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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As reported by the Boca Beacon:


The week of September 24, 2004


Study shows majority of tarpon caught on jigs aren't hooked in mouth

Data collected this year by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute shows that 74 percent of tarpon caught in Boca Grande Pass this year on the controversial break-away jig were hooked in an area outside the mouth - compared to 13 percent caught using traditional live bait methods.

The Catch and Release Study conducted by the institute studied hook placement of 92 tarpon caught using both methods in Boca Grande Pass from early May through the end of June.

Of the 56 tarpon caught using the break-away jig, the data shows that just 13 were hooked in the mouth. There were 38 fish hooked in the "clipper plates," four in the head and one in the pectoral fin.

By comparison, all but five of the 36 tarpon caught using live bait were hooked in the mouth. Five were hooked in the "clipper plates" and none of the remaining 31 fish were hooked elsewhere on the body.

The "clipper," also known as the maxilla, is a bony protrusion directly below the eye of the tarpon.

Dr. Philip Motta, professor of biology at the University of Florida who was cited as an authority in a preliminary report issued last year by the research institute, said the 2004 numbers appear to be conclusive.

"The statistics make a strong argument that the jig is resulting in a relatively high percentage of hookups that are on the outside of the mouth. They show a high percentage of snagging," Motta said.

"It's my educated opinion that they are snagging the fish," he said.

In its report following the 2003 study, researchers quoted Motta to establish that fish hooked in the "clipper" were not being snagged. Motta said the 2004 numbers, which contain more data on hook placement, have prompted him to reverse his position.

Motta said the high percentage of tarpon that were hooked "outside-in" on the clipper "is an indication that snagging is occurring."

"If the tarpon was taking the jig, there is a great probability that the hook placement would be inside," he said.

Motta also noted that fish hooked outside the mouth tend to fight longer than fish hooked inside the mouth.

"There is a greater probability that this would result in more mortality," he said. "The longer the fish fights, the greater the chances the fish is going to die."

Capt. Mark Futch, a former jig advocate who has since become one of the most vocal critics of the device, said he wasn't surprised by the data.

"This is proof of what we have been saying all along," Futch said. "It's irrefutable proof that the jig is snagging tarpon."

Futch agreed that the outside-in hook placement is the strongest indictment against the jig and the argument that a fish hooked in the clipper has not been foul-hooked.

"The guy they quoted a year ago is now saying that the clipper (outside-in) constitutes snagging fish. The jiggers have been clamoring for scientific evidence, and here it is."

The Beacon obtained the data from the research institute through a demand for production of public records under the Florida Sunshine Law.

"It's clear the jig is snagging the clipper from the outside in," Futch said. "Why is the jig hitting the clipper more often - and live bait seldom if ever touches the clipper? There's obviously a problem here. I hope the FWC commissioners stick to their word that they would ban the jig if the study showed a high incidence of snagging. And 74 percent seems to qualify."

Capt. Kevin Kelley, another local live bait guide, agreed.

"I think the data eliminates all doubt as to whether the jig is a snagging device. There is no way to otherwise explain the difference in the numbers between live bait hook placement and jig placement, especially the high percentage of jigs that are hooking from the outside in as compared to the live bait hooks.

"These numbers confirm what we have been saying for the past how many years? The jiggers wanted science, they now have their science. And the science tells us that the jig is snagging tarpon and must be banned."

Overview:

There were 92 landed tarpon that were studied for hook placement.

- 56 were caught on the jig. (61 percent)

- 36 were caught on live bait. (39 percent)

- Of the 56 tarpon caught on the jig, 36 were hooked in the clipper, four in the head and one in the pectoral fin.

- Of the 36 tarpon caught using live bat, five were hooked in the clipper. None of the remaining 31 were hooked outside the mouth.

- Of the 56 tarpon caught on the jig, 29 were hooked outside-in.

- Of the 36 tarpon caught on live bait, four were hooked outside-in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
**** Pop

Basically, it looks like a **** pop. A circle hook with a lead jighead underneath it. This is a unique problem to Boca Grande. In the pass, where these jigs are used, the fishing is done straight up and down. There is a big hole in the bottom of the pass. The bottom of it is about 60-70 feet deep and 30-40 feet on the ledge. These guys jig in various ways, some drift through the pass like the live bait guys and jig, some stay in one place over the fish and jig. Tarpon lay in the hole waiting for food to come by and eat. I have never foul hooked a tarpon using a **** pop in Texas or Louisiana. I believe this is a problem because they fish these straight up and down.
 

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Scott:



As I have stated before, you cannot use that island’s newsletter as source of legitimate news. That mullet wrapper has an agenda. That agenda is exactly the same as the people that live on that 7-mile stretch of beach-keep outsiders and non-members of their Waltonian tarpon club off their island and a away from “their” fish. To take the state’s data and interpret it any way they choose is not responsible journalism. How about too citing the state’s report as the real legitimate source of interpretation. I bet even Motta would have enjoyed that luxury before comment.

