Oct 14

What you won’t enjoy in the Keys

You like conch fritters? Me too.

You know what you won’t have in the Keys? Conch fritters from conch caught in the Keys. Simply put, they’ve been over-fished to the brink of destruction and are now illegal to harvest in Florida waters.

I’m not from Florida… far from it. But it seems like things need to change if Florida is going to continue producing for all those tourists who come down to play. If you keep everything you catch, regardless of whether you plan on eating it or not, there will simply be fewer of those fish around the next time you head out on that charter boat.

It is pictures like this that have me scratching my head. You think they are going to eat all those smaller fish? I doubt it. If not… why kill them? Is gaffing the only way these guys know how to land a fish?

When I see that 84% of lobsters in the Keys are caught in their first year of life (they can live to be 20), I have to wonder how the fishery could possibly thrive under such pressure. Visually, it is striking to see all those lobster traps set out. Hundreds upon hundreds of them, one after another after another. You just look at it all and have to think “How is this sustainable?”

There seem to be PLENTY of mullet around and the big, migratory tarpon will come to eat the mullet, so maybe the tarpon won’t be impacted by the general catch & kill mentality. You have to think you can’t screw with things too much, though, right?

Am I wrong? Can we keep this up?

Bison skulls from around the time when we nearly killed off all the Bison.

Nov 13

Bonefish Awesomeness

Well. This is something you don’t see every day (or ever lifetime).

Go over to the Moldy Chum to see the details. This is a spawning aggregation. We knew this happened, but had never actually caught it on tape. Awesome site.

Sep 13

C&R in Florida

Did you miss it? On September 1st bonefish and tarpon were officially designated as Catch & Release species in Florida.

For bones…

The bonefish tournament exemption permit is eliminated. This exemption allows tournament anglers with the proper permit to temporarily possess bonefish for transport to a tournament scale.


Well done Florida.

For Tarpon, it is a little more involved. A person can keep on tarpon when pursuing a world record, but they need a permit and the permit is only valid for a short period of time.

All harvest of tarpon will be eliminated, with the exception of the harvest or possession of a single tarpon when in pursuit of an International Game Fish Association record and in conjunction with a tarpon tag.

Hook and line only, and the rules extend to Federal waters. Ruling indeed.

Derek's bone from his Grand SLam. A protected bonefish. Good job FL.

Derek’s bone from his Grand SLam. A protected bonefish. Good job FL.

Jul 13

Save everything

Save Bristol Bay.

Save the Tarpon.

Save the Bluefin Tuna.

Save the Grouper.

Save the Sharks.

It is easy to get “Save-the” fatigue. Everywhere there are threats. Everywhere there is someone crying out for help to save something they love or need or value.

And it is all true. It is all under threat. Everywhere, it seems.

A friend mentions having bluefin tuna at a sushi place. A friend says he loves bbq’ing salmon. Shark is on the menu.

It is hard to care about all this stuff and to walk through life without burning bridges and fine dining establishments. I’m not sure what the answer is, really. This isn’t a post about answers. I’m just wondering if A) it’s always been like this. B) it’s getting worse. C) where it all ends.

TED… hope you have some answers.


May 13

Not ready to let this go… Tarpon Spearing

Awesome shot by Jim Klug.

Awesome shot by Jim Klug.

Let me be clear… I don’t intend to give the “other side” equal time on this blog. I think spear fishing tarpon is wrong and I’m not willing to indulge the moral relativism they’d like to engage in.

I’m also glad to see that Fly Life Magazine isn’t ready to let it drop either.

I’m not against spear fishing. I’m against the bravado fueled killing-for-the-sake-of-killing exhibited by these guys.

They say “thousands of tarpon are killed by fly and conventional anglers every year by fighting fish to exhaustion or by inadvertently feeding the fish to sharks who are lurking in the shadows. All that is wrong and we only kill a few tarpon so you guys need to deal with the non-spear fishing tarpon fishery problems before you come and talk to us about killing only a few fish.”

This argument is, pardon my French, un sac de merde.

It is like saying “You don’t like me shooting dogs for fun? Well, thousands of dogs are killed every year by motorists on roads all over the country and we only kill a few dozen dogs. You need to deal with your dog-running-over problem before you come and talk to us about killing only a few dogs.”

