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).


07
Aug 16

Importance of genetic testing for bonefish explained

A recent blog post from BTT explained why they do genetic testing on bonefish. I know that many of you have collected fin clips and this will tell you why.

I got a few fin clips back in Andros in 2011 as part of FIBFEST II.

A few Androsian fin clips from 2011

A few Androsian fin clips from 2011


09
Mar 16

BTT in the spotlight

You have to love it when the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust gets into Forbes. The author, Monte Burke is an angler and he is a fan of conservation and throwing flies at fish, so it made sense he’d pen this particular story.

The story is an interview with Aaron Adams and I urge you to check it out.

BTT is an organization I support personally. I have talked to many folks there and believe in what they are about and how dedicated they are to their mission.

Go on… join BTT if you haven’t already.

Support BTT

Support BTT


25
Feb 16

Clip it… Clip it really good… for SCIENCE!

BTT is running a Fin Clip Challenge, sponsored by YETI from March 1st to March 23rd. Collect as many fin clips as you can from South Florida to support YETI’s Bonefish Genetics Program. You get the most and you get the YETI Hopper Cooler with art by Jorge Martinez. Looks pretty dope.

More details about the contest on the BTT blog.

I doubt I’d be much help since I live in California and my only bonefish was caught accidentally and was likely the smallest fly-caught bonefish in Florida in that year.

The bonefish


30
Dec 15

New Season of Buccaneers & Bones

Buccaneers & Bones

I was surprised to see a new episode of Buccaneers and Bones record on my DVR last night. I guess there is a new season and that, generally, is a good thing.

This year they are back at Deep Water Cay, a place I got to fish out of for half a day. It is an amazing lodge, definitely on the high end of things. My wife was with me when we toured the private island a couple years ago and even she was impressed.

I love that there is a show about bonefishing and conservation and about the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. I get to spend a half-hour on the flats of the Bahamas even when I am a couple thousand miles away and it is 39 degrees out (as it is this morning). So… I’m a fan of the show and a fan of the concept.

That said… let me register a few gripes.

  • Same old crew. This year there doesn’t appear to be anyone new (or anyone under 60). It is the same folks as years past and while that may be fun for them (I mean… yeah, it would be, wouldn’t it?), it is pretty stale.
  • Same old story line. Yes… Lefty is a legend. That was true the first time they said it and the time after that and the time after that and by now… well… I’m kind of over celebrating Lefty every episode.
  • “When you make the perfect cast…” On this episode Tom Brokaw says something about “when you make the perfect cast, it is just tremendously gratifying…” or something along those lines. However, here’s the thing… his casting is not exactly much good. I’ve seen really good casters and I have not seen good casting out of most of these guys. Tom… not so much. Huey Lewis? No. Lefty? Sure. Bill? Yeah. But most of the time the casts I see laid out there are absolute turds. The good news is that it demonstrates you do NOT need an excellent cast to catch bones (sometimes).
  • Fish fighting editing. They recycle underwater fish fighting footage and none of it captures the actual fight of these fish. The footage is of the very end of the fight when the fish is done and they are pulling the fish in front of the camera. If this is what bonefish fought like no one would be interested in catching them.
  • Too familiar. I wasn’t sure if it was even new. They’ve been to DWC before and these same guys have been on the show almost every year. It was difficult to tell if this was, indeed, a new year. That should tell you something.

Still… I’ll watch. Yvon is a personal hero and I love the Bahamas more than is reasonable and BTT is my favorite nonprofit. So, I’ll watch. I’ll watch, but I’ll also be hoping that if they do this again next year there is a new crop of characters, maybe even some folks below 50. Maybe they could go fish Mexico or Cuba or Hawaii or Christmas Island or anywhere they haven’t been before. I’m looking for a little bit of new and maybe we’ll get that in 2017?


17
Nov 15

BTT being awesome

This is why I love BTT. They are just solid and they’ll continue to get my money for as long as I’m declared competent and able to make my own decisions.


29
Sep 15

Interview with Justin Lewis from BTT

As hard as it is to believe, I actually asked these questions of Justin Lewis from Bonefish & Tarpon Trust before all this Bahamas regulation stuff came up.

