Recreation Specialist ~ Tarpon Tagging
A few years ago I got the opportunity to spend a few days chasing and tagging tarpon (here in the Tampa Bay Area) with Capt. Brian Jill and Lucas Griffin for Bonefish &Tarpon Trust. Since then a few of us have talked several times about tagging fish during the “off migration months” to better understand their life cycle from larvae to migratory tarpon.
This year some good-sized early season tarpon that were acting right prompted me to reach out to Lucas again, but he and the rest of the crew were busy down in the Florida Keys chasing tarpon, permit, and for some reason, hammerhead sharks. He mentioned that he and Dr. Aaron Adams had been talking about inviting Ben Kurth down to train him on the tagging procedure, to start targeting Tampa Bay tarpon. I’d wanted to get involved with BTT since before that first tagging experience, so I took the opportunity to invite myself along.
After a little planning, I met Ben down in Gulfport and we pond-hopped our way down to the keys. Ben got his first peacock bass along the way-that’s cool! We arrived at 8 pm, right on time to meet the BBT crew at the boat ramp and hop onboard. We spent the night slinging jigs and launching tarpon. The experience was surreal! We managed to get 3 tags in, and learn the process of surgically implanting the radio transmitters firsthand — all 3 fish swam healthfully away.
After rinsing the boat we got every bit of 3 ½ hours of sleep and hit the ground early to meet up for round 2. Fueled with coffee and breakfast Dr. Aaron, Chris Whittman (with Captain’s For Clean Water), Ben and I loaded on to Bear’s boat.
Part of the reason I originally wanted to get involved in tagging tarpon is because these fish consume my thoughts and I want my grandchildren to see them and have healthy fisheries to chase them in. As we headed for our first spot that morning, I was sitting back imagining how many hours the five of us have collectively spent thinking about tarpon. I felt truly blessed to be alive and be a part such an epic weekend!
The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust has a mission to conserve and restore our bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries and habitats through research, stewardship, education, and advocacy, and I am absolutely thrilled to be able to help that mission. If healthy habitats and functioning flats fisheries are part of your passion find a way to get involved with these awesome organizations.