27
Aug 18

DakeCast Bahamas Pod, Part II – A dead bonefish

Here is Elliott’s second part of the Bahamas trip podcast. In this part you’ll here about conservation efforts in the Bahamas and you’ll learn a bit about the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and you’ll also come along with me as we deal with the aftermath of a dead bonefish. Yup… I killed a bonefish. I didn’t do it on purpose, but I did. We’ll explore some of the ethics around that and where I may have, momentarily, fallen down.

It is possible to have a lot of thoughts about where the line is… but sometimes… sometimes is it a little hard to see.

Bonefishing is a blood sport (the picture below isn’t from this trip even… if you fish for bonefish, this is going to happen, sooner or later). Fish will die, even when you do everything right. That’s why it’s so important to get everything right that you CAN control.

Give a listen… let me know what you think.

Thanks for the pull. Sorry it didn’t work out.

 


26
Jun 18

Florida’s Red Tide Taking a Toll

Approximately 140-pound tarpon photographed by Capt. Tommy Locke outside Cayo Costa

Things are not going well in Southwest Florida… not well at all. Below is BTT’s press release about what they are seeing.

Red Tide is Causing Unprecedented Fish Kills in SW FL

Once again, Florida’s fisheries are suffering from the legacy of long-time mismanagement of Florida’s water resources. Southwest Florida is plagued by an unprecedented red tide that is causing kills of gamefish. Reports from those on the water estimate that tens of thousands of snook are dead – all of them adults in the peak of spawning season. Breeding-size redfish, as well as tarpon, which usually seem to avoid red tide, are also being reported dead. The ongoing red tide is a sign of the ‘new normal’ in Southwest Florida because too many nutrients are entering Florida’s estuaries and coasts due to water mismanagement. Here are the facts:

  • The organism that causes red tide, Karenia brevis, has been present in southwest Florida as far back as written records go – the Spanish wrote about it.
  • Karenia brevis does not benefit directly from the extra nutrients flowing down the Caloosahatchee from polluted Lake Okeechobee, or from the extra phosphorous entering Charlotte Harbor from phosphate mining. This is because other plankton organisms are better initial competitors for those new nutrients.
  • Karenia brevis DOES benefit secondarily from the extra nutrients – once the nutrients have been used by those other plankton species, and then are cycled back into the ecosystem when those organisms die and decay, Karenia brevis goes to work. Consider this the Legacy Effect of water mismanagement.
  • The ongoing red tide is unprecedented in modern times in intensity and duration.
  • Although red tide has always been in the region, the frequency and intensity of red tide events have increased, and red tide events last longer. This is becoming a new pattern, which means events like the ongoing red tide will become more common.

The excess nutrients in Southwest Florida waters are from two sources. First, they are from the high-nutrient water from Lake Okeechobee that is discharged into the Caloosahatchee River as part of water mismanagement in South Florida (the same mismanagement that is killing the Everglades and St. Lucie River). Second, the phosphate mining industry in the Charlotte Harbor watershed produces runoff high in phosphorous, which feeds red tide and other plankton organisms.

Southwest Florida is home to Boca Grande Pass, part of Charlotte Harbor, the Tarpon Capitol of the World. Tarpon gather in Boca Grande Pass and Charlotte Harbor during May and June in association with spawning. It is likely that this red tide will negatively impact tarpon spawning.

Charlotte Harbor is also home to an amazing snook and redfish fishery. During summer months, snook spawn in passes and along beaches. This red tide is impacting spawning snook directly, which will impact the region’s snook population.

This red tide event is the new normal unless the state’s water management policies are changed. This is about the future of Florida’s $8 billion saltwater recreational fishery.

We urge readers to contact their political representatives at the local, state, and federal levels and tell them that policy change is needed immediately.


30
Mar 18

BTT Shares Concern About Grand Bahama Refinery

Yeah… I agree. This sounds like such a bad project for the things I love.

Justin Lewis in the Bahamas

An open letter by Justin Lewis from BTT

The Rt. Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis,

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) is an international non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of bonefish, tarpon, permit—the species, their habitats, and the larger fisheries they support. We work in a broad geography that spans the Caribbean Basin from its easternmost anchor in the Bahamas. Locally, we have worked for many years in the Bahamas, collaborating with the Bahamas National Trust, anglers, guides, fishermen, and other leading NGOs. Studies have shown that the flats fishing industry in The Bahamas contributes in excess of $141 million to the Bahamian economy annually, making it a valuable sustainable natural  that benefits thousands of Bahamians, especially in rural communities.

The Island of Grand Bahama is an area where BTT has placed significant effort and continues to do so because of its expansive healthy flats habitat and thriving recreational bonefish fishery. It is where I, as a native Bahamian working for BTT, am based. Years of research by BTT and our collaborators has identified habitat loss and degradation as the greatest threats to bonefish and their habitats. Developments involving dredging, sand mining, and other manipulations of nature pose a significant threat not only to bonefish but a range of other environmentally and economically important species and habitats.