Justin works for BTT. He’s a Bahamian working in the Bahamas for BTT. Shows BTT’s commitment to protecting bonefish where bonefish live. I applaud that up and down and am only sorry I have but two hands to applaud with. See… BTT is awesome.

Justin Lewis in the Bahamas

Justin Lewis in the Bahamas

 

You are working with BTT out in the Bahamas. Can you give me an overview of what that work entails?

Working as the Bahamas Initiative Manager for the BTT, I travel around the Bahamas visiting lodges and working with local guides which has helped us identify bonefish home ranges, juvenile habitat, bonefish spawning sites, and bonefish spawning migration pathways. The Bahamas Initiative is a collaborative, multi-year program to conserve and protect the bonefish fishery and their habits in The Bahamas.

 

The work I do when I travel to the different islands ranges from giving presentations to guides, anglers and schools, to tagging, to snorkeling with thousands of bonefish in pre-spawning aggregations. The scientific information we collect is then applied to habitat conservation plans in conjunction with fishing guides, lodge owners, collaborating NGO’s, and the Bahamas Government.

 

Nice fish from Justin.

Nice fish from Justin.

What is one thing you wish anglers knew about conservation.

The one thing I wish anglers knew about conservation is how much they are capable and welcome of getting involved in conservation efforts. For the work we do at BTT, angler and guide participation is key to the success of many of our projects. For example, our tag-recapture study in the Bahamas involved a lot of angler and guide participation. From anglers and guides tagging bonefish and reporting recaptures we were able to figure out that bonefish have very small home ranges (<1km), and also travel long distances (>30km) for spawning purposes. By anglers participating in research like the tagging program, the information they help collect is vital to conservation efforts and planning for bonefish and their habitats. It is also a great way to give back to the resource we have such a passion for.

 

The BTT in collaboration with Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has initiated a new genetics study looking at the connectivity of bonefish and tarpon populations in the Bahamas, Caribbean, and Western Atlantic. We collect fin clips from bonefish and scales from tarpon that are used for genetic analysis, and can help us determine whether different populations are related to one another. If anglers or guides who target bonefish or tarpon in those areas are interested in participating in this study, they can request a fin clip or scale sample kit by contacting us at info@bonefishtarpontrust.org.

A baby poon, Bahamas style.

A baby poon, Bahamas style.

What’s one unexpected thing you’ve see out there on the flats?

On a flat in Eleuthera, I saw a very large porcupine fish. I’ve seen them countless times out on the reef, but never thought I’d ever see one on the flats.

What do you think is the biggest threat to Bahamian bonefish?

We have identified habitat loss and degradation to be the greatest threat to bonefish populations in the Bahamas. Lots of areas that are prime feeding and spawning habitat for bonefish are also sought after by developers for sand mining or hotel and marina developments. Removing or altering habitat could negatively affect a local bonefish population that depends on habitats like mangroves and seagrass beds for food and cover.

How good is the Bahamian rugby team? And please explain how to play rugby. (I admit I asked this question to be funny, but Justin just went ahead and answered it anyway)

We are a good team and have a lot of talent, but we still have things we need to improve on. We had a good international season this year, beating both Bermuda and Turks & Caicos.
Rugby is a continuous game whereby two teams carry, pass, kick and ground the ball in order to score. In rugby there are 15 people playing at a time per side. The key to playing rugby is that you always have to pass the ball backwards, and to be in support of the man with ball in order to receive a pass or ruck in order to secure the ball. The purpose of the ruck or maul is so that the game can continue without any stoppage in play. The line-out and scrum are two key distinguishing factors to the game of Rugby Union. A scrum occurs when there is an accidental infringement and a line-out occurs when the ball goes out of bounds. A try is scored when a player places the ball in the opposition’s in-goal area, and is worth 5 points followed by a conversion kick which is worth 2.

On an average day of bonefishing, average conditions, what fly are you pulling out for your first cast?