Their argument also ignores the fact that most fly anglers are extremely opposed to things like the PTTS that Save the Tarpon is working against so tirelessly.  They also ignore the new tarpon regs that look like they are coming down, pushed by fly anglers and legit conservation organizations like the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust (which, I’d add, does a heck of a lot of research and doesn’t need to get spear caught tarpon to do it).

This appears to be at least some of the research done by Dr. Stein. The study cites three tarpon caught by the spear fishing club, but there are sure more than three tarpon kills in evidence from the various pics around the web of various Hell Diver members.



This just has to stop.

Apr 13

The Bones of Florida

I’ve hears some talk recently about there being fewer bonefish in Florida these days.

The past is always better, right? But this isn’t 20 years ago past, this is, like, three years ago past.

Back not too long ago things got kind of cold in Florida. Bonefish, tarpon, snook… these fish don’t like cold water. In fact… they die.

The Florida Sportsman recently ran a story about what the guides are seeing on the FL flats.

Captain Lain Goodwin of Key Largo noted that effects of the frontal blasts varied from area to area. “After the cold snaps in 2010 I did notice a major decline,” said Goodwin. “I’d usually see from 20 to even 100 bones on a half-day trip, but now I’m lucky to find 10 to 20 on a good day. And yet on other flats in close proximity to Largo Sound, the bonefish population has remained steady.”

Anyone have first hand experience or insight to share on this?
I’m headed to FL for the first time (since I was 10) at the end of May and I’m very much looking forward to that trip.
Nice fish.

Nice fish.

Mar 13

FL Bonefish and Tarpon Regs – Action Requested

Support BTT

Support BTT


From the totally awesome Dr. Adams today…

A side note… you should have received this if you are a BTT member and if you aren’t…well, you should be.

Dear Bjorn (that’s me),

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is considering new regulations for tarpon and bonefish that will improve bonefish and tarpon conservation. We like the new draft rules, and would like your feedback. If you also like the new draft rules, contact the FWC Commissioners to express your support for the proposed new regulations. Proposed regulation change workshops are scheduled for early April, please view the list of dates and times, in addition to the scheduled meetings for public input FWC has also scheduled a webinar and conference call for those unable to attend a meeting.

The draft regulations would make bonefish and tarpon catch and release only. The Commission will discuss these draft regulations at their meeting on April 17-18, in Tallahassee.

At present, bonefish are catch and release only except for an exemption for tournaments that allows for retention of bonefish in a live-well for transport to a weigh-in station. The new draft regulations would remove that exemption, meaning that all bonefish would have to be released at the site of capture (temporarily possessing a fish for weighing, photography, scientific sampling would be OK).

At present, up to two tarpon can be harvested per day if an angler possesses a Tarpon Tag (cost = $50). The new draft regulations would make tarpon entirely catch and release, with the exception of harvesting a fish for an IGFA World Record. Tarpon could be temporarily possessed for photographs, measuring, scientific sampling, and must be released at the site of capture. In the future, the cost of the harvest tag might be increased to help pay for tarpon research and to deter illicit use of the tag.

Tarpon and Bonefish – The proposed draft rule amendments would make tarpon and bonefish catch-and-release-only species in recognition of the fact that their economic and fishing value as fishes caught and released greatly exceeds their value as food fish. In order to accomplish this, the allowance for a tarpon bag limit would be eliminated and replaced with an allowance for possession of a single tarpon in conjunction with a tarpon tag for the purpose of pursuing an International Game Fish Association (IGFA) record. The existing bonefish tournament exemption that allows registered tournament anglers to possess a bonefish for the purposes of transporting it to the tournament scale would also be eliminated.


1. 68B-32.001 Purpose and Intent (NEW) – The proposed draft rule amendment would create a new subsection in order to convey the intent to manage tarpon as a catch-and-release-only fishery with allowable harvest and possession limited to possession in pursuit of an IGFA record.

2. 68B-32.003 Tarpon Tags: Required for Possession; Report; Annual Issuance; Taxidermy; Limitation on Number of Tags Issued Annually; Limitation on Number of Tags Issued to Professional Fishing Guides – The proposed draft rule amendment would limit the use of tarpon tags to tarpon harvested or possessed in pursuit of an IGFA record. The draft rule amendment would also address possible changes to the tarpon tag program, such as changes to the reporting requirements.