Since when is a fish hooked INSIDE the mouth corner "snagged"?


From the state’s own front page:

http://www.floridamarine.org/engine/download_redirection_process.asp?file=clean_final_vs8a_3535.pdf&objid=23457&dltype=article
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The article and the report both speak for themselves. As far as I am personally concerned, if a fish is hooked on the clipper outside in, than that's a snagging. I have fished **** pops for almost ten years now. Fished them exclusively. They are the same type of jig that is used vertically in Boca Grande. I cannot remember once - not once - that I have foul hooked a tarpon. I cannot ever ever remember seeing one hooked outside-in on the clipper. When a fish bites and eats a jig, it will be hooked in the mouth, inside-out. My opinion is that if you are vertically jigging and a tarpon is hooked outside-in... that's a snag. The clipper makes since for snagging. The mortality doesn't seem much different, however, I'd be interested in seeing if there was any "damage" "injury" to the jaw structure of the fish. Survival 24-48 hours later is meaningless if the fish's jaw is broken. Another thing of interest, I think the mortality levels in this report are very concerning... for both methods. I know previous studies showed a much lower mortality. I'm not sure what the fix for this is but this truly worries me.
 

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All well and good if what you are reading is true. You do understand that is not the complied numbers assembled by the state right? Those are Beacon numbers. Don’t feel embarrassed; Dr. Motta learned he fell for the same technique himself today. Only those who took the data can interpret it and then send it to their peers for review. With your wealth of knowledge, you’ve got to know that.



As for fish hooked on the “clipper”-there were 5. 3 on livebait and two in jigs. Any fish hooked in the mouth corner was given the code “6” or clipper, that includes the soft cartilage and tendons that connect the jawbone to the head and is INSIDE a fishes mouth. That information is totally absent from your post Scott. Why? Its absent because the Beacon omitted it as it does not support their claim.



Your fish in the Delta are post spawn. Fish massed in Boca Grande Pass are pre spawn and in the rut. There is a huge difference in feeding behavior. Delta fish are there to feed, BGP are there as part of their courtship. Study some morphology literature on bass in the same two scenarios. You ‘d never get a fish to eat a “coon pop” in the prop wash anywhere in Florida in April, May and June. Apples and oranges.



Do you know anything about fly-fishing for tarpon? Ever fish an “orange grizzly” when the fish just won’t take a crab cockroach? Ever wonder why that is?



You might want to reconsider your claim-you may have never landed a foul hook tarpon in your life, not the same as you have never foul hooked a tarpon in your life. We foul hook more tarpon throwing livebait at them on the beaches then we do any other way. The fish bite it and throw it, subsequently landed in every body part you can imagine. Fair game?



On the issue of foul hooking and the clipper…I know you come here in the spring. I have a challenge for you. Let me know if you’re intere$ted-but I can point to it in the raw data if you prefer.



I do have one question for you. If a tarpon swims with its mouth closed and the clipper is retracted, how is it that 80% of these fish are being hooked in this area and not other areas of a fish 72 inches long and 40 inches in girth? Further and ironically, that this area of contest is the fish’s mouth corner?













 

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Additionally let me add……this was a catch and release mortality study. Fish tagged by both methods were followed for 6 hours-none died except by natural predation of sharks. That predation is 9.8%. In a recent study in the Bahamas on bonefish, shark predation on released fish was 39% (all in the report). The report cites long and chronological order/history of the sharks of Boca Grande. My favorite from the report was the legendary C. Breeder who had to stop his tag program in 1938 and 39 as the sharks ate all of his samples.



It should be noted to further your education on our studies of tarpon, many of the tagged tarpon returned to Boca Grande Pass and were picked up on the hydrophones weeks after release. I know one of them was mine and was caught on a jig. The fish was 160lbs, caught in 12 minutes, hooked in the soft tissue/mouth corner and was tracked for 11 days. All tagged fished were caught on charters and by the clients.



There will be more information coming Scott. The mullet wrapper known as the Beacon and its disciples thirsty to be the who’s who of tarpon have not faced rebuttal from the state or the publication of all of the data (I have it-trust-its 20 pages of numbers-10 columns wide), but for now trust me-the number is 5 fish on the clipper, 3 livebait, 2 jigs and missing from the Beacon’s trash is a whole column of information on where these fish are actually hooked (please read what the state defined as the clipper-it’s a lotta area man).



I can only hope then, that those who bear false witness will stand up and publicly apologize for their lack in knowledge/research.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sorry, let me be a little more clear if you didn't understand what I've said. I've never foul hooked a tarpon on a ****-pop. Seen lots of foul hook-ups on treble hooks and regular hooks. Some of those fish actually throw the bait and land back on the hook. Never seen that with a circle hook however. I've hooked them all over the mouth but always inside out - with a **** pop that is. I absolutely agree you'll be hard pressed to catch a tarpon on the west coast of Florida in the prop wash dragging a **** pop. The water is simply too clear for that. I've actually tried it. It was rather comical watching a school "swim around it" like it was poison.