We received the news of the recently announced OBAN energies development in East Grand Bahama with great interest due to its potential impacts to the flats, coral reefs, and deep ocean—our most valuable natural resources—not only in that area, but along the entire southern side and eastern end of Grand Bahama. The OBAN plans to construct a large oil refinery and storage facility will require significant dredging, which will pose risks to our local marine environment and threaten fresh water aquifers. The 250,000 barrels of heavy crude oil slated for daily production also deserves closer scrutiny. Heavy crude oil is similar to bitumen, which comes from the oil sands of Canada, and has caused significant environmental issues there. Heavy crude emits three times as much CO₂ as regular crude oil and even coal and contains large quantities of heavy metal contaminants and sulfur.

Additionally, the silt created from the large amount of dredging to be done would be carried by prevailing winds and currents to our beaches, aquifers, the flats, and coral reefs along the entire south side and east end of Grand Bahama. Any future oil spill would follow the same path.  Directly in harm’s way would be the Lucayan National Park, East Grand Bahama Protected Area, and the Northside-Gap National Park, which protect important bonefish spawning aggregation sites, bonefish spawning migration pathways, and bonefish flats that support the economically valuable fishery.

In consultation with other stakeholders in the Bahamian flats fishery, particularly in East Grand Bahama, we write to urge the greatest care in assessing this project and its environmental impacts. Topics that should be considered while conducting the environmental impact assessment should include: likelihood of an oil or other chemical spill; if a spill occurs how would it be contained, and where would the resulting pollutants be transported by ocean currents and through the aquifer; what will be the impact to the natural resources that support the travel and tourism industry; what will be the economic costs to the flats fishery due to the loss of anglers; will safeguards be in place in case the project fails or ceases operation.

Thank you for your consideration. As always, please consider BTT an information resource for bonefish and flats conservation efforts. We stand ready to provide assistance—please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Justin Lewis

Bahamas Initiative Manager


14
Nov 17

How to Handle Bonefish

You want your bonefish to live long and prosper after you release it? Well, here are some thoughts. You’ll notice I’m not immune from making bad decisions. I do, from time to time, but I want to be better. That’s the goal.

The risk to the fish by our poor actions is not insignificant. Here’s a post from years ago about that very thing.

For best results, the angler should minimize two things.

  • Air Exposure – How long the fish is out of the water.
  • Handling – How much you touch the bonefish.

This is important because when you release a bonefish back into the salt, there are other things waiting to eat them. They don’t get a chance to catch their breath or recover. A bonefish survives because it can swim faster, react quicker than the sharks and cuda’s trying to eat them and if they are impaired when you let them go they stand a decent chance of becoming food for one of those predators.

Here are the grades of handling for bonefish.

A+ Handling

You have hooked the fish and fought it to the boat. You admire the fish while it is in the water, still swimming, on the end of your line. You reach down with your pliers and simply pop the fly out of the fish’s mouth (since you are fishing barbless).

  • Air Exposure = 0.
  • Handling = 0.

(This is WAY easier to do after you’ve caught about 8 fish.)

B+ Handling

You have hooked and fought a bonefish. Getting the fish to the boat you reach into the water and cradle the fish in your hands. Maybe you take a picture of the fish in the water, maybe even underwater. You unhook the fish and let it swim away.

  • Air Exposure = 0.
  • Handling = A little.

B Handling

You hook the fish, fight it in and you quickly bring the fish out of the water for a picture. The fish is out of the water for just a few seconds.

  • Air Exposure = A little.
  • Handling = Not that much.

South Andros Bonefish. Photo by Andrew Bennett

D- Handling

You hook that fish and get it in. You bring the fish out of the water and hold it, mid-air, out of the water, maybe sitting in the middle of the boat, while your friend or your guide snap a bunch of pictures.

  • Air Exposure = Too Much.
  • Handling = Too Much.

That’s an o’io.

F Handling

You hold that fish up with a boga, in the middle of the boat for a bunch of pictures.

  • Air Exposure = Too Much.
  • Handling = Way, Way, Way too much.

That green hat, my first decent bonefish and some horrible fish handling.

Here is what the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust has to say on the matter.

We all can do better. As I looked through my own pictures I was bummed to see my picture from Hawaii, just recently, that was poor handling. I think it was faster than it looked like, but I could have done better. It is harder to always be in the A camp. I think as long has you have an A- average, you are doing pretty damn well.

Other considerations you should keep in mind are to limit the duration of the fight (get that fish in as soon as you can) and never touch a bonefish with a dry hand (or dry anything).