3. 68B-32.004 Bag Limit and Gear Restriction – The proposed draft rule amendment would eliminate the two tarpon bag limit and require that all tarpon be released immediately free, alive and unharmed. Allowable possession of a tarpon within or without Florida waters, or elsewhere in the state, would be limited to anglers with the properly affixed tarpon tag who possess a tarpon in pursuit of an IGFA record. Harvest or possession of tarpon in pursuit of an IGFA record would be limited to one tarpon per angler per day. The draft rule amendment would also create a vessel limit of one tarpon per vessel and limit the allowable gears when targeting tarpon to hook and line only. In addition, the proposed draft rule amendment would state the intent to allow for temporary possession of tarpon for purposes of photography or scientific sampling.

4. 68B-32.006 Sale Prohibited, Transport Regulated – The draft rule amendment would reduce the number of tarpon a person is allowed to transport or ship from two tarpon to one.

5. 68B-32 –The draft rule amendment would reorganize and reformat the tarpon rule chapter to conform to the style developed for Division 68B, FAC, during the marine fisheries rule cleanup process.


1. 68B-34.001 Purpose and Intent (NEW) – The draft rule amendment would create a new intent subsection in order to convey that bonefish will be managed as a catch-and-release-only fishery.

2. 68B-34.002 Definitions – The definition of “Organized Tournament” would be removed from the bonefish rules.

3. 68B-34.004 Temporary Possession of Bonefish – The reference to the exception to the possession restrictions for bonefish for tournament purposes would be removed.

4. 68B-34.005 Bonefish Tournaments, Exceptions – This rule would be removed in order to eliminate the tournament exception to the catch-and-release-only bonefish regulations.

5. 68B-34 – The draft rule amendment would reorganize and reformat the bonefish rule chapter to conform to the style developed for Division 68B, F.A.C., during the marine fisheries rule cleanup process.

Let the FWC Commissioners know you support the proposed new regulations, please send them an email today. If you have any questions about the draft regulations or would like to provide comments to Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, please email us at info@bonefishtarpontrust.org.


Tight Lines,
Aaron Adams, Ph.D.

Operations Director

Mar 13

Bonefish study you should read about

A new report just published lays out the status of bonefish and tarpon.

For the first time, all species of tarpons, ladyfishes and bonefishes – marine species found globally in warm-water seas – have been assessed for The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Of the 17 known species, two, Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) and Roundjaw Bonefish (Albula glossodonta) are classified as Vulnerable. One species, Bonefish (Albula vulpes) is listed as Near Threatened, three species are listed as Least Concern and 11 are classified as Data Deficient.

I’m surprised to see our pal Albula Vulpes listed as Near Threatened. I know there are less of them than there once were and I suppose things like habitat loss and development, as well as pollution and rising acidity and sea levels will take a toll on the Grey Ghost.

Certainly, we, as anglers need to pay attention to what is happening and do what we can.

Support BTT

Support BTT


Feb 13

Even the white tips love the Bahamas

Science Wednesday is back with one of my favorite topics. Sharks. No secret that shark populations are, well, about as robust as Mr. Burns.

Turns out Oceanic White Tips may be benefiting from the marine protected areas of the Bahamas.

Experts suggest that the island nation’s marine protected area is assisting the species.

Um… I had not understood this… this is awesome.

In July 2011, the Bahamian government banned shark fishing in all 240,000 square miles of the country’s waters.

Good on ya, Bahamas.  Good on ya.



Feb 13

Could Gaff and Drag be done in Florida?

Looks like the PTTS could be dealt a major blow (and that would be divine justice) as Tarpon look set to be declared a Catch and Release species in Florida.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted Wednesday to move forward with plans to put an end to “gaff and drag,” PTTS-style fishing by making tarpon a catch-and-release only species. All seven FWC commissioners endorsed the measure. (from Save the Tarpon)

Ah… so good to see some things moving in the right direction. The PTTS being drug to the trash heap of history would be things moving in such a direction.

Good job to those who have been pushing on this.

Awesome shot by Jim Klug.

Awesome shot by Jim Klug.