Each year that I create the artwork for the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament, it is a very special honor to me. I love the Boca Grande fishery for so many reasons. The people I’ve fished with and the exhilaration of catching the mighty silver king are priceless. We are blessed to live in such a special place where the tarpon pile up and present us with the spectacle of huge rolling and feeding schools. Watching the crabs run on the tide or a fish evading a large and looming shadow of a bull or hammerhead are sights common here, unlike anywhere else.
When I sit back in my chair on a drift off the pass, I often think about my previous tarpon experiences. Every single one was an event shared with friends and loved ones that I truly cherish. Fishing is as much about people and relationships as it is about the fish.This year is a year of setting sons for our fishery. A few of the boats and people that I grew up fishing with or next to will no longer be in the Pass. Their familiar sight is now just another memory. I must have listened to James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” 100 times while painting this piece. I just always thought I’d see these guys again.
In the blink of an eye, someone you love might be gone. Or the fishery you love might change. Or a million other things that you have no control over. I’ve created my painting “Richest Memories” of times that have become my richest memories of fishing in Boca Grande.
Hug those you love and tell them every time you have the chance. Catch a tarpon every time you have the chance. So much changes in the blink of an eye.
Tight lines and good luck to the 2019 WRTT field, and tight lines to all of you every day! Thank you for the memories we’ve created. Let’s go fishing and make some more!
With all the love in my heart,
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Local Artist Kelly Reark on Conservation and Remembering That One Great Catch Click through Kelly Reark’s online gallery and you will find yourself in a South Florida ocean scene: canvas, silk, and fish mounts show bright renditions of turtles, flats fishermen, sea horses, and—of course—bonefish, tarpon, and permit. Kelly’s Florida roots go back several generations. As a child, she developed an interest in the local wildlife while hunting and fishing with her family. She attended the University of Miami and upon graduating in 2002, moved to Boca Grande where her father ran a tarpon fishing charter. Eight years later, Kelly started her career as a professional artist. She began experimenting with different media and color combinations, even adding her “trademark” style to three-dimensional fish mounts. Someone asked Kelly to paint a mount and, saying, “I’ll paint on anything!” she watched a rush of similar orders come in. The mounts have “this nostalgic quality to them, but they’re sti…