By Captain Kevin Deerman
It’s always been amazing to me to see what kind of creatures show up in the lights around the boat at night when tuna fishing off the Texas coast. Over the years we’ve encountered many different types of fish. These nocturnal visitors are welcome entertainment for the crew on the long nights in the Gulf of Mexico. We are always on the lookout for flying fish to use for live bait.
Over the years, we have also scooped up our share of juvenile dorado, wahoo and even different billfish species. Hanging around a lit-up spar rig in 5,000 feet of water is not a very safe environment for these smaller fish when the tuna start feeding at night.
A few years back, Captain Kirk Elliott told me about a juvenile sail that his mate had dipped up in his net and had swimming around in a five-gallon bucket on deck. After watching the little sailfish swim around the bucket for a few minutes, Kirk asked his mate if he would dump the baby sail back overboard and let it free before they hurt the little thing. The mate had no sooner complied with Kirk’s request, than the sailfish was gobbled up by a big tuna as it slowly swam away from the boat.
As we tuna fished for a few hours on a July night a few years ago, we netted and released a couple of juvenile sails and spotted around a half dozen more swimming around in the lights. I’m sure most of the boats that frequent the deepwater spar rigs have experienced similar sightings of juveniles while tuna fishing also. The Billfish Foundation recently announced a pretty cool new program called the Juvenile Billfish Project. TBF is asking for help from all of us to get more information on these young billfish to get a better understanding of their habitats and distribution.
This information not only helps provide data on juvenile billfish, but is useful in determining where the big ones spawn. To help out, all anglers need to do is email a photo of a juvenile billfish that they have caught with as much information as they can provide. Pertinent facts include the approximate location, date, time of day, weather conditions, size of fish, and the like. Snap the picture, jot down the details and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
While it might not seem like a few photos with information would accomplish too much, widespread participation in the program can provide scientists with a wealth of data through time. Not only could this help to more understand the habits of juvenile billfish (and the species as a whole), but it makes netting up all the small marlin and sailfish that swim into your lights even that much more fun… Just try not to feed them to the tuna!
– That’s the report from Texas!
Blue Marlin Tagged in Bermuda Swims 5,089 Nautical Miles to Win 2017-2018 IGFA Great Marlin Race
DANIA BEACH, Fla. – July 9, 2018 – The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) today announced that a blue marlin satellite-tagged on July 21, 2017, during the Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship has won the 2017-2018 IGFA Great Marlin Race (IGMR).
The winning billfish swam an estimated 5,089 nautical miles (nm) in total or 2,658 nm point-to-point from Bermuda to about 600 nm northeast of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. This is the longest distance ever recorded by an IGMR-tagged blue marlin in Bermuda.
“Congratulations to tag sponsor Mike Verzaleno whose generosity allowed us to track the incredible journey of the winning billfish,” said IGFA President Nehl Horton. “Strong support from recreational anglers is the key to the success of this innovative, citizen-science conservation initiative.”
The IGMR is a partnership between IGFA and Stanford University that pairs recreational anglers with cutting-edge science to learn more about the basic biology of marlin and how they utilize the open ocean habitat. The goal of the program is to deploy 50 pop-up archival tags (PAT) in marlin at billfish tournaments around the world each year.
Since 2011, more than 350 satellite tags have been placed on billfish during IGMR tagging events. In the 2017-2018 race season, 58 tags were deployed on 31 blue marlin, 18 black marlin and nine striped marlin in seven countries around the world.
Marlin tagged in Bermuda during the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Triple Crown Billfish Championship tournaments swam a total of 16,464 nm and the winning fish accounts for 16 percent of this distance.
To learn more about the IGFA Great Marlin Race, visit https://igmr.igfa.org/Conserve/IGMR.aspx.
July 9, 2018- MIAMI, FL- Casa Vieja Lodge is entering its third phase of the Kick Plastic Campaign pioneered by Costa del Mar. This fall, Casa Vieja Lodge will become a plastic-free campus by eliminating all single-use plastic bottles both at the lodge, and aboard their 10-boat fleet.
All anglers will receive a YETI 36oz Rambler Bottle upon arrival at Casa Vieja Lodge, their lifeline to water consumption. Two Elkay Water Fountain and Bottle Filling Stations were installed at the lodge, where clients can refill their YETI Ramblers during their stay. This water goes through a 4-stage filtration system, including a UV purification process and the solution to pure, clean drinking water at Casa Vieja Lodge.
