The Boca Grande Pass, which sits at the entrance of Charlotte Harbor, is an approximately 2,200-foot waterway separating Gasparilla Island and Cayo Costa. In the channel of the pass, there are several deep ledges, with the 'Lighthouse Hole,' which plummets nearly 80 feet, being the deepest of them all.
By the late 1800's, several small fishing camps sprang up to take advantage of the area's natural abundance. Massive schools of mullet were plentiful in the area. In 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 state of Florida. This resulted in one of the busiest ports in the entire state.
Local fishermen realized that the natural geography made it the ideal for tarpon before they head offshore to spawn. In 1908, Barron Collier founded the 'Tarpon Inn'. He is credited with coining the Pass as the 'Tarpon Capital of the World.'
The fish, with their huge size and incredible leaping acrobatics, became prized trophies which attracted big-game fisherman from all around the world such as Babe Ruth and Teddy Roosevelt.
By the 1950s, Boca Grande was a hub spot of shipping. Huge ships traveling the pass helped create a groove that acted as a funnel during changing 'hill tides.' The strong currents pulled entire schools of bait fish into the pass and into the deep ledges where lots of tarpon were waiting to feast.
Hill Tides are one of the best times to catch Tarpon. A Hill Tide is a high tide that rapidly falls back and pushes tons of blue crab out. When this happens, the 1000’s of 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.