Compelling Need for Conservation Brings Together Science and Fishing Communities for an Exploration of Old Florida.
Although a catch-and-release fishery in many regions of the world, tarpon populations face many challenges and represent a significant adversary to marine biologists and anglers alike. Though careful preservation continues, the future of this ultimate sport fish is now uncertain in some of the most prominent and fabled fishing locations as a result of habitat degradation and declining water quality. However, there is an area of Florida in the northeast corner of the Gulf of Mexico that has remained relatively unchanged over the years thanks to the tireless efforts of willing landowners and private stakeholders who know conservation and preservation as a way of life.
With a focus on protecting essential and historical tarpon fisheries before it is too late, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (btt. org), in collaboration with BOTE (boteboards.com) and Florida Outdoor Experience (floridaoutdoorexperience.com) set out to the Nature Coast for an expedition tagging tarpon not only for our enjoyment, but for those generations to come. Our crew for this foray comprised a group with an array of backgrounds including Dr. Aaron Adams of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, Chris Wittman of Captains for Clean Water, photographer extraordinaire Sean Murphy, creative genius Rob McAbee of BOTE, accomplished angler Heather Harkavy, Gray Drummond, Owner of Florida Outdoor Experience, and the radiant Captain Lacey Kelly who serves as Operations Manager at the FOE headquarters in Chiefland.
Coinciding with the region’s epic migration of spawning tarpon where fish eclipsing 150 pounds attract anglers from far and wide, we set out with the ultimate arsenal of shallow drafting inshore platforms to navigate the tongue-twisting waterways that make this region an inshore angler’s paradise. But we were not after the world-record class tarpon that were feeding on the famed Chassahowitzka flats where Captain Steve Kilpatrick guided angler James Holland to the first 200-pound-plus tarpon ever caught on fly. Rather, we were focused on catching, implanting acoustic tags, and releasing 20- to 50-pound tarpon, which are the future of the fishery, to help determine potential spawning site changes and how freshwater flow into area waters might influence coastal migrations. tag fish that were 100 pounds or larger, and the tag only lasted for about three months. The data revealed that tarpon from the Florida Keys would go as far as the Chesapeake Bay or Mississippi River. But that was it. Three years ago we started a project with acoustic tags, which we can surgically implant in fish as small as 20 pounds, or as large as we can catch them. And these tags last for five years.
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A Whole Different Animal - Wild Cats that Got the Cream
MOST ANGLERS HAVE STRONG BELIEFS ABOUT WHAT HULL TYPE IS BEST. Running hard in rough water requires a seaworthy platform with the strength and stability to keep you safe, comfortable and dry. Among the different trends that have consequently become evident from the evolution of center consoles, boat builders are cornering a new niche of complex and competitive catamarans harnessing more outboard power than ever before. Breaking the barrier with innovative hull designs and deck layouts, the newest catamarans offer unobstructed fishability while providing increased fuel economy and speed per applied horsepower.
Pulley Ridge 2.0 The Jig Is Up
WE’RE FORTUNATE TO HAVE SOME of the most rewarding bottom fishing north of the equator. If the Sunshine State’s countless reefs, wrecks and ledges aren’t enough to keep you entertained, then you should know about a unique deep-water coral community that exists within a day’s boat ride from Key West. For adventurous anglers lucky enough to have experienced these rich waters, the area has proven to yield a bottom fishing bonanza beyond anyone’s imagination. However, the approach at Pulley Ridge has changed dramatically since we first started exploring the depths nearly a decade ago.
The Lotus Effect - Exploring The Science Of The Shine
THERE HAVE BEEN COUNTLESS TECHNOLOGIES AND INNOVATIONS inspired by the animal kingdom, with the science of emulating nature known as biomimetics. Evolution has perfected natural designs and environmental approaches over hundreds of millions of years, providing chemists, biologists and engineers with a perfect platform to advance modern materials and manufacturing processes. Learning the way of the lotus leaf has revealed remarkable self-cleaning properties resulting from the unique flora’s ultrahydrophobic surface architecture producing water droplets in nearly perfect spherical shape.
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Secrets Of Sargassum
EXCLUDING FRAGILE CORAL REEFS, aging shipwrecks and massive seamounts, the ocean is a rather featureless expanse. Off the coast of Florida and across much of the tropics, fish migrations are largely dictated by prevailing currents. Caught in the same gyres, floating ecosystems of sargassum seaweed are the basis of life that provide structure and sanctuary for a host of predators and prey.
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Full Steam Ahead
I RELOCATED TO FLORIDA FROM MARYLAND about a year ago and cherish the year-round opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Although I have fallen in love with saltwater fishing, I miss crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay. What is the most effective method to catch blue crabs in Florida and what are the rules and regulations for recreational harvesters setting traps here?
REMAINING RATHER UNCHANGED for thousands of years, cast nets appear to be simple tools. Toss atop a school of baitfish and haul in your bounty. However, cast nets are available in a variety of sizes and styles comprising minute differences to suit a host of species and water conditions. Delivery is important, but it is the sewing of panels, lead line weight and mesh size that determines a net’s performance.
BRINGING OVER FOUR DECADES of yacht building excellence to the table, Henriques Yachts has established itself as one of the most reputable manufacturers in the industry with an extensive collection of offshore fishing platforms trusted by big game anglers around the world. Included in the impressive lineup is this well-equipped express with a newly designed deep-V hull, delivering dependable performance and fantastic fishability
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