anglers who contribute to fisheries research were in the spotlight
during a workshop at The University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf
Coast Research Laboratory Nov. 19.
More than 50
anglers, scientists, educators and resource managers convened at
the laboratory to recognize top taggers in the lab's sport fish
tag-and-release programs. Researchers from the Southern Miss Center
for Fisheries Research and Development at the GCRL reported on research
programs and results targeting speckled trout, cobia, tripletail
and coastal sharks. The GCRL coordinates the volunteer angler tag-and-release
program with the support of the Mississippi Department of Marine
Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration
the years, thousands of anglers have participated in research programs
at the Laboratory," fisheries biologist Jim Franks said. "They
have tagged and released fish, and they have recaptured tagged fish.
At every stage they have provided information to GCRL researchers
about the fish they have caught."
the lab's first tag-and-release program that used volunteer anglers.
He enlisted anglers throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the South
Atlantic to help document the movement and growth of cobia, a popular
coastal species. He said volunteers are an important element in
the discovery of new knowledge about the biology, behavior and ecology
of saltwater sport fish in Mississippi.
the cobia study in 1988, and we are still learning new things through
anglers' cooperation with this research," said fisheries biologist
Read Hendon, coordinator of the workshop and the GCRL sport fish
tagging program. One example, Hendon said, was the first-ever winter
recapture of a tagged cobia in the northern gulf. A Biloxi angler
reported the recapture in January 2003.
data showing that cobia migrate from northern gulf waters in late
fall to the Florida Keys, where they overwinter. We had also heard
of anglers catching cobia in deep waters in the northern gulf in
winter, but we didn't have any data to verify that." This recapture
has given the researchers data that some cobia do remain in the
northern gulf in the winter.
of Ocean Springs was the top tagger for tripletail, the lab's newest
tag-and-release program. He tagged and released 10 tripletail into
Mississippi waters in 2003. Coast artist Mary Wilson presented the
Mississippi winner with a framed and signed artist's proof of Wilson's
new work, "Triple Play." The watercolor features a lifelike
and detailed rendition of a tripletail, also known as blackfish.
Wilson's donation of artwork also included unframed and signed artist's
proofs to the top tripletail taggers gulf wide - Nick Drinnen of
Englewood, Fla., and Troy Perez of Cocoa, Fla.
releasing the most legal-sized spotted seatrout, known locally as
speckled trout, were Louis Shepard of Gautier with 94 and brothers
Tom and Don Perry of Biloxi, who tied for second with 26. The winners
received their choice of fishing tackle. An open forum discussion,
door prizes and refreshments followed the awards ceremony. Hendon
said the open forum each year provides anglers with answers to specific
questions and researchers with insight into anglers' concerns that
need to be explored through research.
on how to receive tagging kits and become a volunteer angler in
the program, contact Jim Franks or Read Hendon at (228) 872-4202
or at email@example.com.