The confirmed mortality rate for jigs was over twice that of live bait. Personally, I don't think this study shows much of anything. This mortality study is way to small of a sampling. Its hard to talk percentages when you've only got 20 fish tagged in each group. One fish equals 5% of the overall study group. I personally think that statistically, that is too significant. I think this mortality study needs to be expanded to be able to draw any real conclusions.

My comment concerning the mortality rate referenced in the study is the one the researchers reached - i.e. "Researchers, using estimates based on cessation of tag movement from tags placed on tarpon, determined that the catch-and-release mortality rate of Boca Grand Pass tarpon evaluated for this study is 19.5% (8 of 41 fish died)." Granted, this is also including unconfirmed mortality. When you look at confirmed, that number drops to 9.8%. Again, I think the study is too small to say much about these numbers but nearly 20% mortality is an alarming figure to me!!! Whether its from sharks or not. If each year, you kill 1 in every 5 tarpon caught in Boca Grande pass, you are exhausting that resource in my opinion - if that number is true. And certainly helping the shark population!!!

On another note, I don't fish the pass anymore so I personally don't have much of a dog in this hunt. Last time I did it was probably in 1994 or 1995. I, over the years, have met and known a few of the "old school" guides, so that is what I tend to be personally influenced by. But the reality of all this is actually very simple... whenever you have a limited resource that is becoming increasingly crowded (like the pass is), you are bound to have conflicts with the older folks utilizing the resource. This conflict is just natural. From reviewing the study, I personally don't think it can be used by either side to say much of anything.... other than, "Sharks eat a lot of tarpon." More work is needed to answer these questions.

I do think the study clearly shows that jigging foul hooks more tarpon than live bait. Hard to argue 10% versus 0%. But again, the study is not very large and the mortality differences, while significant in this study, don't mean much to me because the mortality sample is so small. One fish can throw the whole thing.

As such, I have little doubt the debate will rage on and on and on. What may ultimately happen as a result of all these studies (a kind-of - be careful what you wish for - thing) is that the pass is closed to tarpon fishing -- for everybody. Then, everybody will end up on the beach fishing next to me... no thanks!!!

At least I am glad there is some attention being given to this. Whatever the result, hopefully, it will be better for the fish. I think that's what everybody wants - conserve the resource and the livelihood of all involved.
 

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Your right-the sample size is small. You’ll note more jig fish were caught and too tagged, that is why you see the statistical formula of Yates Chi-square. When looking at statistical formulation-the numbers are the same.



A foul hook percentage of zero is the result of technique. You’ve done it yourself. You drift with 80lbs of Dacron and 15 to lbs of drag. You set the hook by calling “fish on”, the captain “strikes off” with boat 400 hp of diesel. The hook is set and then he drags you and the fish to the sandbar. Your rod is bent and you feel the brute strength of the tarpon-but actually you are fighting the boat pulling a small tarpon. You call this fishing? I believe its IGFA rule #7 that states something as unethical in regards to prohibiting/depriving a fish’s natural will to fight and to run it into to shallow water. Anyways-if that hook is not buried in the bone-it will pull out under that type of pressure and technique whereas the jig technique will likely land that fish. Do you really think pro jig guides would have overwhelming helped in this study for 3 years if they were doing something wrong? None of you conclusions make sense to me.



You are not here-so you have no idea how one side of the issue conveniently cancelled trips when sharks were very bad. That will all come out in the hearings presented by the scientist-but to prove my case-look at the Beacon’s site and look under livebait results-do you see the fish that is noted” the captain blocked the observer from seeing the fish”?



Old school guides? That’s laughable-how long do you need to fish that place to get coined that term? There are jiggers who have been doing it for 15 years-two trips a day 7 days a week, for 12 to 14 weeks straight-professionally. The jig is documented in 1973, but is a variation of the same lure used at the turn of the last century fished from rowboats. This is nothing new. Now add in that most fished the place for 30 years on a different level. That’s equivocal to maybe 100 years of a normal recreational tarpon angler.



There is a book out you might want to read called “Fisherfolk”. In the book, it describes the change of hands and control of the area of Charlotte Harbor. How the Calusa lost it to the Spanish, the Spanish to the Cubans, the black tarpon guides and on down. This whole area has a deep history over the battle of “ownership” of one the world’s greatest resources of fish. This issue of the jig vs. livebait is nothing more than the resistance to change and control. Through each step of this evolution, the fight has been fierce and this issue is no different. The book clearly outlines and describes the different methods of intimidation and violence in an effort to keep outsiders away from “their” resource. The book calls it ”their own means of conservation”.



Some years the sharks are thick-in others they are not. They cycle just like all fish. They definitely have increased since state and fed changes in the regs made in 1992. That conservation is working. If you note from the study summary, they document free-swimming tarpon being eaten by sharks-that to me shows-they’ll get them one way or another. You have not spent enough time here if you have not seen it.



