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Historic Tales of Gasparilla Island as told by a fourth-generation Gasparilla Islander

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Gasparilla Island is a barrier island that straddles the border of Charlotte and Lee Counties. Its largest town is Boca Grande, which today is one of the wealthiest communities in Florida.

But, the island’s foundation is found in fishing — primarily mullet and tarpon. And in the discovery of phosphate along the southwest Florida coast around the turn of the last century, which brought a train depot to the island. Over the years it’s been home to a wild and unique cast of characters, from fishing guides who sometimes did side business as smugglers, to wealthy elites from families like the Du Ponts and the Vanderbilts, all of which shared their lives and adventures together over the decades.

David Futch’s family has deep roots on Gasparilla Island — about as deep as they come. His family first came ashore in the 1880s to fish, and it was his great-grandfather Frank Futch who first figured out how to catch tarpon on a rod and reel and started the guide-fishing industry on the southwest Florida coast.

In his new book, Historic Tales of Gasparilla Island, Futch shares stories about island life and its history that come from both his family’s tales, and historical records. He’s a retired journalist who covered government and politics in Florida, Alaska and California. He now lives in Santa Monica, California, with his wife, Sally Stewart.

Click HERE to learn about Futch's signing event at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda. It’s this Wednesday, March 23 at 6pm.

Click HERE to watch the episode of WGCU’s Untold Stories about the history of Boca Grande which originally aired back in 2005.