A Change in Strategy

PTT Jim Beam Tarpon Championship John McQueen

BOCA GRANDE, Fla. — Sunday's first day of the PTTS Championship — named the Jim Beam Tarpon Cup — marks a whole new set of rules for the 25 teams aiming for first prize.

Gone is much of the strategizing of whether to weigh a fish or take the points for release. The name of the game now is simple: how much weight you can register for two fish on Sunday and, for the fortunate five making it to Monday's three hour scramble, how much one fish pulls the scales.

Getting to the championship has been an intense five tournament endurance test, with teams accruing points for simple participation, placing in the top three, most releases and even taking part in the Ladies Day.

"What you'll see is a lot of smaller fish being popped off as soon as the guys get a look at them," said Joe Mercurio. "There's no release points I the championship, so if a fish can't help them weight-wise, they'll just move on to the next one."

The field also starts from zero each day. Though Team Raymarc.net, skippered by Artie Price, ran away with it third consecutive Yamaha Team of the Year award, they sit in the exact position as 25th place qualifier T.A. Mahoney/Tire Kingdom. As well, the top five on Monday will start from zero.