I had a fish tagged one day heading up the beach well past the range light. The fish was swimming over 50 minutes, it was healthy and making over 2 knots per hour. The state witnessed a 5-foot bullshark attack it, the fish got away, but it was bleeding. If you have a population of fish like no other in the world-there will be predators. Sahrks on the beach Scott?



I have no hard feelings if they closed the pass if that’s best. But you are right-might as well not come back here. Some of the best tarpon fishermen in the world fish that pass and they will move out to the beaches, harbor, flats etc. They will control that area, and ppl like yourself will be subject to the same thing and will never return.



Plain and simple Scott-this is a user group conflict over the control of the fish for money. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH A HEALTHY POPULATION OF RESILIENT TARPON.



I am curious-could you post the normal percentage of mortality in the big game fishing of tarpon you do in the Delta? Do you think because your fish swam from your hands after you took your pictures etc-it lived? How do you know this? Any stats or science of any sample size?
 

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A few bad Apples?

I have never posted here but thought i might give it a try.
I have been looking at this sight for a little over two years because all i'am interested in are tarpon. Yes, thier is a huge controversy happening in Boca Grande Pass. And yes Mr. McCue you are right in some ways about the beacon.The beacon does have a tendency to lean one way or the other on certain subjects. But then again they are just a news paper controlled by the "7 miles of beach front owning, waltoinan tarpon club members" of which alot of them don't even care about whats going on out their during tarpon season because most of them aren't around during tarpon season. I think their is alot more to it than that. What really is the main problem? It's definatly not the health of the fish their fine, is it the degradeation of the pass from the miles of mono and lead on the bottom? Maybe, or are the fish irritated by the blockade of floating fiberglass on the surface with their echo chambers rumbuling under the surface like an audiable barrier fence? or is the real problem more super ficial than that?
I see nothing wrong with jigging or using live bait, i do have problems with break-a-way lead rigs which i have personally seen both groups of anglers using, but that is not where the real problem stem's from. I think the real problem is that the pass is full of people that have no respect for the fish or other fisherman or any sense about how tarpon feed or what running over a wad of fish does to those fish. The way that people have begun to fish these fish has become a run and gun situation with out any respect for the people that are drifting the pass like it should be done or has been done in the past. The people that have been fishing the pass for a long time have had many confrontations with egnerant (sp) people alot of them who were jigging and so the fingers started pointing and that is how this whole thing started.
I don't beliveve it should be a battle against the method used to fish but the manner in which people should be fishing. People need to figure out how not to run up the middle of the gut bouncing from schools of fish (primarily on a hill tide) cutting people off and definitly disrupting the patterns of the fish.
people will run on plane through the pass weaving in and out of people fishing
with no respect for their angling peers. I don't care who you are if, you have the same boat run 70 or even 50Ft from you more than once with your lines in the water your gonna want to give that person a little education.....But when its a lot more than one boat doing it blame starts being place and people start getting involved in things that are more or less trivial to the situation.
If anglers had a little more sense BGP would be a little more enjoyable for every body regardless of live bait or jigs.
No break-a-ways (jig or livebait) and more sense is what is needed, and turn your **** out boards off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Robert

Robert:

You've turned this post into somewhat of a personal attack against somebody you know nothing about -- me. At least that's the way I read your last post. Obviously (and I know this is true of this issue), it is a very emotional one for the local fishery in and around Boca Grande. Nevertheless, I have never used statements about your opinions such as "laughable" or that your conclusions "make no sense".. don't personally care to and wouldn't.

Trust me, I've been around the block enough as far as tarpon fishing goes and as we say in Texas, "This ain't my first rodeo"...

I don't feel the need to take this to a personal level and find it unnecessary to defend myself on any of these issues. The study speaks for itself and so does the article (opinionated or not).

We'd be happy for you to stick around and contribute but we work pretty hard to keep this board from getting personal. So far, its had its ups and downs but generally been a great resource. I hope you'll stick around and please keep the general spirit of this board in mind.

Thanks. Best of luck to ya.
 

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I apologize if you took that personally Scott. My post are not personal in nature. In the past I have pointed out that newsletter you spread across Texas is not a viable source of information. It needs to be understood that it is the voice of a small group of people with an agenda. If you have read it long enough, you will know what I am saying is true. I am sure I don’t need to remind you about them wanting to sue the county for putting signs up on the island pointing the public to where the public county beaches are or the campaign to stop a small Subway sub shop opening on the island. I could go on forever. However, spreading a piece of politically published mullet wrapper across the Net, warrants a response from those more educated in the matter and have a real deep concern for truth and fairness. I won’t go into great length Scott, but I have long read your posts on this matter. I present to you now, the fish are not snagged and jerked in the body as you previous wrote here. I apologize if that is personal, but as one fishes a jig, I found that extremely appalling. I did promise to be back when the science was complete.





