournament” in Boca Grande Pass. Entry was over $5000. It was live bait only (no “jigging”) and no snagged fish counted. And no matching shirts (lol- personal rule).
At the time almost every boat entered was a large inboard, fishing the traditional way they’ve used since before I was born. The entry slots, limited to 60 boats, sold out quickly.
We convinced ourselves we could hang with the veteran big boat guides on their home turf and hit the inlet in my little 23 footer.
On day one of the two day tourney we hooked a nice fish on a deep crab and battled it thru a lot of dirty looks and boats that were reluctant to move for a small outboard boat. The boys fought this fish well and at the end of the day our 155 pound release sat atop the leaderboard….which is a great feeling when first place pays $100,000. I’ll never forget trying to get my head straight, and keep the boys focused going into day 2. All we wanted to do was run out the clock but we fished anyway. And soon we were hooked up again. We land this fish and the weigh master announces “PoonWalker 154 pounds!” Lightning has struck twice.
So now we are sitting in first and second place but there are several hours of fishing left and all of Boca Grande’s top captains trying to knock us off. Never in my life has time gone so slowly. Boats catching fish around us but not as big. A huge fish hooked but lost. tick…tick…….tick
We were not allowed to weigh anymore fish but just to deal with the intense tension I got the crew fishing again. And we caught another one. It was simply our day.
When the buzzer FINALLY sounds we have won first, second, and tied for third (most releases). Final purse: $147,500.00, plus $100,000 in calcutta money. Nearly a quarter million dollars. To this day it is the largest tarpon fishing purse ever…anywhere.
Certainly one of the landmarks moments of my fishing life.
With odds like that, it’d be amazing if Ed’s team had simply taken one of the top three places, much less all of them. A true David and Goliath story, it’d be nearly impossible to ever top that experience.