The Belize River Lodge hosted the First Annual Bonefish and Permit Tagging Challenge from May 12 – 17. Ten anglers met to place spaghetti tags on bonefish and permit and DNA “tag” tarpon. The event was co-sponsored by Frontiers Travel, Costa, R.L. Winston Rod Company and Patagonia. Continue reading
After an orientation and review of Challenge guidelines anglers were given a presentation on the angling impacts of tarpon mortality by Kathy Guindon, Scientist from the Florida Wildlife Commission. Kathy’s research, which was supported by BTT, has provided very valuable information that will be essential in tarpon management and preservation and is already having a direct impact on tarpon tournaments.
At the orientation anglers also received a trove of “goodies” including hand carved zircote wood bonefish (made by artist Elvis Samuels, who also made the trophies), a selection of Belizean goodies, BTT items, and Patagonia hats. Armed with swag and enthusiasm, everyone was ready to hit the flats. Despite some rough weather the anglers prevailed, in all, 36 bonefish, 3 permit, and 11 tarpon were tagged. Anglers were able to focus on a particular fish or spread their efforts across several species. Along the way several snook (up to 16 pounds) were also caught, as were 4 lookdowns (members of the Jack Crevalle family). We even broke four rods!After five days of angling, the winners were: most Bonefish Tagged: Chuck Hemingway and Craig Janssen tagged 11 bonefish and were each presented with an Orvis Helios Rod and Mirage Reel, lucky for them because they broke two rods on tarpon during the week! The team that tagged the 2nd most Bonefish was Larry and Marcia Albright, who tagged 10. They won Temple Fork Rods for their efforts. Larry also caught and tagged the largest bonefish of the week at 17.5 inches.
The most tarpon were tagged by Joseph Mariani and Donald Ehrlich, who landed and tagged 2. For their efforts they received Costa Del Mar Sunglasses of their choice. The largest tarpon of the week (106 pounds) was landed by Tim Courville, who took home a Winston fly rod (to replace the rod he broke on the fish).
Each winning team received an Elvis Samuel hand carved trophy. The permit landed and tagged during the challenge were caught by BTT Board member and event organizer Mick Kolassa and scientist Kathy Guindon, who were not eligible for prizes. Still, Kathy’s accomplishment of catching and tagging 6 bonefish and 2 permit, fish she’d never even tried to catch before, warrants mention! Plus, by catching the 16 pound snook on the same day as her 2 permit and a bonefish, she landed an IGFA recognized inshore grand slam – not bad for her first trip to the flats!
This event also helped BTT pass a milestone – in total we have now tagged over 750 bonefish in Belize. The dates for next year’s Belize River Lodge BTT Bonefish Permit & Tarpon Tagging Challenge are May 18 to 24, and some of this year’s participants have already booked their spots for next year. Hurry, space is limited!