Capt. Willie Mills aboard the Tracy Lynn won the 30th anniversary World's Richest Tarpon Tournament Friday in Boca Grande.
Mills, assisted by team leader Bruce Aikens and anglers Scott Adams and Ken Fry, collected $26,400 for first place with five tarpon caught and released.
"The prize money does not mean nearly as much as winning the Jay Joiner belt buckle means to me," Mills said. "I have been waiting a very long time to receive this very special award. This is all about Jay Joiner and remembering a great fisherman. "
Capt. Willie Mills, second from right, won the 30th anniversary World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament Friday in Boca Grande and celebrates assisted by, from left: Scott Adams, team leader Bruce Aikens, country singer Colton James and Ken Fry.
Second place went to Capt. Wayne Joiner on the "Hey Moma" along with team leader Alex Shouppe and anglers Preston Hearn, Chris Sanders and Trey Starling. They won $15,840.
Third place went to Matt Coleman on the Faithfull II along with CCM Graphic Solutions mates: team leader Don Cayo and anglers Chuck LeClercq and Bobby Cayo. They caught a $10,560 purse for netting the lat catch and release.
Altogether, 49 tarpon were caught and released in the two-day tournament ended Friday. Thirty-three boats entered generating a healthy prize pot.
World's Richest winners
First place: Capt. Willie Mills' team "Tracy Lynn" caught and released five tarpon. Purse: $26,400
Second place: Capt. Wayne Joiner's "Hey Moma" team, five releases. Purse $15,840.
Third place: Capt. Matt Coleman's "CCM Graphic Solutions" team. Purse: $10,560 Released last fish caught.
The reboot of the 2012 World's Richest Tarpon Tournament was successful on many levels, according to Chamber President Lew Hastings. His vision for resurrecting the tourney after a five-year hiatus came true with the help of many volunteers, the Boca Grande Chamber Of Commerce and its sponsors, he said.
The live-bait only tarpon tournament puts conservation first and is aimed at protecting the resource that makes Boca Grande a worldwide Tarpon Capital destination.
- Merry Beth Ryan contributed to this report.