In more relation to this thread-I personally contacted Dr. Motta after the Beacon’s “story”. He informed me that he never read or saw the data. In fact, he had no idea who recorded it or who was doing the study. The Beacon’s PhDs of the mighty pen took raw data, made their own opinion on what it said and then by phone, and interviewed the unsuspecting Dr. Motta using their fabricated numbers that totally left out very detailed columns of information. That missing information paints a whole other story not reflected in the Beacon’s agenda. Dr. Motta made some very interesting comments to me in writing-stay tuned to the issue if you want the truth. You need not trust me-you can contact the state and acquire the same information under our public records laws. The state wrote a summary and to follow will be a complete scientific journal that will be peer reviewed.



The Beacon acts as a façade of a news source to add what may appear as credibility to their agenda-the selfish preservation of their privacy and exclusivity. I ask you, cordially, to please keep that in mind before you spread it as a “news publication”. I have many clients from Texas. One of them is a predominant tarpon guide. They are all aware of what is going on here and I think you should too. Simply because I care about the resource as well as the unfair attacks these people endure to fish Boca Grande. If these world class/traveling anglers thought they were snagging tarpon, do you think they would be coming back for decades?



Much of this comes back to the old envy of fishermen. The pass is not an easy place to fish, despite what many might think. On any given day you can find some of top names of tarpon fishing in there. It’s a small place and those who think of themselves of in the top percentile will be judged quickly as nothing goes on there unnoticed. As the study shows, there is a better mousetrap out there; it catches more and larger tarpon. In short, there is a lot of professional jealousy in there.







SK---you have brought up good points. Through mediation, we have tried to resolve these issues, but it all comes back to a lure. Churchill documented the use of breakaway lead used in Boca Grande Pass in 1911. They have been dropping lead in that Pass for 100 years. 3 years ago we started a not for profit organization dedicated to cleaning the debris of BGP with great success. There was lead, jigs and mono. But too we recovered Dacron, piano wire, countless crab traps, synthetic rope, and anchors (one of even a Spanish Galleon). There are telephone poles, steel hawsers, pilings and a whole host of debris from every user group of that entire area for 50 miles in any direction. There are over 100 years of debris down there (a lot of which some species are using as habitat). However, if you have ever seen the video from these efforts, you will note how clean it is getting and not anywhere near as ugly as you might think. This effort is paid for by the private funds we raise and none of the money comes from the state. One of my clients from your great state personally gave me 5K for the enhancement fund two years ago. People do care, but this is a small group of people and mainly the same people getting railed in this user group conflict. Noticeably mi$$Ing is the other side of this issue and so too, the public.



In mediation, we tried to get the area marked as a slow speed zone during tarpon season. We are very aware of boats moving too fast in that place. Commissioner Corbit was at the last cleanup and witnessed that even with dive flags and law enforcement blue lights flashing, getting boats to slow down was difficult. Hopefully they will reconsider our suggestion in the upcoming meetings.



On the other issue of ethics, there is no doubt--- the place lacks that. You need to observe closer however; most of this conduct is not by fishing guides. Through influence in the pass and by outreach programs, guides and the state have tried to educate the public how to conduct themselves in the pass. While on a charter with the state on board last year, a boat with out of state registration numbers (I don’t want to offend anyone) casted their weighted baits at my boat and one of them bounced off the side. I contacted law enforcement to have them cited for projecting a deadly missile at us. This same boat followed me over to a shallow area of 8 feet where I was working fish with my electric motors. They continued the same practice with their outboards running. The question is, with thousands of tarpon on the surface, how do you stop the public from acting like this?

It is a very difficult task and one that is often responded to with the bird and some not so nice words.



While it is true that jig allows the public a better chance of catching a tarpon, anyone who thinks outlawing it is going to resolve these problems or lower the crowds, is not living in reality. In Florida we manage land for turkey, deer etc that has a limited area and resource by designating them as management areas and restricting access. I don’t think a lot of ppl want this done in this situation. That in which really tells me, there is no problem. Personally, I have no problem with a lottery for a quota entry system. You cannot send the crowds of uneducated tarpon anglers to other more sensitive areas. The fish will not tolerate it. Some of the pressure must stay in the pass, it has proven itself by its depths to tolerate a lot for over a century.



The pass gets all of the attention in this matter. However, we now are seeing the same thing moving to the beaches and flats. 1000 ppl move to this state a day and 60% of those ppl move to the coast. They buy boats. They watch ESPN, Sunshine, TNN, read on the Internet ,magazines etc etc. and off they go to the world’s best resource of tarpon. The fishery, not just in Florida, but in many parts of the world is suffering from over exposure or as Dr. Jerry Ault would say “fishermen are serial over-fishers.” What is the solution?



There is no known shortage of tarpon in Florida, nor Boca Grande. Many have suggested making the pass a MPA, a museum of sorts. We all know-this will only shift the problem to other areas.