It really is about education and the more we spread the word and encourage other anglers to learn about how to do things right, most will opt to do things right.


12
Oct 17

BTT auction has some pretty awesome items

I can’t make it to the BTT Symposium. Wish that was on my calendar, but, alas, life has not put that in front of me (work is firing on all cylinders at the moment).

However, you and I can still browse the auction items for the symposium. It is pretty amazing. Check it out here.

Art. Gear. Get-aways. Guided days on the water.

It is all there and there for a good cause.

Pretty awesome.

Pretty sweet


07
Aug 17

Bonefish and Tides with Dr. Aaron Adams

It is hard to keep up with BTT these days. They are just DOING so much. Good problem to have. I’m a member and I hope you are a member too.

Dr. Adams recently penned an article about bonefish tides. He’s someone you should really listen to.

Tides are one of those things most trout anglers aren’t going to be familiar with. What tides do you want to fish and how do you find those tides? This article is for you.

come out bonefish… where are you?


05
Jul 17

Micro Film Competition – BTT + Nautilus

mmmmm

One minutes. That’s all you need to put together for the Micro Film Competition with BTT and Nautilus. Here are the details:

Nautilus Reels Micro-Film Contest

For Immediate Release

July 7, 2017 

Contact:
Mark Rehbein
Director of Development, BTT
mark@bonefishtarpontrust.org
786-618-9479

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust is pleased to partner with Nautilus Reels to host the Nautilus Reels Micro-Film Contest, open to professional and amateur filmmakers. We encourage anglers of all ages and experience levels to submit their best micro-films telling stories from the world of fishing and conservation. The top videos, selected by BTT and Nautilus staff, will be played and voted on during the Nautilus Reels Art + Micro-Film Festival on Friday, November 10th at Bonefish & Tarpon Trust’s 6th International Science Symposium in Weston, Florida.

Each winner will receive a *Nautilus reel* along with other prizes.

Rules:

1) Two Divisions: Amateur and Pro (anyone who has submitted videos to one of the film tours, is sponsored, or anyone defined as such by staff). 

2) Suggested Themes:

A. Conservation: What does BTT mean to you?
B. “I’d rather be bonefishing”: Open to all species and habitats – what do you fish for when you can’t stalk bonefish on the flats?
C. The Rookie: Fishing with the next generation.

3) Videos must be no longer than one minute. Each contestant can submit only one video.

4) To be eligible, the contestant *MUST* post his or her video to Instagram, tag Nautilus Reels and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, and use the hashtag: #BTTSymposium

The filmmaker whose micro-film receives the most likes on Instagram between July 7, 2017 and November 10, 2017 will win a limited edition BTT Simms Headwaters Tackle Bag.

Submit your video to BTT Director of Development Mark Rehbein: mark@bonefishtarpontrust.org


18
May 17

Joan Wulff honored by BTT

When I’m trying to explain casting in the salt to someone I often end up mentioning Joan Wulff. Most folks who are new to the salt want to muscle their cast into the wind. All they need is more brute strength, right? More cowbell.

But casting in the salt, in a 15 mile an hour wind, isn’t about muscle, it is about the proper application of power. I mention Joan Wulff, who, for all her badassery, I could surely take in an arm wrestling match. I’m stronger than she is, but she can out-cast me. Why is that?

It is about mechanics.

Joan Wulff has been an inspirational figure in the world of fly fishing. Now 90 years old, she’s been a teacher, an author or a conservationist for more years than I’ve been alive.

She was recently honored at the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust’s annual New York dinner. Pretty awesome. 


22
Mar 17

Tarpon Genetics Reveal a Surprise

Martin tells me they also come in Men’s sizes.

The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust wrapped up their tarpon genetic program and the results are a bit surprising.

You know those tarpon in Florida? And the ones in Louisiana? And the ones in Mexico and the ones in Belize? Also, you know those tarpon in West Africa? They are all pretty much the same fish, genetically speaking. That’s pretty amazing. All those fish and all those places are basically the same fish, genetically speaking. The fish in West Africa are basically genetically indistinguishable from the fish in Florida.

Read BTT’s blog post about it here. Pretty interesting stuff.


15
Mar 17

Help BTT get a new outboard

Related image

Hey folks… BTT needs a new outboard. Wanna help?

The sampling crew, which is supposed to be tagging tarpon and permit, has their skiff stuck on the trailer due to the dead outboard. Much thanks to the guides in the Lower Keys who have donated their time and boats to help out, but their availability is limited. And much thanks to those who have sent in donations to contribute to the costs. Any help appreciated. Needed: 60hp, 20 inch shaft, hydraulic steering.

If you want to lend a hand (or, ya know, buy them an outboard) send Dr. Aaron Adams an email (aaron@bonefishtarpontrust.org).