“The largest consumption of single-use plastic water bottles is on our fleet. We average about
6 bottles a day/person. That equates to 60,000 a season just on the boats, add the consumption at the lodge and we are at 80,000 plastic bottles. That’s just wrong for the environment we rely so heavily on.” said Captain David Salazar.
Aboard the boats clients can refill their same Ramblers from the YETI Silo, a 6-gallon water cooler that keeps water cold for hours. Tried and true, anglers are able to keep their Rambler in direct Guatemalan sunlight while they are fighting billfish and return to their same ice-cold beverage.
Last season bamboo straws replaced the normal plastic straws in all beverages, which have proven deadly to many marine animal life. “Our fishery here in Guatemala is so amazing and so unique in itself that it’s our responsibility here at Casa Vieja Lodge to kick plastic even where the odds are completely against us. We really don’t see why you can’t do this in your own backyard.” said Kristen Salazar.
To get more information and inspiration on how you can make a difference visit the Casa Vieja Lodge Team at the 2018 ICAST Show in Orlando, FL July 11-13th at Booth #1611.
Industry Reinforces Commitment to Conservation Through Renewed FishSmart Program
Program aims to increase red snapper, red drum and other South Atlantic species survival rate
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – June 25, 2018 – The American Sportfishing Association – the sportfishing industry’s trade association – announced the launch of a new project to improve the survival of caught-and-released fish in the South Atlantic, as part of the FishSmart program.
The new FishSmart Red Snapper and Red Drum Conservation Project seeks to promote best practices for releasing fish and encourage greater awareness and use of tools proven to improve fish survival. Working in partnership with state fish and wildlife agencies, industry and other organizations, descending devices for deep water fish and short leader rigs for red drum will be distributed to anglers throughout the region, along with best practices for handling and releasing fish. Through participant surveys, valuable information will be gathered on the use of these tools and techniques that can help form better management decisions in the future.
In the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic, many reef fish such as red snapper are being released due to short seasons and high rates of encounter. Without proper handling techniques a significant percentage of released fish die, to the detriment of fisheries conservation and future fishing opportunities.
“We’re always working on ways to help increase fish survival rates and showcase the work anglers and industry do as conservationists,” said Mike Leonard, ASA’s Conservation Director. “The aim of FishSmart is to further bolster the recreational fishing community’s stewardship of the fisheries we enjoy. Through education and awareness, we expect to make a positive impact on fish populations and keep these fisheries robust for years to come.”
This South Atlantic project builds upon the success of a similar FishSmart project recently conducted in the Gulf of Mexico. From 2015 to 2017, the program – coordinated through ASA’s FishAmerica Foundation – recruited more than 1,100 anglers to use best practices for saltwater catch and release, which included the use of descending devices, such as the SeaQualizer – a tool that rapidly returns fish to the depth in which they were caught, allowing them to reacclimate for a successful release.
It’s estimated that 3,000 to 9,000 red snapper lowered to their original depth survived because of the descending device. The survival rate of the approximately 22,000 reef fish, or other species that anglers reported releasing, was also improved.
“We learned a great deal about anglers and their habits, techniques and overall viewpoints during FishSmart’s initial launch,” said Martin Peters, senior manager of Communications and Government Relations at Yamaha Marine Group – one of the program’s chief supporters. “By showing how increased use of best practices for releasing fish can lead to healthier fisheries, we are not only promoting fisheries conservation but also allowing for greater fishing opportunities. With healthy fisheries, everybody wins.”
Nearly 75 percent of participants in the Gulf of Mexico project had no prior knowledge of descending devices and shared that they are now likely to use the devices to release most or all fish, when needed. This finding suggests that with education and the proper gear, anglers are empowered to make a positive impact on marine fisheries.
The renewed FishSmart program will begin with 1,500 to 2,000 project participants in the South Atlantic region. These anglers will report their catches and best practice release techniques using distributed descending devices and short leader rigs via survey.
This program is possible in part through partnerships with: FishAmerica Foundation; Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Grey’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary; NOAA Marine Fisheries; North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality; Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation; South Atlantic Fishery Management Council; South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; and Yamaha Marine Group.
To learn more about the FishSmart Red Snapper and Red Drum Conservation Project, visit www.TakeMeFishing.org/FishSmart.