Thursday, January 8, 2009

TAG 2009 North Carolina

TAG 2009

January 3

The New Year brought us to North Carolina where we’ve been tagging bluefin since 1996. We arrived and found numerous commercial fishers reporting a very good New Year’s eve bite after some spotty commercial fishing for several weeks. Sure enough the TAG team went out with a flotilla of vessels helping tag fish inclusive of the TAG Boat (Sensation) captained by Dale Britt, the Annie C, the Gracious, and a beautiful sport fisher captained by Golf pro Curtis Strange. The team moved out to where the fleet had been fishing just west of the Cape Lookout Shoals. After a slow morning Captain Dale made a strategic decision and moved the team to a new spot. The Annie C reported they had fish on and the “mate” aboard was our former skipper of the TAG boat Calcutta, Mr. John Jenkins. We were very excited knowing John, knew the drill well having led the transfer effort throughout the 1990s and early part of this decade. We pulled up, he smoothly transferred the fish like a pro. Once at our vessel- the veteran crew relied on the sure leader handling by Sensation mate Alan of the Sensation to carefully work the fish- into the position so Dr. Andre Boustany could lip hook the fish. Once aboard the fish received an internally implanted Lotek archival tag. We put out our trolling lines once we settled back in- and the Bill Collector reported hooking up. As we trolled slowly towards the Bill Collector we saw an explosion of water on the surface. We headed in that directly and sure enough we hooked up on our down bait. It was our first fish of the year- and quite a story. Franklin, a Duke University 2007 graduate and strong angler, hopped in the chair and before long had the fish close to the boat- but the fish had other plans and took the line out several times prior to finally settling in for a long stand at the boat. Given we had to pull this fish into the boat- we needed this very strong fish to settle down a bit. After an almost 30’ Wait period of trying to pull the fish in and than relaxing and waiting- we were able to get the fish in position, put a lip hook in and drag fish into the boat. This fish was enormous for Carolina, 258 cm- over 100 inches! It turned out this was the second largest fish ever in the 800 plus fish we had tagged. We quickly put a pop up satellite tag in the fish with a 270 day deployment period- as we’re interested the exact timing of the migration into the Gulf of Mexico. We proceeded to move the fish off the vessel- had some issues trying to turn the fish around- as it was quite large specimen. Finally after some challenges we put the bluefin back in the ocean to swim again. It was remarkable first day of the year for tagging. We have it all on film as videographer and good luck charm- Bill Hitchcock put it all on tape for broadcast. Barb

1 comment:

Brick Brown said...


Thanks for the noble work you, Dale, and your team do in better understanding these magnificent fish.

We were proud to be part of the Carolina's Day 1 effort.

Capt. Brick Brown
"Annie C"