We know the problems, but we are all ears on a solution. Banning a jig is not even close to a Band Aide.









 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
This goes down to the old theory that I've put on here lots of times and one common denominator -- "There are just too **** many people in this world!!"

I've been fishing Boca Grande almost every year for about fifteen years now. First few were in the pass. I now go by or through the pass at least once every June while I'm there. It amazes me how the numbers of boats have exploded - and I'm there during the week. Also, over the last five years, the numbers of boats on the beach fishing for tarpon during the week has increased, I'd say, 200%. (For what its worth, I think the yahoos on the beach harrass fish more than the yahoos in the pass do - just a personal opinion.) Its just getting worse. So, what's the fix? Well, I don't think we can restrict guides. Its there livelihood. Florida can limit the number of new guide licenses it issues and probably should. Also, it should limit the number of tarpon guides in the area to a fixed number. Sorry, but I think that's only right. Also, being a recreational fishermen, I hate to do this, but I think they are going to have to implement an even-odd thing. If you are born on an even date, you get to fish the pass on even days.... unless you are fishing with a guide. I don't really know how else to solve it.

Like I said early on in this thread. I don't have a dog in this hunt and I don't fish the pass so this is not my issue.... except to the extent it impacts my fishing on the beach. I know more live baiters and other than you, Robert, have never really conversed with a jigger. I know what the guide I fish with who fishes on the beach and doesn't have a dog in this hunt says also. Obviously, I'm impacted by the opinions of live baiters and this guide. I also experienced watching a tarpon fishing show on TV one time when they were jigging for tarpon and caught three fish. They never showed a single one of these fish coming to the boat and showed the hook being taken out. That made me very suspicious. Maybe it was a filming oversight but after what I had heard, this raised a red flag with me. Now, having said that, I am absolutely delighted that the study shows most fish were hooked in the mouth by jigging. I think that's great. I'm also glad to see you can come on this board and be as adament as you are that you are not snagging fish. Fantastic. The over crowding issue is going to plague the pass for a long time. There is no easy solution and the matter is just going to get worse. Kicking the jiggers out seems like a quick fix by the live bait guides - all be it maybe not the best way.

I do have a question though. There is one guide I know that originally fished with live bait, went to jig fishing and then went back to live bait because he said he was snagging too many fish. What are your thoughts about him? I think you know who I'm talking about - please don't use names - I don't know him that well but have talked to him a few times and he's really against jigs. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on that... thanks.
 

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I think now we are heading towards a very productive thread. There is already is a lot of good info in these posts. I want you to know-I have read your board for several years. I don’t post often and when I do, I need to re-register, as my old login info does not work. You have a great source of quality info here on tarpon and I am fascinated by all of your endeavors in other places that are difficult to find information on.



Let me address your question first. I think I know whom you speak of. That person’s family has been guiding out of the pass for 3 generations. He took a lot of heat from his kinfolks and other traditional fishermen during the time he fished jigs. This is a very intimidating place. I could give you many stories that would make you think you were reading about Marlon Brando and his role in a movie saga (I prefer the fictitious reference as those ppl really do scare me). He never-never-ran jig charters. He fished the jig in tournaments only. He and his team won over $500,000 in a period during the 90’s.



He was a strong proponent of the jig in public-especially at the tournament meetings where he would near fight anyone who claimed his winnings came from snagged fish on a jig. About this time, the jig was gaining great exposure in the media due to the money it was winning. Many guides from the Tampa area started losing revenue to Boca Grande due to this publicity. They were left no choice but to fish the jig in Boca Grande if they wanted to stay in business.



Some of these guides are the best tarpon and flats fishermen in the world. You will see their names at top in series such as the SKA or Redfish Cup. They got good at it; they are very innovative ppl just like all good fishermen. They changed lure colors, presentations and learned the bottom like it was the back of their hand. The locals (or in this case the local) dropped from the tournament winning boards. Soon, every tournament held in Boca Grande was won by a guide out of Tampa. The crowds came and the pass changed forever.



I never was one to fish tournaments-I’d take my charter money over a chance any day. While I was in the pass fishing clients, on the tournaments that they could not hook up-they (he) openly complained to everyone- if they were snagging, why couldn’t they hook a fish in this event. The last time I saw him fish a jig was in a tournament in 2001. I fished that tournament; it was slated for $1,000,000, though with the entry fee of $35,000 the turnout was less than 20 boats. We won that tournament-just shy of 200K. While fishing next to me on this event, he vocally expressed his frustration that he could no longer compete in the money and that he “started this whole thing.” The hate and tension grew and became very volatile, not only with him, but among the traditionalist. The jiggers were taking all of the tourney money and the jig guides were taking all of the charter money. He then switched sides on the issue. He was reclaimed by his kinfolks and colleagues and was used as a figurehead to add credibility to the snag claim. Proponents of the jig stated that if he was snagging those fish for prize money-then he should donate that money to charity. That never happened.