Well that all depends on the area I am fishing. My go-to fly for most situations is a simple crab pattern, most of the time a merkin or bastard crab that will match the bottom I am fishing. The two keys to choosing the right crab pattern is weight and color. Match the weight of the fly to the depth of water you are fishing, and as I already mentioned match the color of the crab fly to the bottom. Most of the time crabs will take on the color of the bottom they are on. Crabs have a very high caloric value which bonefish love, so to heighten your chances of getting one to look and hopefully eat, I’d recommend a crab fly.

If you were writing the laws in the Bahamas and could enact one law to help the fishery stay healthy, what law would you enact?

If there was one law I could enact, it would be the protection of key bonefish habitat from unsustainable development. From the research BTT and our collaborators have done over the years on bonefish, we have come to the conclusion that degradation, blockage, and removal of bonefish habitat is the greatest threat to the species.

 

One other law I would enact is total ban of gill nets. They are a non-selective and extremely destructive type of fishing, and if they get lost and float at sea or get stuck in mangroves, they can cause even more destruction by entangling any marine organism that gets near it.

Thanks Justin!


28
Aug 15

Damning

The MidCurrent story, both I & II are getting a lot of eyeballs. There are probably more comments on those two stories than all the stories I’ve written about the topic. It speaks to the authority MidCurrent has as a brand.

If you are still on the fence… I think these comments by our pal Prescott Smith about the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust really should help you pick a side. This is from the MidCurrent story:

BFFIA president Prescott Smith, who argues that BTT resists local input and is out of touch with ordinary Bahamians, says that BFFIA has no relationship with BTT now and no plans to work with the group on common cause conservation concerns in the future. Instead BFFIA works closely with Bahamas Sportfishing Conservation Association (BSCA), which Smith himself began in 1995 to address conservation issues he believed were of particular importance to Bahamians. According to Smith, BSCA has approximately 250 members; a request for the number of members with fisheries science backgrounds and/or advanced degrees in marine resources or natural resources management went unanswered. In any case, Smith asserts that locals know more about local fish behavior and patterns than do experts who visit the islands for a few months for programs like bonefish tagging.

Really?

Just to be clear… THIS is the organization Prescott won’t work with (and by the way, that is what actual conservation work looks like).

It is unclear if Prescott knew BTT has a Bahamian staff member, living in Grand Bahama, working every day on conservation issues (not weekends, really, working 5 days a week), getting in touch with ordinary Bahamians.

Instead of working with and supporting a world-class conservation organization like BTT, Prescott will only work with an organization he himself started and controls. This is the organization he’s talking about. Last news update on the website was from 2013. There is no list of staff. There is no list of partners or funders. Their facebook page was last updated in 2013. There is a Twitter account, started in 2008 with zero tweets. It is a ghost of an organization.

Incidently, this nearly non-existant entity is the only “Industry Partner” listed on the BFFIA’s website.

These are the partners of the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust.

Which organization would a rational person choose to partner with I wonder?

I mean… is anyone still buying this stuff?

BTT & the Bahamas... they go well together.

BTT & the Bahamas… they go well together.


05
Aug 15

Protect Bay Bones!

From BTT. If you fish Florida, please take the survey!

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED: Project Bay Bones Survey

Do you fish for bonefish in south Florida? If you do, then we need your help. Bonefish and Tarpon Trust has partnered with researchers at Florida International University to create PROJECT BAY BONES to investigate changes in South Florida waters and how these changes may affect the quality of bonefishing. We need your help to fill in critical knowledge gaps on how bonefishing has changed in south Florida over the years. In the absence of scientific data on the health of bonefish populations, angler knowledge is an invaluable source of information. Thus, public participation is vital to the conservation of bonefish and to ensuring high quality fishing in the future!

You can help us by filling in a 10-15 minute survey and telling us about your fishing experiences. This survey is different than previous surveys on the bonefish fishery because it is tied into a larger study that is examining environmental changes in South Florida over time. Bringing all of these data sets together should help us better understand bonefish.

Click here to take the survey

If the link above does not work, please copy and paste the following URL into your browser: https://fiu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_1GplxUPVHqt5xtz

We are looking for bonefish anglers of all levels and years of experience, including fishing guides. Your participation in this study is greatly appreciated and we thank you in advance!

For further information or if you have any questions, please contact fishscience@fiu.edu