The issue is deep Scott. I could write a book and I have achieved a wealth of artifacts and publications on the entire history of that place. I won’t go into detail here, the issue is hostile, hot and debatable. You really need to try to get that book “Fisherfolk”.



You will see a long history of commercial fishing in the area. Particularly later with the use of gill nets. There is one side of this issue that has a very long commercial fishing history. Ironically, many on the other side of the jig issue have a long history of sport fishing/ guide history. As you likely know, by constitutional amendment, the people of Florida by referendum vote-outlawed the gill nets. That movement was spearheaded by the sportfishermen. Sportfishermen claimed the nets were an unfair means of catching masses of fish. Others claim the jig is an unfair method of catching fish. The movement to ban the nets was called “Save our Sea Life”; the movement to ban the sportfishermen’s jig is called “Save our Tarpon”. This hate is alive and well today and has little to nothing to do with tarpon. I suppose you can figure out the rest. In short, this is no different than change of guard from the Seminoles, the Calusa, the Spaniards, Cubans and on down.



If you could see the database you will see they made a lot of observations. There are notes next to fish that were landed foul hooked but are noted as being hooked in the mouth when the fish was first at boatside. Driving a hook into a tarpon’s mouth with mono in that depth is extremely difficult with the jig technique. There is a note on one jig fish that reads “the captain said the fish was hooked in the pectoral fin”. These guys never had one thing to hide and I think that is about as honest as it gets. On the other hand, next to a livebait fish, there is a note that reads “the captain blocked the view of the observer on this fish as well as two others”. You won’t find this stuff in the Beacon-but its in the public record database.



So you know, I am a tarpon guide. The fish in the database that were caught on deadbait are mine. The fish on the MirrOlures are mine as are several of the livebait caught fish. I too fish jigs. Please know I fish beach, pass, backcountry, harbor, river, pass or wherever I need to go to get my clients fish. I am definitely not your definition of a jig guide. However, you need to understand that it is not just the pass guys that are losing revenue. There are many guides now that live there during the peak tarpon season and return to Tampa when the fish leave there to continue tarpon fishing. Obviously, these are full time and aggressive tarpon fishermen as well as businessmen. They are not popular with any “local” or “native” guide whether they fish the beach or pass as they have greatly impacted their annual income. A jig guide can make over $1200 a day (7 days a weeks for 3 months), where a beach guide might only get $500 (and not work everyday). In some cases they have completely put people out of business. Much of the issue is an attempt to monopolize the resource to the “locals”. However this is America and we do have anti â€"trust laws.



Having said that-I favor restricting guides. Why not enact a state guide license and place a moratorium immediately after giving one to everyone who holds a captain’s license. Like a restricted species permit for selling fish-in two years make everyone prove their income by tax records that shows the majority of their income comes from being a guide. If you don’t qualify, you loose your permit. Naturally there are those who oppose that too-this is America and we do have anti-trust laws-even though this practice is already in place for selling fish.



Please keep in mind though----you no longer need a guide to catch tarpon-those days are gone. The recreational sector is making a huge impact on all of our fish. Those people should not be regulated, but in someway, it needs to get under control or at minimum educated.



I find your post about the beach interesting. I fish this area hard. I could show you some really cool things. Once the fish start to spawn, they leave the pass everyday and go offshore. They head due west at near 5mph into the night. It is my theory these fish then loop back to the pass later at night and during the following day. Where? Along the outter bar of the beaches. Don’t you think that if the fish are getting hammered by the towerboats, flatsboats and inboards all along the beach-their movements and patterns are being disrupted? How could this not affect BGP? That is where they are all going.



I had one fish tagged that went north and offshore. The next day the found it in Little Gasparilla Pass. Two days later it was back in BGP for over a week, but left every afternoon. Last year a friend flew over the beach from Tampa to Boca Grande. He counted 63 schools of fish along the beach---57 of them had boats on them.



It’s interesting work Dr. Ault/Bonefish-Tarpon Unlimited are doing-but does any of it matter if they are still using dynamite in central and south America or the goverenemnt continues to dump the nutrient rich waters of Lake Okeechobee into the Gulf? Why do we point the finger at a jig when no one speaks of these types of acts or the destruction of tarpon estuaries?



I apologize with the long post. I would not have spent the time writing it unless I knew too of your passion for this animal. I hope you get something from it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I agree with a lot of what you say. When I attended the First International Tarpon Symposium in Port A, Texas back in 2001, I found it very interesting that two speakers from Mexico came. One said there is no commercial bycatch of tarpon and that tarpon are not being slaughtered in Mexico and another said exactly the opposite. Both had statistics and information to prove their respective point. I do know this. The tarpon fishery in Texas looks like its gettings stronger and it looks like the 100lb plus tarpon early in the year are getting more numerous (my observations and from what I hear from guides). If that is true, maybe the Mexican population is increasing and there is less bycatch. I'm not sure there is a whole lot of dynamiting still going on. At the symposium this issue was discussed and all the South American officials and sportsman said this had stopped and "may never have been as widespread as American's claimed." Whatever that means???

Personally, I think the biggest thing that needs to change and I'd like to see yall in Florida get on this bandwaggon, is to change the regulations in Louisiana. Right now, tarpon are not protected gamefish in Louisiana. There is no size limit, there is no daily bag limit and they can be speared by spear fishermen (which I know happens). This is the only state along the Gulf Coast that is this way. Mexico, I think even has some regulations (enforced or not??). I think this is deplorable. I've got lots of friends and guides in Louisiana and this post will no doubt tick them off, but this needs to stop. There is lots of proof that fish we get in Texas and fish from Boca Grande are caught in Louisiana. One could argue they don't kill enough fish a year to matter - however, I'd say they kill about 30 - 40 fish a year over there. I don't think they do that in Florida in a year. I know yall have some statistics on that. Nevertheless, tarpon should be protected. Tarpon fishing is such a big industry and generates a lot of $$s. Other migratory species like waterfowl have international treaties. Why can't we do that for tarpon?? We've got plenty of proof already that Gulf Coast tarpon travel all around the Gulf, Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Florida. Makes sense to me????
 

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I get a lot of inside info too-I heard too-no by catch. Dynamite? Still happening. There was recent comment about getting samples somewhere down there (I know where, but I try best as possible to keep my hear say to minimum). The guy leads a researcher to a place where they are dynamiting tarpon-juveniles-for food.



We still have a 24/7 /3 month kill tournament here believe it or not. I’d have to dig for the numbers, but you’d be surprised. Even those numbers are only the ones legally tagged (lot of controversy and numbers that don’t add up there too).



I think because we care-we quickly point to the obvious as to what we can do. In my eyes-enough is not done to protect the nursery. It takes a lot of luck for them to become a fish, but then too they need a place to develop. In no way am I justifying it-but at least when they hit LA they are spawned out and at least some fish have a chance.

Man will always come before fish.



The satellite info is interesting-but I think it will show the fish on your side of the Gulf come up the Yucatan and our fish likely just come out of the Gulf Loop. They spawn out, feed on all those **** pops (I mean menhaden) in LA and then trickle south and offshore for winter. Outside of not killing them, I don’t think there is much we can do to help those fish. This is why Florida is looking at C&R mortality. They need that number and too an idea on how many ppl are fishing them to get a clue on what is happening here. Although-not sure what they can do in a C& R fishery anyhow.



There is too much centered on the adult fish. The next generation concerns me and with the time it takes for them to mature-it may be awhile to find out what kind of shape we are really in. If its not good-it will take a very long time to remedy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Yea, I hear ya. However, I think there is some pretty good evidence that at least some of yalls fish also come through this way in the late summer and fall. Had a local guide here tell me one of his tags he placed here returned from Boca Grande - I haven't seen the proof to back that up but no reason to doubt it. You might be interested to know that the fish we get earlier in the year that some suspect come from Mexico are generally smaller fish and then in the fall our bigger fish come through. I think there is a school of thought that at least some of those fish are yalls. I know the tag return data even shows Boca Grande fish going up the east coast of the U.S. I kind of think tarpon in the Gulf of Mexico can and do go pretty much where ever they want to. The genetics guys say different things. I've heard studies that say all Gulf of Mexico tarpon are pretty much the same and then I've heard some say the western Gulf fish are a little different genetically... in a very very minor way. Guess that's one of those things that depends on who ya talk to. Then there are the Mexican genticists that say their tarpon are different than Texas tarpon and Florida tarpon -- oh well, once again, consider the source.... (conclusion, what do you care if we dynamite, they are not your fish... - whatever).

As far as the post spawn thought.... I had a biologist say something once to me that really struck home. For a population to be "stable", every female fish must, in its lifetime, replace two fish (i.e. one male and one female) within its lifetime with offspring. In light of the fact that a female tarpon lays millions and millions of eggs each year spawning, who is to say a 150lb female has replaced herself this year, or next year, or five years ago. When you think of it that way, giving that female every chance she can have makes since. Then think about the ripple effect. You take one or two females out, the effect is exponential on future generations. I know it doesn't really work that way and nature is not mathematical like that but the thought is pretty compelling, nonetheless.
 

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Awesome Information

I just wanted to say this is an awesome thread with lots of great information. This is the most informative thread I've seen here since Mike Williams quit posting on this board. I sure wish he would start posting up again, his Mirr-o-lure tips have helped us all out. Reading his threads was like going to a fishing clinic, and I really enjoyed this thread as well. Keep up the good work Scott. Any chance of talking Mike into posting up again?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Last time I talked with Mike, he was having computer issues. Short of buying him a new machine, I don't think he'll be back immediately. I'd bet that maybe in November, when his trips slow down, he'll get things back up and going again.
 
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